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The Majority Report 04/08/19 - Census, distracted driving top Senate Dems' latest priorities

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Senators stress importance of accurate 2020 Census count

Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr., Senator Emil Jones III, Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinz, Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

Senate lawmakers and advocates gathered Thursday to stress the importance of getting a full and accurate count in Illinois during the 2020 Census.

Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez spoke to the potential consequences of an undercount.

“The census is used to determine federal funding and representation for our state,” Martinez (D-Chicago) said. “That means, if we are undercounted, we stand to lose billions in federal funding, along with two congressional seats and two Electoral College votes.”

Martinez is the sponsor of Senate Bill 1408, which appropriates $25 million for grants to community providers and local governments to encourage full participation in the 2020 federal census. Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, who is also sponsoring legislation to appropriate funds for grants to ensure an accurate count, spoke about the impact an undercount could have on minority communities.

“We know that minority communities are in jeopardy of losing out on funding for vital services and representation if they are once again undercounted, and there are a number of challenges in ensuring participation,” Lightford (D-Maywood) said. “My colleagues and I recognize that, and we are preparing by setting aside resources for the 2020 census now.”

Also urging awareness of the census were State Senators Elgie R. Sims Jr. and Emil Jones III, both Chicago Democrats. Continue reading.

 


Stadelman plan cracks down on distracted driving

Distracted driving

As smart phones get smarter and streaming speeds get faster, legislation intended to protect motorists from distracted drivers streaming videos while they drive was passed out of the Illinois Senate by State Senator Steve Stadelman.

“A person driving 70 miles per hour who looks down at their phone for 5 seconds has traveled more than 150 yards,” Stadelman (D-Rockford) said. “The amount of damage and danger you can cause in that distance is far too great for us to not do anything.”

Senate Bill 86 clarifies that drivers may not use electronic devices to stream videos while they are driving. While the current hands-free law is often looked at mostly as a ban on the use of cell phones, it also includes tablets, laptops, video games and pagers. The ability to do what was once confined to home life – such as watching TV – has become an anytime, anywhere pursuit. It's estimated more than half of all Americans watch video on their smartphones. Continue reading.

 

 


Hutchinson raises awareness of pay inequity

Equal Pay Day

State Senator Toi Hutchinson led the Senate in adopting a measure raising awareness about the continued issue of pay inequity between men and women in the workplace.

“Every year, we highlight the date women must work into the new year to earn the same amount as our male counterparts in the previous year,” Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) said. “There are things we can do to change this, however, and I am really proud to serve in a body where we keep working on that goal.”

In Illinois, women earn only 78 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. For women of color, the disparity is even wider, with African-American women earning only 61 cents on the dollar and Latina women earning just 53 cents.

Hutchinson’s resolution, Senate Resolution 83, declares April 2, 2019 as Pay Equity Day in Illinois to raise awareness about the endemic inequity. Continue reading.

Listen: Hutchinson recognizes 2019 Pay Equity Day

 


Harris: Be bold in commitment to minority-owned businesses

Sen. Napoleon Harris

To increase the amount of state contracts awarded to businesses owned by minorities, women and persons with disabilities, State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) led a measure that was approved by the Senate on Thursday.

Senate Bill 2035 requires the Department of Central Management Services to increase the number of state contracts issued to businesses owned by minorities, women and persons with disabilities from 20 percent of the total dollar amount of state contracts to 30 percent.

“We need to be bold about our commitment to businesses owned by minorities, women and persons with disabilities,” Harris said. “One of the best things about our state is its diversity, and this proposal celebrates that by pushing for the investment of state dollars in businesses throughout all communities.”

The proposal would set goals at 16 percent to minority-owned businesses, 10 percent to women-owned businesses and 4 percent to businesses owned by persons with disabilities. Furthermore, CMS is required to increase outreach efforts to businesses owned by minorities, women and persons with disabilities. Continue reading.

 


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