Human trafficking ArticleA plan that could help people escape the horrors of human trafficking became law today.

Starting January 1, Illinois state government will post signs warning about the dangers of human trafficking and display the phone number of the national human trafficking hotline in high-traffic areas, such as truck stops, bus stations, train stations, airports and rest stops.

“Human trafficking victims are normally kept very tightly controlled,” said state Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield). “Transit hubs are among the few places they are allowed out in public. A woman at a train station or truck stop might have the opportunity to seek help.”

More than one study has identified Chicago as a national hub of human trafficking, but exact numbers are hard to pinpoint. A 2007 study estimated that 16,000 to 25,000 women and girls are involved in the commercial sex trade in the Chicago metropolitan area, and at least some of them are likely victims of human trafficking.

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Human Services MeetingState Senator Julie Morrison recently invited 30 organizations that provide services to seniors, people with disabilities and low-income children in the North Shore area to a meeting about the governor’s proposed cuts to human services programs and the impact of the state budget impasse.

She asked these local leaders to explain the likely outcome of the governor’s plans. Almost across the board, they responded that reduced funding will require them to lay off employees and reduce services.

They also noted that the administration has proposed other changes, such as increasing the threshold of a key eligibility test, that would result in greatly reduced services for children with autism, people with disabilities and others.

“On July 1, the over 1,200 adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities served by Glenkirk and Search, Inc. will be faced with the elimination of vital services and supports,” said John Lipscomb, CEO of the Keystone Alliance. “It is imperative that the governor and legislature come together to solve this crisis as quickly as possible by passing a sustainable budget that invests in the community.”

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Morrison Senior Meeting

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PaperworkA plan that should make it easier to open a business in Illinois has made it through the General Assembly. The legislation would require the state to put all permit and license applications online on one centralized website.

“It's ridiculous that the state has business licensing forms scattered across more than a half dozen websites,” said Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), the measure’s sponsor. “Some are still even paper-only. If we want to be competitive, we have to move into the 21st century.”

Right now, business owners who need more than one license or permit normally have to visit several different state and local government websites and fill out forms both on paper and online. To see if they qualify for any economic development programs, they have to contact even more state agencies.

Many other states do better, putting all of these forms and all of this information in one place.

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