• Martinez: Rauner should stand up for his constituents by opposing Trump’s plans on immigration

    martinez sos 012517SPRINGFIELD — Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address in which he did not address President Trump’s immigration plans:

    “It’s unfortunate that Governor Rauner did not use his State of the State address to stand up for the residents of our state who will be hurt by the president’s action on immigration.

  • Law sponsored by Martinez gives former offenders a second chance

    martinez 052016CHICAGO — A new law that gives ex-offenders a chance to pursue a career in the health care field becomes effective Jan. 1, 2017.

    Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) sponsored the initiative in the Illinois Senate.

    “I’m a believer in second chances, especially when someone has committed a non-violent offense at a young age,” Martinez said. “We’ve taken a needed step forward by giving former offenders an opportunity to prove that they are rehabilitated and be able to petition the state for a health care license.” 

  • Martinez demands resolution to issues at Logan Correctional Center (VIDEO)

    martinez120116SPRINGFIELD — In response to a new study funded by the Department of Justice that found dire conditions among the inmate population at Logan Correctional Center, Majority Caucus Whip and Latino Caucus Co-Chair Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) released the following statement:

    “I was strongly opposed to the closing of the Dwight correctional facility in 2013 and the transfer of female inmates, many of whom are from the Chicago area, to a state prison in Lincoln. As the new report states, this decision has put inmates and Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) staff in untenable conditions.

  • Martinez: We should protect benefits for child care workers, not take them away

    Martinez Senate bill 2536 OverrideSPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate voted to override the governor’s veto of legislation that would have protected health care benefits for child care providers.

    Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) sponsored the measure to prevent the governor from harming the state’s child care system.

    “Our child care workers are some of the most important employees we have in Illinois,” Martinez said. “They care for our children, and it’s important that we invest in their success, treat them fairly and ensure they get the health care they need and deserve.”

  • 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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  • Martinez appointed to Human Trafficking Task Force

    Martinez04212016Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) was appointed by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton to the state’s Human Trafficking Task Force yesterday.

    “There have been too many victims in Illinois and more has to be done to address this problem,” Martinez said. “I look forward to working with members of the task force on developing strategies for preventing human trafficking and protecting the rights and safety of victims.”

    According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, there have been 837 cases of human trafficking in Illinois since 2007.

    The task force will conduct a study on human trafficking in Illinois and hold hearings to develop a state plan to address human trafficking. A report of recommendations must be submitted to the governor and General Assembly by June 30, 2017.

    Martinez and other members of the task force will serve without compensation. The task force was created by HB 2822, legislation Martinez co-sponsored that was signed into law this summer.

    If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center toll-free hotline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-373-7888 to speak with a specially trained Hotline Advocate. Support is provided in more than 200 languages.

  • Honoring Hispanic heritage in America


  • Martinez gets kids ready for school, keeps community healthy

    Martinez Family Wellness and Back to School Fair PhotoCHICAGO — Hundreds of children and adults attended Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez’s (D-Chicago) annual Family Wellness and Back to School Fair last week.

    At the event, children got free backpacks, school supplies, physicals, immunizations, dental screenings and other services. Adults were able to receive health screenings, too, and learn about services offered by government agencies and local organizations.

    “I enjoyed meeting the children and adults who attended this event, and I would like to thank all of the vendors that participated,” Martinez said. “The services offered ensure our children are ready to start school and that both adults and children are healthy and up to date on wellness screenings.”

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

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  • Martinez: Governor’s veto of student trustee bill takes away opportunities from students

    Martinez: Governor’s veto of student trustee bill takes away opportunities from studentsSPRINGFIELD — When Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) learned that an undocumented University of Illinois student was prevented from running for the position of student trustee because he was unable to show that he was a registered voter in Illinois, she filed legislation to fix the problem.

    That proposal passed out of the Illinois Senate and House, but it was vetoed by the governor today.

    “I am disappointed by the governor’s veto,” Martinez said. “College is about helping students grow inside and outside of the classroom, and it should not be difficult for a student to be allowed to run for a leadership position at their university. The governor had a chance to open up opportunities to students, but he unfortunately chose not to do so.”

  • Martinez plan to improve the State Seal of Biliteracy becomes law

    martinez 052016SPRINGFIELD — A proposal that will help students meet foreign language requirements when they apply for college has been signed into law.

    Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) sponsored the initiative in the Senate.

    Under the new law, state universities and community colleges would have to accept the State Seal of Biliteracy as the equivalent of two years of foreign language learning taken during high school.

    The State Seal of Biliteracy, which Martinez worked to establish, is awarded to high school students demonstrating proficiency in English and at least one other language.

    “This law is another step forward for our students and bilingual education,” Martinez said. “Now students can meet foreign language requirements as a result of their participation in the State Seal of Biliteracy program.” 

    House Bill 4330 provides that the rules the Illinois State Board of Education establishes for the program must ensure that a student meets two years of foreign language requirements for college admissions purposes.

    It’s optional for schools to offer a State Seal of Biliteracy to students. For the 2015-16 school year, 54 Illinois schools were approved for the State Seal of Biliteracy.

    The law also requires state universities and community colleges to establish criteria to translate a State Seal of Biliteracy into course credit.

    House Bill 4330 is effective Jan. 1, 2017.

  • Martinez: Governor failed to protect child care workers

    martinez 42016SPRINGFIELD — In an effort to ensure Gov. Bruce Rauner doesn’t further damage the state’s child care system, Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) passed legislation to the governor’s desk that protects health care benefits for home child care providers.

    Today, the governor vetoed this measure.

    “I am frustrated, but not surprised, that the governor doesn’t want to safeguard benefits of child care workers,” Martinez said. “The employees who serve our children and families deserve to have their health care benefits protected.”

  • Shared priorities, common ground yield budget action (AUDIO)

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  • Martinez pushes to get immigration services funded

    Martinez04212016CHICAGO — In an effort to ensure immigrants get the services they need, Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) is headed to Springfield tomorrow to vote for a plan that would help our state’s newest residents.

    “It’s been a year since Illinois stopped funding immigrant services,” Martinez said. “Service providers and immigrants are suffering. We need to do the right thing and get immigrant services funded now.”

    During the budget impasse, Welcoming Centers have closed their doors due to lack of state funding.  Immigration integration services have gone unfunded too.

    Welcoming Centers serve as lifelines to our state’s newest residents by offering classes and providing information on topics such as employment training and home ownership.

    Immigration integration services include language assistance, health care, citizenship services and other basic supports.

    “Immigrants are part of our communities, and we need to have programs and services in place that invest in them and help strengthen the culture and economy of our state,” Martinez said.

    According to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, immigrants make up 14 percent of Illinois’ population and 18 percent of the state’s workforce.

    The Senate plan Martinez will vote for tomorrow is designed to get immigrant services and other vital human service programs funded. These programs have been without state aid during the budget impasse.

  • Martinez reacts to Supreme Court ruling on immigration plan

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  • Martinez passes resolution calling for deported veterans to come home

    martinez 060616SPRINGFIELD — Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) is continuing her push for deported veterans to be returned home to the United States.

    Martinez passed a resolution out of the Senate last week encouraging the President of the United States and members of Congress to return veterans who have been deported to their families and communities in the United States.

    “We need to end immoral deportation policies and allow our veterans, who are American heroes, to be reunited with their family members,” Martinez said.

    The deportation of veterans is a topic that has drawn attention nationwide in the media, sparking outrage and prompting mobilization of veterans’ advocates.

    After fighting for our nation, many veterans struggle to integrate back into society and can develop substance abuse issues and legal problems. Some of these veterans, despite having legal permanent residence prior to serving in the armed forces, are deported to Mexico.

    “Better support systems need to be in place for our veterans when they come home,” Martinez said. “After everything our service members do to keep us safe and secure, we owe them the resources they need for a smooth transition into civilian life.”

    Martinez recently met with veterans and advocates in the Capitol who are supporting her resolution.

  • Senate passes Martinez bill that gives ex-offenders chance to get professional license

    MartinezOnFloorSPRINGFIELD — Under current law, a person convicted of a non-violent felony would lose his or her health care license and have no way to earn it back.

    This would change under legislation advanced out of the Illinois Senate today by Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago).

    “People make mistakes, and I am a believer in giving second chances,” Martinez said. “This measure would create a process that gives health care workers who have lost their license an opportunity to get it reinstated.”

  • Martinez gives ex-offenders fair shot at getting professional license

    martinez 052016SPRINGFIELD — Legislation that would give ex-offenders a shot at a career in the health care field was passed out of the Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee today by Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago).

    “I believe in second chances,” Martinez said. “People who have paid their dues and rehabilitated themselves deserve an opportunity to pursue a career and be contributing members of the workforce.”

    Under Martinez’s plan, health care professionals who have had their licenses revoked or denied due to a past felony conviction could petition the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to restore or issue their license.

    When deciding if a person should be granted a license, IDFPR must take into account the seriousness of the crime, prior disciplinary actions by state and federal agencies and the date of the conviction. The department may refuse to issue or restore any license that has been revoked.

    Additionally, IDFPR would not be able to restore or issue a license to anyone who has committed a sex crime.

    Anyone who has committed a sex crime or is required to register as a sex offender would be banned for life from receiving a health care license.

    “This legislation has necessary safeguards in place to ensure that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation can prevent sex offenders from being licensed,” Martinez said.

    Senate Bill 42 will now have to be approved by the Illinois Senate.

  • Martinez continues fighting for CPS to get equal funding

    martinez 041316SPRINGFIELD — Millions of dollars could be on the way to Chicago Public Schools under a plan Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) recently voted for.

    “Chicago students deserve the best education possible and that can only occur if CPS receives its fair share of state dollars,” Martinez said. “Education funding reform is the right thing to do so we can get needed dollars in the classroom for our students.”

    The education funding reform legislation Martinez voted for, Senate Bill 231, is designed to ensure that state funding for education is distributed based on student need.

    Under the plan, CPS would gain millions more in funding next year than what it receives this year. The measure is awaiting approval in the Illinois House.

    Martinez joined thousands of advocates at a rally in the Capitol today to push for passage of education funding reform.

    “Our message today was loud and clear: We can’t wait any longer to adopt a fair way to fund our schools,” said Martinez. “I am going to continuing fighting as hard as I can for the students I represent.”