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SPRINGFIELD – To call for increased assistance from Vistra Energy for communities affected by recent power plant closures, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) attended a Clean Energy Summit with fellow Senate lawmakers and stakeholders in Canton, Illinois today. Attending the summit from Montgomery County were Montgomery County Treasurer Nikki Lohman, Hillsboro Community School District Superintendent Dave Powell and Montgomery County Supervisor of Assessments Ray Durston.

When the Coffeen Power Station closed its doors nearly one year ago, Manar began collaborating with colleagues in Springfield to evaluate the best path forward to help families and local governments affected by several closures statewide.

“We know from firsthand experience that the coal industry has been a key cog in the downstate economy for decades.  But, we also know that we have to be realistic when it comes to the industry’s current condition,” Manar said. “Welcoming solar energy infrastructure would create jobs and undo some of the damage done to the local economies in Coffeen and Canton, but that’s not an immediate solution to the problems these people have right now.”

Though the legislative session was delayed by COVID-19, one proposal Manar is co-sponsoring would require property tax assessments on coal, gas, and nuclear plants to be frozen at pre-closure rates for five years, ensuring local governments and school districts with a consistent source of revenue in the short term.  Additionally, it provides an extra week of unemployment insurance benefits for those who are laid off from their job at a plant or mine.

“The task of providing relief to communities that have been directly harmed by the decision to shut down power plants has fallen to the legislature,” Manar said. “As we move forward to confront this challenge, our goals must include providing middle class families, local governments and school districts with as much leeway as possible to ease their revenue losses and tax burdens.” 

This legislation will likely be a piece of a larger package of energy legislation that could be taken up as early as the fall veto session.

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SPRINGFIELD – To discuss further steps to assist survivors of child abuse in the Springfield area and throughout downstate, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) met with Sangamon County Children’s Advocacy Center employees and Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois advocates Thursday.

During last spring’s budget negotiations, Manar, who chairs the Senate Appropriations II Committee, fought to ensure that Children’s Advocacy Centers received the funding they need to continue providing crucial treatment services.

“Yesterday I had the opportunity to see firsthand the dedication of the people who help abused children heal and find justice,” Manar said. “Thanks to groups like Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois, we are beginning to fill a large void in services for child abuse survivors, and I will continue to fight so they can help children in need throughout Illinois.”

The Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center serves Sangamon coordinates the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse cases. The center is able to reduce the trauma to child survivors by utilizing a multidisciplinary team approach that includes the Department of Children and Family Services, Law Enforcement, the State’s Attorney’s Office, and the medical and mental health communities.

"I am so appreciative of the time that Senator Manar took to learn more about the vital and essential work of the 40 children's advocacy centers in Illinois,” Kim Mangiaracino, Executive Director of Children's Advocacy Centers of Illinois said, “Funding CAC programs remain a top priority in assuring that survivors of abuse receive the services they need to provide justice, healing, and hope."

Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois is a network that coordinates and provides a comprehensive response to child abuse statewide by partnering with local CAC agencies to investigate and prosecute abuse claims.

To find a local children’s advocacy center, visit the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois website.

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SPRINGFIELD – In response to ongoing federal investigations surrounding Illinois government, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is calling on the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform to consider including in their final report sweeping measures that would overhaul ethics laws in Illinois.

Manar has spent his career in Springfield advocating for stronger ethics laws, sponsoring a 2017 piece of legislation that closed loopholes allowing Cabinet-level appointees of the Illinois governor to use official positions to campaign for candidates. Additionally, he was a Senate sponsor on a 2019 piece of legislation that created the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform.

“What’s being proposed is long overdue,” Manar said. “The last several years have made it clear that there are glaring blind spots in our ethics laws. Transparency and accountability are two principles that I believe are fundamental to a functioning government, and it’s time that we act.”

Among the measures Manar is encouraging the Joint Commission to consider:

  • Establishing term limits on legislative leadership;
  • Enacting a policy to temporarily remove a legislator as a leader and/or committee chair during a criminal investigation or in the event of a charge/indictment;
  • Prohibiting legislators from lobbying elected officials from other units of government;
  • Establishing at least a one-year prohibition on legislators leaving their offices and working as lobbyists;
  • Expanding disclosure of legislators’ outside income; and
  • Enabling the Legislative Inspector General to self-initiate investigations and making it an independent agency for the purposes of budgets and hiring.

These measures are supported by a broad coalition of lawmakers and advocacy groups, including Change Illinois and Reform for Illinois.

“This is a list of very simple things that I believe could receive broad support from both Democrats and Republicans and at the same time would have a profound impact on restoring trust in state government,” Manar said.

The Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform continues to meet prior to its expected issuance of a final report of recommendations.

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SPRINGFIELD – More than 40 local businesses will see additional aid via funding from the state’s Business Interruption Grant program to help business owners facing economic hardship, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced Thursday.

The first round of distribution through the BIG program was released this week to provide financial assistance to business communities hit hardest by COVID-19 related closures.

A total of $790,000 will be distributed to local businesses throughout the 48th District through the program, which Manar prioritized during last spring’s budget negotiations.

“The Business Interruption Grant program is an example of what is possible when legislators do their job and create tangible solutions to the problems facing our state,” Manar said. “Government is supposed to work for those we represent first and foremost, and I’m proud that we are doing everything possible at the state level to help our small business community stay afloat.”

Funding will be dispersed as such:

  • Decatur: $270,000
  • Springfield: $220,000
  • Carlinville: $70,000
  • Staunton: $40,000
  • Assumption, Gillespie, and Litchfield: $30,000
  • Brighton, Hillsboro, Mount Olive, Taylorville, and Williamson: $20,000

The full list of 48th District businesses that have received grant money can be found here: https://rb.gy/p62c2f

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