* Press release…
Today, the Midwest Region of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) celebrates Governor Pritzker’s approval of House Bill 252, which closes a loophole in Illinois law that left tens of thousands of workers unprotected against employment discrimination.
Previously, the provisions of the Illinois Human Rights Act addressing discrimination in employment only applied to employers with 15 or more workers, with limited exceptions. The new law brings the State of Illinois in line with 17 other states and territories that prohibit discrimination at all workplaces, including fellow Midwestern states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Similar legislation was passed by the General Assembly in 2018, but was vetoed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on a number of factors, such as gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and more, but that protection was limited. It is an embarrassment that, until now, countless Illinoisans who have been discriminated against at work had no way to seek justice, simply because of how many coworkers they have,” said Anna Koeppel, LiUNA Midwest Region Assistant Director of Governmental Affairs. “We thank the Governor and the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Will Guzzardi and Sen. Cristina Castro, for once again standing with working people and righting this wrong. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly and appropriately at work.”
* WICS TV…
A new law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker legalizes syringe exchange programs in Illinois, opening the door to an increase in operations aiming to serve a community at risk of overdoses and infection from unsafe supplies.
Currently, there are six syringe exchange programs in the state, with half located in Chicago, according to the North American Syringe Exchange Network.
“We need to be providing ways to reduce harm and making sure we’re supporting people who are dealing with substance use issues,” said Illinois Sen. Melinda Bush, who sponsored the legislation. “These syringe exchange programs continue to address the (opioid crisis) and help provide reductions in overdose deaths.”
Syringe exchange programs typically provide free needles to people who use injectable drugs, but also offer disposal services for used syringes, overdose prevention training, kits with opioid-reversing medication and referrals for additional services.
* Press release…
Making critical reforms to improve the lives of justice-involved Illinoisans, Governor JB Pritzker signed a package of legislation today expanding voting rights, civic engagement and educational and rehabilitation programming in Illinois’ criminal justice system.
“It’s a new day in Illinois – one where we not only recognize the sanctity of the vote but commit to doing everything we can to invite everyone who is eligible to fully participate. In Illinois, we understand that every vote matters and every vote counts,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Illinois will continue to stand strong, even as our country takes a dangerous turn toward deeper disenfranchisement of minority communities. Especially as the Voting Rights Act remains gutted, especially as jurisdictions across the nation purge voter rolls and restrict registrations in college towns and communities of color, here in Illinois, we’ll do our best to live up to the ideals of our democracy.”
“These policies are an example of what’s possible when we come together in the name of restorative and transformative justice,” said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. “I thank Governor Pritzker for signing these bills into law and working alongside the JEO to create a justice system that better reflects our values.”
Senate Bill 2090
Senate Bill 2090 expands voter access and education efforts in jails across the state. The new law takes the following steps to allow individuals to exercise their right to vote:
Directs county jails and local election officials to establish a process that allows detainees awaiting trial to cast their ballots during elections
Establishes a temporary polling place at the Cook County Department of Corrections
Directs the Illinois Department of Corrections and county jails to provide a voter registration application and detailed information about their voting rights, including notification that their voting rights have been restored, to any person in custody eligible to vote for those being released
Clarifies that for in-person voting, non-partisan poll watchers are limited to one per division within the jail, instead of one per precinct and requires in-person voting to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act
SB 2090 takes effect immediately.
“Every citizen who is eligible to vote must be provided with the opportunity to cast their ballot,” said Sen. Omar Aquino (D-Chicago). “Thousands of eligible voters who are detained before trial are systematically denied that right. Coupled with a justice system that disproportionately jails people of color, there is a clear effort to suppress the vote in communities of color across the country. This measure addresses that systematic voter suppression and shows that we value civic participation in Illinois.”
“I commend Governor Pritzker and our Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton for fighting for access to the ballot box,” said Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside). “Today, we help guarantee the right to vote in Illinois for another underrepresented group. Through Senate Bill 2090, we help ensure that those being held in county jails – those not yet convicted of a crime – are given the opportunity to cast a ballot.”
I’ll post the full release on the live coverage post.