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SPRINGFIELD… State Representative David Leitch (R-Peoria) joined other Central Illinois legislators in voting for the Fiscal Year 15 State Budget fix legislation aimed at addressing the $1.6 billion shortfall of the State Budget.  Without action, the state would run out of money next month to pay court reporters, prison guards, childcare providers, and other funding including assistance to developmentally disabled and mentally ill.

“I met with countless families affected by the impending cuts to daycare and community-based services.  Further, our Courts would grind to a halt if court reporters were not paid, not to mention the problems within our prison systems by guards’ pay halting.  What was critically important is that the legislature not jeopardize any federal matching funding and minimize the immediate risk to local government funding.

Leitch went on to say, “there is a lot of pain that still comes with this budget fix.  It would be an understatement to say this was nobody’s ideal solution, but it was needed to give Governor Rauner the ability he needs to manage the remainder of the FY 15 state budget.”

“I also want to thank Governor Rauner for being compassionate enough to recognize that the initially proposed cuts to autism funding, developmentally disabled services, and services to the mentally ill, were not prudent budget balancing ideas.  These are areas of the budget I have worked on very hard for many years and the Governor agreed they should be spared from the painful cuts occurring throughout the budget due to the ineptitude of the entrenched super-majority that passed this unbalanced state budget last year.”

House Bills 317 and 318 were the two bills passed on Tuesday to fix the funding shortfall in last year’s state budget in order to allow the state to pay bills through the end of June.  Both bills passed with bipartisan majorities and will now go to the State Senate where it is hoped they will pass this week.

Rep. Leitch can be reached at his Peoria Legislative Office at 309-690-7373.

SPRINGFIELD… State Representative David Leitch (R-Peoria) announced today that two bills he is sponsoring to improve mental health services in Illinois have both cleared committee this morning.

HB 3599 creates the Student Optional Disclosure of Private Mental Health Act.  Under provisions of the act, students would be provided the opportunity to pre-authorize in writing the disclosure of certain private mental health information to a designated person.  The bill was suggested to Rep. Leitch by Kim and Mike Predmore of Bartonville.  The Predmores tragically lost their son, Chris, to suicide.  Mike Predmore urged passage of the bill in emotional testimony presented in the Judiciary-Civil Committee, where the bill passed unanimously this morning. “We understand that not every student will take advantage of this opportunity, but if it helps save the life of even one student- it’s worth it and will help raise mental health awareness on college campuses in Illinois,” said Mike Predmore in his committee testimony on Wednesday.

“This idea is simple, but very important.  This bill enables students to voluntarily pre-authorize release of certain information to a designee like a parent if they have ongoing mental health issues.  Now, when a student turns 18, such notifications are prohibited,” said Leitch from Springfield.  “This is especially important for college-age youth, as this is often the time of life when mental illness can surface.”

Leitch also passed a second bill to increase mental health services through the Human Services Committee this morning.  HB 3753 would integrate mental health services for older adults in primary care medical settings.  “Often, mental health issues for older adults are identified at a much lower rate than other adult populations.  Undiagnosed mental illness for older adults is a huge problem in our care delivery system.  OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria is already moving this direction, but this bill would authorize the Illinois Department of Aging to enact the same protocols,” said Leitch on Wednesday

HB 3753 is supported by AARP, the Community Behavioral Health Association of Illinois, Illinois Coalition on Mental Health & Aging, Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging, as well as the Illinois Department of Aging.  HB 3753 passed unanimously through the Human services committee.

Both HB 3599 and HB 3753 will now go before the full House after clearing their respective committees.  Rep. Leitch can be reached at his Peoria Legislative Office at 309-690-7373.

SPRINGFIELD… State Representative David Leitch (R-Peoria) announced today that a bill he is sponsoring to allow for Cystic Fibrosis License Plates in Illinois has passed the House and will now go the State Senate.

House Bill 1459 was approved 110-3 by the Illinois House.  Under provisions of the bill, cystic fibrosis awareness license plates will be created by the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office.  Funds raised from this new license plate will be deposited in the Cystic Fibrosis Fund.  Money raised in this fashion will then be paid as grants divided evenly between the Chicago and Peoria offices of the Greater Illinois Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for the purpose of cystic fibrosis research, education, awareness, and treatment.

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects not only the lungs, but also the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and intestine.  Long-term issues include difficulty breathing, coughing, and frequent lung infections.  Unfortunately, there is not yet a cure for cystic fibrosis and those afflicted with the condition have an average life expectancy of 37-50 years of age.

Rep. Leitch explained, “We all heard the heartfelt testimony of the Stringer Family of Edelstein in Committee.  It’s important we pass this bill to help not only Lillian Stringer, but all persons suffering from this terrible disease.” 

Troy Stringer and his wife, Andrea, care for their daughter Lillian, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and approached Rep. Leitch about sponsoring this legislation.  Andrea described the impact of Lillian’s condition on her family, “Lillian is six years old and in first grade. She has been in and out of the hospital many times and has had many surgeries, procedures and tests. She is sick a lot and misses a lot of school. Last year, she missed over 30 days of school because of cystic fibrosis. This year she has already missed school due to being in the hospital.  She spends around three hours a day just on her treatments alone, and takes around 30 medications a day.”

“This is for Lillian,” said Troy Stringer of Edelstein, who drove to Springfield to testify in favor of the bill earlier in March on behalf of his daughter, who has suffered from Cystic Fibrosis since birth.  [License plates] will be an ongoing way to raise a little bit of money each year to get us closer to a cure as well as raise awareness.”

Rep. Leitch said he now, “looks forward to this plate helping with research, treatment, and awareness so that we can move toward making life as normal as possible for patients like Lillian.”
Rep. Leitch can be reached at his Peoria Legislative Office at 309-690-7373.