The Majority Report 06/10/19 - Senate Democrats pass major legislation during landmark session


Senate passes major legislation during landmark session

Major legislation

Senate Democrats entered the 101st General Assembly with one of the largest, most diverse caucuses in recent history.

Senators tackled an ambitious legislative agenda, working on issues ranging from minimum wage to distracted driving to the state's teacher shortage.

Aside from passing a bipartisan, balanced budget and a $45 billion capital infrastructure plan, Senate Democrats made history with measures legalizing cannabis and updating our state's tax structure. Read more below.




Senate Dems raise minimum wage for first time in a decade

Minimum wage press conference

Senate Democrats made Illinois a leader in the Midwest by passing a new law raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.

Thanks to Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford’s legislation, minimum-wage earners statewide will see their first pay increase since 2010.

Illinois’ minimum wage has been stuck at $8.25 per hour since 2010. A single parent working at that wage qualifies for food stamps, Medicaid and often housing assistance. A $15 per hour minimum wage would lessen the need for single parents and families to rely on assistance. Continue reading.



Senate Democrats enact Tobacco 21 legislation to save lives

Tobacco 21

To fight for the health and safety of Illinois’ teenagers and young adults, Senate Democrats rallied behind a new law raising the age to legally purchase tobacco to 21.

“Tobacco 21 will reduce access in our young populations, bring down overall smoking rates over time and save the state millions in health care costs,” said State Senator Julie Morrison, sponsor of the legislation. “Raising the age has been proven to reduce smoking rates among young teenagers who are susceptible to the impact of nicotine on the brain and have a strong chance of beginning a lifelong deadly habit.”

The new law makes Illinois the first state in the Midwest to implement Tobacco 21 and one of the first ten states nationwide to implement the policy. Continue reading.


Senate Democrats advance landmark legal cannabis plan

Sen. Heather A. Steans

Recognizing that prohibition and the War on Drugs are not effective, Senate Democrats culminated two years of research, meetings with stakeholders and public hearings by introducing a comprehensive piece of legislation creating a well-regulated cannabis market for adults 21 and older.

The legislation, sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans and State Senator Toi Hutchinson, would legalize cannabis sales beginning on Jan. 1, 2020.

Also included in the measure are significant provisions to address the disproportionate harm prohibition caused in minority communities. One-fifth of revenue from taxes and licenses will go to a program investing in communities that have suffered the most due to discriminatory drug policies, and qualified applicants could receive low-interest loans to start in the cannabis business.

To prioritize public safety, Steans built on the existing regulatory framework of Illinois’ medical cannabis industry, one of the most well-regulated in the country. All cannabis products would be tested for potency and contaminants to ensure consumers know exactly what they are purchasing and labeled for potency and serving size. Continue reading.

Senate Democrats push for a fair tax for all Illinoisans

Illinois Fair tax

After nearly a decade of work to implement a fair tax in Illinois, Senators Don Harmon, Toi Hutchinson and Andy Manar won approval of a series of proposals this spring that would update the state’s tax structure and provide relief to working and middle-class families.

Assistant Majority Leader Don Harmon advanced a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would remove language requiring a flat tax and allow the General Assembly to set lower rates for those making less and higher rates for those earning the most.

State Senator Toi Hutchinson passed Senate Bill 687, which would create a graduated rate structure for Illinois’ income tax system, with lower-income families paying less while wealthier individuals would pay more. Under the plan, those making under $250,000 would pay less in income taxes than they do today.

The proposed amendment passed both the House and Senate and will be placed as a question on the ballot in November 2020. Continue reading.


Senators invest in road safety, fight distracted driving

Distracted driving

Distracted driving and driver safety are issues that always need attention. As more young people drive and technology gets faster, the need to remind people of the perils of distracted driving increases exponentially.

Senate Democrats approached road safety with an even greater sense of urgency following a tragic year for Illinois State Troopers on the road. In total, 15 state police cruisers were struck while on the side of the road. Three of those accidents resulted in fatalities in what was described as an unprecedented spike in collisions.

State Senator Steve Stadelman, State Senator Tom Cullerton and Assistant Majority Leader Tony Munoz all passed measures aimed at making the road safer. Continue reading.




Senate Democrats tackle teacher shortage

Teacher shortage

With Illinois’ teacher shortage crisis worsening in many parts of the state, Senate Democrats tackled the problem on multiple fronts, from teacher salaries to certification requirements to placing educators in hard-to-staff schools.

State Senator Andy Manar passed a plan to phase in an increase to the state’s minimum mandated wage for teachers. Continue reading.

State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, chair of the Senate Education Committee, passed a series of measures addressing the crisis. Continue reading.

Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez continued her long-time advocacy for the Grow Your Own Teacher (GYOT) initiative, a program designed to train people to teach in hard-to-staff schools, by advancing legislation that expands the ability of schools and future teachers to participate in the program. Continue reading.


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