Peters

  • Peters celebrates expansion of vote-by-mail program

    votebymail 052320SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) supported a plan expanding the state’s vote-by-mail program that moved through the Illinois Senate on Friday.

    “In this time of crisis, it’s important that we not only look to preserve people’s health, but also their right to participate in the democratic process,” Peters said. “People deserve to cast votes without having to worry about getting sick, and expanding vote-by-mail provisions accomplishes that.”

    The expansion came as part of a larger election package that made several changes to state election code in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal requires election authorities to automatically send a vote-by-mail application to every person who voted in the 2018 general, 2019 consolidated or 2020 primary elections or registered to vote after the 2020 primary election. Under current law, voters must specifically request a vote-by-mail application.

    “A lot of people aren’t aware that voting by mail is available,” Peters said. “Automatically sending vote-by-mail applications gives voters the opportunity to make use of an option they didn’t know they had,” Peters said.

    In addition to vote-by-mail expansions, Senate Bill 1863 extends early voting windows, establishes curbside voting programs, modifies required qualifications for election judges and makes election day a state holiday, among other changes. Having passed both chambers of the General Assembly, it will be sent to the governor for approval.

  • Peters celebrates expansion of vote-by-mail program

    vote by mailSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) supported a plan expanding the state’s vote-by-mail program that moved through the Illinois Senate on Friday.

    “In this time of crisis, it’s important that we not only look to preserve people’s health, but also their right to participate in the democratic process,” Peters said. “People deserve to cast votes without having to worry about getting sick, and expanding vote-by-mail provisions accomplishes that.”

  • Peters touts Fair Housing Month, details resources available

    peters 031020SPRINGFIELD – The month of April has been designated as Fair Housing Month this year. In recognition, State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) is encouraging people seek help from the many housing resources that are available.

    “In general, lack of proper housing is a serious, life-threatening issue that many people in our community face every day,” Peters said. “It’s even worse now that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and have recommendations from health agencies all across the state, country and world that the safest course of action is to stay inside your homes. Lots of folks don’t have homes they can isolate in, but there are resources available to help people.”

    Peters outlined several different options for assistance available, including:

    • An expansion of alternative housing in communities of color, announced over the weekend by Gov. JB Pritzker. It requires local jurisdictions to prepare alternative housing options for residents who tested positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospital-level care so they have a place to safely quarantine.
    • Community Service Centers that provide assistance to families in need, including shelter, food and clothing.
    • Homeless shelters that will offer a place to stay to people who don’t have a place to sleep or safely social distance.
    • Rental assistance available to people who’ve lost their source of income to help make rent payments during the crisis.
    • Domestic violence resources for people who do not feel safe in their homes but believe they have nowhere else to go.
    • An expansion of tenant rights, including a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, for the duration of the crisis.

    “It’s unfortunate this year’s Fair Housing Month just happened to coincide with an outbreak of a dangerous virus,” Peters said. “Currently, our main focus must be on providing coronavirus-related help to anyone that needs it. Ensuring fair housing for everyone during a time when staying at home is nearly universally recommended is a key part of that.”

    For more information, visit https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid-19/home/resources.html or call Sen. Peters’ office at 773-363-1996.

  • Peters moves to expand civics education to juvenile justice centers

    peters 021919SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) advanced legislation that would expand peer-led civics education to juvenile detention centers.

    “When young people are released from incarceration, we need to let them know about their restored voting rights and that we value their civic participation,” Peters said. “Our justice system needs to be rehabilitative and teach people how to be responsible citizens, and that includes how to exercise their voices in our democracy.”

    Senator Peters passed the Re-Entering Citizens Civics Education Act last year, which requires the Department of Corrections to provide peer-led civics education courses to incarcerated people who will be released within 12 months. His new bill will expand those courses to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

    “Whether a child is in our juvenile justice system or our public school system, they deserve to learn about their civic rights and duties,” Peters said.

    This measure also clarifies that the civics courses must include 270 minutes of instruction taught by two co-facilitators. The co-facilitators must be trained by nonpartisan civil organizations.

    Senate Bill 3241 passed the Senate Criminal Law Committee and awaits consideration before the full Senate.

  • Peters moves to help foster youth apply for college financial aid

    peters 031020SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) advanced a bill that would help youth in foster care apply for college financial aid.

    “The state needs to be proactive at helping foster kids build a strong future during their final years of care,” Peters said. “We need to do all we can to ensure that they have access to education or job training before they have to live on their own.”

    Senator Peters’ measure requires the Department of Child and Family Services to assist all youth in their care with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) during their final year of high school. The legislation is an initiative of the National Association of Social Workers.

  • Peters: Ending cash bail necessary to achieve safety and justice in our communities

    peters 022620SPRINGFIELD – The End Money Bond Coalition hosted a rally in the Capitol rotunda Tuesday in support of a measure to end cash bail in Illinois. State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), who will sponsor the legislation in the Senate, spoke at the rally.

    “We know what safety and justice looks like in our communities,” Peters said. “We know it’s a roof over your head. We know it’s a social worker at your school. We know it’s being able to drink your water. And we know that it’s not locking you up because you’re poor.”

    Peters is the Chair of the Senate Special Committee on Public Safety and has made ending cash bail in Illinois his top priority for the 2020 legislative session.

  • Senate Dems unveil public safety priorities

    pub safety 020620CHICAGO – Several Democratic members of the newly formed Senate Special Committee on Public Safety met in Chicago today to unveil their public safety priorities for this year’s legislative session.

    State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), who will chair the committee, spoke of his past legislative accomplishments and how they motivate him to continue that fight.

    “I’ve dedicated my adult life toward the fight to reimagine and to win real safety and justice, and last year I passed several laws with this goal in mind, including one to abolish private detention centers,” Peters said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to personally head up the Special Committee on Public Safety, and I am confident that the committee will lead to a society that is fair, equitable, just and, most importantly, safe.”

  • Peters: Trump’s Medicaid cut proposal yet another attack on vulnerable communities

    Senator PetersSPRINGFIELD – The Trump administration announced Thursday its intention to overhaul Medicaid funding. In response, State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), fearing for the wellbeing of the millions of people who rely on Medicaid to receive health care, released the following statement:

    “Donald Trump is once again showing how out of touch he is by proposing cuts to a program that an overwhelming majority of Americans support. This is yet another attack by the president against the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

    Under current federal law, states are reimbursed a set percentage for Medicaid spending by the federal government based on per-capita income. The announced plan gives states the option to receive Medicaid funding as a set amount in one lump sum irrespective of how much they actually spend in a given fiscal year.

  • New Peters bill challenges felony murder laws

    peters 103119SPRINGFIELD –State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) introduced a bill this week that redefines felony murder charges in Illinois.

    The language of current state law allows prosecutors to charge someone with first-degree murder if a death occurs during the commission of another offense when acting alone, or if a third-party individual causes a death when acting within a group. The new legislation would ban prosecutors from being able to do so.

    “Incarceration rates are disturbingly high as it is,” Peters said. “These laws do nothing to improve safety in our community and are not an effective way to combat the unforgivable crowding of our jails and prisons. They are quite simply not a reflection of any sort of justice we should strive for as a society.”

    The bill is an initiative of Restore Justice and was filed in response to an incident in Lake County where five teens were charged with first-degree murder after a failed home burglary in which the homeowner shot and killed a sixth teen.

    Senate Bill 2292 was filed with the secretary of the Senate on Monday. It is currently awaiting assignment to a committee, which likely will not occur until full session resumes in January.

  • Peters spreads word on SNAP eligibility for college students under new program

    Sen. Robert PetersSPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) that will give college students who may be eligible for SNAP benefits more opportunities to learn about the program was signed by the governor and became law Friday.

    “There are a lot of students who struggle to find their next meal because they’re not ever aware they’re eligible for SNAP benefits,” Peters said. “This law will help raise awareness of the program so that college kids can rely on the community around them to not go hungry.”

    Senate Bill 1641 requires the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to identify and flag college students who could be eligible to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and requires the Commission to post notices that includes SNAP eligibility requirements and other information where students are likely to see them.

  • New law by Peters addresses public school class size

    Sen. Robert PetersSPRINGFIELD – School districts will be required to operate with more transparency about their teacher employment data under a measure sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) that became law Friday.

    “Public school class sizes have been growing larger and larger over the last several years, which makes it harder for educators to provide the quality education,” Peters said. “Communities of color are hit particularly hard by this. These students are already at a systemic disadvantage, and they deserve to have the opportunity to learn the skills they need to succeed.”

  • New Peters law establishes stipend program for apprenticeships

    Sen. Robert PetersSPRINGFIELD – Entering an apprenticeship program often requires expensive fees, tuition and tools, but eligible youth could have those associated costs covered thanks to a bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) that became law today.

    “It’s too often a person who otherwise wants to start an apprenticeship and take the first steps toward self-sustainability is unable to because they can’t afford the upfront cost of starting an apprenticeship,” Peters said. “This could result in them having no choice but to find a job in a field with lower wages or fewer benefits. Youth in care often lead difficult lives, and we should strive to make it easier for the kids aging out of the system by tearing down the systemic barriers that hold them back.”

  • Aquino, Peters rally with Parent Mentor Program at Capitol

    parent mentor program 051619More than 600 supporters of a nationally recognized parent engagement program gathered Thursday to increase awareness of their successes in building relationships between students, teachers and parents. State Senators Omar Aquino and Robert Peters spoke to the Parent Mentor Program group at their rally in the Howlett Building.

    The Parent Mentor Program guides how community organizations partner with schools to recruit parents to assist teachers. Before coming into the classroom, parent mentors take part in a week-long leadership training program. They are then assigned to a classroom where they are mentored by a teacher. They work directly with students.

  • Martinez leads effort to support, grow worker cooperatives

    Sens. Peters, Hunter and MartinezSPRINGFIELD – Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez spoke Thursday on the need for clarity in state law regarding worker cooperatives, a model in which businesses are owned and controlled cooperatively by workers.

    “Worker cooperatives are a proven model that provide living wage jobs, especially for workers in communities of color, who often work in the low-wage economy where wage theft and discrimination are extremely common,” Martinez said.

    Martinez is sponsoring House Bill 3663, which would provide clarity of what a worker cooperative is and the benefits and rights of those that operate under its construct. It also sets guidelines for organizing and managing a worker cooperative.

  • Peters pushes to provide civics education to incarcerated population

    civics 050819SPRINGFIELD – A new bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) would require the Department of Corrections to provide civics education to incarcerated people who will soon be released.

    “Jails and prisons are meant to provide rehabilitation, and that means helping re-entry into society,” Peters said. “These folks have already lost their rights while locked up, and so they need to understand these rights so that they can resume being free citizens upon their release.”

    House Bill 2541 creates the Re-Entering Citizens Civics Education Act and requires the Departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice to provide non-partisan, peer-led civics programs throughout Illinois correctional facilities to incarcerated people who will be released within 12 months. The curriculum of the program will consist of voting rights, governmental institutions, current affairs, and simulations of voter registration, election, and democratic processes, and are purely educational.

    Having passed the Senate Criminal Law Committee, the legislation now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Peters proposal expands access to post-placement and post-adoption services

    peters 050719SPRINGFIELD – Further showing his commitment to youth in care, State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) is sponsoring legislation expanding access to services available to post-placement and post-adoption children.

    “I’m a child of adoption, so I have first-hand experience of how important these services are to youth in care,” Peters said. “I want kids who are adopted or placed in foster care to have greater access than I did to the helpful services they require.”

    The legislation, House Bill 3587:

    • adds mental health treatment, counseling and support services for emotional, behavioral, or developmental needs, and treatment for substance abuse to the definition of “post-placement and post-adoption services.”
    • expands the requirements of the Department of Children and Family Services to establish and maintain accessible services.
    • requires DCFS to establish and maintain a toll-free number to respond to public requests about the service.
    • requires DCFS to properly publicize the new services and the toll-free number.

    The bill is an initiative of the Adoption Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association. The organization has argued the legislation will better ensure successful adoptions and lower the rate of children being returned to state care.

    Having passed the Senate Human Services Committee, the bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Peters looks to increase SNAP eligibility awareness

    SNAP students 031919SPRINGFIELD – College students who are potentially eligible for SNAP benefits will now have more opportunities to learn about the program under a new bill proposed by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

    “Many students rely on SNAP benefits in order to not go hungry, but a lot of folks aren’t taking advantage of these benefits because they don’t even realize they’re eligible,” Peters said.

    Senate Bill 1641 requires the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to identify and flag college students who are potentially eligible candidates to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The bill also requires the Commission to develop a notice that includes SNAP eligibility requirements and other additional information and post that notice to places where students are likely to encounter it.

    The bill passed through the Senate by a vote of 46 – 1, and will move on to the House of Representatives.

  • Peters looks to provide the mentally ill with incarceration alternatives

    Senator PetersSPRINGFIELD – If a person charged with a misdemeanor is determined by a court to be mentally unfit to stand trial, a bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) would allow them to be transferred into diversionary programs instead of entering the criminal justice system.

    “People who have mental health issues need to be helped, not neglected,” Peters said. “If we’re able to offer these folks a program that can serve as an alternative to incarceration, we can take a big first step towards ending the criminalization of mental illness.”

    These programs, known as “misdemeanant diversion programs,” work to identify individuals with mental illnesses, provide them with stabilizing treatment, and direct them toward community provided mental health services and away from incarceration.

    Senate Bill 1188 requires the defendant to be assessed and their eligibility for the programs to be screened and still leaves the final say up to the court. The defendant’s charges may be dismissed with or without prejudice, again left to the discretion of the court, if approved for a diversionary program.

    The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 56-0 and will be sent to the House of Representatives.

  • Senate approves Peters plan to establish stipend program for apprenticeships

    peters 021919SPRINGFIELD – Seeking career education is a path that requires fees, tuition and tools, but eligible youth could have those associated costs lessened under a plan proposed by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

    Senate Bill 1525 requires the Department of Children and Family Services to provide a stipend covering the upfront costs incurred upon entering an apprenticeship program. New apprentices often are on the hook for fees, tuition, and clothing and tools specific to their chosen occupation. The stipend would be provided to youth who are currently a responsibility of DCFS, who aged out of care upon reaching the age of 18, or who were formerly in DCFS and were adopted or placed in guardianship.

    “A lot of folks find themselves unable to pay for the upfront cost of starting an apprenticeship, which prevents them from entering into that field and forces them to find work that might not pay as well or have as many benefits,” Peters said. “Life in youth care is hard, and we shouldn’t make it harder for the kids aging out of youth care by keeping in place another systemic barrier.”

    The bill also requires DCFS to develop a plan to increase awareness of the program. It was approved by the Senate with unanimous bipartisan support and will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

  • Peters, Villivalam speak at NASW Advocacy Day Event

    peters_nasw_small

    SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers held its Advocacy Day event earlier this morning. State Senators Robert Peters and Ram Villivalam both gave remarks in front of the NASW audience.

    NASW Illinois has over 7,000 members consisting of social workers across the state of Illinois. Its annual Advocacy Day is an opportunity for members to talk to lawmakers and spread information about the issues important to the Association.

    Villivalam (D-Chicago), who spent time prior to joining the State Senate as a legislative coordinator for Service Employees International Union Healthcare, spoke about the importance of the social work profession.