Last November, two-thirds of Illinois' voters agreed that if you work full-time, you and your family should not live in poverty. We in the Senate heard the message loud and clear, and in December, we responded, passing the minimum wage increase I co-sponsored. Unfortunately, the House declined to vote on the measure last year, and it died. We have reintroduced the minimum wage increase in the new legislative session, and last Thursday, the Senate reaffirmed our commitment to giving relief to the working poor who have seen costs rise as their pay stagnates. Senate Bill 11 would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 now to $9 starting this July, $10 by 2017 and $11 by 2019. In contrast to the governor's call for a $10 minimum wage by 2022, our legislation will make a real, tangible impact on the lives of working families struggling to escape poverty.

The political realities are different today than they were in December 2014, and the rhetoric has been heated and divisive, but the needs of the working people of Illinois remain the same. During the debate on the Senate floor, I reminded my colleagues that the needs of the working poor and the wishes of the voters we represent ought to guide our consciences and our votes.

Minimum wage floor web

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I am so grateful to the Simeon Alumni Association for declaring me an honorary member of its illustrious ranks. Over the summer, I worked closely with Simeon alumni, teachers, families and advocates to bring back the school's highly successful electrical program. Our young people deserve time-tested opportunities like this one.

Simeon honorary alumna web

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SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) issued the following statement in response to the governor’s State of the State address:

I'm thankful to the governor and his administration for partnering with me to protect homeowners threatened by foreclosure. The governor mentioned that on Friday he will sign Senate Bill 16, landmark legislation we negotiated with the banks to provide more resources for homeowner counseling and abandoned property rehabilitation. I look forward to continuing our collective work on this issue.

I’m encouraged by the governor’s initiative to raise the minimum wage and his strong support for expanding Medicaid. Last year, low-income seniors and other vulnerable people were asked to bear the brunt of devastating Medicaid cuts. Now we have the opportunity to offer quality, coordinated medical care to people who previously had no options other than the emergency room. We should not hesitate to embrace that opportunity.

Finally, I appreciate the governor’s bold statements on gun safety and his tribute to 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton. Not only in Chicago, which led the nation in homicides last year, but throughout America, people are living in war zones. It’s time — no, it’s past time — for commonsense gun legislation in response to the reality that children are dying because deadly weapons are so readily available.

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On October 15, Sen. Collins attended an event in Gary, Indiana, honoring Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Gabrielle Douglas. A native of Virginia, Ms. Douglas has ties to the Midwest; her mother, Natalie Hawkins, hails from Gary, and Ms. Douglas trained in Iowa. On behalf of the Illinois State Senate, Sen. Collins presented Gabrielle Douglas with a Senate recognition plaque.

"I came because I wanted Gabrielle to know that we in Illinois are proud of what she has accomplished and we encourage her to continue to inspire our youth," Collins told the Chicago Crusader. "She is a role model now and that should not be taken lightly. I admire her dignity and hard work and in Illinois we believe in supporting anyone who lives by these standards."

At this summer's Olympic Games in London, Gabrielle Douglas became the first African-American woman to win an individual gymnastics gold medal when she placed first in the individual all-around competition. She also helped the United States women's gynastics team earn a gold medal in the team event.

Gabrielle Douglas web

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