SPRINGFIELD – In 2015, State Senator Ira Silverstein (D–Chicago) sponsored legislation to ban dangerous powdered alcohol and set fines for its sale and purchase. Senate Bill 67 passed, was signed into law (Public Act 99-0051) and took effect on January 1, 2016. More than 30 other states have passed similar laws.
Now, Senator Silverstein is seeking a tougher position: Senate Bill 121 would ban possession of powdered alcohol statewide and sets penalties for possession. A person found guilty of possession would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense.
Any crystal substance of powder containing alcohol is considered “powdered alcohol.” The powder may be dissolved in liquid such as mixers or juice or it could be sprinkled on food. It can be eaten or snorted without mixing and could be sold in small packets or capsules.
“Along with our law and those of more than 30 other states, several municipalities have banned sale and possession of powdered alcohol,” Silverstein said. “If another state does choose to allow its sale, it could easily be brought into Illinois. The risk of alcohol poisoning and this product’s easily concealable form are just two reasons possessing this type of alcohol must be prevented.”
Senate Bill 191 was approved by the Senate Criminal Law Committee Tuesday; it will be considered by the full Senate soon.
SPRINGFIELD – 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.
SPRINGFIELD– 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.
SPRINGFIELD– 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.
Senator Ira I. Silverstein
Majority Caucus Chair
Years served: 1999 - Present
Committee assignments: Executive (Vice Chairperson); Executive Appointments; Financial Institutions; Gaming; Judiciary; Revenue.
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.