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Aquino passes resolution establishing Cancer Screen Week

aquino 031518SPRINGFIELD - As part of a public health initiative to increase awareness of the benefits of early cancer detection, the Illinois Senate adopted a resolution by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) declaring the first week of December 2018 as Cancer Screen Week.

“Early screenings and detection are the best defense we have against cancer. Many preventable types of cancer occur with no signs or symptoms,” Aquino said. “This is about encouraging people to start a discussion with their healthcare providers about which screenings are right for them based on individual risk factors.”

As many as 210,000 cancer deaths could have been prevented with early cancer screenings and treatment, according to the National Cancer Institute. Due to advancements in early detection and treatment, the cancer death rate declined by 26 percent between 1991 and 2014.

Illinoisans are encouraged to visit cancerscreenweek.org for cancer screening resources. The legislation is Senate Resolution 1595.

Aquino pushes to expand voting access and education in county jails

aquino 050918SPRINGFIELD – Inmates in Illinois county jails who have not been convicted of a crime would be guaranteed an opportunity to vote under legislation advanced out of the Illinois Senate Executive Committee today by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago).

The legislation, House Bill 4469, would ensure all current and former inmates are aware of their voting rights and given a fair chance to register and cast ballots.

While individuals who are awaiting trial and have not been convicted are still eligible to vote, jails are not required to offer voting and only seven out of 102 counties in Illinois currently do so.

HB 4469 would require county election authorities outside Chicago to work with county jail officials to create an absentee voting program. Cook County, which voluntarily launched its first in-person voting program during the March 2018 statewide primaries, would be required to continue providing a temporary polling location during elections.

94 percent of Cook County Jail inmates are currently eligible to vote, according to voting rights organization Chicago Votes.

“It is an injustice to exclude any eligible voter from participating in our democracy,” Aquino said. “This bill will secure voting rights and increase awareness for the overwhelming majority of detainees and former convicts who are eligible.”

The measure would also require the Department of Corrections to educate former inmates on their voting status and provide voter registration materials. Convicted felons are ineligible to vote while incarcerated but regain the right following the end of their sentence.

HB 4469 now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.


Aquino advances measure to gather classroom data, set reduced class size goals

aquino 041218SPRINGFIELD - In order to improve the state’s ability to study class sizes, school districts in Illinois would be required to report various sets of classroom data to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) under legislation advanced out of the Illinois Senate Education committee today by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago).

The legislation, House Bill 5481, aims to shed light on data related to class sizes and teacher caseloads in Illinois, while setting class size goals that give students their best chance at succeeding inside and outside of the classroom, according to Aquino.

HB 5481 requires school districts to report the following criteria no later than the 60th day of each school year:

  • the pupil-teacher ratios for each school district
  • the number of teachers employed by each school
  • the number of class instructors by grade level and subject
  • each individual class size and total caseload for each teacher

ISBE would be required to post the data on its website by Dec. 1 of the same year.

HB 5481 also sets the following class size goals for the General Assembly for the start of the 2020-2021 school year:

  • 18 students or less for kindergarten
  • 22 students or less for grades 1 through 5
  • 25 students or less for grades 6 through 12
  • 150 students or less for each teachers caseload

“Reducing teachers’ caseloads improves student performance at every level by maximizing student engagement, allowing for concentrated instruction and fostering better classroom relationships, all of which are major factors in a student’s long-term success,” Aquino said. “This bill sets the framework for giving our students their best shot at achieving their full potential.”

HB 5481 now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

Aquino measure to assist Hurricane Maria victims passes Senate

aquino 042518SPRINGFIELD – Individuals displaced by federally declared natural disasters would be eligible to receive a temporary disabled parking placard in the State of Illinois under legislation proposed by State Senator Omar Aquino (D –Chicago).

While the state of Illinois currently recognizes out-of-state disability parking placards, the law aims to assist victims who were forced to flee on short notice, leaving documents such as disability placards and licenses behind.

More than 1,600 Puerto Ricans have relocated to Chicago since the hurricane hit Puerto Rico on September 20, according to the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication.

The issue was brought to Senator Aquino’s attention by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, who partnered with the City of Chicago to facilitate a welcome center at the Humboldt Park Field House to help displaced families transition to Chicago.

 “Being a natural disaster refugee should not exclude an individual living with a medical disability from accessing benefits afforded to the rest of us,” Aquino said. “This legislation would remove another burden displaced families have to deal with in the difficult aftermath of a natural disaster.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 2285, passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House for consideration.

Sen. Omar Aquino

Senator Omar Aquino

2nd Senate District

Years served: 2016 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations I; Appropriations II;Education; Human Services; Labor; Licensed Activities and Pensions; Telecommunications and Information Technology (Vice-Chairperson).

Biography: Born and raised on the Northwest Side of Chicago; B.A. in Criminal Justice and Sociology, Loyola University Chicago; Bilingual Case Manager at Central West Case Management Unit at the Jane Addams School of Social Work; Legislative Assistant in the Illinois House of Representatives; Outreach Coordinator for Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth; Devoted  to improving education, aging services and human services.