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  • martinez 022019SPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) issued the following statement after Gov. JB Pritzker delivered his first budget address Wednesday:

    “Gov. Pritzker has proposed a balanced budget that takes seriously our commitment to restoring stability to Illinois after years of uncertainty.

    “I was glad to see the governor prioritize education by exceeding the minimum amount of required by our new school funding formula and by investing in early childhood and higher education.

    “Even though he did not mention it in his budget address, I know Gov. Pritzker has made a commitment to immigrants in our state and I look forward to talking with him more about providing and protecting vital immigrant services.”

     

  • steans 022019SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to Gov. JB Pritzker’s first budget address: 

    “Having the governor propose a balanced budget is a positive step toward restoring stability to our state and ensuring long-term functionality within our government.  Illinois continues to face structural budget challenges and I am encouraged that Governor Pritzker is addressing them head on.

    “I look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues in the Senate over the next few months to develop a budget that significantly moves Illinois toward a solution that achieves financial certainty and builds trust that Illinois is back on the right track.” 

  • Illinois Legislative Black Caucus SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) responded to Gov. JB Pritzker’s first budget address on Wednesday.

    Leaders of the Black Caucus discussed some of the main issues facing black communities, ranging from criminal justice reform to higher education.

    State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford, Chairman of the ILBC:

    “The governor’s budget plan is a great start to tackle some of the key challenges we are facing including ensuring a living wage for working families and that students around the state receive a quality education.

    “His speech was very realistic about the hole that we are in and how we can climb out of it over time, while continuing to support crucial services like mental health support and violence prevention programs.

    “We look forward to working with our colleagues and the governor’s administration to guarantee that the issues facing the black community are prioritized in the next state budget.”

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  • Sen. Heather A. SteansSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) introduced legislation yesterday that will crack down on corporations shifting their profits to offshore tax havens.

    Her measure would convert Illinois’ corporate tax system from mandatory “water’s edge” combined reporting that includes only companies with more than 20 percent of their business activity in the United States to a default worldwide combined reporting requirement.

    Steans said at a press conference today that her legislation will provide much-needed revenue for Illinois.

    “We want a fair income tax. That’s going to take time, but we need revenue for our state now,” Steans said. “This is one part of a solution, but it’s a critical one.”

  • State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) joins with her colleagues and health advocates at a press conference in Springfield this afternoon in support of Tobacco 21. The measure passed the Senate Public Health Committee and will now head to the Senate floor for further debate.SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) joined her colleagues and health advocates at a press conference in the Capitol this afternoon to announce a renewed effort to combat teen smoking by raising the age to legally purchase tobacco products in Illinois to 21.

    Today’s press conference comes after a recent study by the American Lung Association that highlights Illinois’ failure to do enough to cut down on tobacco and e-cigarette use.

    “Illinois has a real opportunity to make a major impact to bring down smoking rates among teenagers,” Morrison said. “Tobacco 21 will reduce access in our young populations, bring down overall smoking rates over time and save the state millions in health care costs.”

    Morrison sponsored an identical proposal last year that was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner despite passing on a bipartisan vote in both the Senate and the House.

    Meanwhile, municipalities and local governments across the state have stepped up and enacted their own Tobacco 21 laws. Suburban Arlington Heights became the latest municipality to institute Tobacco 21 on Jan. 7. Thirty-four Illinois communities and six states have already raised the age to purchase tobacco to 21.

    “With the rise of easily concealable and fruit and candy flavored tobacco products, Tobacco 21 is important now more than ever,” said Kathy Drea, vice president of advocacy for the American Lung Association.

    Morrison’s proposal, contained in Senate Bill 21, was introduced on Jan. 9 and passed the Senate Public Health Committee this afternoon on a 8-4 vote. The measure now heads to the Senate floor for further debate.

  • peters 010919SPRINGFIELD —State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) joined colleagues on Wednesday to be sworn in to the Illinois State Senate, replacing former Senator Kwame Raoul.

    Peters is a former community organizer who was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side. He overcame immense personal hurdles in his early life, having been born deaf and with a speech impediment, and credits his community for never letting him down.

    “I hope my appointment to the Senate shows other young people that it doesn’t take bootstraps to succeed – it takes community,” Peters said. “As senator, I will give back to those who gave me a chance by focusing on issues important to my district, like a balanced budget, criminal justice reform, clean energy jobs and quality public education.”

    Peters has also been named secretary for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. He will represent the 13th Senate District, which stretches along Lake Michigan from downtown Chicago through the South Side.

    For more information on Senator Peters and to contact him, visit his website at www.senatorrobertpeters.com.

  • bush harmon 120618State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) discussed the state’s progress toward gender equity at a panel in Springfield on Wednesday.

    The panel, hosted by the Better Government Association and Gatehouse Media, asked participants to examine the progress made since the start of the #MeToo movement and what else needs to be done. Senator Jil Tracy and Rep. Carol Ammons also spoke.

    Bush said she struggled during her first four years in Springfield, feeling like her thoughts and opinions did not carry as much value as her male colleagues. But, she said, the cultural shift of the past few years has affirmed her value, and she hopes it has for all women.

  • bicentennial IntroGraphic

    On December 3, 1818, Illinois became the nation’s 21st state. As we celebrate our state’s 200th birthday, we asked senators to talk about people or places in their districts that represent the best of Illinois’ rich past and how that is shown in local history, tourism, culture or community impact.

    Here are three compilation videos of our senators at sites in their districts that they believe exemplifies the best of Illinois' past, present and future. Click here to see each individual video, and for more Bicentennial information, visit http://ilikeillinois.com/.

     

     

  • link 040618SPRINGFIELD – A longtime champion of stricter tobacco legislation, State Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) moved today to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a proposal to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 years old.

    “For the first time in years, tobacco use among teenagers is on the rise,” Link said. “Raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21 will cut down on access for teenagers and curb the next generation of adult smokers.”

    It has been more than 10 years since Link’s Smoke Free Illinois legislation banning smoking in most public places went in to effect. Since Smoke Free Illinois, there has been a 20 percent decrease in hospitalization of various smoking-related diseases. But with the advent of e-cigarettes, tobacco use among teenagers is on the rise for the first time in years.

    “Smoke Free Illinois was a major step forward in improving the health of our residents and making Illinois a better place to live,” Link said. “Tobacco 21 builds on those efforts and moves us one step closer to a healthier, smoke-free Illinois.”

    Limiting access to cigarettes has proven effective in reducing the rate of tobacco use among teens. In October 2014, Evanston became the first Illinois community to adopt Tobacco 21. Since then, tobacco use among high schoolers has dropped by 37.5 percent.

  • Voices Act

    The Illinois Senate took steps to combat human trafficking Wednesday by voting to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the Voices Act. The bill would empower immigrant trafficking victims to come forward by protecting them from deportation if they help bring to justice the people behind these human trafficking rings.

    “These traffickers prey on underprivileged women and children, taking advantage of their fear of law enforcement to subject them to unthinkable atrocities,” State Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago) said. “The Voices Act is an effort to fight back and go after the real criminals – human traffickers.”

    Assistant Majority Leader Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) joined members of the Senate in overriding the veto of legislation that helps human trafficking and crime victims obtain visa certification paperwork from law enforcement within 90 business days. Munoz released the following statement after the vote:

    “As rhetoric from the White House continues to instill fear in our immigrant communities, we want to continue encouraging victims of human trafficking and other severe crimes to work with law enforcement. I’m glad we were able to move this legislation forward and hope to see it enacted into law.”

    State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) issued the following statement:

    “The governor’s veto was an ill-advised, knee-jerk response to the word ‘immigrant’ becoming politically charged over the last several months. This is a commonsense piece of legislation that simply expedites a process already in place to assist victims of terrible crimes like kidnapping, rape and human trafficking. I am glad we were able to put partisan politics aside today and override the governor’s veto, hopefully creating a speedier path to safety for those who come to our country fleeing unimaginable circumstances.”

    Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) issued the following statement:

    “This legislation should have been easy for any governor to sign. What it does is simple – it helps people who are fleeing violence and human trafficking get to a safe place. Beyond that, it helps our law enforcement agencies investigate and prosecute those crimes by empowering victims to work with police. Everyone deserves justice, no matter their skin color or their immigration status. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and I am glad we were able to override the governor’s politically motivated veto.”

    State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) released the following statement after the vote:

    “Victims of human trafficking and other severe crimes need our support as they help capture from those committing crimes against them and escape terrible situations. This legislation creates a process that ensures they have the documentation necessary to request a visa and encourages them to work with law enforcement. I encourage my colleagues in the House to approve this measure.”

  • jjc 053118SPRINGFIELD — As part of an ongoing effort to combat human trafficking, the Illinois Senate voted Wednesday to speed up the process through which victims can get federal immigration relief. The 40-12 Senate vote set aside a veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

    Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, the chief sponsor of SB 34, issued the following statement regarding the successful vote to override the governor and protect victims of human trafficking and other heinous crimes.

    “Just as lawmakers have come together to raise awareness and fight back against human trafficking, we came together to make sure the existing process works for these victims. This system was created to empower victims to come forward knowing they’ll be protected if they help us bring to justice the people behind these horrible crimes. The veto was a mistake and today we are one step closer to setting the record straight.”

    Background information:

    In 2000, the federal government created special immigration visas for victims of human trafficking and other specific crimes who work with police. The list of crimes includes: abduction and kidnapping, blackmail, female genital mutilation, being held hostage, incest, involuntary servitude, murder, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, slave trade, torture and trafficking.

    Information about the immigration relief offered to these victims by US Citizenship and Immigration Services can be found here:

    https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes

    SB34 — known as the VOICES Act — simply puts a 90-business day deadline on local authorities to wrap up the paperwork required by the federal visa process. The visas and the process already exist. The proposal simply adds a deadline for action. If local authorities don’t believe the person should qualify for a visa, they can state that in the federal paperwork.

    The override effort now moves to the Illinois House. If House members similarly override the veto of SB 34 it becomes law.

     

  • morrison 042518

    SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) led the Senate today in overriding Gov. Rauner’s veto of a proposal to increase the age to legally buy tobacco products in Illinois to 21.

    “Raising the age has been proven to eliminate the availability of tobacco for teens that are 14, 15, 16 and 17 years old,” Morrison said. “Since most current smokers started when they were teens, it is vital we work to cut off that supply and prevent the development of a deadly, lifetime habit.”

    Morrison introduced Senate Bill 2332 in January and teamed with health care advocates and local Lake County students to increase support among lawmakers for the proposal. After passing the Senate in April, the measure passed the House in May but was vetoed by Gov. Rauner in August. 

    “With the rise of easily concealable and fruit and candy flavored tobacco products, Tobacco 21 is important now more than ever—protecting children, reducing smoking rates, saving lives, and reducing healthcare costs,” said Kathy Drea, vice president of advocacy for the American Lung Association.

    A key benefit to raising the age is documented decreases in the number of high schoolers who smoke. In Chicago, authorities recorded a drop from 13.6 percent in 2011 to 6 percent in 2017. Raising the age was cited as a key component of the decrease.

    Illinois would join six other states that have raised the age to purchase tobacco, including California, Oregon, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maine. In Illinois, more than 20 municipalities have raised the age, including Highland Park, Buffalo Grove, Evanston and downstate Peoria.

    Today’s override passed on a 36-19 vote and now heads to the Illinois House for consideration.

  • Asst. Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez and Sen. Omar Aquino

    More than two dozen community agency leaders turned out at a recent forum to tell local senators that the state is overdue on a new program that puts people to work building up our communities.

    It’s been nearly a decade since the state last invested in roads, bridges and school construction.

    Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez and Senator Omar Aquino hosted the town hall and workshop to make sure local agencies know how to apply for state funding and assess the local needs as support grows across the state for a new, state-sponsored construction program.

    “We wanted to make sure we expanded what people knew about the capital bill, that it goes into infrastructure, it goes into brick and mortar stuff, and how we’re going to be creative in making sure that we’re getting equitable dollars in our districts,” Aquino said.

    Over 30 local community agencies ranging from health, social service, the arts and afterschool programs gathered at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture for the Oct. 24 event.

    “The two-year budget impasse hurt many organizations out there, so now we want to make sure we engage them so that we will be able to start doing some new things,” Martinez said. “I think the most important thing is our civic engagement, so our constituents can see that we’re working for them and we’re ready to respond to their concerns.”

    Speakers included Becky Locker, Director of Policy and Budget for the Illinois Senate Democrats; Jen Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council; Colleen Smith, Legislative Director for Illinois Environmental Council and Representative Luis Arroyo.

  • Sen. Pat McGuire

    SPRINGFIELD — The bicameral, bipartisan Higher Education Working Group chaired by State Senator Pat McGuire today announced a series of measures to help Illinois residents afford college and attain degrees.

    Two financial aid proposals highlight the package. House Bill 5020 will help students access four years of Monetary Award Program grants, giving students and their families assurance that a MAP grant won’t be “one and done.” Senate Bill 2927 incentivizes Illinois’ public universities to provide more scholarships using Institutional Matching, a new $25 million state fund. These scholarships will be available to families with annual incomes of up to $150,000 for a family of four.

    Other proposals developed by the six Democrats and six Republicans comprising the working group assist students transferring from community colleges to public universities and provide regulatory relief to Illinois’s 12 public university campuses.

    “This legislative package shows what happens when both parties work together toward a common goal,” McGuire said. “We want to make earning a community college or university degree in Illinois more certain and more affordable.”

    Details on the full slate of proposals can be found here.

  • Kennedy expressway

    Assistant Majority Leader Antonio “Tony” Munoz (D-Chicago) reminds drivers to be cautious when driving on expressways and move over when approaching a vehicle stranded on the side of the road.

    In 2000, Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver on the Dan Ryan Expressway. As a way to commemorate his life and protect emergency personnel from accidents or injury, Scott’s Law was passed to enforce penalties on drivers who cause accidents, injuries, or don’t yield to emergency vehicles.

    Recently, that law was expanded to cover all stranded motor vehicles as far too many accidents have occurred involving vehicles stranded on the expressway.

  • Sen. Patricia Van PeltSPRINGFIELD – Use of controversial gang databases by police would be reformed under legislation introduced today by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt.

    “My goal is to reform the use of gang databases so that we can ensure the data is accurate and can be effective in helping reduce gang-related activity while still protecting people’s rights.” Van Pelt, a Chicago Democrat, said. “We need to make sure people aren’t being added to the gang database when they shouldn’t be, something that has proven to be problematic for countless Chicagoans over the years.”

    The legislation was crafted after experts, advocates and community members voiced their concerns at an April 20 Senate committee hearing about the Chicago Police Department’s use of gang databases and its effect on communities.

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  • Sen. Martin A. SandovalSPRINGFIELD – Recent atrocities have highlighted a need for greater security at large-scale public events, and a plan by Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago) in the Illinois Senate is working on providing it.

    Sandoval’s Senate Bill 2562 would give law enforcement the authority to use drones to prepare for or monitor security at large-scale events like concerts or rallies. The measure passed out of the Senate this week.