jacquiCHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) renewed her call for the state to create a testing site easily accessible to the residents of Auburn Gresham, a community with one of the highest infection rates of COVID-19 in the state, and the home of the first known woman in Illinois to lose her life to the deadly pandemic.

“This pandemic has made clear that the residents in Auburn Gresham are more vulnerable due to lack of fresh food access and health care and suffer disproportionally with the underlying chronic conditions of asthma, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and kidney failure,” Collins said. “Patricia Frieson, the first woman in Illinois to lose her life to COVID-19, was a unique and beloved person who nonetheless was far from the only one in these dire straits.”

Auburn Gresham is located in the socio-economically vulnerable zip code of 60620 that as of April 30 has seen 683 cases of COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Many of the residents of Auburn Gresham are the essential workers who cannot afford to shelter-in-place because they are the bus drivers, store clerks, janitors and nursing home employees.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported on the 30-year lifespan difference between North Side and South Side residents. Collins said for residents who may lack transportation options, other testing sites have become all but inaccessible.

“Gov. Pritzker has made admirable strides in increasing the state’s testing capacity but until we have a comprehensive plan of testing, tracing and treatment, there’s no way to mitigate the damage being done in the community,” Collins said.

Auburn Gresham is home to a large population of senior citizens who live in a number of senior buildings dotting the community.

“In Auburn Gresham, a neighborhood where few indeed are privileged with work that allows them to telecommute, these tests are needed to let essential workers know when they need to self-isolate and protect their fellow members of the community from the virus,” Collins said.

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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.

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