• Castro to reopen district office July 6

    castro office 070620ELGIN – After being closed for nearly three months out of health and safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) announced plans to reopen her district office July 6, with a few restrictions.

    “The pandemic has put a lot of things on hold, but one thing it hasn’t is the need for people in my district to seek the sort of help that our office is uniquely able to provide,” Castro said. “With all areas of the state having moved into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, I believe that now is the time we can safely reopen and start providing constituent services face-to-face.”

    Castro’s district office is located at 164 Division Street, Suite 102 at The Professional Building in Elgin. The office will be open for its normal business hours, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Meetings, however, will be allowed by appointment only. Visitors will be required to wear masks at all times, and social distancing must be maintained for the duration of the meetings. Castro’s satellite office in Hanover Park will remain closed.

    “Above all else, our top concern remains the health and safety of everyone while we ride out the coronavirus storm together,” Castro said.

    To request an appointment, please send a message or call 847-214-8864.

  • Castro co-sponsored casino support bill becomes law

    casino 063020ELGIN – A measure co-sponsored by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) meant to provide support to casinos became law Tuesday.

    “Many businesses have been able to reopen under the Restore Illinois plan, but casinos have not,” Castro said. “A casino can be one of the largest sources of employment in its area, and the surrounding communities are often heavily reliant on the tax revenue it provides. If casinos are forced to close for good as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would have long lasting and devastating effects on the area.”

    Senate Bill 516 was signed by Gov. JB Pritzker Tuesday and makes several changes to previous gaming bills. It is meant to lessen the financial burden of casinos, which have been closed since the first Stay at Home Order was issued in March.

    Specifically, the bill:

    • Increases the period of time casinos have to pay fees from two years to six years and removes the requirement to pay interest in the fees;
    • Moves the implementation date of a new, lower tax rate to July 1, 2020, rather than having the rate kick in only when a new casino opens; and
    • Extends the due date for sports licensing and other fees by one year to July 1, 2021.

    “By providing these small changes, we’re giving the casinos the same opportunity to bounce back that other institutions have had, which gives them a bit of breathing room, while not completely removing their obligation to pay their fair share,” Castro said.

    Castro’s district includes the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin. The measure passed both chambers of the General Assembly with bipartisan support during the May special session.

  • Castro named to budget oversight commission

    castro 01292020CM0084ELGIN – As part of efforts to address the unique and unprecedented financial effect the COVID-19 outbreak has had on Illinois, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) has been appointed to the Legislative Budget Oversight Commission.

    “The coronavirus pandemic put our state in a position unlike anything we could have imagined,” Castro said. “It’s not feasible to continue the budgeting process in the same methods we have in years previous. Additional oversight and scrutiny is necessary to ensure Illinois can navigate this crisis and continue to prosper when it’s over.”

    The commission was established by the General Assembly during the brief May special session and will be tasked with finding ways to overcome the challenges to budget drafting that was presented by the pandemic-induced financial crisis. The purpose of the commission will be to monitor the budget management actions taken by the governor and to oversee the ways in which CARES Act federal relief funds are distributed to state and local governments. Castro was named to the commission by Senate President Don Harmon earlier this week.

    “I want to thank President Harmon for giving me the opportunity to help ensure that the stability we established under the budget passed in May can continue for all future budgets for the duration of this crisis and beyond,” Castro said.

    The commission will be bipartisan and consist of 22 total members of both chambers of the General Assembly. Members of the commission will serve without compensation.

  • Senate President Don Harmon announces appointments to Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission

    harmon 03052020CM0660SPRINGFIELD, IL – Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) announced four appointees to the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission, a group created to help guide Illinois through the reopening process following stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of coronavirus.

    Senators Christopher Belt (D-Centreville), Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) and Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) will represent Senate Democrats on the commission. 

  • Latino Caucus: SCOTUS Ruling upholding DACA is right thing for nation

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  • Castro celebrates vote-by-mail expansion

    castro 01292020CM0084ELGIN – On Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill expanding the state’s vote-by-mail program. State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) supported the measure to help safeguard the health and safety of voters.

    “Even though we are in unprecedented times and a lot of us are taking things one day at a time, there are many aspects of our lives that will not wait for the coronavirus pandemic to end, and voting is one of them,” Castro said. “Election Day is coming, and people are going to want to vote, so we need to make sure that they can do so without risking their health or the health of their loved ones.”

    The expansion of vote-by-mail came as part of a larger election package legislators passed during a special session earlier this spring to addressing COVID-19 concerns. The new law will require local election authorities to automatically send vote-by-mail applications to everyone who voted in the 2018 general, 2019 consolidated or 2020 primary elections, or who registered to vote after the 2020 primary.

    The package also establishes Election Day as a state holiday in 2020, to allow schools to be used as polling locations and to help recruit more high school students as election judges, since many of those who frequently serve as election judges are senior citizens, and thus at higher risk in light of the COVID-19 pandemic..

    “Voting is one of the most essential rights we have as citizens, and we should always be working to make it easier to vote, not harder,” Castro said.

    The law is effectively immediately and applies only to the 2020 general election.

  • Castro remembers lives lost to traffic accidents

    Senator CastroELGIN – With the launch of the next phase of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s “Life or Death Illinois” campaign, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is taking time to remember people who lost their lives in traffic accidents and urges others to do the same.

    “It’s important to consider that traffic fatalities are not just statistics on a page. They are real people,” Castro said. “Each one is a unique individual with a rich, vibrant life story who left behind family and friends who miss them dearly every day. We need to remember these individuals, not just in how their life impacted those around them, but how their death did as well.”

  • Castro pleased with COVID-19 relief provisions in budget

    castro floor2 052120ELGIN – After Gov. JB Pritkzer signed the state budget for the next fiscal year, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), who supported the budget proposals during the brief May session, released the following statement:

    “The budget is a realistic response to the current fiscal situation the COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with. It contains relief for our local small businesses, funding to provide PPE to our community’s hard working medical professionals, rent and mortgage assistance for families hit the hardest by the crisis, and support for immigrant and underserved communities who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.”

  • Castro encourages residents to dine locally

    phase3dining 052920ELGIN – With all regions of Illinois entering Phase 3 of the governor’s Restore Illinois plan Friday, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is encouraging residents to support area bars and restaurants by dining locally.

    “Like many of us, our favorite local bars and restaurants have been struggling in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic,” Castro said. “With outdoor dining now available, it’s even easier to show your support and help these community businesses keep their doors open, lights on and staff paid.”


  • Castro pleased with passage of COVID-19 protections for first responders

    castro floor2 052120SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Castro and her colleagues in the Illinois Senate passed a bill Thursday that contained protections for first responders who are affected by COVID-19 as a result of their duties.

    “Now more than ever, the first responders and front-line workers who are risking their lives to keep us safe during a pandemic deserve our undying thanks and gratitude,” Castro said. “The very least we can do as a legislature is provide these brave men and women with protections since they are risking their lives every single day.”

    The legislation provides expanded worker’s compensation protection for COVID-19 first-responders and front-line workers, including people employed as a police officer, firefighter, EMT or paramedic, health care provider (including nursing home, rehabilitation and homecare workers), corrections officer, or anyone employed as an essential worker.

    “No one deserves to have their lives ruined as a result of contracting COVID-19, and especially not people who have no choice but to be exposed to it,” Castro said.

    The first-responder protections were part of House Bill 2455, a labor protection package that also addressed issues with unemployment insurance. The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, and will be sent back to the House of Representatives for a final vote.

  • Lightford, Castro talk session, reopening on Chicago Tonight

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  • Castro stresses importance of safety during Work Zone Awareness Week

    roadconst 042320ELGIN – The week of April 20 to April 24, 2020, has been designated National Work Zone Awareness Week by the U.S. Department of Transportation. State Senator Cristina Castro, who has championed several pieces of legislation aimed at safer driving, stressed the importance of safety in road construction areas, particularly in a time of a pandemic.

    “A lot fewer people are out on the roads during the Stay at Home Order, which can lead to an increase in dangerous driving habits,” Castro said. “Less traffic might cause people to not slow down while passing through work zones, which is dangerous to the workers and to other drivers.”

    The National Work Zone Awareness week is being jointly promoted by the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Police and the Illinois Tollway. They have released several guidelines for safe driving through work zones, including:

    • Not using electronic devices while driving, because not only is this dangerous, it is also illegal;
    • Obeying the road signs that will help you safely navigate work zones;
    • Adhering to the posted speed limits, which are for the safety of both workers and drivers;
    • Provide extra distance for heavy machinery and trucks; and
    • Be prepared for lane shifts and closures and slow and stopped traffic at all times;

    “In this time of crisis, public safety is still a top priority, and that still includes safety in work zones,” Castro said.

  • Castro announces Biodiversity Field Trip Grants

    castro fieldtrip 031120ELGIN – Today, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) announced that Elgin Math and Science Academy Charter School in Elgin and Glenbrook Elementary School in Streamwood have been awarded Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grants given out by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

    “I’m grateful to hear that both Glenbrook Elementary and Elgin Math and Science Academy will be receiving grants,” Castro said. “We have great natural resources in this state. Taking students on a field trip to see some of them in person can be a wonderful experience.”

    Elgin Math and Science Academy Charter School will take students to the Northeast Neighborhood Association Butterfly Garden and Glenbrook Elementary School will plan a trip to  The Morton Arboretum, in Lisle.

    “These field trips help get kids excited about scene,” Castro said. “We need more people to pursue important careers in the life sciences.”

    The competitive grants were awarded by a team of judges after reviewing all applications. The deadline for Fiscal Year 2021 applications is January 31, 2021.

  • Castro on first case of COVID-19 in Kane County: Live your daily life, but take steps to protect yourself and others

    handwashing 031020ELGIN – Today, Gov. Pritzker announced the first two cases of coronavirus in the state outside of Cook County. One of the two cases is in Kane County and the other is in McHenry County.

    “I have been in contact with the governor, the Department of Public Health (IDPH) and other health officials about what the next step will be in containment and what we can do to protect our most vulnerable residents,” Castro said. “I advise everyone in Kane County and throughout Illinois to continue to take the steps recommended by the Department of Public Health to keep themselves and everyone around them as safe and healthy as possible.”

  • Castro: The era of legislators taking advantage of the system is over

    castro 030420 2SPRINGFIELD – A measure to close a compensation loophole often exploited by lawmakers was moved through committee Wednesday by its sponsor, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin).

    “The era of legislators taking advantage of the system to the detriment of taxpayers is over,” Castro said. “This is long overdue and I’m proud to be the one fighting to end this practice.”

    Senate Bill 2456 closes a glaring loophole in legislator pay laws, which currently allow for a retiring lawmaker to delay leaving office until the first of the month but still earn pay for the entire month. The practice has long been questioned, but fell under particularly harsh scrutiny last year when two disgraced former lawmakers used the loophole to receive extra pay following their resignation after being indicted for federal crimes.

    Under Castro’s bill, legislators would only be compensated for the days they hold office.

    “If we have a system in place which allows those who abused their office and betrayed their constituents to still benefit, then all that does is further erode the trust the public has in their elected officials,” Castro said.

    The legislation, which has the support of Comptroller Susanna Mendoza, passed the Senate Executive Committee without opposition and awaits further consideration before the full Senate.

  • Castro: We need to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act now

    castro 030420SPRINGFIELD – Environmental advocates rallied in Springfield Wednesday in support of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), who is the Senate sponsor of the bill, spoke before the crowd which had gathered in the Capitol Rotunda.

    “We need to pass CEJA now,” Castro said. “This is a pivotal moment for Illinois when it comes to energy policy. I know from looking around the Capitol today that we have the power necessary to get this bill passed and onto the Governor’s desk.”

  • Castro looks to expand care for individuals with developmental disabilities

    Sen. Cristina CastroSPRINGFIELD – A pilot program meant to provide supervision and care to adults and children with developmental disabilities will be expanded and made permanent under a measure sponsored by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin).

    “Taking care of an individual with developmental disabilities can be a real challenge and many families across the state struggle to do so,” Castro said. “The pilot program proved to be successful in providing services to those in Illinois who really needed it, which is why it should be made permanent and expanded to provide even more assistance.”

  • Castro: Blagojevich sentence commutation shameful

    Sen. Cristina CastroSPRINGFIELD – Disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s 14-year prison sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump Tuesday after just over seven years served. State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), who serves on the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, issued the following statement:

    “Rod Blagojevich’s sentence was commuted because he is friends with the president and appeared on his reality show, and no other reason. The misdeeds he committed while governor of our great state are disgraceful and embarrassing, and it’s a shame that his friendship with the president affords him the luxury of not facing the full consequences of his actions.”

  • Castro seeks answers, solutions at ethics commission hearing on lobbying

    castro ethics 101520CHICAGO – The Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform met to discuss lobbying regulation Wednesday.

    “I’m fed up with it, and I know the people of Illinois are fed up with it too,” said State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin). “It’s time we get to the bottom of the issue, figure out the root cause, and solve it once and for all in a way that prevents us from having to do yet another joint ethics commission a few years down the road.”

    At Wednesday’s meeting, the commission focused on lobbying and lobbying reform. Representatives from the city of Chicago, the secretary of state, the Illinois Municipal League, and several other organizations were present to answer questions and provide insight.

    “It’s clear that something needs to be done, but it can’t be one sided,” Castro said. “Whatever reforms come out of this commission will affect everyone, so we need to be sure that nobody faces undue burdens as a result.”

    Castro sponsored the resolution to form the joint ethics commission last year, and was later appointed to sit on it. The commission has several additional meetings scheduled in the coming months and must file a report of its findings by March 31.

  • Castro wants to close legislative pay loophole

    castro 060219SPRINGFIELD – A loophole in legislative pay law allowing legislators to receive an entire month’s pay despite not serving the full month would be closed under a proposal by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin).

    “In any other job, a person would not be compensated for an entire month if they only worked one day,” Castro said. “This is a glaring loophole that has been exploited far too many times at the taxpayers’ expense, and I’m sick of it. It needs to be closed.”