Monday, December 31, 2007

Bill protects animals in Domestic violence situations, adopted in Illinois begins Jan. 1, 2008

Contact: Inga Fairclough / (212) 876-7700 x 4564

or (347) 578-2243

ASPCA-Driven Illinois Bill Goes Into Effect January 1

HB9 Increases Protections for Domestic Violence Victims and Their Pets

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is proud to announce that legislature HB9, a bill that the ASPCA worked closely alongside legislators to implement, will go into effect on January 1, 2008. Earlier this year, on May 22, the Illinois Senate voted unanimously to pass this bill that now allows judges to include animals in an order of protection.

“This bill goes a long way in ensuring that victims of domestic violence don’t have to fear for their pets’ safety when making the decision to leave a violent situation,” said Ed Sayres, president & CEO of the ASPCA. “We are extremely grateful to Rep. John Fritchey for sponsoring this important bill and proud that we were able to assist in seeing it to fruition.”

Research has shown that much like children, pets are often used as pawns in domestic violence. Without provisions to adequately protect their pets, victims of interpersonal violence may feel compelled to remain in abusive situations. Consider the following statistics:

  • 83 percent of directors of the largest shelters for battered women in the U.S. indicated women entering the shelters discussed incidents of pet abuse in the family;
  • 71 percent of pet-owning women in shelters reported that a pet had been threatened, injured or killed by their abuser; and
  • 49 percent of pet-owning victims who fled their abusers and sought shelter continued to worry about their animals after entering shelters.

Illinois House Bill 9 addresses these issues by enabling judges to include animals in orders of protection. The petitioner is given exclusive custody, care and control over the animal; the judge can order the respondent to stay away from the animal and forbid the respondent to take, transfer, encumber, conceal, harm or otherwise dispose of the animal.

For more information on other ASPCA legislative activities, please visit

About the ASPCA®

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first humane organization established in the Americas, and today has more than one million supporters throughout North America. A 501 [c] [3] not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides local and national leadership in animal-assisted therapy, animal behavior, animal poison control, anti-cruelty, humane education, legislative services, and shelter outreach. The New York City headquarters houses a full-service, accredited, animal hospital, adoption center, and mobile clinic outreach program. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York’s animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet. For more information, please visit


Friday, December 21, 2007

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce to host roundtable to discuss flexible workplace practices

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce to host roundtable to discuss flexible workplace practices that address new economic, demographic and societal challenges

When Work Works roundtable will highlight employers that innovatively recruit, develop and train their employees; discuss application for Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility

CHICAGO – As changing demographics, an aging population and increased diversity continue to impact the region’s workforce, employers and human resource practitioners can gain firsthand knowledge about innovative workplace practices being used by top local companies to meet evolving employee needs. These best practices will be featured at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce’s When Work Works roundtable on Thursday, January 10. The Chamber has been selected by the Families and Work Institute and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to inform businesses in the region about trends in personnel management and to recognize effective and flexible workplaces in the 21st Century.

“As our local workforce continues to evolve, the demand for skilled workers will continue to increase especially as Baby Boomers begin to retire. Companies that offer their employees greater workplace flexibility will be able to best compete for the talent they need,” said Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Roper.

For the past several decades, Families and Work Institute (FWI) has been documenting the changes in the American workforce and workplace through its nationally representative studies of employers and employees. The Institute’s research finds that today’s fast-paced, 24/7 “wired” economy and diverse workforce are far different than in the past. There are four generations in the workforce, the workforce is aging, and values have shifted. In response, employers are looking for new ways to recruit, develop and retain their talent. When Work Works responds to these challenges by sharing research and best practices for managing in new and flexible ways.

Examples include compressed work weeks to decrease turnover and give employees more concentrated time at work and at home, telecommuting to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, sabbaticals to re-energize employees, and phased retirement to retain the talent of older workers.

“It is more challenging than ever to manage effectively—to recruit top talent, to engage and retain this talent, and to maximize productivity—in the face of fierce competition, more complicated jobs and changing workforce demographics. When Work Works is finding the best examples of effective and flexible workplaces locally and then sharing these strategies that work with the rest of the nation and the world,” said Ellen Galinsky, President of Families and Work Institute.

Attendees of When Work Works roundtable will share research, discuss best practices, and provide practical advice about how flexibility can be a strategic business tool. Businesses that specialize in workplace flexibility will be on hand, including the 2007 When Work Works award winner, Ernst & Young LLP, Age Lessons, and Flex-Options, a project of the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau.

The When Work Works roundtable will be held on Thursday, January 10, between 8:30 and 10 a.m. at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Aon Center, 200 East Randolph, Suite 2200, Chicago. Event registration can be completed at More information about When Work Works, as well as research, company profiles, and tips on working flexibly, can be found at Participants in the roundtable will be encouraged to apply for the Sloan Awards for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility; applications will be accepted online beginning on January 2, 2008. Organizations of all types with ten or more employees can apply.

When Work Works is an ongoing initiative led by the Families and Work Institute, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Twiga Foundation. Chicago is one of 30 communities selected from across the nation, with local leadership being provided by Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Chicago Workforce Board in collaboration with the Families and Work Institute, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Twiga Foundation. When Work Works is made possible by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

For information about When Work Works or about the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility in the Chicago region, please contact Peggy Luce, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce at (312) 494-6745 or at For more information on When Work Works or the Sloan Awards at the national level, please contact Shanny Peer at (212) 981-2556 or at

In addition to recognizing workplace flexibility through the When Work Works initiative, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce also recognizes regional businesses for workplace excellence through its annual Right Workplace Award. Applications will be available beginning February 15.
# # #

About the Project Partners of When Work Works

About the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
Since its founding in 1904 as the first regional chamber of commerce in the United States, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to make Chicagoland the most business-friendly region in America and enhance its members’ success through aggressive programs of advocacy, member benefits and services, and actionable information. The Chamber’s 2,600 members employ more than 1.2 million individuals in Chicagoland. Learn more by visiting

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation was established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan, Jr., then President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation. For the last 12 years, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has funded six Centers on Working Families, one workplace center, and many other research projects to examine issues faced by working families. Many of the findings reveal that while the demographics of the American workforce have changed dramatically over the last 30 years, the American workplace has not changed as rapidly. With today’s very diverse workforce, it is not surprising that now nearly four out of five working Americans, across age, income, and stage in life, want more flexibility at work. For more information, visit

Families and Work Institute
Families and Work Institute (FWI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that studies the changing workforce and workplace, the changing family and the changing community. As a preeminent think-tank, FWI is known for being ahead of the curve, identifying emerging issues, and then conducting rigorous research that often challenges common wisdom, provides insight and knowledge, and inspires action. Since the Institute was founded in 1989, our work has focused in three major areas: the workforce/workplace, youth and early childhood. For more information, visit

The Institute for a Competitive Workforce
The Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW) is a 501(c)3 affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is working to ensure that businesses have access—today and tomorrow—to an educated and skilled workforce. Through policy initiatives, business outreach, and a strong grassroots network, ICW is finding solutions that will preserve the American workforce as this country’s greatest business asset and its strongest future resource. ICW promotes high educational standards and effective workforce training systems, so that they are aligned with each other and with today’s rigorous business demands. For more information, visit

The Twiga Foundation
The Twiga Foundation is dedicated to inspiring, promoting and maintaining a family consciousness at home, in the workplace and in the community. The Twiga Foundation acts as a liaison to key stakeholders in the When Work Works communities to address the issue of flexibility in the workplace. The Foundation helps build a broader leadership constituency for workplace flexibility within each community. For more information, visit

Justin DeJong
Director of Communications
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
200 E. Randolph Street, Suite 2200
Chicago, IL 60601

Daley endorses Smith for Recorder

Today Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley endorsed Ed Smith for Cook County Recorder of Deeds."Ed Smith is a tremendous leader in Chicago," said Mayor Daley. "He will be a great asset in Cook County government, and I am proud to endorse him today."Mayor Daley now leads a growing coalition of city and suburban public officials supporting Ed Smith and demanding change in the Cook County Recorder's office."I am extremely gratified to have Mayor Daley's endorsement and support," said Alderman Smith. "He has been a tremendous leader for the City of Chicago and I look forward to campaigning with him."Also, last night the Independent Voters of Illinois - Independent Precinct Organization endorsed Ed Smith for Recorder of Deeds. A complete list of endorsements can be found on the campaign web site at http://www.EdSmithForRecorder.comAlderman Ed Smith is a Democratic candidate for Cook County Recorder of Deeds. He is an accomplished member of the Chicago City Council who most recently, passed the Chicago Smoking Ban. Throughout his career he has served with unquestionable integrity and has built a reputation for speaking against injustice. Alderman Smith was first elected to the Chicago City Council in 1983 after helping to organize the Chicago's West Side for Harold Washington's historic mayoral campaign. He holds a Masters of Arts in Urban Studies from Northeastern Illinois University and served for two years in the Peace Corps in India. He and his wife Carolyn live in Chicago's Garfield Park neighborhood.
# #

Blagojevich letter on special session

Rod Blagojevich
GOVERNOR December 20, 2007

Honorable members of the General Assembly:

As you know, despite the immediate and growing need to fund the Chicagoland mass transit system, Speaker Madigan decided to cancel session this week. This delay leaves millions of people waiting in uncertainty. I had hoped to receive legislation on my desk before the end of the calendar year. I considered calling a special session this week, but was informed by the legislative leaders that many of their members would be unavailable, and that it would be counterproductive to call them in right before their holiday break.

It has been ninety-two days since the Senate approved a capital plan with bipartisan support. That plan also provided for $200 million in interim relief for mass transit. In the three months since, the House has taken no action. Additionally, twice in the past four months I have been forced to bail out the Chicago Transit Authority to avoid crippling service cuts and fare hikes. In the absence of a permanent funding source, these bailouts have totaled almost $100 million.

Transit riders deserve better. The people of this state deserve better. As such, I am writing to notify you that I will call for a Special Session after the holiday break, beginning January 2, 2008, and to ask you to work quickly to pass a statewide infrastructure plan, so that there is also sufficient support for a long-term solution to mass transit funding. As I have said before, I support Representative Saviano’s plan, or a comparable plan, to provide mass transit funding by redirecting the sales tax on gasoline in the RTA region. This legislation received a near-majority of 57 votes on November 28, even though many members were absent or failed to vote on the measure.

With the RTA prepared to implement drastic layoffs, service cuts and fare increases on January 20 if no agreement is reached, our time is running out. You must focus on passing legislation in this short timeframe. There will be only 18 days to work before the transit doomsday, so you should be prepared to meet as often as needed during that period.

I am providing this notice now so that all members of the General Assembly can make arrangements to be present, and be prepared to vote. Let’s start the New Year on a great note by passing a long-term solution for mass transit. The citizens of Illinois are relying on us to get the job done.


Rod Blagojevich
Abby Ottenhoff Director of Communications Office of Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lipinski lists funds secured for district

Lipinski Secures Millions of Federal Dollars for Local Communities
FY2008 Appropriations Bill Passes Congress

[Washington D.C.] – Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) announced that with the passage of the FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill today, he has secured millions of dollars that will aid Third District residents.

"These federal funds will help our communities by easing traffic congestion, expanding mass transit, cleaning up the local environment, increasing care for abused children, housing homeless veterans, providing communications equipment for area first responders, protecting food safety, helping local communities improve water infrastructure, and developing environmentally friendly transportation,” said Congressman Lipinski. "These are the issues that affect people every day, and I am proud to be bringing back the funding that will improve the daily lives of Third District residents.”

In addition, thanks to Congressman Lipinski’s efforts, the legislation also includes more than $20 million for the Capital Grants Rail Line Relocation and Improvement Program, a federal grants program that could help create quiet zones, build underpasses, improve safety, and aid economic development in local communities with rail lines.

The FY2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill includes funding for the following projects requested by Rep. Lipinski:

$400,000 for a parking garage in Berwyn that would serve area communities as well as provide economic development and traffic mitigation in the area.
$500,000 for extension of the Chicago Transit Authority's Orange Line from its current terminus at Midway Airport to Ford City Mall. The extension would feature a new station with intermodal connections to nearby neighborhoods and southwest suburban communities.
$250,000 for the construction of a community center at Saint Richard Parish serving the Archer Heights Community. This center will be used by the parish, the local community, and organizations such as the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
$238,000 for the Cook County Environmental Infrastructure Fund, to aid in improving local water and sewer systems and community environmental infrastructure needs.
$500,000 for a feasibility study of the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River, also known as Bubbly Creek, to address problems of odor and water quality issues.
$100,000 for a study to determine alternatives to using the Lucas-Berg Confined Dredged Facility as a disposal site for dredged material from the Calumet-Sag Channel Modification and Illinois Waterway.
$1,000,000 for fuel research and development at Northern Illinois University. Working in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, Northern Illinois University will continue a joint research program to develop a viable fuel cell vehicle that will provide environmentally-friendly transportation.
$2,228,000 for the National Center for Food Safety & Technology, run by the Illinois Institute of Technology, to continue conducting food safety, security and prevention technology research. With recent events having raised awareness of the importance of food safety, this funding will facilitate research that will help ensure that Americans have a safe food supply.
$316,000 for Advocate Health Care’s Childhood Trauma Treatment Program for specialized and comprehensive psychotherapy and support for abused and neglected children and their families.
$243,000 for Northern Illinois University’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology for a center developing new technologies and working on interdisciplinary projects ranging from homeland security to noise cancellation.
$487,000 for Catholic Charities for a proposed St. Leo’s Residence to provide all aspects of rehabilitation to homeless veterans with the goal of them self sufficient.
$2,256,000 for Cook County to spend on Interoperable Safety and Emergency Communications Radios to allow local villages and municipalities to communicate in the event of a biological, chemical or terrorist attack and would assist thousands of first responders in the Cook County region.

The funding bill has been approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and is expected to be signed into law this week.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias on radio show Wed Dec. 19

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias will guest on Ray Hanania's radio show, Radio Chicagoland, Wednesday Dec. 19, 2007.

Visit for details

Giannoulias: Drive Clean, Save Green

Hybrid buyers eligible for $1,000 rebates
July 15, 2007

To combat rising gas prices, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias today unveiled a new statewide rebate program designed to make fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles more affordable.
Under the “Green Rewards” program, the Treasurer’s Office will partner with banks and credit unions throughout the state to issue $1,000 rebates to Illinois residents who purchase a hybrid or other energy-efficient automobile.

“Hybrid cars use less gas, but they cost more upfront,” Giannoulias said during a press conference at Grant Park. “Green Rewards entices Illinois residents to buy fuel-efficient, clean-burning vehicles by offering $1,000 rebates. This will help them recoup their investment faster while they save money at the pump.”

Green Rewards is the first incentive program to encourage hybrid purchases in Illinois. The program offers the largest state rebate for hybrids in the nation.

Giannoulias is pledging $2 million in Green Rewards during a statewide tour in his personal hybrid vehicle. The Treasurer’s Office will fund the program by depositing money at local banks and credit unions at a below-market interest rate. The money that those institutions save in interest is passed to consumers in the form of $1,000 rebates at the time of purchase.

To take advantage of the program, buyers must secure a car loan from a participating bank or credit union for a new hybrid vehicle or an eligible electric or fuel cell vehicle. Purchasers can receive one rebate per vehicle, allowing municipalities or other entities to receive additional cash back when acquiring fuel-efficient fleets.

Mayor Richard M. Daley endorsed Green Rewards, saying it complements Chicago’s commitment to protecting the environment.

“This is a great program that will encourage people to purchase hybrid vehicles which conserve fuel, save money and protect our environment by reducing harmful emissions,” Daley said. “In Chicago we are leading by example by purchasing City vehicles and buses that are hybrids or run on alternative fuels. Purchasing these types of vehicles will go a long way to help conserve and protect our valuable natural resources and our quality of life for future generations.”

Current hybrid cars can get up to 60 miles to the gallon on the highway and produce up to 80 percent less harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases than comparable gasoline cars. But they cost $1,200 to $10,000 more than their fossil fuel counterparts.

Studies show that the Ford Escape, Honda Civic, Toyota Camry and Toyota Prius all recover their price premium through fuel efficiencies after the first five years or 75,000 miles of ownership.

Fourth of July gas prices were 89 cents higher this year than two years ago. As of Friday, the price of regular unleaded gasoline in Illinois was $3.30, 25 cents more than the national average. If gas prices remain at this rate, average hybrid drivers could save $5,000 in gas by the time they drive 120,000 miles.

“For every dollar that is spent on the program, drivers will save $5 on fuel over the life of their vehicle,” Giannoulias said. “That’s a deal government should make every day of the week.”
Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club’s Illinois Chapter, supports the Drive Clean, Save Green campaign.

“The cars we drive in Illinois account for 26 percent of the global warming pollution we put into the atmosphere,” Darin said. “By rewarding car buyers who choose a hybrid over a gas guzzler, Treasurer Giannoulias' Green Rewards program will help more Illinois drivers get into a car that is part of the solution to global warming, while saving money at the gas pump.”

Giannoulias has ordered two hybrid vehicles to replace a pair of gas-only vehicles and will replace others with fuel-efficient models when their leases expire.

Hybrid and other fuel-efficient vehicles reduce harmful environmental triggers that contribute to asthma, said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of Illinois-Greater Chicago. In 2003, approximately 20 million Americans had this chronic lung condition, which accounted for an estimated 12.8 million lost school days in children and 24.5 million lost work days in adults.

“I applaud the Treasurer’s Office for encouraging Illinois residents to proactively reduce their exposure to harmful environmental triggers that contribute to asthma, such as gasoline exhaust,” Wimmer said. “Hybrids are a clean air choice that will help to prevent lung disease and promote the lung health of all Americans.”

Illinois State Rep. John Fritchey believes Green Rewards will pay off for Illinois residents who want to save money and reduce global warming.

“This is a great example of what can be accomplished through innovative ideas and proactive leadership,” Fritchey said. “The Treasurer’s investment will result in financial dividends for people wanting to drive energy-efficient vehicles, and environmental dividends for all Illinoisans now and into the future.”

Green Rewards also received an endorsement from Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

“Hybrid cars produce much less pollution and can save car buyers money over time because of high gas costs,” Learner said. “The State Treasurer's program provides a helpful incentive for purchases of these cleaner cars that help solve our global warming problems through technological innovation.”

Green Rewards is one of the State Treasurer’s Cultivate Illinois Agricultural and Environmental programs.

For more information contact:

(312) 814-1901 or (217) 557-6436 or

State Treasurer overhauls 'Bright Start' $2.1 billion college savings program to become one of the most affordable in the nation;
New program manager commits millions
in scholarships to Illinois students

March 12, 2007

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias today named a new administrator for the state’s tax-exempt college savings program so Illinois families can earn more money to send their children to college.

The new program manager, Oppenheimer Funds, Inc., will significantly reduce the costs of Bright Start, making it among the lowest-cost programs in the nation, and will offer better investment options to gain a higher rate of return. In addition, Giannoulias negotiated $3.5 million in scholarship money that Oppenheimer will earmark for Illinois students planning to attend college.

Bright Start has come under criticism for its underperforming funds and high structural costs., an independent authority that analyzes college savings programs, recently ranked Illinois’ Bright Start program 47th out of 48 plans nationwide. Giannoulias is confident this overhaul will turn Bright Start into one of the best college savings plans in the nation.

“Stronger performing funds, increased investment options and lower fees will make Bright Start a vastly improved program for current participants and much more attractive to prospective investors,” Giannoulias said. “With costs of college skyrocketing, Oppenheimer will give Illinois families the biggest bang for their buck.”

Bright Start’s former program manager, Legg Mason, will complete its transfer of accounts to Oppenheimer within the next few months.

As part of its seven-year contract, Oppenheimer will allocate $3.5 million in scholarship money to college-bound students. The Treasurer’s Office is developing a selection process and criteria to award the $500,000 in annual scholarships to Illinois students from low- and middle-income families from every region of the state.

“The $3.5 million devoted to scholarships demonstrates the state’s and Oppenheimer’s commitment to support students who do the right thing, work hard and understand the importance of going to college, but require some extra financial help,” Giannoulias said.

Better Performing Funds

As one of the nation’s largest and most experienced money managers, Oppenheimer will offer Illinois residents an impressive portfolio lineup, which will include popular, strong-performing Oppenheimer and Vanguard funds. All of the underlying funds Oppenheimer will employ in Bright Start are currently ranked in the top quartile by Morningstar, Inc. and Lipper. Both Oppenheimer and Vanguard equity portfolios have outperformed the existing Bright Start portfolio during the past three years.

Along with its actively managed funds, Bright Start will offer a portfolio of index funds for the first time. Index funds seek to match the performance of specific stock and bond market indexes, such as the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. Index funds generally have lower fees than actively managed funds, which rely upon managers to buy stocks in an effort to outperform the market as a whole.

“Our Vanguard Index funds are safe investments that take the guess work out of investing at a much lower cost than actively managed mutual funds,” Giannoulias said.
Investors will have the option of choosing from different investments that provide exposure to three equity options – an S&P 500 index fund, a small-cap index fund, and an international index fund.

Current investors will have their assets transferred from existing mutual funds to similar actively-managed funds managed by Oppenheimer. The asset allocation and the percentage of the investments in stocks, bonds, international investments, etc., will remain the same. The Treasurer’s Office will notify all Bright Start account holders about the changes to the program and will provide information on how to transfer assets to index funds.

Costs and Fees

Giannoulias also announced significant reductions in the costs of Bright Start, which will make it one of the most affordable college savings plans in the nation.

“There is no reason why a college saving program with in $2 billion in assets should have such high fees,” said Giannoulias, referring to the old plan that required participants to pay a .99 percent annual fee.

Under the new plan, costs will vary from .19 percent to .21 for index funds and .53 percent to .64 percent for actively managed funds.

“High expenses can siphon off returns and limit financial gains that ultimately eat away at money that would have gone toward tuition,” said Giannoulias, noting that Morningstar criticized Bright Start’s high fees, saying they took up a “sizable portion” of fixed income returns.

Under the new contract, the typical Bright Start investor will save approximately $5,000 to $10,000 in fees. These figures are based on a family that contributes $3,000 per year for 18 years and earns an industry-average 8 percent return. Investors who choose Vanguard funds will save the most because the fixed index funds have a much lower expense ratio.

The Treasurer’s Office also negotiated break points in the new contract, which call for Oppenheimer to reduce Bright Start’s fees as investor’s assets increase. This will ultimately reduce the overall costs for individual participants.

Tax penalty

In addition to naming a new program manager, Giannoulias is seeking to pass legislation that will eliminate the tax penalty imposed on Illinois residents who invest in out-of-state 529 programs.

Illinois is one of two states that impose a 3 percent state tax on the earnings residents receive from 529 plans administered in other states, and residents must pay income tax on contributions to out-of-state plans.

“We should not punish Illinois residents because they want to get the most for their money,” Giannoulias said. “Illinois’ savings plan should attract investors based on its own merits and because it’s the best in the country, not because investors will get penalized if they go elsewhere.”

Giannoulias’ bill (HB 376), sponsored by State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) and State Sen. James Clayborne (D-East St. Louis), to remove the penalties has won unanimous approval in the Illinois House and now awaits a vote in the Illinois Senate.

Nearly every state runs a college savings program, called a 529 plan after the section of the IRS code, which offers tax advantages to investors who use the money to cover the costs of higher education. Earnings on 529 plan investments are exempt from state and federal income taxes.

Bright Start, which was created in 2000, boasts more than $2.1 billion in assets and has more than 142,000 separate accounts.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lipinski denounces illegal Japanese whaling

Lipinski Denounces Illegal Japanese Whaling

Calls on President to Condemn Japan’s Actions and Seek End to All Future Hunts

[Washington, D.C.] Today, Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) sent a letter to President Bush requesting his public condemnation of Japan for disregarding an international ban and allowing the killing of over 1,000 whales, many of them endangered. The letter, signed by 76 Members of the House of Representatives, also calls for an end to all future hunts and expresses support for trade restrictions on Japan that would help conserve whales.

“I am deeply troubled by Japan’s complete disregard of an international ban on whale hunts that has protected whales since the 1940’s,” stated Lipinski. “The Bush Administration should take a firm stance against Japan’s actions by pursuing appropriate diplomatic, economic, and trade measures to ensure that international protections for whales are not undermined, but strengthened. We must continue to protect these fragile creatures that are being threatened by human activity.”

On November 19, a fleet of Japanese whalers set sail from the port of Shimonoseki with plans to kill over 1,000 whales, including the Minke Whale and the endangered Humpback and Fin Whales. Although an international moratorium against commercial whaling has been in effect since 1986, Japan has circumvented this international treaty, killing nearly 11,000 whales for commercial purposes under the guise of “scientific research.”

“My very first venture into political activism occurred when I was 9 years old and I collected signatures on a petition to the Japanese government protesting the killing of dolphins by tuna fishers,” stated Lipinski. “Now, over 30 years later, I continue to work to protect our environment and its inhabitants because it is critically important that we conserve the planet for future generations.”

In addition to this effort, Rep. Lipinski has been committed to animal welfare issues in the 110th Congress, including efforts to strengthen prohibitions against animal fighting and the use of dog and cat fur products. As a member of the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus, he is a cosponsor of legislation to protect rare cats and dogs, to prohibit aerial hunting of wildlife, to restore healthy populations of salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest, and to permanently protect the Arctic coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, while also supporting efforts to prevent the importation of polar bear trophies.


Chris Lyons | Legislative Assistant

Office of Representative Dan Lipinski (IL-3)
1717 Longworth House Office Building
| Washington, DC 20515
( 202.225.5701 (main) | 202.225.1012 (fax)

Governor challenges Madigan's cancellation of session

Sadly, it’s not surprising that Speaker Madigan would, at the last minute, cancel a scheduled session to consider a plan to fund the CTA. That unfortunately has been more the rule than the exception over the last three months. The Governor has taken unilateral action twice to prevent a CTA doomsday. We agree with Mayor Daley, the CTA, the RTA and the transit unions that the legislature needs to pass a plan that properly funds mass transit before the end of the year. That’s why we are continuing to work with the Senate President and the two Republican legislative leaders on a comprehensive plan to fund mass transit in the Chicago area and transportation needs across the whole state, with the intention of calling the legislature back into session next week to take action.

Abby Ottenhoff

Director of Communications
Office of Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mayor Bennett statement on Bush veto of Schip bill

For Immediate Release: December 12, 2006

Contact: Alex Behrend, 708-907-5063

Statement of Mayor Jerry Bennett (Candidate for Congress, IL-3) re Bush Veto of SCHIP Bill

"As a small business owner and Mayor, I have always made sure my employees and those working for the City of Palos Hills have quality, affordable health care because it is devastating to be without coverage.

George W. Bush’s veto of health insurance for children is outrageous and an all-too-familiar example of why we need experienced leaders in Congress who can be effective on key issues such as comprehensive health care – especially for the youngest and most vulnerable in America."

- END -

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Jerald Bennett receives endorsements of neighboring mayors

Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett received endorsements from the following mayors this week ... Bennett, it should be noted, is the Chairman of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which is a part of the Southwest Conference of Mayors.

Mayors for Bennett List

Larry Hartwig, Addison
Patrick Kitching, Alsip
Arlene Mulder, Arlington Heights
Catherine Melchert, Bartlett
Jeffrey Schielke, Batavia
Donald Peloquin, Blue Island
Roger Claar, Bolingbrook
Donald Maue, Breese
Henry Vicenik, Broadview
Elliot Hartstein, Buffalo Grove
Brad Cole, Carbondale
Joe Cook, Channahon
Thomas Gray, Chatham
Stan Schaeffer, Collinsville
Dwight Welch, Country Club Hills
Aaron Shepley, Crystal Lake
Scott Eisenhauer, Danville
Gary Niebur, Edwardsville
Ed Schock, Elgin
Tom Marcucci, Elmhurst
James Sexton, Evergreen Park
Robert, Walter, Fairbury
Gail Mitchell, Fairview Heights
Saul Beck, Ford Heights
Anthony Calderone, Forest Park
Rodney Craig, Hanover Park
Keith Hunt, Hawthorn Woods
Victor Ritter, Herrin
Don Roberton, Hometown
John Piazza, Lemont
Bill Muller, Lombard
Darryl Lindberg, Loves Park
Tom Murawski, Midlothian
Timothy O'Donnell, Monee
Marilyn Michelini, Montgomery
George Pradel, Naperville
Nicholas B Blaze, Niles
Chris Koos, Normal
Gary Graham, O'Fallon
Daniel Lightner, Oreana
Eugene Marks, Northbrook
Linzey Jones, Olympia Fields
Kyle Hastings, Orland Hills
Dan McLaughlin, Orland Park
Rita Mullins, Palatine
Robert Straz, Palos Heights
John Mahoney, Palos Park
James L Ardis, Peoria
John Spring, Quincy
Richard Reinbold, Richton Park
Zenovia Evans, Riverdale
Irene Brodie, Robbins
Lawrence Morrissey, Rockford
Dale Adams, Rockton
Gayle Smolinski, Roselle
Leonard Ferguson, Salem
B.J Hackler, Saint Joseph
Al Larson, Schaumburg
George Van Dusen, Skokie
David Owen, South Chicago Heights
Timothy Davin, Springfield
Louis Sherman, Steger
Edward Zabrocki, Tinley Park
Sal Saccomanno, Waucunda
Gary Pretzer, Willowbrook
Alan Nowaczyk, Willow Springs

Bill Murphy, Woodridge