Collins calls for action on gender-based violence, economic opportunity, health care

ICWGSPRINGFIELD – Convened to study and recommend legislative solutions to systemic problems women face in all parts of life, the Illinois Council on Women and Girls issued its first report yesterday.

The report, available in full here, highlights the barriers women face under the law and makes 14 specific recommendations related to gender-based violence, academic and economic opportunity, leadership and inclusion, and health care.

Headed by Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, the council was first formed last year through a law sponsored by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago).

“The barriers women and girls face must be given names,” Collins said. “The entrenched systems that keep women out of the halls of power can only be cast aside by specific efforts to dismantle them. I am committed to using the recommendations laid out in this report as the basis for future legislation in the future. I thank the council for its efforts.”

  • The Illinois Council on Women and Girls’ report recommends actions be taken to:
  • Improve efficiency for publicly funded crime laboratories to reduce rape kit backlogs.
  • Create public awareness campaigns about gender-based violence, targeting veterans, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ communities.
  • Provide localized accounts of the prevalence of gender-based violence across Illinois by collaborating with local governments.
  • Ensure that elementary and secondary school students who are parents, expectant parents, or survivors of gender-based violence can safely stay in school, succeed academically, and complete their education.
  • Empower girls and young women by creating opportunities for them to engage with the executive branch on issues important to their communities.
  • Integrate efforts to better serve students and parents on Illinois military bases.
  • Increase access to affordable childcare, especially for working women and women in school.
  • Increase opportunities for trauma-informed services for college students who experience gender-based violence.
  • Encourage the involvement of women and girls in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) career pipelines by focusing on access for current and former youth in foster care, youth with disabilities, youth from LGBTQ+ communities, immigrants and refugees, and racially diverse groups.
  • Promote understanding of how to engage government by using local youth advisory boards led by elected leaders.
  • Encourage the expansion of internships targeting young women through partnerships between schools and high-growth industries.
  • Expand access to postpartum health care coverage to help reduce disparities.
  • Increase access to substance use and mental health services for pregnant and postpartum women to reduce rates of maternal morbidity.
  • Highlight health care disparities by improving data collection.

001collinsSPRINGFIELD – In response to pervasive scandals that have undermined citizens’ trust in state government, State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) will call on the members of the General Assembly to impose mandatory recusal upon themselves in cases when they would need to vote on matters of personal financial interest.

“Before a single word of the Illinois Constitution was ever written, the faith of the people of Illinois in elected lawmakers was the basis of our democratic government,” Collins said. “That faith has been shaken in recent months, and to restore it we must show that there is a hard separation between our personal financial interests and the best decisions for the state. We can accomplish this by requiring lawmakers to recuse themselves in situations that involve a clear conflict of interest.”

Under Collins’ plan, lawmakers with a substantial financial interest in a business, investment, real property, lease or other enterprise – or who have an immediate family member with such an interest – must ask to be excused from voting on any matter involving it. The General Assembly’s Legislative Ethics Commission would have the power to slap violators with $1,000 fines.

“Transparency and accountability measures are good and necessary, but we must do more to prevent this kind of graft,” Collins said. “We do not merely ask corruption to forbear. We must demand it to yield.”

The legislation is Senate Bill 3339. It awaits consideration in the Senate.

001collinsAs Human Trafficking Awareness Month ends, Collins calls for more training for service workers

As an international transportation hub, Chicago is a major venue for one illicit industry: Human trafficking.

Targeting victims who often have tenuous legal status or are otherwise without resources, human trafficking often goes unreported unless concerned citizens discover it and act to inform the authorities. As Human Trafficking Awareness Month comes to a close, State Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) announced legislation that would expand awareness training to include more types of service jobs in Illinois, giving employees the tools to spot and report human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is industrialized kidnapping and modern-day slavery,” Collins said. “By expanding this training program, we are empowering more citizens to know when and how to step forward and do the right thing. These crimes against humanity are hiding in plain sight here in Illinois, and we must all be vigilant.”

In Illinois, the Department of Human Services is developing training on how to spot the signs of human trafficking and report them to authorities. Once developed, employers in the hotel and motel industries will be required to periodically provide the training to employees. Collins’ legislation would expand that training requirement to include restaurants and truck stops as well.

“This is especially urgent at a time when Illinois has committed to expanding gambling, which promotes the sort of travel and rise in entertainment and hospitality that can create the conditions that human traffickers seek to exploit,” Collins said. “By doing this, we’re giving working people the power to fight crime that enslaves people and undercuts law-abiding business.”

Collins’ legislation has been drafted and awaits consideration in the Illinois Senate.

Metra station artist's renderingMetra representatives broke ground on a new train station at 79th Street and South Lowe Avenue this Monday morning after State Senator Jacqueline Collins successfully secured state funding for the facility.

Speaking during a groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site of the planned station in the northeastern part of the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, Collins said the station represents a new investment in the community.

“Today, I join with my neighbors, other elected officials and many civic leaders in looking forward with joy and hope to the construction and opening of the new station,” Collins said. “I sincerely believe that in years to come we will view this investment as a turning point in the renewal of this Southside neighborhood, whose flourishing will enrich us all.”

The facility at Auburn Park has been in the planning stages for years, with Metra originally seeking to fund it with proceeds from two state bond programs from 2009. However, that funding was held up in the state’s budget woes and then cut in 2017. Since funding was restored with Collins’ help, the state has released $20 million for the new station’s construction.

The project’s design phase is expected to be finished by the end of 2019, with bidding to begin in 2020.

1962 MetraAuburn Aerial Render 0822 004

The image above is an artists's rendering of the proposed station. Senator Collins' full remarks are below:

Read more: Collins secures funding for new Metra station, construction set to begin

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