By | March 18, 2014

The new legislative session is in full swing. Shriver Center advocates hope to pass new laws that will improve the lives of low- and middle-income people and expand access to opportunity and mobility for all Illinoisans. We will also be playing defense to ensure that laws that stigmatize and punish low- and middle-income Illinoisans don’t make it past committee floors. Our Illinois agenda informs our overall work to advance justice and opportunity for people living in poverty.

We hope you will support us over the next few months to get these important pieces of legislation passed, and to block undesirable bills. Below are a few of the many pieces of affirmative legislation we are working on that are likely to require community support.

Please sign up for any or all of our action alerts so you can make your voices heard in Springfield!    

Asset Opportunity Legislation

Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program—Senate Bill (SB) 2758/House Bill (HB) 4595. Two and a half million private-sector workers in Illinois do not have access to employment-based retirement tools and are increasingly at risk of retiring into poverty. The Secure Choice Savings Program solves this problem by giving every worker in Illinois access to a portable retirement savings account through his or her employer and the opportunity to build a financially secure future. It ensures universal coverage, and is the simple, safe and affordable way to help all workers retire in dignity. Learn more. Sign up for action alerts on Asset Opportunities.

Budget and Tax Justice Legislation

Constitutional Amendment to Eliminate the Flat Tax Rate Requirement and Allow a Fair Tax—SJRCA 40/HJRCA 33. This bill would amend the Illinois Constitution by deleting the requirement of a flat state income tax rate and replacing it with the option of a fair tax, under which people with lower incomes would pay lower rates and people with higher incomes would pay higher rates. Unlike a flat tax, which taxes everyone at the same rate regardless of his or her income, a fair tax is based on ability to pay. A fair tax amendment to the constitution would give lawmakers the tools they need respond to changing economic pressures on the middle class. A vote for the fair tax amendment only puts the issue on the ballot in the general election this November, allowing voters to have the final say when it comes to whether Illinois adopts the option of a fair tax. Learn more. Sign a petition in support. Sign up for action alerts on Budget and Tax.

Community Justice Legislation

Best Candidate for the Job Act—HB 2846. This bill would codify standards for considering men and women with criminal records for employment and licensing opportunities that mirror a similar law in New York (New York Correction Law, Article 23-A) and the EEOC’s recent guidance. The bill would also create a private right of action to hold entities accountable for not adhering to this law, and ensure that those with Certificates of Good Conduct or Relief from Disability are not denied positions simply because of their record.

Moving the Box—HB 5701This bill would prohibit employers or temporary employment agencies from inquiring into someone’s criminal history in any form until after the applicant receives written notification of the employer’s intent to interview or a conditional offer of employment. 

The Shriver Center’s Community Justice advocates are also working:

  • to make sure that Minor Crimes Don’t Preclude Opportunity (HB 2378);
  • to Eliminate Lifetime Bans to Major Employment (HB 4432, HB 4471, HB 4472, HB 4473, HB 4580) for individuals who have completed their sentences and have not had another conviction within four years of their release; and
  • to support the Compassionate Release (HB 3668) of incarcerated seniors (over 50 years of age) who have served over 25 years or more (and possibly those suffering from terminal illnesses).

We are also opposing Mandatory Minimums (HB 5672). Sign up for action alerts on Community Justice.

Economic Justice Legislation

Refugee AABD Grant Update—SB 2735/HB 4369. This bill updates and indexes the monthly grant provided to elderly and disabled refugees and asylees suspended from the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program if they do not become U.S. citizens within seven years. The monthly grant amount of $500 was written into the statute when the program was created in 2004. This legislation would update the grant amount to restore it to 90 percent of the SSI payment level, as it was in 2004, and would index the amount to future increases in the SSI payment level. Learn more. Sign up for action alerts on Economic Justice.

Health Care Justice Legislation

Restoration of Adult Dental in the State’s Medicaid Program—HB 1516 SA2. This bill would require the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) to restore non-emergency dental services as a benefit for adults in the Medicaid program. Illinois eliminated these services as a Medicaid benefit for most adults in 2012. Restoration of these benefits is medically critical and cost effective. Every averted dental-related emergency room visit saves the state 10 times more than the cost of preventative care. Learn more. Sign up for action alerts on health care.

Housing Justice Legislation

Fair Tenant Screening Act—HB 4778. This bill establishes basic consumer protections for residential tenant applications. Among other things, it provides protections to ensure that landlords cannot charge an application fee that is more than the actual out-of-pocket costs to evaluate the application. If the landlord declines to rent, the tenant must be told the reason for the denial, and provide a copy of any third party information that led to the denial. Learn more. Sign up for action alerts on housing.

Women’s Law and Policy Project Legislation

Raise the Minimum Wage—SB 68 SA4/HB 3718. This legislation would raise the minimum wage to $10.65 an hour over three years, thus restoring it to its historic level. In Illinois, six in ten minimum wage workers are women. Over 400,000 Illinois workers in Illinois know that having a minimum wage job is not enough to keep up with inflation and stay out of poverty. Raising the minimum wage is the solution. Learn more.

Domestic Workers Bill of Rights—SB 1708/HB 4714. Domestic workers play a critical role in the Illinois economy. Despite the value of their work, domestic workers have historically been excluded from protections under state law extended to workers in other industries. This has led to a workforce, predominantly composed of women supporting their own families, that is isolated and vulnerable. SB 1708/HB 4714 will ensure that domestic workers are paid no less than the minimum wage, are paid for all work hours, and have the right to be free from sexual harassment, among other guarantees. Learn more.

Ensuring Success in School—HB 2213. The Ensuring Success in School Act addresses the educational and related needs of children and youths who are parents, expectant parents, or survivors of domestic or sexual violence to ensure their ability to stay in school, stay safe, and complete their education. HB 2213 fosters enrollment in school and school attendance, supports efforts to increase academic success, and provides guidance to schools. Learn more.

Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers—HB 8 (HA 1). Many pregnant workers are forced out of their jobs because their employers deny them simple work modifications—like a stool to sit on, permission to carry a water bottle, a break from lifting heavy boxes—that would allow them to remain productive employees, provide for their families, and maintain a healthy pregnancy. HB 8 (HA 1) promotes workplace fairness for pregnant workers by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions, unless such accommodations would cause an undue hardship on the employer. Learn more. Sign up for action alerts on women’s issues.


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