This week, I want to ask you all to take a little bit of time out of your schedules to think about an important issue: elder abuse.  Though it may not always make the headlines, elder abuse is a real problem.  Caretakers, neighbors, and sometimes even family members can treat Illinois seniors badly; physically, mentally, financially, and sexually abusing them.

A new law I sponsored should help protect Illinois’ seniors from elder abuse and neglect.  Signed just last week, House Bill 5098 will require police officers to receive training on how to recognize the signs of elder abuse.  Though the police have been required to report elder abuse for years, there has never been a training requirement before.

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Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

The drought has hit everyone in Southern Illinois hard.  Lawns are turning brown.  Gardens are dying.  Some communities had to cancel their Fourth of July fireworks shows.  But the people who have been hit worst are farmers.  With corn and soybean crops devastated, some farmers are at risk of losing their primary source of income.

Fortunately, the governor recently announced state assistance for farmers who are in need.  In order to qualify, you must live in a county that has been disaster-designated by the United States Department of Agriculture.  Nearly every county in Southern Illinois has already been granted this designation.

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Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

I’ve been talking a lot about the impact of Governor Pat Quinn’s irrational decision to close Tamms Correctional Center as well as the Murray Developmental Center, the Murphysboro Youth Center, and several other state facilities. Not only is this the wrong way to balance the state budget, it’s downright unfair to the people of Southern Illinois. The governor needs to understand that jobs are not just numbers on a spreadsheet – they’re people’s lives.

The closures will cost local workers hundreds of good-paying jobs, devastate the economies of communities like Alexander County, and unnecessarily remove funding from the state budget. The bottom line is: the General Assembly appropriated enough money in the budget to keep these facilities open. Unfortunately, the governor’s decision to turn his back on Southern Illinois will be a major blow to our region’s economy and the hundreds of families that have been working hard and playing by the rules just to make a living.

The closures’ effects go far beyond those directly affected by the layoffs. By putting the worst-of-the-worst, like the men at Tamms, back into the general population, he’s risking the lives of guards and other inmates in our already over-crowded prison system. The governor also can’t spend the money from Tamms and other prisons wherever he wants. He needs the General Assembly’s permission. And, personally, I don’t think he’s going to get it.

The Chicago governor’s latest idea is to sell Tamms prison to the federal government. I have some serious concerns about this last-minute idea simply because the governor has yet to follow through with his intentions to sell another prison in northwestern Illinois, which he announced about three years ago. In 2010, the governor told the people of Thomson, Illinois about his intentions to sell the prison to the federal government in an effort to create more than 1,100 jobs. Well, here we are in July 2012 and he still hasn’t delivered on that promise. And with a scheduled closure date of August 31, I doubt the governor has enough time to close on the deal before the facility gets shut down.

That’s why I want to make a promise to the people of Southern Illinois: I will do everything I can to override Quinn’s vetoes and keep Tamms, Murray, and other important Southern Illinois facilities open. I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to put money back into the budget that the governor vetoed to ensure we are left with a budget that is balanced and keeps these facilities open.

Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

Last week, Governor Pat Quinn of Chicago declared that he was going to close Tamms Correctional Center, the Murray Developmental Center, Murphysboro Youth Center, and several other state facilities, in spite of the fact that the General Assembly found enough money to keep them open in a balanced budget.

Quinn is turning his back on the people of Southern Illinois and their elected representatives in the General Assembly.  He didn’t even have the decency to announce his decision personally.  Instead, he sent the message as a memo from faceless bureaucrats and then let his spokespeople defend it.  He didn’t even send direct notice to legislators, the press, or worst of all, the hard-working men and women he is laying off.  I believe that if you’re going to fire someone—especially without reason—you should have the common courtesy and respect to tell them to their faces.  As far as I know, the governor hasn’t set foot in most of these facilities since he announced he planned to close them last winter.

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Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

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