Education / Government / Legislative Update

Mental Health Screenings Pitched For School Entry Exams; Fair Tax Voting Started

Kimberly Lightford Head ShotThursday, May 5, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-4th), whose district includes Maywood and other western suburbs, would require students to receive more than vaccines and dental exams before entering school each year.

The proposal, SB 565, would require students to also undergo social and emotional screenings as part of school entry exams.

The bill, which passed the Senate last month, is now in the House, where it’s been referred to Rules Committee. In an April 22 written statement, Lightford noted that the legislation would allow children with mental health issues to be diagnosed and treated sooner.

Lightford’s bill would amend the School Code to mandate screenings that are age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate for students who would need to present proof that they were examined by a licensed physician before Oct. 15 of each school year.

Other specific rules, such as which grades of students would be required to get the screenings, must be “developed in conjunction with a statewide organization representing school boards, a statewide organization representing pediatricians, and a statewide organization representing children’s mental health experts and, at a minimum, recommend the use of a validated screening tool,” according to the bill’s language.

“We see the effects of mental illness and its stigma every day,” Lightford said in her statement. “Attacking these issues during a child’s developmental stages will foster a better educational environment and provide a clearer way of looking at mental health issues. Ignoring these issues only delays the child’s development and can have negative consequences throughout his or her life.” VFP

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Fair Tax Votes Started Tuesday! Tell Your State Legislators to Vote Yes!

Thanks to the Citizens for Tax Reform campaign, we are closer than we’ve ever been before to passing a Fair Tax!  Both the House and Senate will be voting on Fair Tax legislation this week, so we really need you to let your legislators know you support a Fair Tax TODAY.  The Fair Tax Constitutional Amendment must pass by May 5th in order to get on the ballot in November.

We must use this opportunity to get the Fair Tax referendum on the ballot and also ensure that 99% of hardworking Illinoisans receive a tax cut!

Please take a minute to contact your state legislators to ask them to support the Fair Tax by voting for House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 59 to get the referendum on the November ballot and House Bill 689, which sets income tax rates for a Fair Tax in Illinois.

As you know, Illinois is only one of a handful of states that does not allow for a Fair Tax, one where those with lower incomes pay lower rates and those with higher incomes pay higher rates. It’s long past time to ensure that everyone pays their fair share here in Illinois. This is a common sense step that will help fund education, public safety and other vital services that we rely on in our state, such as creating affordable housing and ending homelessness.

It’s time to get this done. Click here to email your legislator today and demand that they support a tax cut for working families!

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