SPRINGFIELD – Legislation to improve feral cat population control sponsored by state Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, has been signed into law. The measure was created based on recommendations made by the Illinois General Assembly’s Feral Cat Task Force, which was established last year.

“This proposal is the product of a year of work among experts,” Holmes said. “County governments already have the resources to adequately control the population of feral cats, so why not let them use their funds to do what the experts say is the best way forward? Local governments will do the best job of controlling the feral cat population if the state simply allows them.”

Holmes’ legislation, which is supported by Best Friends Animal Society, gives counties the option to use funds reserved to spay, neuter or sterilize pets adopted by residents eligible for public benefits for feral cat population management.

“SB 641 is an important local control measure.  The simple truth is that the current methods of animal control are inhumane, expensive and ineffective,” said Ledy VanKavage, Senior Legislative Attorney for Best Friends Animal Society. “Taxpayers deserve a program that's animal-friendly, more cost-effective and reduces the burden and bureaucracy placed on county animal shelters.”

Counties would be able to use animal control funds more broadly for efforts including cat trap, neuter, vaccinate and return (TNVR) programs. TNVR is the favored method for controlling cat populations because it is humane and minimally invasive to the intricate ecosystems in which feral cats live.

“This new law will keep community cats out of shelters, saving taxpayers money and saving the lives of thousands of cats and kittens every year,” VanKavage said. “Every county in Illinois should decide to use its pet population control funds to support these programs.  Best Friends applauds Senator Holmes for spearheading this cost and life-saving measure.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 641, was recently signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner. It goes into effect immediately.

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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate voted today in favor of Senate Bill 1947, a school funding reform measure. The legislation will be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has said that he plans to sign it.

State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, voted against the measure, citing her disagreement with provisions that would create a tax credit for private school scholarship donors and cut programs.

Holmes released the following statement:

“While I agree that Illinois needs to change its education funding system to be more equitable, I could not vote for this version of the reform. I was a strong supporter of the version of this legislation that the Senate passed months ago. The legislation that the Senate approved today has strayed from our initial vision.

“Yet again, the governor has moved the goalposts at the last minute, adding in provisions that would give away $75 million to private schools and diminish driver’s education and physical education. I cast a vote today to protect these programs and reserve public funding for public schools.”

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SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation sponsored by State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, to establish a task force investigating electronic notaries.

“With the technology that we have, it is worth looking into whether or not one should need to see a notary in person anymore,” Holmes said. “This task force will look for inefficiencies in our current system and try to fix them with technology.”

Current Illinois law requires physical presence and proof of identity for individuals attempting to get a document notarized. The task force would investigate alternative verification methods including video or audio conference technology that are already in use elsewhere. The Virginia state legislature passed legislation allowing electronic notarization in 2015.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1459, has been signed into law. It goes into effect immediately.

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St. Charles Hospital, which was recently converted into senior housing with the help of the River Edge Tax Credit.

SPRINGFIELD -- Legislation that would increase business development opportunities in downtown Aurora was recently signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The governor approved a four-year extension of the River Edge Historic Preservation Tax Credit last Friday. State Sen. Linda Holmes (D- Aurora) was the bill’s chief co-sponsor.

“Through bipartisan cooperation, we passed a law that will improve the small business climate in Aurora,” Holmes said. “By extending this tax credit, we are helping job-creating projects to get off the ground while also incentivizing future business development in empty buildings downtown.”

The Historic River Edge Tax Credit was created in 2011 to provide projects with a tax credit for the redevelopment of historic structures in River Edge Redevelopment Zones.  The credit covers 25 percent of the rehabilitation costs for a business in a historic building. Friday’s bill signing preserves the tax credit through 2021.

In Aurora, the credit helped with the redevelopment of St. Charles Hospital into senior housing. Other proposals include transforming the Hotel Arthur and the Stanley Furniture buildings into a mix of residential and commercial properties.

“The River Edge Tax Credit is an important tool for creating jobs and revitalizing the community,” Holmes said. “I appreciate the local leadership and advocates who made the tax credit extension a reality.”

In addition to Aurora, the tax credit is available in Rockford, Peoria, Elgin and East St. Louis.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1783, is effective immediately.

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