The workers’ compensation reform package approved by the General Assembly should be considered a beginning, not a time for unfurling a “mission accomplished” banner.The package is a good first step toward controlling costs. But it is only a first step.

The biggest move is a 30 percent reduction in the medical fee schedule for doctors. That still leaves Illinois with among the highest compensation rates in the country. If passage of this bill is used as an excuse to turn away from further reform, it will hurt more than help Illinois’ competitiveness in attracting more jobs.

The “reform” still doesn’t address the “causation” standard. The Illinois State Chamber of Commerce wanted the standard raised so that the workplace would have to be the major contributing cause of an accident or injury.

Read more: Workers' comp measure a step in right direction

raoul-reformSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D–Chicago) has passed legislation making substantial reforms to Illinois’ workers’ compensation system. These reforms make the state economic climate more attractive and save Illinois businesses more than $500 million. House Bill 1698 addresses abuses in the system, while still ensuring that legitimately injured workers can file and receive their claims.

Initially House Bill 1698 passed out of the Senate and failed in the Illinois House. After being reconsidered in the House, the measure passed on Tuesday and will now head to Governor Pat Quinn’s desk for approval.

Senator Raoul negotiated with members of the business community, medical community, trial lawyers and labor unions to reach an agreement on workers’ compensation. After months of talks, this legislation represents a consensus between most of the parties involved.

Read more: Reform saves Illinois Businesses more than $500 million

Lawmakers see productive 5 monthsSPRINGFIELD – When the last gavel came banging down last week, Illinois lawmakers wrapped up a five-month stretch that, for better or worse, ranks among the Legislature’s most productive in decades.

They tackled the state’s woeful budget. Rejecting Gov. Pat Quinn’s push to increase spending, legislators did something that seems simple but rarely happens in Springfield: They figured out how much money was available and then spent only that much. Hoping to bring in some new money, they also approved a huge expansion of gambling: five new casinos, growth at existing casinos, and slot machines at racetracks.

Just in case anyone was getting bored, legislators overhauled workers’ compensation, cut back on teachers’ job security and approved higher electric rates to pay for modernizing the state power grid. And the Democratic majority drew up new Democrat-friendly legislative and congressional districts.

That flurry of activity came after a January push that saw them raise income taxes, legalize civil unions and abolish the death penalty.

In honor of Black History month, members of the Illinois Senate Black Caucus spoke about their thoughts on the famous historical figures that have influenced their lives. Click below to watch Senator Kwame Raoul reflect on the importance of Haitian Revolutionaries.

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CHICAGO — With Soldier Field in Chicago as the backdrop today, Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) team up with 1985 Super Bowl Champs Richard Dent, Kurt Becker as well as NFL executives, the Illinois High School Association, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital to push legislation through the Senate that tackles the vital issue of concussion education.

“The sports community has really stepped up to the plate to help us bring awareness to this vitally important issue of concussion education,” said Cross.  “With Sen. Raoul’s help and leadership in the Senate we will make concussion education a requirement for our student athletes and their parents.”

“I truly appreciate Leader Cross’s unwavering devotion to raising the profile of concussion education,” said Raoul. “From little league football to the NFL, and all levels and types of sports, we must do what we can in state government to make sure that girls and boys, men and women better protect themselves from potentially life-altering head injuries.”

Read more: Raoul, Cross teams up with Bears to pass concussion education legislation (VIDEO)