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 – 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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SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Linda Holmes, D- Aurora, highlighted the consequences of Illinois’ budget impasse in her district.

“The state has not had a balanced budget since Governor Rauner took office, and the impasse has hurt Illinoisans of all walks of life,” Holmes said. “The Illinois Constitution states that the governor must provide the legislature with a balanced budget. He has not done so and Illinois residents have suffered as a result. In his public remarks, the governor has continually tried to minimize the negative effects of going without a budget, but my constituents are struggling.”

Mutual Ground, a shelter and service provider for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, signed a contract with the Illinois Department of Human Services for fiscal year 2017. The organization has yet to be paid this year. Michelle Meyer, executive director of Mutual Ground, estimates that the organization is missing over $370,000 in state funding.

 “Mutual Ground not only provides vital services for victims of crime, but it is an organization that employs 43 people in our community,” Meyer said. “We are consistently being asked to foot the bill for services the State contracts us to provide. Human services are crucial to the overall health of our State and are unfortunately some of the most negatively impacted by our State leaders’ inability to work toward a resolution. This cannot continue"

Mutual Ground offers intervention, prevention, and continuing support services for victims of domestic and sexual violence. The nonprofit was not covered in the stopgap spending plan and leaders have not been told when or if they will receive funding for the current year. The uncertainty has caused the departure of 10 staff members due to attrition and layoffs. As a result, Mutual Ground has been forced to turn away people in need of services.


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Holmes speaks at SD 129's announcementAURORA — West Aurora School District 129 today announced its proposed new West Aurora School District Campus – a 15-acre site near the intersection of Galena Boulevard and Edgelawn Avenue on Aurora’s west side.

“The unique partnership demonstrates how high quality education offerings affect economic development and quality of life in the community,” said District 129 Superintendent Jeff Craig. “Most certainly, this investment from the District, the City of Aurora and Advocate Health will benefit West Aurora School District for generations to come.”

The campus will be home to the district’s new Early Childhood Development Center, new district administration offices, and a new technical training center.

The agreement comes 14 months after a capital needs referendum that identified early childhood and post-secondary training as areas to expand upon, Craig said. State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, assisted the district by bringing together representatives of Advocate and the school district.

“This is the result of government, business and school districts working together,” Holmes said. “Dreyer has been a member of the community for nearly a century and this is an investment in the community that will enrich education for generations of students to come.”

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