DeWitte co-sponsoring legislation to help prevent social isolation in nursing homes

State Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, recently updated area Chamber of Commerce organizations on legislation that he is sponsoring, including a bill addressing social isolation in nursing homes because of the pandemic.

DeWitte spoke to the organizations, including Elgin, Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles chambers of commerce, as part of a Zoom webinar.

“I guess the good news is here is Springfield, we are back in business,” DeWitte said. “We got back to a normal legislative schedule starting in early April, right after Easter. We are all still operating under very tight COVID testing, a very tight testing protocol. Legislators and staff members have to be tested every two days. Staff has to do the same thing. They have to check in with their respective supervisors on a regular basis.”

One bill he is co-sponsoring that recently received unanimous approval in the Illinois State Senate would require all long-term care facilities in Illinois to adopt and implement written policies and procedures to help prevent social isolation of nursing home residents, including making technology available for online visits with loved ones.

The legislation sets forth specific requirements for addressing social isolation prevention and mandates that inspections of facilities include a determination of whether facilities are in compliance with social isolation prevention protocols. Adherence to the social isolation prevention policies would be a condition of licensure.

He also talked about a bill that he is sponsoring that gives the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency full oversight over the installation of water systems in commercial and residential developments within the state.

“Currently, engineers have to have the water system approved by the Illinois EPA, but then when it comes to particularly fire hydrants and their various appurtenances, those have to be signed off by the Illinois Department of Health,” DeWitte said. “So it requires developers and engineers to deal with two totally separate state agencies, which makes the process very complicated. I guess the best way to describe what’s going on right now is a turf war between the IDPH and IEPA.”

Regarding another piece of legislation, DeWitte said he was approached by the Illinois Association of Park Districts to see about opening up the available investments that any government entity – such a municipality, a park district or a library district – can start investing their reserve funds in.

“I think that is a good bill for all government entities that have the opportunity to make more prudent, more aggressive investments in their reserve funding,” DeWitte said.

DeWitte also talked about another bill he recently sponsored that the Illinois State Senate recently unanimously approved that improves local taxing bodies’ ability to properly budget based on property assessment data.

“The good news is whatever you’re told your assessment may be that year, you can be assured you will see 100 percent of that money the following year when it pays out,” he said. “I believe that’s going to be a very good bill for every government entity that shows up on everyone’s property tax line. And as troublesome and as problematic and as expensive as property taxes are in this state, at a minimum, every taxpayer deserves to have every dollar of that money reinvested in those government entities that they count on for services.”

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.