SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, released the following statement in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address:

“In his address, Governor Rauner bragged about a veto that would have gravely harmed communities across the state had it been allowed to stand. By refusing to support the budget, Rauner refused to support programs like state-subsidized childcare for working families. Early childhood education centers across the state were forced to close their doors due to Rauner’s inability to lead or budget realistically. One of those centers was the Child Development Center in Aurora, which was licensed to provide care to 74 children. I hope that this year will be different.”

 

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State legislators in front of the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier.

During a visit to Chicago’s Navy Pier, a group of Illinois legislators learned about the importance of tourism in Illinois’ economy. Navy Pier is the most visited attraction in Illinois and the Midwest with 9.3 million visitors each year.

Lawmakers were given a tour and presentation detailing redevelopment efforts and new investments as part of the attraction’s 100-year anniversary. State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development, emphasizes the importance of tourism in Illinois' economy.

“As we look at ways to strengthen Illinois’ economy and create jobs, we cannot overlook the tourism sector, which continues to thrive,” Holmes said. “State government should be looking for opportunities to partner with tourist destinations like Navy Pier whenever possible to create jobs and sustain economic growth.”

Navy Pier, Inc. President and CEO Marilynn Gardner and Chief Development and Strategy Officer Patrick Sheahan led the tour, showing legislators the new Centennial Ferris Wheel, recently renovated event spaces and the future site of a hotel with views of the lake and the skyline. They also heard a presentation from Navy Pier officials regarding the Centennial Vision plan, which lays out changes and investments for the 21st century.

In total, over 3,000 employees work at 77 businesses and five nonprofits located on Navy Pier. In 2016, the tenant partners including attractions, boats, restaurants, retail and others, generated over $123 million in total gross sales and an estimated $12.6 million in sales tax revenue.

“We are grateful to lawmakers for taking the time to visit Navy Pier and see firsthand its remarkable transformation into a leading cultural district,” Gardner said. “The impact and legacy of Navy Pier is more than just our phenomenal programming. It's about place making – enhancing our unique space, ensuring it remains the People’s Pier, and bringing it to life with dynamic and eclectic experiences that inspire discovery and wonder.”

Navy Pier’s impressive tourism numbers are part of an ongoing positive trend in Illinois. In 2016, the state welcomed 110 million domestic visitors who supported more than 300,000 jobs statewide. Chicagoland is doing particularly well at attracting tourists, exceeding the national average for tourism industry growth in recent years.

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SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed House Bill 40. The legislation will preserve access to abortion for Illinois women of all income levels and regardless of changes to federal law.

State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, released the following statement:

“By signing this legislation, Governor Rauner stood up for a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions without government interference. Regardless of a woman’s income or the federal political climate, the right to choose should be protected in Illinois. By signing this legislation into law, the governor reached across the political aisle and took a principled stand to do the right thing for Illinois women.”

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SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, that would protect health insurance plan participants from drastic and disruptive changes to coverage networks was signed into law today.

“With what is happening with health care at the federal level, we in state government must give people some peace of mind,” Holmes said. “This legislation keeps people updated about their insurance networks and provides some stability for consumers during such a turbulent time for health care.”

The legislation will fix narrow health care provider networks by maintaining standards for access to prevent plan participants from traveling long distances for medical care, keeping network directories up to date, notifying patients of network changes and allowing people with serious health needs to stay with their provider.

The Network Adequacy and Transparency Act has earned broad support from both Republicans and Democrats as well as the American Cancer Society, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, the Illinois State Medical Society and many other health organizations.

“This legislation is needed because people think they are playing by the rules when purchasing health insurance, but are often in for a surprise when they try to go to a doctor,” said Illinois State Medical Society President Thomas M. Anderson, MD. “Patients may have done their homework and checked that their doctor is in-network, only to show up to their appointment and find out the insurance company website was out-of-date and they won’t get the coverage they were promised.”

The Network Adequacy and Transparency Act, House Bill 311, was signed into law today. It goes into effect January 1, 2018.

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