Senate passes Martinez plan allowing thousands of children to keep health insurance

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  • martinez 050616SPRINGFIELD — Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) has advanced legislation that will help students meet foreign language requirements when they apply for college.

    Under Martinez’s plan, state universities and community colleges would have to accept the State Seal of Biliteracy as the equivalent of two years of foreign language learning taken during high school. The State Seal of Biliteracy, which Martinez established through a law she sponsored, is awarded to high school students demonstrating proficiency in English and at least one more other language.

    “The State Seal of Biliteracy was an important step in encouraging foreign language learning, which helps students acquire the skills necessary for competing in the global economy,” Martinez said. “Now I am trying to improve the program by ensuring that a student who completes it gets the foreign language credits he or she deserves.”

    House Bill 4330 provides that the rules the Illinois State Board of Education establishes for the program must ensure that a student meets two years of foreign language requirements for college admissions purposes.

    It’s optional for schools to offer a State Seal of Biliteracy to students. For the 2015-2016 school year, 54 Illinois schools were approved for the State Seal of Biliteracy.

    Martinez’s bill also requires state universities and community colleges to establish criteria to translate a State Seal of Biliteracy into course credit.

    The senator’s proposal passed out of the Senate’s Education Committee this week and now must be approved by the Illinois Senate.

  • martinez 050416SPRINGFIELD — Thousands of children would be protected from losing their health insurance under legislation passed out of the Senate Human Services Committee today by Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago).

    The Covering All Kids Health Insurance Act is set to expire in July of this year, but Martinez’s legislation would extend it to 2019. Extending the act would prevent more than 40,000 children, regardless of their legal status, from losing their health insurance coverage.

    “Providing health insurance to children in Illinois is not only the morally right thing to do, but it’s also good public policy,” said Martinez. “I don’t want to see children lose health insurance coverage, which could lead to long-term health problems that will be harmful and cost us more down the road.”

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  • Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) offers her comments on Latino Unity Day.

    La Senadora Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) ofrece comentario sobre el Dia de Unidad Latina.

  • martinez latin trmt ctrSenators William Delgado (D-Chicago), Michael Noland (D-Elgin) and Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) recently joined Adriana Trino, Executive Director of the Latino Treatment Center, to plead for the agency to receive money it’s owed from the state.

    The Latino Treatment Center is owed over $59,000 from the state and will begin closing its facilities in June if it doesn’t receive payments.

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  • Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) shares her final thoughts on Student Access granted through SB2196 in a floor speech.

  • martinez 42016Undocumented students in Illinois are currently ineligible to receive state-based financial aid.

    Today, Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) passed a plan out of the Illinois Senate that would ensure that changes.

    Under legislation sponsored by Martinez, known as the “Student Access Bill,” undocumented students meeting the conditions necessary to be deemed Illinois residents for tuition purposes would be eligible to access state-based financial aid at Illinois’ four-year public universities.

  • Martinez blooddonorsMajority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) joined the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers at a press conference to promote blood donation during Minority Health Month.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designates April as Minority Health Month to draw attention to health-related disparities that affect minorities.

    “It’s very important that we educate the Latino community about the importance of becoming blood donors,” said Martinez, who is co-chairwoman of the Latino Caucus. “The majority of Latinos have type O blood, which is in high demand because it can be transfused to patients with other blood types.”

    Latinos are the largest minority group, but make up less than 4 percent of blood donors. Additionally, Latinos only make up 10 percent of people on the National Bone Marrow Registry. African Americans also have low blood donation and Bone Marrow Registry participation rates.

    “In my own district, nearly 40 percent of people are of Latino and African American descent,” said Noland. “It is imperative that we raise awareness in these communities for donating blood and bone marrow. This is not just a one-time issue; it is an everyday concern and one that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.”

    It is estimated that one blood donation can save up to three lives. For contact information for community blood centers, click here.

  • muslim action daySPRINGFIELD – Chicago senators took on hate in a statehouse press conference by recognizing April 19 as Illinois Muslim Action Day.

    Senate Resolution 1748 recognizes the national Take on Hate Day and efforts to fight anti-religious hate crimes.

    State Sens. Mattie Hunter and Jacqueline Y. Collins joined the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) for a press conference and recognized pages for the day on the Senate floor.


  • trotter sb2046Today, the Illinois Senate passed legislation that could essentially end the 2016 budget year stalemate.

    Some 90 percent of the state spending plan already is in place because of various court orders, leaving just higher education and many social services, which serve thousands of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens, left unfunded. This afternoon the Senate concurred with the House on Senate Bill 2046 and approved spending authority for the state’s public universities and social services left unfunded during the budget impasse.

  • steans presser 040516State Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) and State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) spoke out in support of legislation that will ensure all students have a chance to compete for aid to pay for college at a press conference today that was organized by the Latino Policy Forum.

    Undocumented students are currently ineligible to receive state-based financial aid, but that would change under the proposal McGuire and Steans are backing.

    “Our state’s future prosperity depends on keeping our brightest minds in state,” Steans said. “Currently, these 1,500 students cannot even compete for the scholarships that would allow them to pursue higher education here in Illinois; this legislation, which our state universities support, will provide the access they now lack.”

  • martinez 040516SPRINGFIELD — Undocumented students in Illinois are currently ineligible to receive state-based financial aid.

    Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) is working hard to make sure that changes.

    Under legislation sponsored by Martinez, known as the “Student Access Bill,” undocumented students meeting the conditions necessary to be deemed Illinois residents for tuition purposes would be eligible to access state-based financial aid at Illinois’ four-year public universities.

    “Higher education offers a pathway to a better life, and all qualified students deserve a fair shot at competing for assistance to pay for college,” Martinez said.

    The measure does not require the state to increase spending for higher education or create a new scholarship program. It simply gives public universities the authority to offer financial aid to more students.


    If Martinez’s proposal becomes law, it is estimated that 1,500 students from Illinois’ four-year public universities would receive new scholarship opportunities.

    Financial aid includes any state aid or benefit funded or administered by the state, state agencies, or public institutions and universities, such as scholarships, grants, awards and room and board.

    The legislation does not include access to grants provided through the Monetary Award Program (MAP).

    Senate Bill 2196 is an initiative of the University of Illinois in conjunction with the Latino Policy Forum. Former Gov. Jim Edgar, other elected officials, public universities, business and civic leaders, faith based leaders, labor unions and non-profit organizations back the legislation.

    Martinez passed Senate Bill 2196 out of the Higher Education Committee today.

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  • biss martinez raoulSPRINGFIELD — State senators Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) and Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) announced today that they will be working with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on a legislative agenda designed to protect children, working parents and seniors.

    “At a time when working families are being attacked by the governor’s policies, it’s important to find ways to strengthen our state’s child care and home health care programs,” said Martinez, who is sponsoring Senate Bill 2536, which would safeguard existing health insurance for child care providers and ensure they receive appropriate training.

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