Senator Linda HolmesSPRINGFIELD — In an effort to curb the spread of invasive species and protect the environment, State Sen. Linda Holmes supported legislation signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner this week that adds more plants to the state's list of exotic weeds.

The Exotic Weeds Act prohibits the sale of invasive flora that threaten the ecosystem in Illinois.

“One of our most important duties as a government is the protection and preservation of our environment for future generations,” said Holmes, D-Aurora. “I'm pleased the governor has affirmed the expansion of this list.”

The updated Exotic Weeds Act adds a variety of new plant species to the list, including varieties of exotic bush honeysuckles, olives, salt cedar, poison hemlock, giant hogweed, Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), Japanese, giant and Bohemian knotweed, among numerous others.

The legislation was Senate Bill 681. It becomes effective Jan. 1.

Category: New Releases

Senator Linda HolmesSPRINGFIELD — Working alongside Attorney General Lisa Madigan to crack down on unlicensed employment agencies, State Sen. Linda Holmes advanced a plan out of the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

“There are employers out there flouting the law, exploiting some of the most vulnerable workers in some of the lowest-paid jobs,” Holmes said. “I’m gratified to work with Attorney General Madigan to toughen enforcement and protect jobseekers. I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this important legislation.”

The legislation seeks to address regulations that have not seen substantive updates in decades and that currently provide inadequate tools for the Attorney General’s Office to enforce compliance.

Workers who have been placed by such unregulated agencies have alleged numerous instances of abuse they have suffered at the hands of employers, including being made to work 6-day work weeks of 12-hour shifts to pay off referral fees, being referred to jobs that pay below the minimum wage, being housed in crowded and substandard conditions and being denied medical treatment for on-the-job injuries.

“My office initiated this legislation after uncovering instances of low-income and immigrant workers being subject to dangerous and often illegal working conditions. They were placed in those conditions by employment agencies that were frequently operating without licenses,” Madigan said. “This bill will strengthen our laws so that we can stop licensed and unlicensed employment agencies from taking unfair advantage of Illinois workers.”

In addition to providing civil penalties for such violations, Holmes’ proposal directs the Department of Labor to create and maintain a database of employment agencies with suspended or revoked licenses, requires employment agencies to keep records of their placements longer and provides whistleblower protection to employees who report misconduct.

The legislation is Senate Bill 1859. It proceeds to the House for consideration.

Category: New Releases

Sen. Holmes on the Senate FloorSPRINGFIELD — Collaborating with Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger to enforce greater fiscal discipline and seek out efficiencies and transparency in state funding, State Sen. Linda Holmes sponsored two proposals that passed the Illinois Senate today.

“I was happy to work with Comptroller Munger on these two common sense proposals,” Holmes said. “As we work together to address the state’s fiscal difficulties, I’m looking forward to further bipartisan work.”

Senate Bill 1404 further clarifies a law meant to bring the accounting practices of all state agencies into line with one another. A 2011 report by the Auditor General’s Office discovered that the state had been using more than 260 different accounting systems, many described as “antiquated.” The proposal clarifies the auditing practices of state agencies that don’t have their own internal auditor.

Originally introduced by Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka before being taken up again by Munger, Senate Bill 1405 creates a task force with the aim of studying state funds and searching for funds that can be consolidated or otherwise eliminated. Doing so would potentially promote greater efficiency and transparency in state operations. Currently, the state maintains over 900 funds. In contrast, the State of Wisconsin maintains about 60 funds, Comptroller Munger said.

“Illinois has more funds than any other state by far, which makes it incredibly difficult to see how state money is spent,” Munger said. “There is no reason to have a Fish and Wildlife Fund and a separate Salmon Fund. Isn’t salmon a fish?”

“I thank Sen. Holmes for her leadership on these two important bills in the Senate that will go a long way toward improving efficiencies and increasing transparency in state spending,” Munger added.

“Our first responsibility to the people of Illinois is good stewardship of state government,” Holmes said. “With these initiatives, we’re working toward being more watchful and less wasteful.”

The two pieces of legislation proceed to the House for consideration.

Category: New Releases

Holmes reforms employment agency lawWorking alongside Attorney General Lisa Madigan to crack down on unlicensed employment agencies, State Sen. Linda Holmes advanced a plan out of committee Wednesday.

“Employers who are flouting the law are exploiting some of the most vulnerable workers in some of the lowest-paid jobs,” Holmes said. “At the urging of Attorney General Madigan, I’m putting this proposal forward to toughen enforcement and make sure jobseekers are protected.”

Agencies that refer jobseekers to employers for a one-time fee are regulated under an act that has not seen substantive updates in decades. Those regulations also provide inadequate tools for the Attorney General’s Office to enforce compliance.

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Category: New Releases

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