After 22 years of public service, Manar leaves legacy of fighting for everyday people

Bunker Hill – After eight successful years in the Illinois Senate representing the 48th District and more than 22 years in public office, State Senate Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced today that he will be resigning from the Illinois Senate on January 17, 2021. 

Manar was first elected to the Bunker Hill City Council at the age of 21 in 1997.  He was elected Mayor of Bunker Hill in 2001, and Chaired the Macoupin County Board until his election to the  Illinois Senate in 2012.  

During his tenure in the Senate, Manar passed numerous consequential laws that will have an impact on hardworking Illinois families for generations. Some highlights include Automatic Voter Registration, a statewide minimum wage for teachers, elimination of police ticket quotas, capping out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $100 per month, and the first ever regulation of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).  Manar was a vocal supporter of labor unions, voting rights, access to affordable healthcare, teachers, and the LGBTQ community.  

But the most defining piece of legislation championed by Manar was school funding reform. For decades, Illinois was the worst ranked state for its contribution to school funding—driving local property taxes higher every year and leaving students in low-income districts at a serious disadvantage. Over the course of four years, Manar held hundreds of town halls and public meetings across the State, and overcame a veto by former Governor Bruce Rauner to establish the Evidence-Based Funding for Student Success Act. For the first time in a generation, Illinois now puts the most underfunded schools and children living in poverty at the front of the funding line making equity the foundation of public school funding which now serves as a model for the country. 

Amy Ballinger-Cole of Advance Illinois said of the 2017 overhaul, “He basically picked a fight that no one else wanted to touch. The fact that he got it done in this political environment is nothing short of a miracle.”

As Chairman of Senate Appropriations II Committee, Manar delivered millions of dollars of infrastructure investment for parks, libraries, schools, and roads for the communities of the 48th District. Manar also directed state resources to new programs to help develop the area’s workforce including millions of dollars in funding for the Work Skills Program at Richland Community College in Decatur, the South Macoupin Consortium for Innovation and Career Pathways serving students in six high schools, funding to construct the new South Central Illinois Regional Workforce Training & Innovation Center in Litchfield, and the Golden Apple Teacher Accelerators program at Blackburn College in Carlinville.  Manar also created the first ever statewide Critical Access Pharmacy program to help keep small, independent pharmacists operating in underserved and rural communities. 

Manar was the recipient of dozens of awards and recognitions during his tenure in the Illinois Senate including the Dawn Clark Netsch ‘Straight Talk’ Award from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Common Cause Champion of Democracy, Rural Legislator of the Year from the Illinois Hospital Association, The President’s Award from the Faith Coalition for the Common Good, Vince Demuzio Legislator of the Year from the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies, 2019 Illinois Education Association Friend of Education, and 2016 Wall of Honor inductee at Bunker Hill High School. 

Senator Manar has issued the following statement in relation to the announcement: 

“Today, my heart is full with gratitude to the people of my hometown of Bunker Hill, Macoupin County, and the 48th Legislative District for giving me — the son of small town, blue-collar parents – the opportunity to serve half my life in public office and to leave my mark on the state that I love.  

“On January 17, I will resign from the Illinois Senate. I will cherish the friendships I forged as we accomplished meaningful change together over the past eight years. I will always appreciate the truly unique diversity of the small towns and urban neighborhoods of the 48th District.  While serving communities with people from all walks of life was often challenging, it brought me great joy to see first-hand what unites us and to then bring that perspective to Springfield to take on big issues.  I’m proud to say we did that together and along the way improved life for everyone in this state. 

“Trista and our children — now teens — have only known me as a husband and father who also carries the responsibility of serving as an elected official. They have never known a day otherwise. The time has come for someone new to take up the call in the Illinois Senate. Central Illinois is full of outstanding individuals ready to step forward to meet the challenge —  be an agent of change in Downstate Illinois.

“After more than 22 years of public service, I realize this: I got more out of it than I gave it, and I gave it all I had each and every day.  I remain forever grateful to my hometown of Bunker Hill, Macoupin County, and the people of the 48th District for giving me the opportunity time and again to serve.” 

A replacement to fill the vacancy in the 48th Legislative District will be chosen by the Democratic Party Chairs in Christian, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Montgomery, and Sangamon Counties. 

Manar and his family will remain in Bunker Hill, three blocks from his childhood home.  

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SPRINGFIELD – A new law that will prevent pharmaceutical and insurance companies from continuing to excessively profit from Illinoisans suffering from diabetes takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.

Senate Bill 667, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), made Illinois the second state in the nation to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $100 per month for all patients using a state regulated insurance plan, regardless of the supply they require.

“Just over a year ago the legislature passed Senate Bill 667, and by doing so sent a resounding message to health insurance companies and Big Pharma that routinely prioritize profits over the wellbeing of people,” Manar said. “We don’t have to accept the status quo. We can change the fact that prescription medication costs more in the United States than any place in the world. This legislation passed because people spoke up and told their story. This historic legislation doesn’t become law without them and their effort.”

Roughly 1.3 million Illinoisans are living with diabetes and rely on insulin to manage their blood sugar levels. Price increases have left many of them struggling to pay for the drug and at risk of death without it.

The new law also requires the Departments of Insurance, Human Services, and Healthcare and Family Services to jointly issue an "insulin pricing report" to the public that details findings on insulin pricing practices and recommendations to control and prevent overpricing of prescription insulin drugs.

"Now more than ever, too many families are stuck between paying their bills and buying essential medicines,” State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), who ushered the legislation through the House, said. That should be unacceptable in our great state. I'm proud of our work on SB 667 to cap insulin costs, and we'll keep fighting against the greed of Big Pharma to make sure people can get the prescriptions they need. After all, drugs don't work if people can't afford them."

Manar worked alongside advocacy groups, including Insulin for All and AARP, to build a grassroots advocacy campaign to generate statewide support for the measure, which led to overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature and Governor Pritzker’s swift action.

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SPRINGFIELD – To provide a public update on the progress made by the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education & Care Funding, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) held a joint hearing of the Senate Appropriations II and Education Committees Thursday.

“Today’s hearing was an opportunity to update the Illinois Senate on the work of the Commission and its effort to making a more equitable education system a reality,” said Manar, who serves as a co-chair of the commission and chairs the Senate Appropriations II Committee. “There’s no doubt that the implementation of many of these ideas will take both time and commitment from elected officials and state agencies, a commitment our kids deserve.” 

Following its formation in December 2019, the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education & Care Funding held monthly meetings, which led to recommendations about how to achieve an equitable form of early childhood education for all Illinoisans. Those recommendations include redesigning funding mechanisms to improve equity, building on successful at-home services and centralizing the early childhood education system.

“The current system only works for some, and it’s our responsibility to construct a system that serves working families, bridges inequities forged by decades of negligence, and affords opportunity for all,” Manar said. “Too many communities do not have pre-k programs available in public schools or licensed child-care centers for working parents. By following the commission’s recommendations and building on them, I believe we can transform the way we fund early childhood education for the better, especially in rural towns and underserved urban areas.”

The commission will continue to meet as they finalize their recommendations ahead of the January 15, 2021 deadline set by Gov. Pritzker.

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CARLINVILLE – The renovation of the seat of Macoupin County government, the Macoupin County Courthouse, is progressing steadily thanks to a $1 million investment through the Rebuild Illinois statewide construction plan.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), who currently leads budget negotiations for the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus and served as chairman of the Macoupin County Board from 2003 to 2012, advocated for swift action on this project.

"As a lifelong Macoupin County resident, securing the funding in the state budget for this renovation project was especially important to me. The courthouse is the crown jewel of Carlinville and deserves to be treated as such,” Manar said. “During my tenure as Chairman of the County Board, I came to understand just how challenging it was for the county budget to pay for the needed repairs to preserve the working seat of our government. The county budget can’t handle this expense on its own. So, it is my hope this state investment will both preserve our rich history and help the county board and sheriff continue their work.”

As it stands, the top of the courthouse received three coats of paint while the remaining coats of paint and roof repairs are set to commence in the Spring. Critical repairs to the courthouse roof structure and dome are also being made. The project is being carried out by Joiner Sheet Metal of Highland, Illinois.  Heading up the project is Sheriff Shawn Kahl who is responsible for the maintenance of county buildings and a committee of the Macoupin County Board.

“Being able to witness the progress of the Macoupin County Courthouse restoration project over the past several months has been a blessing for the Carlinville community,” said Sheriff Shawn Kahl, who advocated alongside Manar to fund this project. “The courthouse is a monument to the history of Macoupin County, and I could not be more thankful to Sen. Manar for his continued advocacy on this project’s behalf.”

The Macoupin County Courthouse, nicknamed the “Million Dollar Courthouse” because of its original cost when completed, is one of the largest courthouses in the country. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places and has been named one of Illinois’ great places by the American Institute of Architects. Years of delayed maintenance on the building, however, left it in dire need of revitalizing.

“The improvements to the courthouse provided by this project have been a long time coming," Macoupin County Board Chairman Mark Dragovich said. "A few fresh coats of paint and a new roof go a long way in showing appreciation for such a historic landmark."

“This undertaking represents a monumental change in our county,” County Board Member Harry Starr said. “A new courthouse dome gives the people of Macoupin County something to take immense pride in, and I’d like to thank Sen. Manar for his efforts to make it a reality.”

The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2021.

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