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  • Historic statewide construction package signed into law

    Communities across the state will see renewed investment in their infrastructure under a bipartisan construction plan approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker today.

    The $45 billion construction package is the culmination of a three-month negotiation process during which lawmakers traveled throughout Illinois to hear input from local officials, educators, transportation experts and other interested parties.

    “We spent months traveling this state and learned more than I thought possible about the infrastructure needs in various communities,” said State Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago), who co-chaired the committee charged with developing the construction plan. “The result is a comprehensive package that takes into account the testimony we heard and fairly invests in communities in every corner of the state.”

  • hunter 051419SPRINGFIELD – Speaking at an SEIU Healthcare Home Care Lobby Day rally, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago, 3rd) once again stressed the importance of giving a raise to care workers who provide in-home services for seniors in Illinois.

    “Right now, home care agencies are struggling to recruit and retain caregivers in every corner of the state,” Hunter said. “Why? Because the average Illinois home care worker’s hourly wage is only $11.08.”

  • baby change 050819SPRINGFIELD – Legislation that would increase the availability of baby changing facilities in public buildings passed the Senate Public Health Committee today.

    State Senator Ram Villivalam is the chief sponsor of this initiative.

    “There are a number of challenges that young families face today,” Villivalam (D-Skokie) said. “This legislation aims to remove one of these challenges by ensuring that parents, regardless of gender, have more access to a baby changing station and can provide important care for their children.”

    HB 3711 would ensure that all public restrooms in a public buildings have baby changing stations that are physically safe, sanitary, and usable. In addition, signage outside the entrance to restrooms where the baby changing station is located would be required.

    The legislation will be heard before the Senate in the coming weeks.

  • fine 050219SPRINGFIELD – Today the Illinois Senate commemorated Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, in honor of those who lost their lives and those whose lives were forever altered by the horror of the Holocaust. 

    Members of the Illinois Senate released the following statements to reassert their commitment to human rights:

    “Now more than ever, the world needs to remember and reflect on the atrocities that occurred and the sentiments that led to them so that we, for the sake of basic human decency, can ensure they never again happen,” Senate President John J. Cullerton (D-Chicago) said.

  • Sen. Ram VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Ram Villivalam joined with colleagues and Illinois business owners to call on the General Assembly to ensure state contractors will receive payments for their work in a timely manner.

    “With this legislation we’re trying to make the payment process as seamless and transparent as possible,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “By taking advantage of an electronic payment system and implementing a database of those contractors who are owed money from the state we will be able to meet those aspirations.”

    Senate Bill 104 would require that subcontractors be paid within seven business days after the prime contractor receives payment, as the overwhelming majority of prime contractors receive electronic payments from the state, reducing the need for time when the subcontractors are waiting to be paid their share for work already performed.

  • Sen. Ram Villivalam's Town Hall EventWednesday night State Senator Ram Villivalam was joined by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and State Representative Mark Kalish for a town hall meeting with constituents.

    Sen Villivalam spoke about legislation furthering protections for those working in the hospitality industry.

    “Sexual harassment against service workers is an oft-ignored epidemic, with 58% of hotel workers and 77% of casino workers reporting some kind of harassment or unwanted advance from a guest,” Villivalam said. “Those numbers are absolutely unacceptable, and I decided to do something about it.”

  • Senator VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – Legislation Sponsored by State Senator Ram Villivalam to advance equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) older adults passed Senate on Wednesday.

    “It is important to protect our LGTBQ population at all ages. The older members of this community face very specific challenges as they age,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “We need to ensure that aging programming by service providers and the environments in assisted living facilities are welcoming and inclusive, and I’m proud to say this legislation does just that.”

    Senate Bill 1319 would both highlight to service providers the need to develop aging programming that includes LGBTQ people and help cultivate affirming environments in assisted living facilities for LGBTQ older adults.

    “LGBTQ older adults face many challenges as they age, including fears about neglect, abuse, and harassment because of their identities,” Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois said. “Sometimes, many LGBTQ older adults are forced by circumstances to go back into the closet as they age because of the absence of inclusive programming by service providers and a lack of affirming care in long-term care facilities. As they age, we must ensure laws and programming support and affirm them. Thank you, Sen. Villivalam, for leading this charge.”

    The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

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  • Hotel EmployeeSPRINGFIELD – Legislation to improve the safety of hotel and casino employees passed the Senate today.

    “I’m proud that the first piece of legislation I filed in Springfield proactively ensures that workers at hotels and casinos are protected against sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Senator Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “One of my top legislative priorities is furthering protections for working people in Illinois, and this bill protect some of the hardest working people in the hospitality industries.”

    Senate Bill 75 calls for hotels and casinos to ensure that a sexual harassment policy is in place to protect their employees. In addition, it requires that employees who work in closed spaces have access to a safety button or notification device that would alert security to the presence of assailants.

    Similar measures have been adopted in Chicago, Seattle, New York City, and Miami Beach. In the wake of this movement, a number of prominent hotel operators have voluntarily pledged to roll out safety buttons by 2020, including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and InterContinental Hotels Group.

    “No one deserves to feel unsafe in their work environment,” Villivalam said. “By following the example of some of the nation’s most populous cities, we will provide a safer and more productive workplace to those who work at these facilities. I also want to thank UNITE HERE, the Hotel and Motel Association and Caesars Entertainment for their advocacy on this legislation.”

    The legislation now moves to the House for consideration.

  • Senator VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – Legislation to protect immigration status in a civil case passed the Senate today.
    State Senator Ram Villivalam is the chief sponsor of this initiative.

    “In spite and especially because of what Donald Trump says and does at the national level as it relates to immigrants, SB 1429 cements the fact that the state of Illinois is a welcoming state to all immigrants,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “People are clearly afraid that their immigration status will be used against them should they even make it to a civil proceeding. This legislation will ensure that immigration status remains confidential and cannot be used against them.”

  • Sen. VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – Legislation to protect immigration status in a civil case passed the Senate Wednesday.

    State Senator Ram Villivalam is the chief sponsor of this initiative.

    “In spite and especially because of what Donald Trump says and does at the national level as it relates to immigrants, SB 1429 cements the fact that the state of Illinois is a welcoming state to all immigrants,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “People are clearly afraid that their immigration status will be used against them should they even make it to a civil proceeding. This legislation will ensure that immigration status remains confidential and cannot be used against them.”

  • childcare 040419SPRINGFIELD – Legislation introduced by State Senator Ram Villivalam that would promote the availability of the Child Care Assistance Program passed the Senate unanimously today.

    “Public services are only valuable when those who they are designed to work for are aware of them,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “It is important for DHS to promote the availability of CCAP so families can take advantage of quality childcare options, allowing parents to work or attend school.”

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    SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers held its Advocacy Day event earlier this morning. State Senators Robert Peters and Ram Villivalam both gave remarks in front of the NASW audience.

    NASW Illinois has over 7,000 members consisting of social workers across the state of Illinois. Its annual Advocacy Day is an opportunity for members to talk to lawmakers and spread information about the issues important to the Association.

    Villivalam (D-Chicago), who spent time prior to joining the State Senate as a legislative coordinator for Service Employees International Union Healthcare, spoke about the importance of the social work profession.

  • Senator VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Ram Villivalam, an advocate for social workers statewide, is proposing that March be declared Social Work Month in Illinois:

    “I’m thrilled SR 59 was adopted by the Senate today,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “Social workers dedicate their lives to enhancing the well-being of those they serve. It is encouraging to me that this profession is one of the fastest growing nationwide.”

    The social work profession is expected to grow faster than average over the next seven years, with more than 682,000 people nationwide expected to be employed as social workers by 2026. Social workers elevate and empower people, giving them the ability to solve problems, cope with personal roadblocks and get resources they need to succeed.

    “Ensuring that March is dedicated to paying homage to the profession of social work is the least we can do,” Villivalam said. “They are ready and willing to help solve pressing issues, most notably the availability and quality of mental health services. Thank you to those who have dedicated themselves to helping others in this capacity.”

  • Senator VillivalamSPRINGFIELD –The Illinois Senate voted to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 years old today, with the measure now awaiting the governor’s signature to become law.

    State Senator Ram Villivalam helped pass House Bill 345, prohibiting the purchase or possession of alternative nicotine products, electronic cigarettes and tobacco products by individuals under the age of 21.

    “Just last week, a constituent shared with me that she lost her father to smoking-related illness when he was only 40 years old, leaving behind his wife, seven children and a baby on the way,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “She urged me to take action to prevent others from facing the same fate and I'm proud of the fact that today the State Senate took the necessary action.”

    According to the American Lung Association, underage smokers’ primary source of cigarettes is their 18- to 20-year-old peers. The Association believes that increasing the legal age of sale of tobacco would virtually eliminate the ability for high school students to purchase and share products with younger children.
    “It is our duty to encourage healthy habits among our youth,” Villivalam said. “Tobacco is an addictive and lethal substance that alongside alcohol and firearms should be restricted to those who are 21 and over.”

    Additionally, the Association believes that raising the age would reduce smoking among 15-17 year olds by 25 percent and among 18- to 20-year-olds by 15 percent. Overall, the Association believes raising the age will result in fewer long-term smokers, reducing overall smoking rates by 12 percent.

    If signed, the measure would take effect July 1, 2019.

  • Sen. Ram VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – Efforts to modernize the state’s water infrastructure present an opportunity for job growth under a plan State Senator Ram Villivalam introduced this morning alongside environmental, faith and labor advocates.

    “The ongoing crisis in Flint, Michigan is a prime example of what can happen to communities when their water infrastructure is neglected by their government for long periods of time,” VIllivalam (D-Chicago) said. “By creating this program, we will provide the training necessary to help Illinois communities avoid a similar fate.”

    SB 2146 would require the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to create a Clean Water Workforce Pipeline Program that would provide grants and other financial assistance to prepare people for careers in water infrastructure.

  • hotelworker 032019SPRINGFIELD – Legislation to improve the safety of hotel and casino employees passed the Senate Labor Committee today.

    “I’m proud that the first piece of legislation I filed in Springfield proactively ensures that workers at hotels and casinos are protected against sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Senator Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “One of my top legislative priorities is furthering protections for working people in Illinois, and this bill protect some of the hardest working people in the hospitality industries.”

  • Sen. Ram Villivalam

    SPRINGFIELD - Legislation to assist Alzheimer’s patients seeking care passed the Senate Human Services Committee this afternoon.

    State Senator Ram Villivalam is the chief sponsor of the initiative.

    “People with early onset Alzheimer's and dementia and their caregivers often don't know where to start when looking for helpful resources,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “This bill will make it clear which services are available and how to access them.”

    SB 187 would require the Illinois Department on Aging to develop educational materials, including a website, that indicate the services that are available to all diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder as defined under the Alzheimer's Disease Assistance Act, regardless of age.

  • Senator VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – Legislation introduced by State Senator Ram Villivalam would promote the availability of the Child Care Assistance Program.


    “Public services are only valuable when those who they are designed to work for are aware of them,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “It is important for DHS to promote the availability of CCAP so families can take advantage of quality childcare options, allowing parents to work or attend school.”


    SB 1321 would require the Illinois Department of Human Services to promote the Child Care Assistance Program, targeting all families with children under age 13, families eligible for child care assistance and child care providers.


    Former Gov. Bruce Rauner reduced the eligibility of CCAP by lowering the income threshold to 50 percent of the federal poverty level. Though it was raised to 162 percent FPL in November 2015, 30,000 families were still impacted by the changes in eligibility. CCAP is still recovering from all the changes to the eligibility, and families have been slow to re-enroll in the program.


    “I’m hoping this bill will increase awareness of programs designed to help working families, and will simultaneous allow those families with young children to trust that their government is back to working for them,” Villivalam said.

  • villivalam 030719SPRINGFIELD – Legislation to protect workers from local right-to-work laws passed the Illinois Senate today.

    “I am proud to sponsor legislation that would make it crystal clear that local right-to-work zones have no place in the state of Illinois. Workers deserve the right to collectively bargain for living wages and better working conditions in every part of our great state,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “Furthermore, there is no question that the regulation of collective bargaining should be a responsibility of state government.”

    Senate Bill 1474 is designed to support economic development, protect the quality of essential services that are provided to the taxpayers of Illinois, and confirm the state’s commitment to maintaining and producing a highly trained workforce.

    “The Collective Bargaining Freedom Act is commonsense legislation that keeps a level playing field in Illinois for employers and employees,” said Michael T. Carrigan, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “Right to work zones will only create a race to the bottom concerning wages and economic security in our communities. This bill protects middle class families.”

    The bill now goes to the House for consideration.