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  • Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) discusses SB2208 which states that auto insurers cannot base customer's premiums on that person's credit score.


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  • Illinois Black Caucus

  • Black History Month 2017 - The Crisis in Black EducationSenators 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.

  • collins 042418SPRINGFIELD – A proposal setting new rates on check cashing services, including lowering the rate on government assistance checks, passed the General Assembly without opposition last week and awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

    State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) worked alongside consumer advocates to reach the compromise in the wake of a proposal from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) which would have raised rates on check cashing services like those at a Currency Exchange. The measure now awaiting the governor’s signature includes lower rate increases on smaller checks and also caps the rates on all public assistance checks at a lower rate for many recipients.

  • collins 052716SPRINGFIELD – 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.”

  • collins 031717SPRINGFIELD – To ensure that employees can observe their religious traditions without fear, State Sen. Jacqueline Collins has put forth a proposal prohibiting employers from discriminatory actions toward workers who wear religiously observant clothing or hair styles.

    “In a letter to a synagogue, President George Washington once wrote of the new government he had fought to form that it ‘gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,’” said Collins, D-Chicago. “This legislation is intended to show clearly that Illinois is a state that will protect its citizens. As our Jewish community faces an unprecedented wave of threats and our Muslim community is openly antagonized by the White House, protecting the right to worship is more important now than ever.”

    The legislation would specifically disallow employers from taking disciplinary measures against employees for wearing their hair or clothing in ways that are in keeping with a religiously observant lifestyle.

    Senate Bill 1697 passed out of the Senate Labor Committee this week and is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate.

  • collins laquanmcdonaldmarchCHICAGO – 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.

  • collins 053116SPRINGFIELD – 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.

  • collins 053116SPRINGFIELD – 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.”

  • Buzz-In DoorwayCHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, gave the following prepared remarks this morning, joining citizens in protesting at 8140 South Ashland Ave. over security measures they see as obtrusive.

    “As a community, we know it is the prerogative and the duty of Fifth Third Bank to protect its property, its assets, its employees and its customers. At the same time, what I believe we are all here to point out is that security measures such as the buzz-in doors and conspicuous metal detectors ultimately do little to deter bad actors while they simultaneous foster an environment that tells customers they are not trusted. Further, as these measures are not in force at other branches in neighborhoods with smaller minority communities, it sends a message of prejudice.

  • collins 042418SPRINGFIELD – The problem of chronic absences weighs heavily on a school’s ability to educate students, a problem State Senator Jacqueline Collins continues to address this year with a plan that passed the Senate today.

    The measure, approved by the Senate in a 50-1 vote today, extends studies of chronic absence to include early childhood programs. Schools must collect and review absence data, using it as the basis for recommendations on what can be done to reduce absences and truancy.

    “To attack the causes of absence from all sides, we must fully understand it, and that means starting with our youngest students,” Collins said. “We know that a pattern of absence or truancy can develop from an early age. Collecting this data and hearing these stories from our schools will help us to understand why, and to develop strategies to keep our kids in class.”

    Data from the University of Chicago, the Consortium on Chicago School Research and reports by California-based Attendance Works highlight the critical importance of consistent preschool attendance. Students who attend preschool regularly are significantly more likely than chronically absent preschoolers to be ready for kindergarten and to attend school regularly in later grades.

    Senate Bill 3536 heads to the Illinois House for consideration.

     

  • collins reversemrg mrSPRINGFIELD – 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.”

  • collins 042418SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) joined members of the Illinois Senate Education Committee in a public hearing in Chicago to question Chicago Public Schools representatives in the wake of reports that allege faculty and staff have permitted a culture of sexual harassment and abuse against students for years.

    CPS CEO Janice Jackson was not present at the hearing at the Bilandic Building Wednesday.

    “Dr. Jackson’s absence today is inexplicable. The CPS witnesses were not the decision makers and they failed to answer many of the more detailed questions required to discern negligence,” Collins said. “The Chicago Public Schools system is a public entity, accountable to the public. We should have heard from the CEO today.”

    Collins called for the hearing after an in-depth report by the Chicago Tribune detailing a lax background check policy which allowed the hiring of teachers with red flags in their histories and allegations by dozens of students against faculty and staff within the school system across a 10-year period. She has called for a study into what mandatory reporting laws are already on the books and how and why personnel have allegedly failed to comply with them.

    “I don't think apologies are enough,” Collins said, addressing Morgan Aranda, 22, a former student of Walter Payton College Prep who testified to the committee about her experiences while she was a student. “I think we already have laws on the books that were violated. What’s to say once the media spotlight is off the issue, we won't be confronted with the same issue? If we're all in this endeavor to protect our children, this has been a systemic failure by all adults.”

  • collins sb274“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?  

  • collins 012418Joins activists to protest Rauner rate hike proposal

    CHICAGO – In response to a move yesterday by the Rauner administration’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to impose a double-digit increase in fee caps for check cashing at Illinois currency exchanges, State Sen. Jacqueline Collins joined activists in Chicago today to call for a rejection of the proposal.

    Speaking at the headquarters of The Woodstock Institute, Collins also announced legislation that would cut check cashing rates and expand consumer protections for customers.