* Press release…
State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) today announced her resignation after 12 years of service, declaring “it’s time for fresh faces and new energy” in Springfield.
“It’s been the privilege of a lifetime to represent the most diverse Senate district in the State of Illinois,” Steans said. “I’ve benefited tremendously from the many perspectives of the people a I’ve represented. We’ve made great progress together, and now it’s time to pass the baton.”
During her tenure, Steans has been a leader on issues affecting women and the LGBTQ community, introducing and passing the historic bill that legalized gay marriage in Illinois, the first state to address this vital civil rights issue through the legislative process. She sponsored and passed the landmark House Bill 40, which will ensure that abortion remains legal in Illinois if the Roe v. Wade decision is ever overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. And Steans was the Senate sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was finally ratified by the Illinois legislature in 2018.
“For every significant piece of legislation expanding women’s or LGBTQ rights in the past 12 years, Heather has been a leading voice,” said Terry Cosgrove, President and CEO of Personal PAC. “Her fingerprints are all over the tremendous gains we’ve made in Illinois in ensuring that our fundamental rights are protected.”
Steans played the key legislative role in expanding access to healthcare to hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. She was a strong supporter of social equity legislation, including sponsoring the legalization of cannabis in Illinois that contained the largest criminal drug records expungement and social equity considerations in the country.
The cannabis legalization law, which Steans wrote and passed through the Senate, contains strong social equity requirements that have yet to be realized in the law’s implementation. It was the first legal cannabis law in the nation to be created through legislation rather than by referendum and has brought tens of millions of dollars of revenue to state and local coffers during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.
“Heather has been a valiant partner in forcing state government to address the historic racism and discrimination that has left too many of our families behind,” said former-state senator Toi Hutchinson, now serving as the Illinois Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer. “Heather’s voice and leadership in that ongoing battle will be missed.”
Steans said that one of her greatest joys as State Senator was working with the many not-for-profit organizations throughout her district, which includes the Rogers Park, Edgewater, Andersonville and Ravenswood neighborhoods of Chicago.
“There are hundreds of people across our community who are working and fighting every day to protect our most vulnerable and give everyone a shot at a better life,” Steans said. “It’s been my privilege to work closely with those citizen-activists over the past 12 years and I will continue to support their efforts after leaving the Senate.”
Steans’ resignation is effective January 31, 2021. Her successor will be chosen by a weighted vote of the Democratic committeemen and committeewomen from the wards that make up the Seventh Senate District. Whoever is appointed will serve out the final two years of Steans’ term and must run to retain the seat in the 2022 election, when all Illinois House and Senate seats will be on the ballot.
Her two House members are Reps. Greg Harris and Kelly Cassidy.
*** UPDATE 1 *** From Rep. Cassidy…
I intend to seek the appointment to the Senate.
…Adding… Press release…
Illinois Senate President Don Harmon issued the following statement regarding Senator Heather Steans’ decision to leave the Illinois Senate.
“Heather Steans forever changed this state for the better. People across Illinois had their rights recognized and protected thanks to her leadership.
She is a forceful advocate for progress and problem solving, who fearlessly tackled many of the biggest issues in our society and was always looking for her next challenge.
“I wish her the best in her next adventures and thank her for all she has done for the Senate and the great state of Illinois.”
…Adding… IARF President & CEO Josh Evans…
“For as long as I’ve known and worked with Senator Heather Steans, she has been a clear eyed and hardworking champion for services and supports for persons with disabilities and mental illnesses. In the nearly 50 years IARF has advocated on behalf of our social safety net, few legislators have as consistently and effectively taken up the mantle of ensuring Illinois government met its obligation to adequately support our service array as Senator Steans. From leading the charge to increase wages for direct support professionals to constantly working to improve the Medicaid program for enrollees and social service providers, Heather gave a strong voice in the General Assembly to those who so often felt they never had one. We wish Senator Steans all the best in her future endeavors..she will be missed.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** This looks like a done dealio…
…Adding… Colleen Connell, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois…
“We join those across Illinois in recognizing the incredible accomplishments of Heather Steans during her tenure in the Illinois Senate. Over the past 12 years, the ACLU of Illinois has been proud to stand by her side in advancing marriage equality, advancing access to reproductive health care for all women in Illinois, protecting children under the care of DCFS, implementing critical protections from discrimination in health care based on religion and the effort to legalize cannabis. Senator Steans has been a leader for progress in Illinois and her voice in the Senate will be missed.”
…Adding… IWIL Training Academy President Barbara Flynn Currie…
“Few women in Illinois have done more to press for equality in public life and promote women in public office than Senator Heather Steans. IWIL Training Academy is enormously proud of her service in the General Assembly and to the numerous graduates of our academy who call her a mentor and friend. We salute her accomplishments in the Senate and look forward to her next chapter.”
Senator Heather Steans serves as Vice-President of IWIL Training Academy and is a long time member of the board of directors.
Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership (IWIL) Training Academy prepares and trains Democratic women to run for elected office, seek public appointments, and govern effectively at all levels in Illinois. Each year, IWIL Training Academy accepts a diverse class of twelve women from around the state into an intensive year-long training program. The organization provides participants with the expertise and support needed to put together successful campaigns and lead in their communities. IWIL Training Academy is one of only a handful of groups around the country dedicated to ensuring that when women seek political office, they are prepared.