Gabel: Spotlight on new state laws
Beginning this month, financial assistance and co-payments for child-care services will increase, benefiting both families and providers through the Illinois Department of Human Services' Child Care Assistance Program.
Family payments or co-payments will be reduced, lowering the monthly expense for families with incomes at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Limit to just $1.
Eighty percent of all families will see a permanent reduction in their monthly co-pay. Family payments will remain capped at 7% of family income. Going forward, families will now remain eligible until the family's income surpasses 250% of the Federal Poverty Level, expanding from the current cap of 225%, bringing the program in line with the current FPL and State Median Income amounts.
Payments will increase on a sliding scale, based on family income. To help child-care providers stay open and recover from the pandemic and the corresponding economic downturn, this new law increases reimbursement rates by 3.5% for providers.
Student athletes now will be allowed to receive much-deserved compensation and endorsement deals while in college. For years, higher education institutions have profited from the talents and time those students have put into their sports programs. While some have received scholarships, they have all previously been banned from directly receiving a salary or any payment for their athletic efforts. This new law will, for the first time, give student athletes control over their names, images, likenesses, or voices in any sport and any division.
Illinois is one of the first states to enact this change. Not only does this initiative take a step in the right direction for fairness and respect, but it also serves as an enticement for prospective students who are still making a decision about where to enroll.
While it aims to make it easier for students to stay in school and finish earning their degrees, it also may potentially draw more talented, motivated young adults to Illinois, eventually growing our economy and our state.
I recently collaborated with safety advocates to introduce and pass a measure to fund railroad trespassing safety in response to hazards at places other than designated crossings. Previously, funds were focused on making improvements directly at grade crossings.
This also allows funding for safety treatments to deter trespassing at any railroad area. These projects can include measures such as overpasses, improved signals and crossing gates. This new law aims to reduce suicides and save lives, as well as prevent injuries and accidents.