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  • census 062019

  • parent mentor program 051619More than 600 supporters of a nationally recognized parent engagement program gathered Thursday to increase awareness of their successes in building relationships between students, teachers and parents. State Senators Omar Aquino and Robert Peters spoke to the Parent Mentor Program group at their rally in the Howlett Building.

    The Parent Mentor Program guides how community organizations partner with schools to recruit parents to assist teachers. Before coming into the classroom, parent mentors take part in a week-long leadership training program. They are then assigned to a classroom where they are mentored by a teacher. They work directly with students.

  • aquino 051419SPRINGFIELD – A bill sponsored by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) that would protect students against unethical collection of data passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

    House Bill 3606 would protect the meta-data for K-12 students from commercial use and provide transparency to parents about their child’s data.

  • Senator AquinoSPRINGFIELD – A bill sponsored by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) that would allow undocumented and transgender students to receive state financial aid for college passed the Senate today.

    House Bill 2691, known as the Retention of Illinois Students and Equity (RISE) Act, would allow undocumented and transgender Illinois residents to be eligible for State financial aid at institutions of higher education.

    “Every student, regardless of their immigration status or gender identity, deserves full access to higher education,” said Aquino. “Our state has an obligation to these students to make sure that we can provide them with the economic means to be successful and enter the work force.”

    Under current law, undocumented students are ineligible for State financial assistance. Transgender students who do not register for selective service are also barred from receiving aid.

    “This is a matter of priorities,” said Aquino. “You need to ask yourself as a legislator, ‘Do I prioritize students?’ ‘Do I prioritize undocumented immigrants?’ ‘Do I prioritize transgender people and their rights?’ All of these people pay taxes in our state and deserve to receive the benefits they pay into.”

    House Bill 2691 awaits the governor’s signature.

  • sneakers 050119Wednesday, May 1 was Suits and Sneakers Day at the Capitol. We wear sneakers to help raise awareness and encourage people to educate themselves about cancer prevention, screening and early detection.

    Suits and Sneakers Day originated as a campaign of Coaches vs. Cancer and the American Cancer Society, when basketball coaches nationwide wear sneakers with their suits to raise funds, awareness, and help save lives from cancer.

    Learn more about this effort here.

  • aquino 041019SPRINGFIELD – A bill sponsored by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) designed to provide better voting opportunities to incarcerated individuals passed the Illinois Senate today.

    “Voting rights don’t apply to people only when it’s convenient,” said Aquino. “There are about 20,000 people detained before trial who are eligible to vote, and it is the responsibility of the election authority to make sure that they do.”

    Under the Illinois Election Code, individuals in jail who are awaiting trial and have not been convicted of a crime are still eligible to vote. Senate Bill 2090 would require each election authority in a county to work with the county jail to provide an opportunity to vote by mail for those individuals.

    Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton introduced an identical bill when she was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. Aquino was the chief sponsor in the Senate.

    Aquino’s legislation also requires election authorities to proactively reach out to individuals who have completed their sentence with information about their restored voting rights.

    “Outreach, I believe, is the single most important thing about this bill,” said Aquino. “Many people who served their sentence are not aware that they can vote again. They shouldn’t be disenfranchised due to a past mistake and the negligence of election authorities.”

    Senate Bill 2090 now heads to the House for consideration.

  • aquino 040319SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) echoed Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s opposition to the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

    “Not only is this a clear effort to suppress immigrant communities, but it compromises the accuracy and legitimacy of the Census,” said Aquino. “Asking this question on the Census will only serve those who wish to deport immigrants of color and will result in those communities not participating in the census, even though our policies should respond to the reality of our population and its needs.”

    In January of this year, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of the New York Attorney General’s office in a lawsuit to block the federal government from demanding citizenship information in the 2020 Census. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case this month.

    “I will be anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on this matter,” said Aquino. “It is important that the Census accurately reflect what America is, and that immigrants of color do not live in constant fear of the government.”

  • Senator AquinoSPRINGFIELD – Schools would be banned from exploiting students’ meta-data for purposes outside school instruction under a bill introduced by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) approved by the Telecommunications and Information Technology Committee today.

    “We are entering a new era where big data companies buy and sell our information to target ads and push preferred products on us,” said Aquino. “You should have control over your own online data, and this bill will protect K-12 students’ data from being used by advertisers and big data companies.”

    Senate Bill 2089 prohibits school authorities from using data collected from school-owned devices for anything except school purposes. The bill also protects the data collected from being sold or shared without the written consent of the student’s parent.

    This legislation also creates a Student Data Protection and Oversight Committee to make further policy recommendations surrounding data privacy and protection.

    Senate Bill 2089 is scheduled for consideration before the full Senate.

  • Lt. Gov. Stratton and Senator AquinoSPRINGFIELD – Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton testified in the Senate Executive Committee hearing today in favor of a bill introduced by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) that would provide expanded voting opportunities to incarcerated individuals.

    “In my role as Lieutenant Governor and leading the Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative, I’m here to express my strong support for Senate Bill 2090,” said Stratton. “For in this instance, real justice can only come about when we remove barriers so that people who are eligible to vote are provided a real opportunity to do so.”

  • Parking CitationSPRINGFIELD – Drivers would no longer lose their licenses over unpaid tickets and other non-moving violations under a bill introduced by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) that was unanimously approved by the Senate Transportation Committee today.

    “For years the City of Chicago has preyed on low-income black and Hispanic communities by coercing them with the threat of having their license suspended,” said Aquino. “In 2016, the city made $264 million by taking what little money that our low-income residents have. I cannot stand by while my city balances its budget on the backs of black and brown communities.”

  • Sen. Omar Aquino

    SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Omar Aquino’s (D-Chicago) bill exempting certain health products from the state sales tax passed the Illinois Senate this week.

    Senate Bill 1858 exempts male and female condoms, incontinence products, diapers and baby wipes from the state’s sales tax. Under the current law, these items are taxed at the same rate as luxury goods.

    “These are things that are taxed at a luxury tax rate of 6.25 percent,” said Aquino. “We’re proposing to have that reduced to one percent so that young families, like my own, can actually plan their families and purchase those things at a lower rate. That way, they can spend that money back into their community in other ways.”

    In 2016, the state repealed the sales tax on tampons and other feminine hygiene products for similar reasons. That bill passed the Senate and House unanimously and was signed by Gov. Rauner.

    Senate Bill 1858 now goes to the House for consideration.

  • ICE 031219SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) is condemning a decision by Dwight, Illinois village trustees to annex 88 acres of land to host a potential Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigrant detention facility.

    “It is disgusting that the village trustees value construction jobs over the human rights of immigrants,” said Aquino. “ICE has consistently violated human rights to carry out the president’s racist agenda of deporting immigrants of color, and they are not welcome to carry out that agenda in my state.”

     

    ICE is looking to build a $20 million detention facility near Illinois 17 and Interstate 55. Village trustees voted 5-2 to annex the property there and have been in talks with ICE to facilitate the construction of the site.

    Several hundred individuals in Central Illinois protested the consideration of the facility and the Dwight Village Board meeting erupted with anger as village trustees voted in favor of construction.

    “I drive by the proposed location every time I come to Springfield, and I will not tolerate watching the construction of a place that is set out to violate the human rights of my friends and neighbors,” said Aquino. “The State of Illinois needs to stand with immigrants and prevent the atrocities that ICE commits from happening in our own back yard. The State of Illinois must prevent the construction of this facility at all costs.”

    Many people, including children under 10, have died while in ICE custody due to poor conditions and abuse. Over 1,000 people in detention have reported sexual abuse by ICE officers.

  • Sen. AquinoSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Omar Aquino’s (D-Chicago) bill exempting certain health products from the state sales tax passed the Senate Revenue Committee today.

    Senate Bill 1858 exempts male and female condoms, incontinence products, diapers and baby wipes from the state’s sales tax. Under the current law, these items are taxed at the same rate as luxury goods.

    “People who need these health products shouldn’t be subject to an additional financial burden,” said Aquino. “In most cases the people who are purchasing these health products young families who are just starting out. They have enough financial hardship as it is, and we need to remove the added cost on these items.”

  • securechoice 030619SPRINGFIELD – A bill introduced by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) that would add traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) as an option to the Secure Choice Savings Program passed the Senate’s Financial Institutions Committee today.

    The Secure Choice Savings Program is a retirement savings program that provides retirement options for private-sector employees in Illinois. Senate Bill 1787 adds a traditional IRA to the options provided under the program.

    “Our state faces a massive pension crisis and we need to make sure that the recipients have as many options available to them as possible,” said Aquino. “As Chair of the Government Accountability and Pensions Committee, I want to give pensioners all options available. They shouldn’t have to suffer for the state’s mismanagement of pension funds.”

    Senate Bill 1787 now goes before the entire Senate for a vote.

  • aquino 031518SPRINGFIELD – A bill introduced by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) that makes changes to teacher pensions passed the Senate’s Government Accountability and Pensions Committee today.

    Under current law, a retired teacher may not be re-hired for more than 100 days per year or their pension payments will be suspended. Senate Bill 1584 extends that to 120 days per year and prohibits the cancellation of pension payments to the retiree.

    “This bill allows retired teachers – experts in their field – to return to schools as substitute teachers without forfeiting their pensions,” said Aquino. “Our state has one of the worst teacher shortages in the country, and this bill offers a solution.”

    Senate Bill 1584 now goes before the entire Senate for a vote.

  • aquino 053118SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) praised Attorney General Kwame Raoul for joining a coalition of 22 attorneys general in opposition to the potential deportation of people who hold Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

    “At a time when immigrants are being relentlessly attacked by the President of the United States, I am happy to see that the State of Illinois under Attorney General Raoul will stand up to protect these people,” said Aquino.

    TPS protects individuals whose countries are affected by war, natural disasters and other crises. There are approximately 300,000 people in the United States who hold TPS. The Department of Homeland Security announced in 2017 that it plans to terminate TPS for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

    “The people who hold Temporary Protected Status fled to the United States due to war, climate disasters, and other tragedies,” said Aquino. “The Department of Homeland Security has made it clear that they are going to carry out the president’s racist agenda and target immigrants of color. We cannot allow this to go on, and I am grateful for Attorney General Raoul’s commitment.”

  • aquino 053118CHICAGO- A plan approved after the killing of Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer and the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida that holds corrupt gun dealers accountable and curbs illegal gun trafficking became law today.

    Senate Bill 337 creates a certification process for firearm dealers through the Illinois State Police, and allows for more information on gun crimes to be made public. Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) released the following statement on the new law:

    “We know that a high number of gun crimes are committed with illegally-owned firearms, and it’s not enough to keep sending our condolences to those affected by gun violence. This law brings us closer to answering the calls to action of parents, advocates and survivors across the state.

    “I’m glad that Governor Pritzker chose to take rapid action on this important piece of legislation, and I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to continue bringing forward much needed reforms like the one he signed today.”

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  • 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.

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