Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago 20th) arrived safely in Chicago on Sunday night after being evacuated from St. Maarten, where she was vacationing when Hurricane Irma hit.

In the days after the hurricane hit the island, causing devastating damage, Martinez remained in frequent contact with her office, successfully securing the evacuation of 146 Americans stranded along with her at the resort where she was staying.

“People were depending on me to keep the pressure on our contacts at home to get us out of there,” Martinez said. “I knew that I had to work to get as many people home with me as I could.”

Martinez took shelter in a bathroom during the storm, waiting for over 4 hours while 200+ mph winds battered the hotel. Hurricane Irma was a Category 5 hurricane when it hit St. Maarten, killing at least 27 people on the island.

“You hear how bad a Category 5 hurricane will be, but nothing can prepare you to live through it,” Martinez said. “It was the worst experience of my life.”

In the days following the hurricane, Martinez and others surveyed the damage and made their way to an area with cell phone service where she borrowed a local’s cell phone to call home. There was no power or running water in the aftermath of the storm, and stagnant floodwater posed a risk of infections.

After Martinez’s office established contact with her family and office, they reached out to officials including Gov. Bruce Rauner, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Senate President John Cullerton, Kenneth Romero of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, and Luis Davila-Pernas from the Office of Puerto Rican Federal Affairs in Washington D.C. They in turn worked with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Roselló and Senator Carmelo Rios on an evacuation plan, and by Saturday, Martinez and the other Americans were in Puerto Rico awaiting flights home.

“I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to bring us home,” Martinez said. “Without those efforts, I don’t know if we would have made it out when we did.”

The Department of State along with the Dutch and French embassies continue their efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens remaining on the island.

Category: News Releases

Pills0202082 t rSPRINGFIELD — Emergency medical services personnel will now be able to administer controlled substances without a prescription, thanks to a measure sponsored by Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) and signed into law last Friday.

The law adds “Emergency Medical Services Personnel” to the list of people who can administer Schedule I, II, III and IV controlled substances within the scope of their employment under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act.

The Act recognizes the danger of abuse and misuse of controlled substances and limits the personnel allowed to administer them.

“Although controlled substances do pose a risk and should be treated with great care, they can also provide great benefits for patients when used properly,” Martinez said. “In an emergency situation, responding personnel don’t always have time to wait for a doctor’s approval to use these drugs.”

House Bill 3910 passed both Houses unanimously and takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Category: News Releases

011207br0186 rSPRINGFIELD — Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) said Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of legislation leveling the playing field among businesses competing for state contracts is a blow to local and state business owners.

“This is a governor who claims he is pro-business, but his actions show otherwise,” said Martinez, who sponsored the measure in the Senate. “He is favoring large corporations over the small businesses that are so vital to our state’s economy.”

Rauner issued a veto last Friday of legislation that aims to stop businesses that move to foreign countries to avoid paying state taxes from entering into state contracts.

The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office supported the legislation, saying state contracts should be awarded to local and state businesses that pay their fair share of Illinois income taxes.

"Governor Rauner's veto sends the wrong message to American corporations that engage in offshore tax avoidance schemes," said State Treasurer Michael Frerichs. "Companies that use these unfair tactics to shift taxes onto other Illinois citizens and businesses should not be rewarded with lucrative state contracts."

The measure includes exceptions for companies for which the state contract is awarded as a sole source procurement or companies that are purchasing medical products and/or drugs.

House Bill 3419 received bipartisan support in both Houses and was sent to the governor at the end of June.

Category: News Releases

0914a034x rSPRINGFIELD — Drivers can now apply for a driver’s license that meets federal ID requirements and makes it easier for them to fly, with Gov. Bruce Rauner signing legislation today that Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) advanced out of the Senate earlier this year.

House Bill 395, which Martinez sponsored in the Senate, creates a two-tiered REAL ID system under which applicants for drivers’ licenses and identification cards may choose to apply for either a REAL ID-compliant license/ID card or a non-compliant license/ID card. Becoming REAL ID-compliant is a federal requirement.

“The two-tiered system gives people the option to decide what’s best for them,” Martinez said. “If someone doesn’t need to fly or simply chooses to not go with the REAL ID-compliant license/ID card, then there is an option that will work for them.”

Illinois has been taking strides to become fully REAL ID-compliant and has an extension from the federal government to become compliant by October 2017. However, the Department of Homeland Security has said that by January, 2018, passengers with a driver’s license issued in a state that is not compliant with the REAL ID Act will have to show an alternative form of identification to board a plane.

Under the new law, applicants for REAL ID-compliant identification must present documents including a certified copy of their birth certificate and immigration documents or a U.S. passport. Non-compliant licenses and ID cards will be issued pursuant to current requirements.

“Since the federal government is requiring Illinois to become REAL ID-compliant, the question becomes how to best go about doing this,” Martinez said. “The two-tiered system, which has been used in other states, is the best way for Illinois to have a system in place that meets the needs of our citizens.”

States such as Arizona, Nevada, West Virginia and Wisconsin offer the two options. In Wisconsin, only 22 percent of citizens have chosen to apply for the REAL ID-compliant card. Wisconsin officials have stated that many citizens who do not fly or visit federal facilities have opted for the noncompliant card.  

The federal REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, establishes standards for issuing identification cards and prevents federal agencies from accepting identification cards from states that have not implemented the act’s requirements.

House Bill 395 takes effect immediately.  

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Category: News Releases

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