• Majority Leader Lightford condemns possible rape cover-up

    lightford 201519SPRINGFIELD-- Outraged by allegations brought forth by a recent WBEZ story about the possible cover up of a rape detailed in a state government email exchange, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford urged that appropriate authorities, including the Champaign County State’s Attorney, the Illinois State Police, and the Illinois Executive Inspector General, take immediate steps to investigate this report.

    The WBEZ story referenced a 2012 email to officials in then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration sent by lobbyist Michael McClain that among other things makes mention of a state employee who kept quiet about “the rape in Champaign”, asking that the administration keep that individual employed by the state.

    Majority Leader Lightford issued the following statement regarding this incident:

  • Lawmakers seek answers to abuse of seclusion rooms in schools

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  • Lightford visits West 40 alternative learning programs

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  • Lightford calls for teaching consent in schools

    Majority Leader Kimberly A. LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Students across Illinois could soon have consent taught as a part of their sex education curriculum. Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) passed House Bill 3550 through the Senate on Wednesday.

    “The stigma of being sexually assaulted has kept so many victims silent for decades,” Lightford said. “Teaching consent helps young people establish boundaries and feel empowered to speak out against an abuser.”

    The legislation requires students in grades 6-12 to learn the meaning of consent and how to respect personal boundaries. Under current law, consent is briefly mentioned in the School Code, but no definition or guidance is provided.

  • Lightford creates special license plate for veterans with PTSD

    lightford 022019SPRINGFIELD – More support for veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder could be available under a measure led by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

    House Bill 2126 authorizes K9s for Veterans to issue decals for the universal special license plate. The fees collected for issuing and renewing the plates would be deposited into the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Fund to be used for support, education, and awareness of veterans with the disorder.

    “Our veterans who are struggling with mental health issues need our support, and we are giving Illinoisans an opportunity to do so through the special license plate program,” Lightford said.

    Applicants would be charged a $25 fee in addition to the standard registration fee each year the decal is renewed. The Universal Special License Plate was established in 2016 to allow drivers to support any organization who has been authorized for a decal. An organization that would like to create a decal for the universal plate must have at least 2,000 applications before the Secretary of State can approve their application for a universal plate.

    The legislation was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee and will head to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Lightford protects consumers from misleading utility plans

    Majority Leader Kimberly A. LightfordSPRINGFIELD – To protect consumers from being taken advantage of due to misinformation from alternative retail electric suppliers, Senate Majority Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is leading legislation that was approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

    “The data clearly demonstrates that alternative suppliers focus their signup efforts on low-income neighborhoods, those where English is a secondary language, and communities of color,” Lightford said. “I am proud to stand with Attorney General Raoul to protect our most vulnerable residents from unknowingly signing contracts that will result in rate hikes they cannot afford.”

  • Lightford measure lowers required school age to 5

    lightford 041119SPRINGFIELD – Children could soon be required to start school at age 5 under a proposal spearheaded by Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

    Senate Bill 2075 lowers the compulsory school age from 6 to 5, and was approved by the Senate on Thursday.

    Parents could choose to hold their child back a year if they have a birthday after May 31.

    “This proposal makes learning a habit for children across Illinois,” Lightford said. “When we get students in the classroom at an early age, especially those from underprivileged communities, they are more likely to continue their education as they grow older.”

    In 2006, Lightford established a universal preschool program that helps prepare 3- and 4-year-olds for Kindergarten, a measure that increased the state’s early childhood education investments by $45 million.

    Since then, Illinois has continued to invest more in these type of programs with the latest commitment from Gov. JB Pritzker to increase early childhood funding by $100 million.

    The legislation now heads to the House for approval.

  • Lawmakers, advocates stress importance of accurate 2020 Census count

    Sens. Elgie R. Sims Jr., Emil Jones III, Iris Y. Martinez and Kimberly A. Lightford

    SPRINGFIELD – Senate lawmakers and advocates gathered Thursday to stress the importance of getting a full and accurate count in Illinois during the 2020 Census.

    Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez spoke to the potential consequences of an undercount.

    “The census is used to determine federal funding and representation for our state,” Martinez (D-Chicago) said. “That means, if we are undercounted, we stand to lose billions in federal funding, along with two congressional seats and two Electoral College votes.”

    Martinez is the sponsor of legislation, contained in Senate Bill 1408, that would appropriate $25 million to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to provide grants to community providers and local governments for the purposes of encouraging full participation in the 2020 federal census.

  • Lightford joins Pritzker, Stratton for Women's History Month honors

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  • Lightford seeks to lower required school age to 5

    Senator LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Children could soon be required to start school at age 5 under a proposal spearheaded by Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

    Senate Bill 2075 lowers the compulsory school age from 6 to 5, and was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

    “It is vital for students to be in the classroom, especially at an early age,” Lightford said. “This measure allows us to make a strong impact in the lives of our children and increases opportunities for those who come from underprivileged communities.”

    The measure seeks to help address chronic absenteeism across the state by establishing a habit of attendance in kindergarten and first grade. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, at least one in five Chicago Public School students missed at least 17 days of school during the 2017-18 school year. The state’s average is about one in six children.

    Chronic absenteeism has a wide range of negative effects for the absent students and for their classmates, as instructors often need to go over materials again, Lightford said.

    The legislation now heads to the full Senate for approval.

  • Lightford helps Komarek School secure funds for facility updates

    Senator LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Komarek Elementary School District 94 could soon have much-needed funds to update infrastructure under legislation led by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

    The $22 million plan includes a new gymnasium, parking lot and green space where 13th Avenue separates the east and west buildings of Komarek School. The sky bridge that currently connects the two buildings would be renovated to include a new library. The west building of the school, which was built in 1955, would be renovated to meet current standards.

    “This measure gives Komarek School administration an opportunity to update and revitalize their facilities,” Lightford said. “Our children deserve a learning environment that fosters growth and creativity, and I commend Komarek School for wanting to provide that for their students.”

    Senate Bill 2112 allows Komarek Elementary School District 94 to issue bonds up to $22 million should voters approve a referendum during the April 2019 elections.

    The measure was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

  • Lightford vows support for funding early childhood projects

    Senator LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is drawing attention to the need for designating funding for early childhood building and renovation projects in the state’s next construction program.

    “Our previous construction plan missed the mark on supporting early childhood programming,” Lightford said. “We need to ensure that we dedicate the funding to make sure our families have access to these critical services.”

    The state’s last construction plan was implemented in 2009, and included a $45 million appropriation from the Build Illinois Bond Fund for the state's first Early Childhood Construction Grant program. However, the Capital Development Board received 227 applications totaling more than $539 million in requests for these construction and renovation resources, illustrating the unmet needs of early childhood facilities.

    Senate Resolution 85 urges the next state construction program to dedicate a minimum of $250 million from state bond sources for the purpose of supporting critical early childhood projects.

    “While this is only half of what was needed ten years ago, this is an important first step that puts the need for these projects on the forefront,” Lightford said.

    The measure was approved in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday and is scheduled to move to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Lightford measure combats college debt crisis

    lightford 030619SPRINGFIELD – More financial assistance could soon be available for college students through a proposal sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood)

    “Students should be able to obtain a degree without drowning in student loan debt after college,” Lightford said. “This legislation combats the college debt crisis by providing financial support to Illinois students.”

    Senate Bill 1524 authorizes the State Treasurer to allocate up to 5 percent of the State Investment Portfolio to the Illinois Student Investment Account to assist qualified residents in paying for college through various investment programs. The Senate Financial Institutions Committee approved the measure on Wednesday.

    Investment programs may include income-sharing agreements, linked deposits and origination, and refinancing of student loans.

    The measure also establishes a Borrower Assistance Fund to provide monetary assistance to students facing financial hardship.

    The legislation will now head to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Manar joins Lightford effort to protect safety-net hospitals

    lightford 030519SPRINGFIELD – Fed up with delayed and denied state payments that are compromising quality health care for the most vulnerable, state legislators joined safety-net hospitals today to call for landmark reform of managed care companies under Illinois’ Medicaid program.

    Senate Bill 1807 and House Bill 2814, also known as the Safety Net Hospital MCO Reform Act, provide a path to rein in repeated abuses by managed care organizations (MCOs) in their oversight of hundreds of millions of dollars of care each year provided by hospitals who treat Medicaid low-income patients. Advocates and lawmakers called for immediate reform Tuesday at a Statehouse news conference.

  • Lightford joins call for teaching consent in schools

    lightford 022119SPRINGFIELD – Students across Illinois could soon have consent taught as a part of their sex education curriculum. Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) joined colleagues and advocates at a press conference on Thursday in support of House Bill 3550, currently being led through the House by Representative Ann Williams (D-Chicago).

    “Some victims of sexual assault have remained silent for decades because they were afraid or blamed themselves,” Lightford said. “We are here to say enough to a society that polices women more for what they wear than men for how they behave, and that starts with education.”

  • Black Caucus: Budget proposal great start to help black communities

    Illinois Legislative Black Caucus SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) responded to Gov. JB Pritzker’s first budget address on Wednesday.

    Leaders of the Black Caucus discussed some of the main issues facing black communities, ranging from criminal justice reform to higher education.

    State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford, Chairman of the ILBC:

    “The governor’s budget plan is a great start to tackle some of the key challenges we are facing including ensuring a living wage for working families and that students around the state receive a quality education.

    “His speech was very realistic about the hole that we are in and how we can climb out of it over time, while continuing to support crucial services like mental health support and violence prevention programs.

    “We look forward to working with our colleagues and the governor’s administration to guarantee that the issues facing the black community are prioritized in the next state budget.”

  • Lightford minimum wage increase signed into law

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  • Lightford: Illinois workers are one step closer to a raise as House approves minimum wage increase

    lightford 201519SPRINGFIELD – Minimum-wage earners statewide could soon see a pay increase under a proposal approved by the House on Thursday that raises the minimum wage to $15 by January 2025. Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) negotiated the measure that would give hardworking families a much-needed raise.

    “We’re one step closer to bringing stability to a population that was neglected during the previous administration,” Lightford said. “As basic needs become increasingly more expensive, we have a responsibility to ensure working people are being compensated for being the force that keeps business moving.”

  • Senate Democrats advance $15 minimum wage plan

     Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford joins with her colleagues after passing a minimum wage increase in the Illinois Senate.

    Senate Democrats voted to raise wages for more than 1 million working Illinois families today by voting to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.

    If passed by the House and signed by Governor JB Pritzker, it would represent the first minimum wage increase in Illinois in a decade.

    “The people who keep businesses going deserve a salary that allows them to take care of their financial responsibilities, whether that is taking care of a family, paying off student loans or simply covering their basic needs,” sponsor Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford said.

    Under the proposal, the state’s minimum hourly wage of $8.25 would increase incrementally to $15 per hour between now and 2025. The legislation, Senate Bill 1, also offsets the wage increase by providing a tax refund for businesses that employ fewer than 50 workers.

    There is ample public support for a minimum wage increase in Illinois. In 2014, voters were asked if they support an increase; 67 percent of them supported the non-binding question. Voter support was again overwhelming in 2018 for a similar referendum.

    The Senate approved the measure today in a 39-18 vote. The House must take it up before the legislation can go to the governor’s desk for approval.

    Senator Democrats reacted to today's vote with the following statements:

    Senator Christopher Belt (D-Cahokia):

    “Raising the minimum wage to $15 will help our workers better support our economy. We cannot expect workers or individuals who have to pay back student loans to be able to afford the cost of living when they only make $8.25."

    Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign):

    “Since the day I was sworn in to the Senate, I have pledged to do all I can to help make lives easier for families across Champaign and Vermilion Counties. By increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 for the majority of workers, we are achieving the goal of lifting working families up to improve their quality of life.

    “Workers with full-time jobs should never be forced to live in poverty. Minimum wage workers are employed in many of the service jobs that are vital to the care of the most vulnerable and in jobs that serve the public. They deserve a fair wage that respects the work they do in service to others.

    “Putting the minimum wage on a clear and responsible path toward $15 an hour will provide Illinois’ hardest workers with dignity, fairness and stability.”

    Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake):

    “The minimum wage should be a living wage. Any individual who works full time should be able to provide for their family without having to rely on government assistance. This move is long overdue. Raising the minimum wage will lift up Illinois families and provide stability for Illinois workers.”

    Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin):

    “In the past, individuals could work 40 hours a week on the minimum wage and meet their financial responsibilities. Now, that kind of income barely covers basic needs, especially those who provide for an entire family. The gradual increase will allow for businesses to adapt to the new law. We’re committed to making sure local economies adapt to a new wage structure that will ultimately save money for all taxpayers, as fewer working families have to rely on government services to survive.”

    Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago):

    “A working family should not need to be on food stamps in order to survive. Economists argue that by the measure of Americans' productivity – their output and real accomplishments while at work – the minimum wage should now be more than $19 per hour. To afford the average rent on a two-bedroom apartment in Illinois requires a wage of nearly $21 per hour. This is just a step toward achieving sustainability for Illinois families that doesn’t come at the expense of taxpayers.”

    Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park):

    “For far too long nearly 38,000 of our military veterans in Illinois who make the minimum wage were unable to keep a roof over their family’s head and food on the table without government assistance. Implementing a fair wage will allow these hardworking heroes to live a life full of dignity, fairness and stability.”

    Senator Bill Cunningham (D-18th District):

    “Working mothers and fathers in Illinois should not be forced to work multiple jobs just to provide the bare minimum their families need to get by. A living wage is not a privilege, but a basic human right and we must ensure every Illinois worker has access to this right.

    “This legislation will help bring stability to families who are struggling to make ends meet. Illinois workers have long deserved a raise and I am proud to support the measure that will bring it to them.”

    Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview):

    “Wages have been stagnant for nearly a decade, but the cost of living certainly has not, and minimum wage workers have struggled to keep up. This has been going on for far too long, and I’m proud to have helped the Senate pass this important legislation that will help so many people throughout the state.”

    Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights):

    “I believe Springfield should work for working families, and we can start by investing in people who work the hardest but earn the least. A significant increase in the minimum wage is long overdue in Illinois, and I am pleased to support this effort on behalf of working people.

    “I am proud to have represented the will of voters today by supporting this important bill."

    Assistant Majority Leader Don Harmon (D-Oak Park):

    “Working wages have not kept up with inflation over the past several decades. The ‘American dream’ of being able to provide for a family by working 40 hours a week is not a reality with the current minimum wage.

    “I am proud that Illinois is now a leader in ensuring the hard-working families in our state earn a living wage.”

    Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey):

    “The minimum wage has remained stagnant for the past decade. Meanwhile, the cost of basic necessities has continued to increase. I’m glad we were able to move a step closer to helping working families meet their needs."

    Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park):

    "The passage of this historic measure is long overdue. Over the past decade, workers have not seen a change in the minimum wage, but they have seen an increase in the cost of living.

    "My district voted in 2014 to increase the minimum wage and I heard them. I also heard those that work in industries like home health care and those with developmental disabilities. They have tough jobs and deserve to get paid a fair working wage. But it is important to take into consideration how employers and businesses implement the wage increase."

    Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago):

    “We have talked long enough about putting Illinois on a responsible path to $15 minimum wage and today is the first step along that path. This will allow millions of workers in our state to provide for themselves and their families.

    “We’re giving working families the raise and providing the stability they deserve. This puts us on the right trajectory to helping people in our state move their lives forward.”

    Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights):

    “Every Senator in this body represents constituents in our districts who wake up every morning when it is still dark outside and go to work. They work all day and string together hourly jobs just to make ends meet. Then they get up and do it all over again. They don’t have a lobbyist to fight for their behalf – they only have us.

    “Today is our day to lift up millions of working Illinoisans who despite their hard work, still live every day in poverty.”

    Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago):

    “Increasing the minimum wage is something we have been waiting to do for years. Personally, I’ve been eager to see the minimum wage increase again since coming to the Senate in 2009.

    “Lawmakers voted to increase the minimum wage a couple of years ago, but Gov. Rauner vetoed the plan, hindering people from getting a more suitable living wage faster. This time around I believe workers will finally get the wages they deserve.”

    Assistant Majority Leader Terry Link (D-Indian Creek):

    “Working families haven’t seen a raise in Illinois since 2010, while costs for housing, child care and food have only continued to increase. The compromise plan I supported today gradually increases wages while providing a key tax refund for small businesses. For thousands of Illinois families struggling to get by, this increase will provide more security and stability in their everyday lives.”

    Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago):

    “This raise for the hard-working people of our state is long overdue. It is unacceptable for someone who works full-time to struggle to pay for food and housing costs. I am glad we finally took a step towards making sure our working families receive a living wage.”

    Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill):

    “Fair pay for hard work is the American way. A higher minimum wage will boost families and the Illinois economy.”

    Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago):

    “Taxpayers are supplementing low wages with public money in the form of food stamps, Medicaid and housing assistance, all at the expense of the dignity of people who work 40 hours a week and still need such help. A full-time job deserves a living wage. These incremental increases to the minimum wage bring us closer to sustainability for workers while giving businesses time to adjust to the new levels.”

    Assistant Majority Leader Tony Munoz (D-Chicago):

    “Working people deserve this raise. They have been hit by increasing housing costs, rising costs for college and other basic necessities. Today, we voted for working families who despite working full time still struggle to make ends meet.”

    Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago):

    “Wages have remained unchanged for years despite worker productivity being at an all-time high. It has been too long since the working class people of our state have received just compensation for the labor they provide. I'd like to thank Senate  Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford for her years of hard work on this extremely important issue, and I'm honored to have voted for the bill that finally let her achieve her goal.

    “This would never have been possible without the efforts of great organizations like the Fight for Fifteen movement. I want to personally thank them for their diligent work in organization and outreach that helped to finally deliver the relief that struggling working class families have desperately needed for the past 30 or 40 years.”

    Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago):

    “The opportunity to earn a fair wage and provide for your family is a right, not a privilege. This wage increase will provide stability to struggling families in Illinois and help them lift themselves out of poverty.

    “The men and women of Illinois who work tirelessly to provide for their families are long overdue for a pay increase. It’s absurd that in spite of the rising cost of living, this is the first time we have increased the minimum wage in almost a decade. As members of the General Assembly, it is our duty to protect the dignity and rights of our workers.”

    Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago):

    “Raising the minimum wage throughout the state is crucial to help struggling, working families in Illinois. This effort was unfortunately blocked by the past administration, but the time is now to provide Illinoisans across our state with a fair wage and provide them the stability they deserve.

    “I was proud to stand with my colleagues to pass this historic legislation and help improve the lives of hard-working individuals throughout the state. I know this plan will help working families by bridging the pay gap for seniors, women and minorities across our state.”

    Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago):

    “Raising the minimum wage in Illinois is a long overdue step that will help restore dignity to working families who are currently struggling to make ends meet, as wages are failing to keep up with the cost of living.

    “Additionally, the current, insufficient minimum wage disproportionately impacts groups like women, minorities and senior citizens. Raising the minimum wage is an important component in closing the wage gap.”

    Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago):

    "After years of stagnant wages, it’s time for hardworking Illinoisans to finally get a raise. Raising the minimum wage will help lift families out of poverty and it will have the biggest impact on black, Latino and female workers. I’m proud to support this important effort to help reduce poverty and get us one step closer to closing the income inequality gap.”

  • Lightford continues the fight for $15

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