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Silverstein’s domestic workers rights bill becomes law

silverstein dom wrkrs signedSPRINGFIELD – The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, sponsored by State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) to establish provisions for overtime, wages, days off and other protections for Illinois domestic workers was signed by the governor late Friday.

Domestic workers will no longer be exempt from the Minimum Wage Law, Illinois Human Rights Act, One Day Rest in Seven Act and Wages of Women and Minors Act. House Bill 1288 defines what constitutes domestic work and expands rights for this class of workers from which they are now exempt.

“I am pleased to see domestic workers gain the same rights and protections as all working people in Illinois,” said Senator Silverstein. “Domestic workers are striving to provide for their families and current law makes their struggle more difficult, and unfair, while they play an important role in Illinois’ economy.”

Domestic workers are defined in HB 1288 to include workers in homes performing house cleaning, caring for children, ill or older family members, laundry, cooking or other home tasks.

According to proponents who include the Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Women Employed, and labor and immigrant rights groups, 23% of domestic workers are paid below minimum wage and 58% of live-in workers are required to work during their scheduled time off.

“Their work is vital to families' homes, but they are often exploited. They continue to work because they need the money and have no recourse,” said Wendy Pollack, founder and director of the Women's Law and Policy Project at the Shriver Center.

The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights takes effect January 1, 2017.

Two Silverstein measures to support young adults signed into law

silverstein 042116SPRINGFIELD– Two measures from Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago) were signed into law by the governor on Friday: one to protect students from sexual assault on campus and another to waive GED fees for homeless young people.

Addressing rampant campus sexual assault takes stronger actions than what exist now. Sen. Silverstein’s Senate Bill 2839 amends the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act. The change clarifies that sanctions for a student who violates the institution’s sexual violence policy may include suspension, expulsion, or removal of the student after complaint resolution procedures.

“Colleges and universities need to employ greater authority to get sex offenders away from campus,” Senator Silverstein said. “California passed a law like this last year and it makes sense for Illinois.”

Sen. Silverstein’s Senate Bill 2840 waives fees paid by homeless young people for the four test modules of the GED exams, a cost of $30 each and paid to regional superintendents. Applicants will complete a prep course through an Illinois Community College Board-approved provider and take the exam at a testing center operated by a regional superintendent of schools or the Cook County High School Equivalency Office.

“Not having a fixed address often means young people find it difficult to attend school, but if a young homeless person takes the initiative to advance their education, we need to remove this financial barrier,” Sen. Silverstein said. “I think foregoing the fees of $120 to $130 is a good investment in a homeless teen or his family to further his education and his future.”

Senate Bills 2839 and 2840 will take effect January 1, 2017.

Senate approves Silverstein measure to expel or suspend from college for sexual assault

silverstein 042116SPRINGFIELD– A proposal from Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago) to bolster higher education institutions’ options to protect students from sexual violence on campus was approved by the Senate yesterday.

Addressing rampant campus sexual assault takes stronger actions than what exists now. Sen. Silverstein’s Senate Bill 2839 amends the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act. The change would clarify that sanctions for a student who violates the institution’s sexual violence policy may include suspension, expulsion, or removal of the student after complaint resolution procedures.

“Sex offenders don’t belong on our campuses – colleges and universities need broader authority to get those violators away from students who deserve greater safety,”  Silverstein said. “A law like this passed in California last year and it makes sense for Illinois.”

The Preventing Sexual Violence on Campus Act, effective August 21, 2015, required all Illinois institutions of higher education to set plans, processes and comprehensive policy for survivors, adjudicate allegations, and train and communicate to students and employees on campus sexual violence.

Senate Bill 2839 received unanimous approval Thursday. It now goes to House for further consideration.

Silverstein ice missiles measure shot down

silverstein iceSPRINGFIELD– It sounds like a weapon used in a James Bond film: ice missiles. But they are real, deadly and the target of a legislative proposal from Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago) to prevent them and to penalize those who cause them. In spite of the statistics on the dangers ice missiles present to motorists, the Senate Transportation Committee did not approve the proposal.

An ice missile is a large chunk of ice or snow that flies off a large truck on the highway. Many Illinois drivers have seen this occur and may have wondered what could happen if the split-second fall of ice were to hit another vehicle.

Sen. Silverstein’s proposal in Senate Bill 634 would require a person operating a vehicle weighing more than 8,000 pounds to remove ice and snow that poses a safety threat to other vehicles and drivers. Nearly 100 deaths and thousands of accidents happen each year.

“Each year in Illinois, we are almost guaranteed several days of winter weather that create these hazardous conditions, enough to warrant a change to the state vehicle code to protect drivers from this risk,” Silverstein said. “I believe it is reasonable to ask truck drivers who use Illinois roads for commerce to make an effort to protect motorists by clearing ice and snow from their trucks. With this bill failing in committee, I fear this kind of accident may happen again.

The legislation met with strong opposition from the Illinois Trucking Association, Midwest Truckers, National Waste and Recycling Association and Illinois Coal Association.

Pete Morano joined Sen. Silverstein in Springfield to tell his story to the Senate Transportation Committee. His injuries from an ice missile incident in 2010 left him without vision in his left eye after three surgeries to rebuild his face. Pete wants to prevent other families from the losses his family and the Stutson family have suffered.

“I understand their concerns and appreciate their willingness to tell their stories and advocate for change to prevent future ice missile accidents,” Silverstein said. “I know of manufacturers and motor carriers that offer a variety of snow-removal systems, and I do not believe this would be a burden on the trucking industry.”

Senator Ira I. Silverstein

Majority Caucus Chair Ira I. Silverstein

8th District
Majority Caucus Chair

Years served:
1999 - Present

Committee assignments: Executive (Vice-Chairperson); Financial Institutions; Executive Appointments; Insurance; Judiciary; Committee of the Whole.

Biography: Attorney; Degrees from Loyola University in 1982 and John Marshall Law School in 1985; past President of the Northtown Community Council; board member of the Korean Senior Center; member of the Greek Pan-Hellenic Laconian organization; Director of the Bernard Horwich JCC; married (wife, Debra), has four children.