Pritzker Signs Legislation Increasing Mental Health Workforce In Illinois

By Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

June 12, 2022

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Governor Pritzker signed Senate Bill 3617 on Friday which is hoped to address the shortage of mental health professionals in Illinois and increase access to high-quality mental health services across the State.

According to the Governor’s Office “The bill temporarily allows professional licensees out of practice for less than five years to reactivate their license with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). The bill also seeks to expand behavioral health training, incentivizes the hiring of individuals in recovery from substance use disorder or mental illness, and makes it easier for advanced practice registered nurses to treat patients.”

“We need a mental healthcare workforce that is robust enough to get people help when they need it—not after months on a waiting list.  I am proud to sign this mental health omnibus bill—training, expanding, and diversifying our behavioral health workforce—into law. This legislation invests in mental health infrastructure—and that infrastructure is people. Our therapists. Our social workers. Our crisis counselors. There is nothing more important than investing in the people who support the health and wellbeing of Illinoisans.” Pritzker said in a statement.

The bill will eliminate barriers to those wishing to re-enter the mental health workforce, such as continuing education credit completion, passing additional examinations, and fee payments.  However, former license holder must be in good standing to have their licenses reactivated. Mental health professionals out of practice for less than five years may restore their license with IDFPR.  The bill enables advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physicians to conduct any required psychiatric visits to patients in Special Mental Health Rehabilitation Facilities.

The Recovery and Mental Health Tax Credit is also created under the bill which creates a program to provide tax incentives to qualified employers who employ eligible individuals who are in recovery from a substance use disorder or mental illness.

“The past couple of years have strained our health professions and underscored the incredible need for a strong mental health workforce to meet increased demand.  We want residents of all ages and of all backgrounds to receive the care and help they deserve, and we can only do that if we have enough qualified professionals able to assist. This measure removes bureaucratic hurdles and will help bring trained professionals back to the field right when we need them the most.”  said Rep. Deb Conroy (D-Elmhurst), sponsor of the bill.

Caterpillar To Increase Dividend

By Sloan T. Wilson, The Chicago Times

June 11, 2022

DEERFIELD, IL – The Board of Directors of Deerfield based Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) approved an increase to the quarterly cash dividend by 9 cents, an 8% increase, to $1.20 per share of common stock, payable August 19, 2022, to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 20, 2022.

“Our dividend increase reflects our strong balance sheet and liquidity position as well as confidence in continued strong free cash flow generation from Machinery, Energy & Transportation (ME&T).  We intend to return substantially all ME&T free cash flow to shareholders over time through dividends and share repurchases.” said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Jim Umpleby

According to CAT, the heavy equipment company has paid a cash dividend every quarter since 1933. For the past 28 years, CAT has paid higher annual dividends to shareholders and is a member of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat Index.

Wheaton: Man Forces Victim To Withdraw Cash From ATM At Gunpoint

By The Chicago Times Staff

June 11, 2022

WHEATON – A 19-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly forcing someone to withdraw cash from an ATM at gunpoint.

According to the DuPage County State’s Attorney, Levern Danley, of Wheaton, has been charged with armed robbery with a firearm.  On Saturday June 4, Danley asked two people preaching the Gospel in a park in Carol Stream for a ride.  A man agreed to give Danley a ride.

Once the male victim and Danley were in the car, Danley brandished a firearm and shoved it into the victim’s stomach and demanded he drive to an ATM in Wheaton and withdraw $400.

According to Wheaton police, Danley was taken into custody on June 10 without incident and is being held on $500,000 bond.

Carjacker Wrecks Stolen Car, Attempts to Strangle Good Samaritan

By J. J. Quincannon, The Chicago Times

June 10, 2022

CHICAGO – A Chicago man smashed a vehicle that he carjacked at gunpoint and choked a good Samaritan before attempting to carjack another vehicle at gunpoint.

According to Cook County prosecutors, a Cook County Judge on Thursday ordered 30-year-old Deshawn Singleton, of the 2200 block of W. Devon, be temporarily held without bail after he was charged with multiple felonies, including vehicular hijacking, attempted vehicular hijacking, aggravated battery.

“The defendant has shown that he’s a loose cannon, whose behavior is erratic and unpredictable.  He creates a significant risk to the community at large.” Assistant State’s Attorney Sean Kelly said in a statement.

According to police, around 8:30 am Singleton allegedly carjacked a female victim who was sitting in her car at the intersection of State Street and 35th Street when out of the blue Singleton burst into the passenger’s side and stuck a gun into the victim’s face shouting “get the F— out the car, bitch”.  Singleton then allegedly fled after the victim was brutally pushed out of her car.

Singleton, allegedly on drugs, then slammed the vehicle into a seawall.  Police said a by-stander attempted to assist Singleton.  In response, Singleton chased and then attempted to strangle the good Samaritan to death.  Another man who witnessed the attempted murder tried to intervene causing Singleton to flee for a second time.  The strangulation victim was later found unconscious.

Singleton was later seen in the 5100 block of South Hyde Park Boulevard where he allegedly attempted to carjack another vehicle.  The second carjacking victim was able to hold off Singleton until CPD was able to assists.

According to police, Singleton was ordered to “freeze” at gunpoint but then “lunged” at the officer to grab his service firearm.  The officer acted professionally and was able to place Singleton into custody.

CTA Approves Monthly Regional Connect Pass

By The Chicago Times Staff

June 10, 2022

CHICAGO — On Wednesday, the Chicago Transit Board backed a new pass called the Regional Connect Pass that could potentially share service between CTA, Metra and Pace services.

The Regional Connect Pass would be available as an add-on for riders who have an unlimited-ride Metra monthly pass and allows unlimited rides on CTA trains and buses and Pace for the entire month.

Pace’s board is the only holdout but is expected to approve the agreement.  The Regional Connect Pass will sell for $30 on the Ventra App and at Metra ticket agent desks on June 20.

Algeria To Sever Trade With Spain

By W. Spencer, The Chicago Times

June 10, 2022

ALGIERS – North African nation Algeria announced suspension trade with Spain over status of Western Sahara.

Algerian government officials made the trade suspension announcement one day after they tore up a 20-year-old “friendship” treaty with Spain which committed both nations to cooperation in controlling migration.  The suspension of trade included exports of products and services.  Algeria has also suspended imports from Spain.

The dispute over Western Sahara has been fuming for some time between Algeria, Spain, and Morocco.  Spain dominated Western Sahara as a colonial power until 1975 when the region was annexed by Morocco.  Algeria has supported an independent Western Sahara and has backed the Polisario movement which seeks independence for the area claimed by Morocco.

According to many foreign policy experts, Algeria is making a power play for the region while Spain and the rest of the European Union are distracted with the war in Ukraine.

In March 2022, Spain formally recognized Moroccan plans to grant the region full autonomy which is just short of full independence.  In response, Algeria recalled its ambassador to Spain.

As a result of the trade suspension, Spain will lose access to Algerian natural gas, which could drive natural gas prices even higher.