Collins

  • Collins advances religious protections

    collins 031717SPRINGFIELD – To ensure that employees can observe their religious traditions without fear, State Sen. Jacqueline Collins has put forth a proposal prohibiting employers from discriminatory actions toward workers who wear religiously observant clothing or hair styles.

    “In a letter to a synagogue, President George Washington once wrote of the new government he had fought to form that it ‘gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,’” said Collins, D-Chicago. “This legislation is intended to show clearly that Illinois is a state that will protect its citizens. As our Jewish community faces an unprecedented wave of threats and our Muslim community is openly antagonized by the White House, protecting the right to worship is more important now than ever.”

    The legislation would specifically disallow employers from taking disciplinary measures against employees for wearing their hair or clothing in ways that are in keeping with a religiously observant lifestyle.

    Senate Bill 1697 passed out of the Senate Labor Committee this week and is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate.

  • Collins’ violence prevention measures become law

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  • Collins: State budget compromise advances in Senate

    collins 022817SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, issued the following statement today as the Illinois Senate passed several key parts of the grand bargain legislative package aimed at ending the state’s two-year budget impasse.

    “While I am deeply disappointed that we have approved a gambling expansion, I am grateful that we saw strong bipartisan compromise on supporting Chicago Public Schools, giving voters the power to consolidate local government and taking steps to make sure we do right by taxpayers as we purchase goods and services in state government,” Collins said. “Today we have moved closer to a long-needed solution through compromise and statesmanship that has been sorely lacking in Springfield of late.”

  • Few specifics, missed opportunities in governor's budget speech (VIDEO)

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  • Illinois Legislative Black Caucus: Enough Is Enough (VIDEO)

    ilbc presserAfter three years of the governor failing to fulfill his constitutional obligation to introduce a balanced budget, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus assembled for a press conference to say enough is enough. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is a collection of black legislators from both the House of Representatives and Senate.

    "I am not sure what could be said about the governor's three years of inactivity," said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), chairwoman for the Joint Legislative Black Caucus. "Before he was sworn in he stated he wanted to shake things up in Springfield; in the process, he has shaken a hole in our state."

  • Black History Month 2017 - The Crisis in Black Education (VIDEO)

    Black History Month 2017 - The Crisis in Black EducationSenators comment on this year's Black History Month theme, “The Crisis in Black Education.”

    Over the years the crisis in black education has grown significantly. In urban neighborhoods, public schooling systems lack resources and have overcrowded classrooms, which result to students of color reaping the disproportionate shortfalls of the racial achievement gap.

    In the past, whether by laws, policies, or practices, racially separated schools remained the norm in America. Because of that, black students today are underperforming and are not advancing like their white counterparts.

    This year’s national theme, The Crisis in Black Education, focuses on the evolution of black education and its meaning as it empowers students to grow, achieve and prosper.

  • Collins votes for key portions of state budget compromise

    collins 052716SPRINGFIELD —  State Senator Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, issued the following statement after voting in favor of the first portions of a state budget compromise.

    “Today we moved forward on a number of important key issues that will improve the way government functions,” Collins said. “This is the first step toward an end to this destructive stalemate. I want us to continue moving forward.”

    Collins supported reforms to the way state government purchases goods and services, allows voters to combine or eliminate certain units of local government, and allows municipalities to take steps to more effectively issue bonds. Those measures, part of a grand bargain to resolve the state’s budget impasse, all passed Wednesday. While other portions of the bargain stalled due to lack of Republican support, Collins said she remains determined to continue working toward the passage of the full compromise.

  • Top Ten New Laws for 2017

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  • Senate overrides governor's veto of automatic voter registration (VIDEO, AUDIO)

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  • Top new education laws for Illinois in 2016

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  • Collins’ criminal justice reforms signed into law

    CollinsApril2016Measures address expungement, park district employment and cost of inmate phone calls

    CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) announced today that the governor has signed into law several pieces of legislation she sponsored that are part of a larger criminal justice reform agenda in Illinois. The measures help people have their arrest records expunged for crimes they did not commit, give park districts greater discretion to hire non-violent ex-offenders and cap the cost of inmate phone calls to keep family members affected by incarceration in touch with one another.

    “By ending the practice of allowing for-profit contractors to charge exorbitant rates for inmate phone calls, we are enabling families to stay connected,” Collins said. “And by granting park districts discretion to hire more ex-offenders who have turned their lives around, we continue the process of opening up employment opportunities to a chronically unemployed sector of our population.”

  • Prohibition against selling lead-contaminated properties signed into law

    Prohibition against selling lead-contaminated properties signed into law

    SPRINGFIELD – Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) took an important step toward preventing Illinoisans from lead contamination by passing a measure, signed Friday, that will prevent the resale and sale of properties with high lead levels.

    Senate Bill 2300 aims to protect children from lead exposure, which research shows negatively impacts children in classrooms and is cited as one of the causes of violence and aggression among youth. Currently, it is legal to sell and resell contaminated properties without warning owners and tenants of the hazardous effects.

    "Illinois cannot afford to wait for lead poisoning to become a statewide epidemic before it takes action," said Trotter, who serves as Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate. “Far too many families are affected with lead toxins in their homes and it is our job to protect them and their children.”

    Majority Caucus Whip and member of the Senate's Public Health Committee Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) also sponsored the legislation.

    "Children in every neighborhood should have access to clean water and lead free homes,” Hunter said. “Unfortunately, low-income and minority communities are disproportionately affected by the side effects of lead poisoning. Families are living in homes where properties still have lead pipes that can cause brain damage for residents.”

    Another notable member supporting the bill in committee was State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago).

    “We must learn our lesson from the tragedy of Flint, Michigan, and work quickly and proactively to guard our youth against this preventable poison,” Collins said. “This law will empower renters and homeowners to protect their families.”

    Furthermore, the bill will prevent the lease, sale, or renewal of properties with high levels of lead in building materials and paint.

  • Senate Dems: Voting access should be a top priority for Illinois

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  • Collins hails signing of measure allowing parolees to worship, do community service together

    collins 053116SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16) is pleased to announce the governor has signed her legislation ending Illinois’ practice of discouraging parolees from worshipping, doing community service and participating in mentorship programs together.

    “Freedom of association in positive settings can facilitate a smooth reentry into society and help those on parole obtain the help and resources they need to succeed outside the prison walls,” Collins said. “When parolees mentor and encourage each other, engage in job training together, worship or volunteer together, they can build up their peers and their communities.”

    Current law prohibits individuals who are on parole, aftercare release or mandatory supervised release from knowingly associating with others who are also under one of these restrictions without the written permission of their parole agents or aftercare specialists. This limitation is designed to prevent ex-offenders from returning to former criminal associates or gangs, but Collins recognizes that the ban is over-broad and can prevent parolees from engaging in many positive activities, such as worship services, volunteerism and community activism.

    “When offenders have completed their time behind bars, they must be reintegrated into our neighborhoods in ways that allow them to give back and pursue alternatives to crime,” Collins said. “Participation — alongside others with similar life stories — in a religious congregation, community service organization or mentoring program can serve as a powerful catalyst for purpose and change, and as we continue to struggle as a society with cycles of recidivism and violent crime, we must embrace creative solutions.”

  • Collins’ proposed education improvements become law

    collins 041316SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) was pleased to announce the governor signed into law on Friday three pieces of legislation she sponsored to improve the quality of public K-12 education in Illinois.

    •  House Bill 3199 requires charter schools, which are funded with public dollars, to comply with all state absenteeism and truancy laws applicable to traditional public schools.
    • Shared priorities, common ground yield budget action (AUDIO)

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    • Human service programs partial funding passes General Assembly

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    • Collins urges Southside parents to attend meetings on lead in water

      water fountainCHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) is encouraging Southside parents and anyone concerned about lead found in drinking water at three 16th District elementary schools to attend meetings being held this week to discuss the problem. She also urged a speedy House vote on legislation the Senate passed last month to require lead testing in schools and improved communication with the public in the wake of the preventable drinking water disaster in Flint, Michigan.

    • Collins expands access to expungement, sealing of records

      collins 053116SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) has secured passage of legislation that expands and eases access to the legal process for the expungement and sealing of criminal records – a major hurdle for individuals seeking to gain employment and move on with their lives after an encounter with the criminal justice system. The measure lifts a ban on expungement petitions by people with prior but unrelated criminal records, eliminates all fees for juveniles applying for expungements and waives fees for individuals in Cook County who were wrongfully arrested or convicted and now seek expungement.

      “For the sake of justice, we must end this practice of charging individuals money to clear their names and move on with their lives when our criminal justice system has concluded they did not commit the crime for which they were arrested,” Collins said. “Illinois is suffering from a shortfall in revenue, but if our solution involves picking the pockets of the poor and wrongly accused, we have more than a fiscal problem; we have a moral problem.”

      The fee to petition for expungement in Cook County is $120. Collins hopes to expand her pilot program to Illinois’ other counties, where fees can be as high as $400. House Bill 6328, which Collins worked with Representative Art Turner and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to craft, would waive fees for juvenile expungement requests statewide. There would be no fee for adults petitioning in Cook County when the individual was arrested but then released without being charged, the charges were dropped or a criminal conviction was reversed. According to Sheriff Dart, 19 percent of those detained in the Cook County Jail at any given time are released after the charges against them are dropped. Finally, the legislation allows individuals to petition for expungement of a new arrest or charge, even if they already had a criminal record.

      “These reforms speak to the fundamentals of our justice system, which is based on evidence, not assumptions,” Collins said. “Limiting access to those with no prior record is a policy based on stereotypes and fear, not facts. We must reject laws that create a population assumed to be a criminal class – chained to their past arrest records, always under suspicion and perpetually poor.”

      HB 6328 has cleared both chambers and now goes to the governor’s desk.

    • Collins advances lower rates for prison phone calls

      collins 052716SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) advanced legislation today to address the legal and social justice concerns of families affected by the incarceration of a loved one. Currently, a telecommunications company and the state split millions in profits from collect calls prisoners make to family members at a rate of 11.8 cents per minute. Collins’ legislation would cap that rate at seven cents per minute, with no additional service fees.

      “The driving objective of our criminal justice system should be rehabilitation, not profit,” Collins said. “Exorbitant rates, fees and minimum charges for phone calls isolate inmates from their loved ones, tearing the fabric of families and communities.”