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Collins: Gambling has rapidly expanded into poor communities with no study of impact

collins 050120 2State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) spoke to WTTW's Carol Marin this week about the vast and rapid expansion of video gaming in Illinois, even as the state has repeatedly refused to study the effect it's having on poor communities and those who struggle with addiction, even as it is now home to more gambling positions than the state of Nevada.

"I see a lot of red," Collins said, looking at a map of the 16th Illinois Senate District with dozens of markers indicating gambling sites. "I see a lot of poor people losing their livelihoods on false promises."

Collins: Expanded COVID-19 testing on South and West Sides will save lives

collins 013120CHICAGO – In light of a move by Gov. JB Pritzker to expand COVID-19 testing and create alternate housing options specifically to address the effect of the pandemic in the black community and on people with disabilities, State Senator Jacqueline Collins urged a deeper inquiry into the cause of the much higher death rate among the black community.

“Expanding testing is an important first step, but we must continue fighting against the grim outcomes for the black community, which accounts for 70% of COVID-19-related deaths in Illinois,” Collins said. “The fact black Chicagoans and Illinoisans are dying at a rate so much higher than our share of the population is another sad result of the barriers put in place by a history of disinvestment and disenfranchisement. The governor has been forthright in acknowledging this inequity. I thank the governor and his administration for taking this step, but I urge them to follow through on it and find ways to save lives in the black community.”

Black Chicagoans make up 29% of the city’s population and had accounted for 70% of COVID-19-related deaths as of April 5, according to a report by WBEZ. Outcomes throughout Cook County have also fallen hardest on the black community, with 58% of COVID-19 deaths occurring among the black community, which makes up 23% of the population in the county, according to the same report.

The governor has announced Chicago will expand testing in communities of color, adding 400 tests per day, partnering with five medical institutions in order to do so.

Swabs will be collected at Lawndale Christian Health Center, PCC Community Wellness Center, Chicago Family Health Center and Friend Family Health Center, then sent to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago for testing. 

In the Metro East area, three locations of the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation system will add 470 swabs per day starting next week, to be processed at Anderson Hospital in Madison County.

A state-run South Suburban drive-thru testing center will also open early next week in the Markham-Harvey area.

As of April 9, the governor’s office reported the following demographic information on the race and ethnicity of those who have been tested:

Race/Ethnicity

Total People Tested

Percent of Total People Tested

Percent of Positive Tests among the Race/Ethnicity Category

White (Not Hispanic or Unknown Ethnicity)

20,906

24.36%

18.36%

Black or African American (Not Hispanic or Unknown Ethnicity)

11,413

13.30%

36.17%

Hispanic

3,566

4.16%

35.03%

The state has also taken steps to expand alternate housing, with an effort to prepare up to 2,000 hotel rooms across Illinois to serve as safe quarantine spaces. That effort has yielded rooms on standby, ready to be activated within the coming days next week in Springfield, Rockford, Metro East, the Quad Cities, Schaumburg, Mt. Vernon, Peoria, Carbondale, Quincy, Marion, Macomb, Champaign and the collar counties. The state is also supporting the City of Chicago and Cook County in their efforts to do the same.

These rooms could be made available to help those in cities, who more often live with roommates in smaller apartments, circumstances that make self-isolation more difficult. Such alternate housing rooms would be available to residents who tested positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospital-level care, or for asymptomatic high-risk individuals who need social distancing as a precautionary measure. Rooms will also be made available to medical professionals and first responders.

Residents should contact their local health departments to find out more about these measures.

Illinois Council on Women and Girls releases first report

collins 030520Collins calls for action on gender-based violence, economic opportunity, health care

SPRINGFIELD – Convened to study and recommend legislative solutions to systemic problems women face in all parts of life, the Illinois Council on Women and Girls issued its first report yesterday.

The report, available in full here, highlights the barriers women face under the law and makes 14 specific recommendations related to gender-based violence, academic and economic opportunity, leadership and inclusion, and health care.

Headed by Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, the council was first formed last year through a law sponsored by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago).

“The barriers women and girls face must be given names,” Collins said. “The entrenched systems that keep women out of the halls of power can only be cast aside by specific efforts to dismantle them. I am committed to using the recommendations laid out in this report as the basis for future legislation in the future. I thank the council for its efforts.”

The Illinois Council on Women and Girls’ report recommends actions be taken to:

  • Improve efficiency for publicly funded crime laboratories to reduce rape kit backlogs.
  • Create public awareness campaigns about gender-based violence, targeting veterans, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ communities.
  • Provide localized accounts of the prevalence of gender-based violence across Illinois by collaborating with local governments.
  • Ensure that elementary and secondary school students who are parents, expectant parents, or survivors of gender-based violence can safely stay in school, succeed academically, and complete their education.
  • Empower girls and young women by creating opportunities for them to engage with the executive branch on issues important to their communities.
  • Integrate efforts to better serve students and parents on Illinois military bases.
  • Increase access to affordable childcare, especially for working women and women in school.
  • Increase opportunities for trauma-informed services for college students who experience gender-based violence.
  • Encourage the involvement of women and girls in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) career pipelines by focusing on access for current and former youth in foster care, youth with disabilities, youth from LGBTQ+ communities, immigrants and refugees, and racially diverse groups.
  • Promote understanding of how to engage government by using local youth advisory boards led by elected leaders.
  • Encourage the expansion of internships targeting young women through partnerships between schools and high-growth industries.
  • Expand access to postpartum health care coverage to help reduce disparities.
  • Increase access to substance use and mental health services for pregnant and postpartum women to reduce rates of maternal morbidity.
  • Highlight health care disparities by improving data collection.

Collins: Human trafficking is hiding in plain sight

collins 013120CHICAGO – As an international transportation hub, Chicago is a major venue for one illicit industry: Human trafficking.

Targeting victims who often have tenuous legal status or are otherwise without resources, human trafficking often goes unreported unless concerned citizens discover it and act to inform the authorities. As Human Trafficking Awareness Month comes to a close, State Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) announced legislation that would expand awareness training to include more types of service jobs in Illinois, giving employees the tools to spot and report human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is industrialized kidnapping and modern-day slavery,” Collins said. “By expanding this training program, we are empowering more citizens to know when and how to step forward and do the right thing. These crimes against humanity are hiding in plain sight here in Illinois, and we must all be vigilant.”

In Illinois, the Department of Human Services is developing training on how to spot the signs of human trafficking and report them to authorities. Once developed, employers in the hotel and motel industries will be required to periodically provide the training to employees. Collins’ legislation would expand that training requirement to include restaurants and truck stops as well.

“This is especially urgent at a time when Illinois has committed to expanding gambling, which promotes the sort of travel and rise in entertainment and hospitality that can create the conditions that human traffickers seek to exploit,” Collins said. “By doing this, we’re giving working people the power to fight crime that enslaves people and undercuts law-abiding business.”

Collins’ legislation has been drafted and awaits consideration in the Illinois Senate.

Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins

Deputy Majority Caucus Chair
16th Senate District

Years served:
2003 - Present

Committee assignments: Financial Institutions (Chairperson); Insurance; Transportation; Subcommittee on Capital (TR).

Biography: Born in McComb, Miss.; grew up in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Studied journalism at Northwestern University and graduated from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Divinity Schoool. Emmy Award-nominated news editor at CBS-TV in Chicago and 2001 Legislative Fellow with U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Recipient in 2011 of a Lifetime Achievement Award for Financial Literacy Leadership from the Illinois state treasurer.

Associated Representatives:
Mary E. Flowers
André Thapedi