Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) discusses SB2208 which states that auto insurers cannot base customer's premiums on that person's credit score.
Senators comment on this year's Black History Month theme, “The Crisis in Black Education.”
Over the years the crisis in black education has grown significantly. In urban neighborhoods, public schooling systems lack resources and have overcrowded classrooms, which result to students of color reaping the disproportionate shortfalls of the racial achievement gap.
In the past, whether by laws, policies, or practices, racially separated schools remained the norm in America. Because of that, black students today are underperforming and are not advancing like their white counterparts.
This year’s national theme, The Crisis in Black Education, focuses on the evolution of black education and its meaning as it empowers students to grow, achieve and prosper.
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) advanced legislation today to address the legal and social justice concerns of families affected by the incarceration of a loved one. Currently, a telecommunications company and the state split millions in profits from collect calls prisoners make to family members at a rate of 11.8 cents per minute. Collins’ legislation would cap that rate at seven cents per minute, with no additional service fees.
“The driving objective of our criminal justice system should be rehabilitation, not profit,” Collins said. “Exorbitant rates, fees and minimum charges for phone calls isolate inmates from their loved ones, tearing the fabric of families and communities.”
CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16) issued the following statement calling for a bold, swift response to revelations about the death of Laquan McDonald and the year-long delay in prosecuting Officer Jason Van Dyke:
To be effective, our outrage must be focused, our demands specific and sharp. Charging Jason Van Dyke with first-degree murder is not enough. There was a cover-up, and anyone involved in it must be held accountable. If we do not tear down the blue curtain of silence once and for all, Laquan McDonalds will continue to die in our city. We must never forget that the video – and the truth – were not simply handed to us. Instead, they were ripped from reluctant hands by journalists, citizens and the courts.
Policing reform legislation I co-sponsored this year provides a pathway to the appointment of a special prosecutor in cases such as this one. The law takes effect in January, and it must be used to help bring to justice rogue cops and those who cover for them. In the meantime, we need a fresh start. State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez must step down. She has failed in her responsibility to timely, openly prosecute a heinous crime that not only took a life but betrayed the public trust.
I am immensely proud of all who have protested peacefully in Chicago, and on Friday, I was honored to march alongside young people and veterans of the Civil Rights Movement alike on Michigan Avenue. I am more confident than ever that apathy and self-absorption will not succeed in suppressing the human bent toward basic fairness. Not only people of color, but all people who respect justice should be outraged and engaged, and that is the unity I have witnessed since the release of the video last week.
But if these protests do not result in top-to-bottom change, we will be here again – perhaps a month from now, maybe six months or a year from now. Our voices must not die away. We must not stand by while police officers act as judge, jury and executioner on our streets. We will remain united for justice.
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) has secured passage of legislation that expands and eases access to the legal process for the expungement and sealing of criminal records – a major hurdle for individuals seeking to gain employment and move on with their lives after an encounter with the criminal justice system. The measure lifts a ban on expungement petitions by people with prior but unrelated criminal records, eliminates all fees for juveniles applying for expungements and waives fees for individuals in Cook County who were wrongfully arrested or convicted and now seek expungement.
“For the sake of justice, we must end this practice of charging individuals money to clear their names and move on with their lives when our criminal justice system has concluded they did not commit the crime for which they were arrested,” Collins said. “Illinois is suffering from a shortfall in revenue, but if our solution involves picking the pockets of the poor and wrongly accused, we have more than a fiscal problem; we have a moral problem.”
The fee to petition for expungement in Cook County is $120. Collins hopes to expand her pilot program to Illinois’ other counties, where fees can be as high as $400. House Bill 6328, which Collins worked with Representative Art Turner and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to craft, would waive fees for juvenile expungement requests statewide. There would be no fee for adults petitioning in Cook County when the individual was arrested but then released without being charged, the charges were dropped or a criminal conviction was reversed. According to Sheriff Dart, 19 percent of those detained in the Cook County Jail at any given time are released after the charges against them are dropped. Finally, the legislation allows individuals to petition for expungement of a new arrest or charge, even if they already had a criminal record.
“These reforms speak to the fundamentals of our justice system, which is based on evidence, not assumptions,” Collins said. “Limiting access to those with no prior record is a policy based on stereotypes and fear, not facts. We must reject laws that create a population assumed to be a criminal class – chained to their past arrest records, always under suspicion and perpetually poor.”
HB 6328 has cleared both chambers and now goes to the governor’s desk.
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16) is pleased to announce the governor has signed her legislation ending Illinois’ practice of discouraging parolees from worshipping, doing community service and participating in mentorship programs together.
“Freedom of association in positive settings can facilitate a smooth reentry into society and help those on parole obtain the help and resources they need to succeed outside the prison walls,” Collins said. “When parolees mentor and encourage each other, engage in job training together, worship or volunteer together, they can build up their peers and their communities.”
Current law prohibits individuals who are on parole, aftercare release or mandatory supervised release from knowingly associating with others who are also under one of these restrictions without the written permission of their parole agents or aftercare specialists. This limitation is designed to prevent ex-offenders from returning to former criminal associates or gangs, but Collins recognizes that the ban is over-broad and can prevent parolees from engaging in many positive activities, such as worship services, volunteerism and community activism.
“When offenders have completed their time behind bars, they must be reintegrated into our neighborhoods in ways that allow them to give back and pursue alternatives to crime,” Collins said. “Participation — alongside others with similar life stories — in a religious congregation, community service organization or mentoring program can serve as a powerful catalyst for purpose and change, and as we continue to struggle as a society with cycles of recidivism and violent crime, we must embrace creative solutions.”
SPRINGFIELD – In the wake of revelations that at least one con artist used a risky financial product called a reverse mortgage to scam dozens of senior citizens, State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) was pleased to announce today that the governor has signed her legislation designed to protect consumers from losing their homes in reverse mortgage schemes.
“A reverse mortgage is a complicated financial product that can leave homeowners and their families vulnerable to scams and unable to pay when the loan comes due,” Collins said. “This legislation requires lenders to provide potential borrowers with accurate information about the product, a list of counselors they can contact if they need help and the opportunity to reconsider within three days of signing the paperwork.”
For almost 30 years, a lawsuit filed by the state alleges Chicago remodeler Mark Diamond tricked senior citizens into taking out reverse mortgages – which pay out cash advances based on a homeowner’s equity – and then use the loan proceeds to pay his company to make home improvements. Instead, Diamond took the money while the repairs remained unfinished or poorly done. Many of his victims and their families faced losing cherished homes they’d owned for decades when the homeowner died or moved into long-term care and the loan (the cash paid out, plus interest) came due. Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking a court to put Diamond, who kept his scheme going by conducting it under the auspices of different companies, out of business for good. Diamond’s practices are also under federal investigation.
Collins worked with Madigan, Housing Action Illinois and other advocates on Senate Bill 1281, which ensures potential borrowers are informed about the risks of reverse mortgages and also prohibits someone who facilitates a reverse mortgage from accepting any of the proceeds in exchange for services, as Diamond did. Finally, the legislation prevents conflicts of interest by banning lenders from receiving compensation in exchange for trying to sell borrowers on other financial products, such as life insurance policies and investments.
“The senior citizens I represent take great pride in their homes; many have worked hard their whole lives to pay off their mortgages,” Collins said. “Strong consumer protections can help them avoid unscrupulous schemes so they can live out their later years in peace and dignity and not worry about whether the family home will be there for their children and grandchildren.”
“Why not try fully and fairly funding our schools before declaring bankruptcy?”
CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement that Gov. Rauner’s allies in the General Assembly will file legislation allowing a state takeover and bankruptcy filing for the Chicago Public Schools:
The shortfall in the Chicago Public Schools’ budget is roughly equal to the additional resources our schools would receive from the state if the funding formula and pension law treated CPS the same as every other Illinois school district.
Gov. Rauner and Republicans in the General Assembly have not acted to bring justice and equity to the way the state distributes resources to schools. The governor has vetoed the budget we passed, starving after-school programs, youth anti-violence initiatives and assistance to homeless families of the resources Chicago’s at-risk children need to stay in school and succeed. Now he and his legislative leaders propose a takeover of CPS by the State Board of Education, an agency already struggling to fulfill its current mission without a budget and ill-equipped to manage the nation’s third largest school district. They propose a bankruptcy declaration for CPS – a legal maneuver that has exacted a punishing human toll in Detroit and Flint. And their plan would throw existing contracts and collective bargaining agreements into turmoil at a time when Chicago’s educators need greater stability and support, not less.
Why not negotiate a balanced budget for state government before burdening it with drastic and unworkable new duties? Why not try fully and fairly funding our schools before declaring bankruptcy? And why not start with an elected school board instead of stripping all local control from CPS, with a promise to phase in school board elections at a later date?
CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) is encouraging Southside parents and anyone concerned about lead found in drinking water at three 16th District elementary schools to attend meetings being held this week to discuss the problem. She also urged a speedy House vote on legislation the Senate passed last month to require lead testing in schools and improved communication with the public in the wake of the preventable drinking water disaster in Flint, Michigan.
SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, issued the following statement after voting in favor of the first portions of a state budget compromise.
“Today we moved forward on a number of important key issues that will improve the way government functions,” Collins said. “This is the first step toward an end to this destructive stalemate. I want us to continue moving forward.”
Collins supported reforms to the way state government purchases goods and services, allows voters to combine or eliminate certain units of local government, and allows municipalities to take steps to more effectively issue bonds. Those measures, part of a grand bargain to resolve the state’s budget impasse, all passed Wednesday. While other portions of the bargain stalled due to lack of Republican support, Collins said she remains determined to continue working toward the passage of the full compromise.
Also funds cancer screenings, LIHEAP, job training, addiction services and more
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) issued the following statement on budget legislation the Senate passed today to allow $4.8 billion federal funding to be used for purposes such as energy bill assistance, infant nutrition, cancer screenings, substance abuse treatment, developmental disabilities services and job training:
As a public servant, I uphold and fight for the democratic values that define this state and nation. Justice and equality demand that the people and their representatives not ignore the needs of those who cannot care for themselves or advocate for themselves.
Yet in the ongoing state budget impasse, their needs have been ignored in shocking ways – frail senior citizens denied home care services, at-risk youth with nowhere to go after school but the streets, a day care center for children with HIV/AIDS threatened with closure and families whose medically fragile infants must have expensive, specialty formulas told that at the end of this week, they will be on their own.
I was proud to vote my values today as the Senate, in an encouraging show of bipartisanship, passed legislation that releases federal funding for a wide variety of state programs, including those that serve our most vulnerable populations. I urge my colleagues to continue to push for a budget resolution that recognizes our shared moral responsibility to assist and uplift those in need.
The legislation, Senate Bill 2042, must now be approved by the House before going to the governor’s desk.
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) joined colleagues this morning as they explained why Illinois needs automatic voter registration. Illinois is ranked 23rd in the nation in percentage of eligible residents registered to vote, and the result is low levels of turnout and civic engagement. Supporters of Senate Bill 2134 say allowing eligible voters to opt out of being registered rather than having to opt in will also improve efficiency, accuracy and fraud detection.
“Today’s young people are activists, and they are aware, but we need to help them make the link between protest and policy change, to become fully engaged in all facets of life in our democracy,” said Collins, who noted that only 40 percent of Illinoisans between the ages of 18 and 24 who are eligible to vote are registered. “That link is made at the ballot box.”
The legislation Collins is co-sponsoring, SB 2134, would automatically register voting-eligible residents whenever they apply for, update or renew their driver’s licenses, unless they ask not to be registered. Because obtaining or changing the address on a driver’s license requires rigorous proof of identity and residence, registering more voters at Driver Services facilities could actually decrease the probability of voter fraud. The new approach would also streamline the voter registration process, eliminating duplicative paperwork.
“Through immense struggles that defined us as a nation, many of those forgotten and marginalized have found their voices in the vote,” Collins said. “Now, we need to hear the voices of the next generation, as we bend toward greater inclusion.”
Measures address expungement, park district employment and cost of inmate phone calls
CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) announced today that the governor has signed into law several pieces of legislation she sponsored that are part of a larger criminal justice reform agenda in Illinois. The measures help people have their arrest records expunged for crimes they did not commit, give park districts greater discretion to hire non-violent ex-offenders and cap the cost of inmate phone calls to keep family members affected by incarceration in touch with one another.
“By ending the practice of allowing for-profit contractors to charge exorbitant rates for inmate phone calls, we are enabling families to stay connected,” Collins said. “And by granting park districts discretion to hire more ex-offenders who have turned their lives around, we continue the process of opening up employment opportunities to a chronically unemployed sector of our population.”
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) hailed the governor’s signing of legislation she sponsored to require organizations that seek to open charter schools in Illinois to disclose any ongoing criminal or civil investigations into their activities.
“Charter schools are funded primarily with public money, so it is important to hold them to high standards and subject new proposals to the highest possible degree of scrutiny,” Collins said. “Ongoing investigations should be a part of the picture when local school districts evaluate charter applications, and we are ensuring that districts have all the information they need to make prudent decisions for families and taxpayers.”
Credit-based pricing perpetuates racial inequalities and the cycle of debt
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) has introduced legislation to ban auto insurance companies in Illinois from basing their prices on a customer’s credit score. The Senate Insurance Committee heard from advocates yesterday about the role this practice plays in exacerbating existing racial and socioeconomic inequalities and helping fuel the self-perpetuating cycle of poor credit.
“It’s absurd and unacceptable that in Illinois today, a person with poor credit but a perfect driving record pays, on average, substantially more for car insurance than a person with great credit and a drunken driving conviction,” Collins said. “That certainly doesn’t make our roads safer or create incentives for responsible driving, and it makes it even harder for people who are in debt to drive to work so they can get out of debt.”
Consumer Reports magazine and the Consumer Federation of America extensively researched the relationship between credit scores and auto insurance rates and found the following:
“For many Illinoisans, auto insurance is not an optional purchase; it is what allows them to get to work so they can earn income and get out of debt,” Collins said. “A credit score is a predictor – and an imperfect one at that – of a person’s ability to repay a debt; it was never designed to predict driving behavior. The same communities of color hit hard by redlining, subprime mortgages, the recession and the housing crisis are still needlessly paying more for a basic product their residents need in order to rebound.”
California, Massachusetts and Hawaii already prohibit credit-based auto insurance pricing.
Your credit score determines a lot more than whether you qualify for a loan. What many consumers don’t know is that it plays a major role in determining how much you pay for car insurance.
Consumer Reports published a study of insurance rates in its September 2015 issue, and its research shows that in many cases, a driver’s credit score is an even more important factor than his or her driving record. Unbelievably, in Illinois, a person with a clean driving record but poor credit pays, on average, 51 percent more for car insurance than a person with a DUI conviction but excellent credit.
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) was pleased to announce the governor signed into law on Friday three pieces of legislation she sponsored to improve the quality of public K-12 education in Illinois.
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