* Press release…
Widows of Chicago firefighters and police are one step closer to receiving additional support after a measure advanced by State Senator Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) passed the Senate Thursday.
“Despite the false narrative of an overgenerous pension system, widows of Chicago first responders have been living with great financial hardship for decades,” Martwick said. “This adjustment is essential if we are going to support the widows of our Chicago firefighters and police officers who put themselves in the line of duty to keep all of us safe. This is a small step that we can take to support the families who sacrifice so much for all of us.”
Senate Bill 4053 would change the Chicago police and Chicago firefighter articles of the Illinois Pension Code to increase the minimum annuity for widows to no less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. It is currently set at 125%. In 2022, the Federal Poverty line is set at a mere $13,590 for a single person. This measure would ensure that if a Chicago firefighter or police officer dies in the line of duty, the widow’s annuity could not fall below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level for that family.
Earlier this month, seven Chicago firefighters were injured in a house fire in the Roseland neighborhood caused by a “flashover” when crews were battling the flames. Incidents like these underscore the dangers that first responders encounter on the job and the concern that their loved ones have when they leave the house every day to go to work.
“The loss of a loved one who sacrificed so much to serve their community is unimaginable and their family shouldn’t have to struggle financially as a result,” Martwick said. “This measure aims to tackle the disparity that comes with this tragedy and provide basic dignity to the families who have lost a loved one.”
Senate Bill 4053 passed the Senate on Thursday.
* Media advisory…
2022 LGBTQ Legislative Agenda Press Conference
LGBTQ Illinoisans share issues and legislative initiatives at upcoming press conference
WHAT: At a time when anti-equality governors and legislators in states like Texas and Florida are pursuing harmful and discriminatory initiatives that target their LGBTQ constituents, LGBTQ Illinoisans will roll out their 2022 legislative agenda to raise awareness about critical priorities and initiatives for the LGBTQ community and the diverse communities to which they belong. The Illinois LGBTQ 2022 Legislative Agenda Press Conference will be held virtually on Monday, February 28 at 9:30am.
LGBTQ community organizations hosting the event include: Equality Illinois, Rainbow Café LGBTQ Center (Carbondale), Peoria Proud, Prairie Pride Coalition (Bloomington/Normal), AIDS Foundation Chicago, Taskforce Prevention & Community Services, and Pride Action Tank.
State Legislator will be announced soon.
For more information, please visit Equality Illinois 2022 Legislative Agenda and AIDS Foundation Chicago 2022 Legislative Agenda.
* This is the committee that the House Republican Leader has refused to appoint members to…
In a Thursday press conference, state Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, touted the accomplishments of the House Small Business, Tech Innovation and Entrepreneurship committee. Several major policy initiatives have passed the committee, all focused on providing relief to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and removing barriers to entry for professionals in underserved communities.
“I am proud of the work my committee has done to help Illinois’ small businesses,” Ammons said. “The legislation we passed was the result of listening to hours of testimony from expert stakeholders and holding vigorous debate in committee. Small businesses are the foundation of Illinois’ economy, and they deserve our attention and assistance. I look forward to continuing to lend a hand to hard-working Illinois families who have been hit hard by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Ammons passed House Bill 4993 out of committee, legislation which creates a fund to distribute money to chambers of commerce which have financially suffered during the pandemic. The funding will only go to chambers with less than 1,500 members. Ammons crafted this legislation with the help of the Small Business Advisory Council.
House Bill 5575, another Ammons bill, also passed. It creates the Comprehensive Licensing Information to Minimize Barriers (CLIMB) task force to address major barriers underserved communities are facing, specifically unfair and outdated business licensing requirements. High costs of licensure disproportionately affect low-income entrepreneurs and business owners without extra capital to spend. The task force will study solutions on how to remove similar barriers.
“It is disappointing that none of my Republican colleagues were interested in joining us to do this work, despite numerous invitations,” Ammons said. “Regardless, I feel confident that we are providing Illinois’ small businesses with much-needed assistance, and we will continue to do so as long as necessary.”
* Press release…
In an effort to remove a barrier to full inclusion for immigrant communities in Illinois, State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) is leading a measure that removes the use of “alien” in any Illinois statute when referring to people who have mixed statuses and referring to commerce outside of Illinois and the country.
“As the son of an Ethiopian immigrant and asylum seeker, I am beyond proud to support this measure by assisting in removing barriers for communities to access much needed resources,” Simmons said. “I want Illinois to send a clear message that we welcome immigrants and that we are working to eliminate the historic barriers that many of these communities have endured.”
Senate Bill 3865 would remove the use of “alien” in any Illinois statute when referring to people who have mixed statuses and referring to commerce outside of Illinois and the country. Eliminating references to “alien” in Illinois law would remove a regressive and outdated legal term and symbolize the full inclusion of immigrant communities in Illinois. Similar legislation has recently passed in California and Colorado.
Continued use of the term “alien” as a legal term sends a negative message that recent immigrants, including many who have begun the naturalization process, are not welcome and not valued as full members of their communities.
“I believe that these efforts will facilitate a pathway to build trust and understanding between the government and immigrant communities,” Simmons said. “We all succeed when we welcome our new neighbors and make them feel a part of the family.”
Senate Bill 3865 passed the Senate and moves to the House for further consideration.
* Press release…
To encourage employers to hire people in recovery for mental health or substance abuse disorders, State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) introduced a bill offering eligible employers tax credits for hiring and retaining employees with these conditions.
“Far too often, hard-working, experienced employees are turned away because of a mental health or substance use disorder,” Senator Fine said. “This bill will incentivize employers to give qualified candidates in a state of recovery and wellness an opportunity to succeed.”
Stigma around mental health and substance use disorders can be a deterrent for employers to hire candidates who disclose their mental health conditions. This disproportionately impacts people of color and women who suffer mental health disorders. This may prevent people with mental health conditions from holding secure employment, impacting their financial stability and their ability to receive necessary treatment.
This legislation would incentivize employers to hire and retain employees with mental health disorders by providing tax credits of up to $2,000 for each employee hired and retained per year. Senator Fine is hopeful that this initiative will lead to more people in recovery the ability to find stable employment and be able to disclose their disorders to their superiors without judgment.
“People with mental health conditions can lead successful lives,” Senator Fine said. “This bill will ensure that people with substance use or mental health disorders are not excluded from job opportunities because of their health conditions, and are instead supported by their colleagues in the workplace.”
SB 3882 passed the Senate on Thursday. It now goes to the House for further consideration.
* Press release…
Educators throughout the state spend their own money for classroom supplies and materials with no expectation of repayment, but that will change if State Senator Linda Holmes’ (D-Aurora) Senate Bill 1143 becomes law. The measure passed the full Senate Thursday.
“Our school funding falls short of what materials students need in the classroom, and I’m pleased we can offer support in the gap between what district funding affords and how much educators are voluntarily spending out of their own pockets for these items,” Holmes said.
Senate Bill 1143 amends the Illinois Income Tax Act to allow a tax credit in the amount paid by the educator or other school staff for classroom-based instructional materials to an amount equal
to the expenses, but not to exceed $300, beginning in taxable year 2023. In current law, the maximum credit allowed is $250.
“Educators need our support for the extra efforts they make at their own expense,” Holmes said. “Many children would go without necessary supplies they don’t have, but they cannot get the full benefit of education without all the needed tools. It’s time we pay them back.”
At the highest reported amount in record, teachers spent an average of $750 on school supplies out of pocket during the 2020-2021 school year. Thirty percent of teachers spent $1,000 or more on school supplies (Source: AdoptAClassroom.org’s 2021 Teacher Spending Survey). Purchases often include professional development books, office supplies, tissues, art supplies, snacks for students who don’t have food at home, and clothing.
SB 1143 was approved by the Senate Thursday and will now head to the House of Representatives for their consideration.
* I initially hoped to use this last bill in a post of its own, but the facts got in the way. Here’s the synopsis for Rep. Eva Dina Delgado’s HB4434…
Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Provides that the Secretary of State, in issuing professional sports teams license plates, shall include the option to display the logo of the Chicago Sky or the Chicago Red Stars.
But Amendment 1, which passed out of committee on a unanimous vote this week, deletes the St. Louis Rams from the list of eligible teams in existing statute. That makes sense because the team no longer exists in St. Louis. The Rams split for Los Angeles at the end of the 2015 season. The team won the Super Bowl this year. I know Metro East folks who refused to root for their old team, and I know some who were joyful at the win.
But, it turns out, the secretary of state never produced the plates to begin with. And that’s why it’s at the tail end of this Friday afternoon post.
* Elgin signs $84,000-a-year deal with lobbyist in effort to secure state, federal funds