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Conservation Foundation Opposed To Re-mergerposted March 27th, 2015
State Representative Deb Conroy’s plan to merge the DuPage Forest Preserve District and County government stalled in a legislative committee this week. Still, the Naperville based Conservation Foundation is keeping a close eye on the situation. Foundation CEO Brook McDonald hopes the idea is dead. He says going back to the way things were before a separation in the mid-1990s would be a mistake. McDonald tells WDCB News the missions of the County Board and the Forest Preserve Commission will always be at odds. He says over the years the County Board's approved building roads and running utilities through Forest Preserve. In the most obvious examble of the conflicting missions, McDonald says there are landfills in Forest Preserves. He says those kind of issues haven't been a problem since the two groups split. In 1996 the County Board and Forest Preserve Commission unanimously voted to separate the two government agencies. McDonald says the two groups still work very well together, and merging them again offers a solution to a a problem that doesn’t exist.
County Health Rankings Releasedposted March 26th, 2015
DuPage was ranked among Illinois’ healthiest counties in a new report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin. The organizations released their annual county health rankings yesterday. Researchers utilize a complex methodology to rank nearly every county in the country. DuPage ranked especially high when it came to health factors. Julie Willems-Van Dijk is the director of the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps Program. She tells WDCB News health factors are important because they drive healthy outcomes. Van Dijk says the annual rankings provide county leaders who an accessible way to monitor improvements or declines specific health-related categories. She says the results are best used as a rallying point for change.
Affordable Care Act Marks Fifth Anniversaryposted March 26th, 2015
The supporters of the Affordable Care Act know just because the law celebrated its fifth anniversary this week, its future is far from certain. Joan Sheforgen is the interim Executive Director of the Chicago based Campaign for Better Health Care. She says universal healthcare has been a great benefit for millions of Illinois residents. Sheforgen tells WDCB News advocacy groups like the campaign have won some battles, but the war isn’t over. She says the debate is over the soul of America, and its outcome will answer the question "what do we want America to be?" Sheforgen says the Affordable Care Act is the first great social battle in this country since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Republican Ted Cruz announced his Presidential candidacy this week, part of his platform is repealing the Affordable Care Act. Sheforgen says ironically, Cruz and his wife will go on an ACA insurance plan because they’re losing access to her health coverage.
New Documentary Spotlights Sexual Assaults On College Campusesposted March 25th, 2015
A new documentary estimates over 100,000 college students will be sexually assaulted during the current school year, but only five-percent will be reported. The Hunting Ground opened in Chicago this past Friday. Director Kirby Dick sayshe spent time at colleges and universities across the country talking to over 150 victims of sexual assault and examining institutional policies. He uncovered a pattern of blame-the-victim policies that deterred victims from coming forward. Dick says there isn’t a quick-fix for a problem this size. But he tells WDCB News there are steps colleges can take to improve the environment on campuses. Dick says he hopes the film increases awareness and discussion of an issue that many colleges and universities prefer not to talk about.
BBB Warns Of High Interest Tax Refund Loansposted March 25th, 2015
Years ago, state and federal lawmakers imposed restrictions on pay-day loan companies. Now there is a push to curb another short term borrowing tool that frequently targets low income individuals. Better Business Bureau Chicago President Steve Bernas says the number of companies offering “tax refund anticipation” loans has sky-rocketed. He tells WDCB News the BBB supports stronger consumer protections for the high interest deals. Bernas says there is sometimes a high probability of default on the short term loans. He says consumers really need to understand what they're getting themselves into, and with these agreements especially there can be a very very high APR. Bernas says interest rates at 80% or even higher aren’t uncommon for “tax refund anticipation” loans. A measure under consideration in Congress would cap rates at 36%.
Is Domestic Politics Influencing International Policy?posted March 25th, 2015
A top Republican senator says the White House faces a `violent backlash'' in Congress if a nuclear deal with Iran goes to the United Nations before Congress. The U.S. and its partners are trying to reach a deal by the end of the month that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Senator Lindsey Graham says that if there is a framework deal by the end of the month, the Senate will vote on legislation requiring congressional review of any deal. North Central College political science professor Dr. Bill Muck tells WDCB News Republicans in Congress are taking some unprecedented steps to hinder President Barack Obama’s ability to negotiate with Iran. U.S. and its international partners have set a March 31st deadline to have a preliminary accord in place with Iran.
Immigration Group Unsure Of Governor Raunerposted March 24th, 2015
Immigration reform advocates can’t decide if they have a friend or a foe in the Governor’s mansion. The Chicago based Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights says it’s getting mixed messages from Governor Bruce Rauner. Rauner didn’t join a lawsuit by other Republican Governors
against President Obama’s executive order on immigration. But the Coalition’s Fred Tsao says the new administration wants to cut funding for immigrant services. Tsao tells WDCB News cuts in the next state budget could eliminate programs. He says a number of the service providers are operating on a thin margin and any interuption in state funding could cause them to layoff staff members or even close their doors. Tsao says the reality is once an organization shuts its door it's very hard to get them to reopen. The Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights met with candidate Rauner last fall. Tsao says it wants to build on the relationship now that he’s Governor.
Push To Boost Monarch Butterfly Numbersposted March 23rd, 2015
For Monarch butterflies, milkweed is a matter life and death. The iconic orange and black sign of summer only lays its eggs on the plant, and the caterpillars that become Monarchs feed exclusively on it. Lawmakers are considering a proposal to create a Monarch butterfly specialty license plate. The proceeds would fund planting milkweed across the state. DuPage Forest Preserve naturalist and educator Jack MacRae says there is a nationwide effort to bring more native plants into the landscape. He says every little bit of habitat restoration helps, so even a small patch of milkweed in your yard would be helpful. MacRae says there's a movement underway that encourages every land owner in the United States to dedicate a 10 foot by 10 foot piece of property to native plant species to boost habitat across the country. Over the weekend, the DuPage Forest Preserve gave away packets of milkweed seeds at the Glen Ellyn Public Library. MacRae says the plant can be a very colorful addition to your yard.
Legislation Would Allow Municipal Bankruptcy Filingposted March 20th, 2015
Right now, if communities in Illinois want to file for bankruptcy protection they must first get approval from the state. Downers Grove Republican Ron Sandack wants to change that. He’s introducing legislation that would provide a blanket authorization for all municipalities. Sandack tells WDCB News his proposal won’t let cities walk away from their debt. He says Chapter 9 protection doesn't have a liquidation provision, rather it's limited to adjusting or restructuring current debt. Sandack says it would give municipalities room to breath and a way to more easily manage mounting expenses like pensions. He doesn’t know if any local governments would take advantage of Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. Sandack says since 1937 only two Illinois cities have tried and they were rebuked because they didn’t get state approval first. He says no Mayor or City Council member wants to be the person who suggests a bankruptcy filing.