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New law by Collins calls for simplified language in drafting laws

collins 042418SPRINGFIELD – To hold lawmakers to a writing standard more in line with plain English than dense legalese, a new law by State Senator Jacqueline Collins, signed this week, adopts federal plain language standards at the state level.

“In government, as in many professions where complicated topics are being debated and litigated, it becomes easy to get wrapped up in a cocoon of language that makes a lot of noise but says very little,” Collins said. “Government by and for the people should address the people in a way they can understand. And because the most powerful statements have always been the most straightforward, I believe this measure may have the happy side effect of producing better writing from our lawmakers.”

Senate Bill 3139 requires the General Assembly to use plain language when drafting legislation, executive orders and other public facing documents whenever practical, and advises the executive and judicial branches to do the same. The definition of “plain language” mirrors the federal Plain Writing Act standards passed in 2010.

Signed into law yesterday, the law is effective immediately.

Collins responds to veto of investment legislation

collins 042418CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Collins issued the following statement today on news Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 2661, which would allow the State Treasurer more authority to invest in county and municipal bonds at market rates.

“The Treasurer’s duty to the taxpayers of Illinois is to invest state funds with diversity and at an acceptable level of risk,” Collins said. “Senate Bill 2661 would allow the Treasurer the ability to invest in county and municipal bonds at or above par, which not only ensures upside benefits, but provides downside protection in the event we see any major shifts in the interest rate. This veto by the governor limits the Treasurer, and I plan to lead an effort to override it when we return to Springfield in November.”

Violent Offender database registrants may appeal under new law by Collins

collins ok 081318CHICAGO – To improve oversight and accuracy of the state’s Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth database, a new law by State Senator Jacqueline Collins will allow those who feel they’ve been improperly registered to petition for review, as well as require State Police to report on the demographics within the database.

“Recent reports have revealed inaccuracies in state criminal databases that fall on those who may be innocent, and follow them their entire lives,” Collins said. “Police need strong tools to fight violence in our communities, but this must always be balanced with the civil rights of the community. A database with little oversight which does not allow for these potential inaccuracies to be reviewed and corrected is a blunt and ineffective tool.”

Registrants in the Violent Offender Against Youth database will have the ability to petition the State’s Attorney of the county in which he or she was convicted for review of their database information. If inaccuracies are found, the State’s Attorney would submit changes to State Police. A State’s Attorney who denies such a petition must articulate why.

The law also requires Illinois State Police to issue an annual report on the database which includes information on the number of registrants, the number of registrants currently registered for each offense requiring registration, and biographical data that includes the age and race of the offender and the ages of the victim.

“Part of oversight is remaining vigilant against the possibility that a system disproportionately targets one community over others,” Collins said. “Revealing this data will increase our understanding of how the database is being used and make it worthy of the system justice under our Constitution.”

The legislation was Senate Bill 3489. Signed by the governor last week, it takes effect Jan. 1.

Collins’ new law creates council to fight discrimination against women

collins 042418

CHICAGO – To fight the systemic barriers facing women and girls in work, education and life, legislation by State Senator Jacqueline Collins’ to create the Illinois Council on Women and Girls was signed into law today.

The Illinois Council on Women and Girls will be tasked with gathering information about the specific issues women and girls face in every sector of family, education and career life. The council will issue regular reports to the General Assembly detailing possible legislative solutions on its findings.

“I was born in segregated Mississippi,” Collins said. “I’ve seen incredible changes in the openness and equality of our country. These sweeping changes did not happen on their own. It’s comforting to think that progress simply causes systemic bias to dissolve at an appointed time, but to think so is to be complacent and complicit. Change never comes without resolve, solidarity and debate. We must always be actively rooting out entrenched systems of discrimination.

“The Illinois Council on Women and Girls will study the things that hold back half of our population from achieving their full potential, and it will periodically report on ways we could tear down the barriers that hold back our sisters and daughters. In doing so, it will start the conversations that result in change. The Illinois Council on Women and Girls will study the hurdles standing in the way of our sisters and daughters so that we can continue the fight for equality and opportunity.”

The legislation was House Bill 5544. It takes effect immediately.


Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins

16th District

Years served:
2003 - Present

Committee assignments: Financial Institutions (Chairperson); Insurance; Transportation; Committee of the Whole; Higher Education; Commerce and Economic Development; Public Health.

Biography: Full-time state legislator. Born December 10th in McComb, Mississippi. Studied journalism at Northwestern University; MA from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government; MA in Human Services Administration from Spertus College; MA in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, June 2003. Former Emmy Award-nominated news editor at CBS-TV in Chicago, and 2001 Legislative Fellow with United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.