Senator VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) voted to advance a pension fund consolidation bill from the Illinois Senate yesterday. The measure would consolidate all local police and fire pension systems outside of Chicago into two larger funds.

“We have 649 pension funds that are getting a wide range of returns on our investments,” Villivalam said. “We need to consolidate and use a more strategic approach so that taxpayers are getting the best returns they can. While this plan isn’t perfect, we’re doing it in a way that protects benefits for our first responders.”

The legislation allows local pension funds to keep their authority to rule on benefits, but transfers all assets and investment authority to the newly consolidated funds over a 30-month transition period.

The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget estimates that this consolidation would save $160 million per year. This plan is supported by the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois and the Illinois Municipal League.

“I am committed to working with municipalities so that they are able to continue to make their pension obligations,” Villivalam said. “State and local governments can work together to address the challenges we face.”

Senate Bill 1300 awaits the governor’s signature.

Category: News

Consul General of IndiaSPRINGFIELD – Indian Consul General Sudhakar Dalela was welcomed to Springfield thanks to efforts lead by State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago). Villivalam facilitated various meetings between Consul General Dalela, Governor Pritzker and other Illinois leaders before Consul General Dalela addressed the Illinois House and Senate.

Villivalam, the first elected Indian-American legislator in Illinois, highlighted the importance of our state’s relationship with India.

“India is the largest democracy in the world, and with democracies in decline across the globe, it is more important than ever to preserve our relationship,” Villivalam said. “India contributes so much to our county – and to Illinois in particular. I’m very grateful that the Consul General came to Springfield and showed his commitment to our state.”

In his address, Dalela touched on the United States’ and India’s shared democratic values.

“As vibrant democracies, India and the U.S. share many common values and aspirations,” Dalela said. “Our partnership is based on our shared values, such as respect for rule of law, human freedom, free and independent media, and a strong civil society.”

Upholding mutually beneficial economic relations and trade agreements, though, were Dalela’s primary focuses. As the economic hub of the Midwest, Chicago and Illinois enjoy wide-ranging partnerships with India in areas such as trade, education, business and technology. Over 100 Illinois-based companies have locations in India, and Illinois exports roughly $723 million in goods to India.

Sudhakar Dalela has served in the Indian Foreign Service since 1993 and has been stationed in Israel, Brazil, Switzerland, Bangladesh and Washington, D.C. before serving the Midwest in Chicago. Before his work in the Indian Foreign Service, Dalela was a representative for the Permanent Mission of India to the World Trade Organization, a Director in the Prime Minister’s Office and a Joint Secretary overseeing India’s relations with Bhutan and Nepal.

Category: News

Senator VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) voted to pass two sweeping ethics measures out of the Illinois Senate today. The legislation enhances current ethics laws and creates a bipartisan commission to make recommendations on where the laws can be strengthened.

“We must acknowledge the crisis of democracy we currently face,” Villivalam said. “We need to continue to work on regaining faith in government – both in Springfield and in Washington. We must work to restore public trust so future generations can have an accountable, democratic form of government.”

Senate Bill 1639 creates the following reforms:

  • Increases what must be disclosed on a Statement of Economic Interests.
  • Requires the secretary of state to create a database of lobbyist contributions, statements of economic interests filed by State officials, among other items.
  • Requires lobbyists to disclose their subcontractors.

House Joint Resolution 93 creates the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform. The Commission will consist of 16 members appointed by legislative leaders, the governor, the secretary of state and the attorney general. No member may have been a lobbyist in the past five years. The Commission will hold a series of public hearings to review various ethics laws and make final recommendations by March 31, 2020.

In addition to this measure, Senator Villivalam plans to introduce other pieces of ethics legislation that would reform campaign finance laws, address conflicts of interest and make the Legislative Inspector General truly independent.

Senate Bill 1639 awaits the governor’s signature.

Category: News

Senator VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) supported legislation that would end pharmaceutical price gouging practices for prescription insulin.

“This is a matter of values,” Villivalam said. “We need to value people over profits and ensure that everyone has access to the health care they need to survive.”

The measure would cap prescription insulin copayments at $100 per 30-day supply. It also directs the attorney general to investigate rising prescription insulin costs and to make pro-consumer recommendations to the General Assembly.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are over 30 million Americans who have diabetes, 7.4 million of which require prescription insulin every day to survive. The price of insulin has tripled between 2002 and 2013, which has led to many patients rationing their insulin and sacrificing other daily needs to pay for insulin.

If passed into law, Illinois would be the second state to cap insulin copayments. Colorado passed a similar law earlier this year.

Senate Bill 667 passed in the Senate and will move to the House for consideration.

Category: News

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