SPRINGFIELD – First-time entrepreneurs will be able to save money on state licenses and permits under a new pilot program. The entrepreneur learner’s permit program was introduced and sponsored in the Illinois Senate by State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora.

“Entrepreneurs take on a lot of risk when they start new businesses. This risk taking is what ultimately moves the economy forward,” Holmes said. “Any time we in state government can encourage people to start businesses and create jobs, we should do so with fiscally responsible and thoughtful legislation.”

The Senate recently voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s changes to the entrepreneur learner’s permit pilot program. The original version of the legislation minimizes spending by creating a pilot program to subsidize first-time entrepreneurs in information services, biotechnology and green technology with a state spending cap of $500,000.

The governor used his veto power to remove the spending cap and expand the pilot program to include all industries. Holmes says that the governor’s amendatory veto turns a smart business development measure into a potentially wasteful program.

 “The governor’s changes would direct an unknown sum of taxpayer dollars into a pilot program that may still need improvements,” Holmes said. “This is a surprising and confusing decision by Governor Rauner, who has presented himself as a fiscally responsible reformer. We were able to return to a much more limited, fiscally responsible version of this pilot program that can be expanded if it is successful.”

The entrepreneur learner’s permit would encourage small business growth by reimbursing first-time business owners for certain costs paid to the state for licensing and permits. The Illinois legislation is a pilot version of a similar program established by the Connecticut State Legislature in 2016.

After veto override votes in the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives, Senate Bill 1462 is now law. It will take effect immediately.

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SPRINGFIELD — Legislation to improve the adoption process for research dogs and cats has been signed into law. State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, introduced the legislation, which would require public research institutions in Illinois to have an adoption policy in place for dogs and cats used in testing rather than euthanizing them immediately.

“Last General Assembly, the ‘Beagle Freedom Bill’ sparked an important debate around the humane treatment of scientific research animals,” Holmes said. “We went back to fix a few problems with the bill to bring it back this year. The new law reflects all of that work, ensuring that an animal is given a chance at a life outside of a laboratory without overregulating scientific research.”

The new law requires publicly-funded institutions to have an adoption plan for animals deemed eligible by a veterinarian before euthanasia is an option. It does not force research institutions to find a home for each animal, nor does it ban euthanasia outright.

The legislation is part of a nationwide initiative led by the Beagle Freedom Project, so named because dogs of that breed are commonly used in scientific research. The legislation applies to cats used in research as well. Similar legislation has already been passed in California, New York, Minnesota, Connecticut and Nevada.

The measure, Senate Bill 1884 was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner today. It takes effect immediately.

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SPRINGFIELD — Legislation to improve the adoption process for research dogs and cats has been approved by the Illinois Senate. State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, introduced legislation that would require public research institutions in Illinois to have an adoption policy in place for healthy dogs and cats used in testing.

“Last General Assembly, the ‘Beagle Freedom Bill’ sparked an important debate,” Holmes said. “We ended up needing to go back and fix a few problems with the bill to bring it back this year. The current measure reflects all of that work. It ensures that an animal is given a chance at a life outside of a laboratory, and it does so without overregulating scientific research.”

The Illinois legislation does not force research institutions to find a home for each animal, nor does it ban euthanasia outright. It requires publicly-funded institutions to have an adoption plan for animals deemed eligible by a veterinarian before euthanasia is an option.

The legislation is part of a nationwide initiative led by the Beagle Freedom Project, so named because Beagles are commonly used in scientific research. Similar legislation has already been passed in California, New York, Minnesota, Connecticut and Nevada.

The measure, Senate Bill 1884 was approved by the Illinois Senate today. It now moves to consideration in the House of Representatives.

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SPRINGFIELD – Thanks to a measure introduced by State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, fire protection districts will have easier access to tax increment financing (TIF) funding in order to keep up with developing business districts.

“As TIF districts improve the business environment, growth naturally follows,” Holmes said. “This legislation will make it easier for fire protection districts to keep up with firefighting technology so that they can adequately respond to fires in new development areas. For example, if a tall building is built in a TIF district, a fire protection district would have a much easier time getting the funds to purchase a ladder truck.”

The legislation is an initiative of the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts (IAFPD). It would allow fire protection districts to request funds directly from the TIF’s review board instead of the municipality, as long as the purchases are reasonable and necessary to protecting the more advanced infrastructure that TIF districts bring. According to Chuck Vaughn, the legislative representative for the IAFPD, the measure is meant to make the process of purchasing new equipment more responsive to the changing needs of those that they protect.

“Senator Holmes recognized that taxing districts such as fire protection districts often get new responsibilities created by a TIF district,” Vaughn said. “The senator’s bill makes the process more responsive to changes that a TIF district brings to a fire protection district. The IAFPD is extremely grateful for the leadership that Sen. Holmes has put into this project. The end result will be better and more responsive decisions to meet the test that a TIF district will present for fire protection.”

Senate Bill 1415 was approved by the Illinois Senate today. It moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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SPRINGFIELD – Illinoisans with developmental, intellectual and mental disabilities can now apply for a special state ID card to help them navigate interactions with law enforcement thanks to legislation passed by Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora).

“The new ID cards give more information to law enforcement so that they don’t misinterpret certain behaviors as hostile or uncooperative,” Holmes said. “The cards will give people with disabilities and their loved ones peace of mind, knowing that their needs are being communicated to law enforcement. This idea was brought to our attention by a local parent whose child has autism, so the new ID cards are a response to an important demand from the community.”

In order to be issued a card, a person must have a disability such as autism, epilepsy, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The cards can be given in addition to other state identification when requested by law enforcement.

“Fortunately, the Aurora Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in the 42nd district have already been proactive by training officers to have better interactions with people with disabilities,” Holmes said. “As more people begin to take advantage of these ID cards, first responders can develop and enrich their training programs.”

"This should be a great tool," Aurora police Lt. Mike Abbs said. "The more information we have on people's abilities and disabilities when we first encounter them, the better we can serve them."

The card lists identifying information and the following inscription: "My medical condition may impair my ability to communicate with others, especially with strangers or in stressful situations. Please do not interpret my behavior as refusal to cooperate."

Holmes urges area residents and their loved ones interested in being issued a person with a disability wallet card to apply for free at the Secretary of State’s office or contact her Aurora Office at (630) 801-8985.

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