fine committee march2023SPRINGFIELD – Obtaining official transcripts can be a roadblock for college and university students across Illinois if they owe a past-due debt to the institution. This can hamper their efforts to pursue post-graduate opportunities. State Senator Laura Fine introduced legislation to address this issue, making transcripts more accessible to students, as well as requiring universities to make the process of withholding transcripts more transparent.

“Whether a student is seeking employment or further education after graduation, they will likely need their transcript to demonstrate their academic record and achievements in higher education,” said Fine (D-Glenview). “This legislation will help students who may be struggling financially access  their transcripts.”

Senator Fine, who is a former college instructor,  is a longtime advocate of supporting university students working to pay off their student debt. Last year, she passed legislation prohibiting universities from withholding transcripts from students with a past-due debt if the transcript is needed for a job application. This ensured students would be able to use their hard-earned transcripts to find a well-paying job, from which they could repay their debts to the university and pursue a career best suited to the skill set they developed in college.

Senate Bill 49 would expand on this legislation by requiring institutions to provide official transcripts to current or former students if the student requires the transcript to transfer to a different institution, to apply for financial aid, to join the U.S. Armed Forces or to pursue other post-secondary opportunities. The measure also would require higher education institutions to outline the process a current or former student must go through to obtain a transcript or diploma that has been withheld due to debt to the university — making sure students have a clear path to receive their transcripts if they are being withheld.

“A student’s debt does not negate their hard work and academic success,” said Fine. “This initiative will guarantee they are able to access their transcripts to pursue further education, apply for jobs, or transfer to other institutions based on their achievements..”

Senate Bill 49 passed the Higher Education committee on Tuesday, March 7. It now goes to the Senate floor for debate.


Category: Press Releases

fine choate

SPRINGFIELD – This morning, the Illinois Department of Human Services and Governor Pritzker announced their comprehensive plan to improve care at Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center. Following this announcement, State Senator Laura Fine and State Representative Lindsay LaPointe, chairs of the Mental Health Committees in the Senate and House respectively, responded to this plan.

“I am encouraged by the proposed changes from DHS. The safety of mental and behavioral health patients needs to be the top priority,” said Senator Fine. “I applaud DHS and the Governor for announcing a plan that prioritizes patients. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with them and other partners to best support patients at Choate and their caregivers.”  

Equip for Equality, the independent, federally mandated Protection and Advocacy organization; the IDHS Inspector General; and the Illinois State Police have all been reviewing abuse and neglect allegations at Choate and making constructive recommendations to the state about the center’s future. To address the issues found, DHS has proposed a comprehensive plan including:

  • Repurposing the Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center (“Choate”) over three years in partnership with the SIU School of Medicine, and
  • Implementing new safety enhancements at Choate and across all state-operated developmental centers including appointing a chief resident safety officer, and
  • Expanding support for families and individuals to pursue opportunities for community-based living while continuing to invest in provider capacity.

In coordination with their families and guardians, and with support from the SIU School of Medicine, a majority of the current residents at the Choate Center in Anna who have  intellectual and developmental disabilities will have the opportunity to transition into community-based settings or other state centers where they will receive comprehensive, personalized care.

During the next three years, portions of the Choate campus will be repurposed to meet patient capacity and other urgent state needs. Safe, gradual and carefully planned resident transitions will take place in close coordination with residents themselves, and their families and/or guardians. Resident well-being and dignity will guide every step of the process.

While this initiative will be carried out over several years, IDHS is taking additional, immediate action to protect resident safety, including hiring 10 new staff for the Office of the Inspector General and appointing Ryan Thomas IDHS’ first-ever chief resident safety officer. IDHS is also partnering with the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Arc of Illinois to launch a Family Liaison Team to support families, guardians and residents with questions and concerns about the change to provide peer support, resources and friendship for those experiencing fear and/or uncertainty.

“First and foremost, it’s critical that the well-being and dignity of every resident of the Choate campus is prioritized during a thoughtful transition period,” LaPointe said. “Upon hearing media reports of abuse this summer, I traveled to Choate and immediately got to work. I look forward to ongoing work with DHS and others to make this critical plan a reality, which includes relentlessly building up our community-based developmental disabilities system and shrinking our 14,000 person PUNS list."

Senator Fine and Representative LaPointe look forward to seeing this plan in action and collaborating with stakeholders to address issues at Choate. 

Category: Press Releases

Fine BudgetAddressSPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker gave his annual State of the State address on Wednesday, proposing budget allocations for FY24. After hearing his remarks, State Senator Laura Fine is highlighting the governor’s proposed investments in environmental protections and services for people with developmental disabilities.

“We need to do all we can to protect our environment. Pollutants are negatively impacting our air and water quality,” said Fine (D-Glenview). “Investing in our environment’s protection and sustainability is vital to supporting Illinois’ future. This proposed budget sets a cleaner path for the protection of our children’s generation.”

The proposed budget allocates $580 million to the Department of Natural Resources to invest in environmental protections. It also allocates $870 million to the Environmental Protection Agency, $20 million of which would fund the Electric Vehicle rebate, to remove pollutants and encourage sustainable consumption to slow the progress of climate change.

Additionally, the proposed budget provides over $2 billion for services for people with developmental disabilities—a nearly $200 million increase to previous funding. This investment will support pay raises for direct service providers, increasing staffing at facilities, and more.

“As the chair of the Behavioral and Mental Health committee, improving the quality of life for our most vulnerable residents is a top priority. I am dedicated to investing in the facilities and programs in our state to reach that goal for both residents and staff,” Fine said. “Increasing staffing will ensure residents with developmental disabilities are getting the best care possible from providers in a healthy environment.”

Senator Fine looks forward to working with the governor and her colleagues in the General Assembly to negotiate the finalized budget.

Category: Press Releases

FineQuote 2023 FBSPRINGFIELD – On Jan. 11, 2023, State Senator Laura Fine was honored to be sworn into her second term representing the 9th District.

“It is the privilege of a lifetime to serve my community in the Illinois State Senate,” Fine (D-Glenview) said. “In this next term, I am excited to continue my work increasing mental health care access for people throughout the state.”

Senator Fine joined the Illinois Senate in 2018 after serving in the Illinois House of Representatives. As the chair of the Behavioral and Mental Health Committee, Fine has worked to increase access to mental health care for people across the state and incentivize more people to enter the mental health workforce. She has also focused on increasing affordable insurance coverage, protecting our environment, and supporting our seniors.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in this new General Assembly to address several issues impacting our state,” Fine said. “Together, we will work on legislation that will assist and uplift communities across Illinois.” 

Senator Fine represents Illinois’ 9th District, which includes all or portions of Evanston, Skokie, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Morton Grove, Glenview, Northbrook, Golf and Winnetka. All 59 state senators were sworn into office today to serve in Illinois’ 103rd General Assembly.

Category: Press Releases

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Contact Information

Springfield Office:
121-A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2119

District Office:
1812 Waukegan Road
Suite A
Glenview, IL 60025
(847) 998-1717