peters 032423SPRINGFIELD – As 2023 draws to a close, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is looking ahead to 2024 with a sense of accomplishment and hope. Several impactful bills championed by the caucus will take effect Jan. 1, tackling critical issues like education, healthcare and criminal justice reform.

“Looking ahead to the new laws taking effect, we are prioritizing underserved schools, ending youth solitary confinement, creating successful pathways to reentry and so much more,” said State Senator Robert Peters, Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Senate chair (D-Chicago). “I am proud of the legislative work we have done collectively to prioritize the needs of our most vulnerable communities.”

The caucus outlined a few legislative highlights that will take effect Jan. 1. Those include:

Helping Food Deserts Flourish: Senate Bill 850 recognizes the lack of fresh food access in many communities, particularly for underserved areas. It directs grants and financial aid to grocery stores opening or operating in "food deserts," promoting healthier food choices and economic development.

Honoring the Underground Railroad: Senate Bill 1623 establishes a statewide task force to create a cohesive historical map and narrative of the Underground Railroad in Illinois. This initiative will not only preserve history but also boost educational and tourism opportunities.

Fortifying the Teaching Force: House Bill 381 provides a much-needed incentive for National Board Certified teachers working in challenging schools. A $4,000 annual retention bonus for two years recognizes their dedication and helps stabilize the workforce in these critical environments.

Empowering Schools with Mental Health and Trauma Tools: House Bill 342 establishes the Whole Child Task Force, focusing on creating safe and supportive school environments for students dealing with trauma and mental health challenges. This task force will develop resources and strategies to ensure all students have access to the support they need.

Protecting Residents During Extreme Heat: House Bill 1541 safeguards vulnerable residents during heat waves. It prohibits utility companies from disconnecting gas or electric services for non-payment on days exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit or during heat advisories.

Smoothing Reentry for Returning Residents: House Bill 3345 simplifies the process for returning residents to obtain an Illinois ID. By accepting identifying documents the state assists in obtaining, this bill removes a barrier to reintegration and access to essential services.

Closing the Curtain on Solitary Confinement for Young Detainees: House Bill 3140 takes a significant step towards juvenile justice reform. It bans the use of solitary confinement for young detainees in detention centers, except for immediate physical harm prevention. This aligns with best practices in child development and reduces the potential for harm.

These are just a few examples of the impactful legislation the ILBC has championed. For a full list of laws to take effect Jan. 1 visit here.

As the new year dawns, the caucus remains committed to fighting for justice, equity, and opportunity for all Illinoisans.