SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate acted to fight human trafficking Friday, passing two pieces of legislation by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) to study the problem and require more businesses that come into contact with traffickers to be more vigilant.

“Human trafficking is a crime against humanity that overwhelmingly affects people of color and women: 40% of human trafficking victims are Black,” Collins said. “We must acknowledge the hard truth that globally, the United States is one of the worst countries for human trafficking and that as a centrally located state that serves as a national transportation hub, it is happening here in Illinois.”

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001collinsSPRINGFIELD – Insurers would be required to inform policyholders whether health care providers offer telehealth or telemedicine and how they’ll accommodate a family caregiver under a plan by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago).

“For some patients with any number of issues—like a lack of ready access to transportation or mobility challenges—the shift to telehealth during the pandemic has actually been something of an upside,” Collins said. “Health care delivery is changing to adapt to this new dynamic, but patients need to know what that looks like as they determine their coverage. This legislation ensures we’re spelling it out clearly.”

Senate Bill 332, which passed the Senate Insurance Committee Wednesday evening, would also require insurance providers to detail whether a health care provider has the ability and willingness to include a family caregiver who is in a separate location than the patient in a telehealth or telemedicine encounter.

“Ensuring this information is explicitly provided to policyholders has the effect going forward of making these services competitive, and hopefully encouraging more providers to offer them,” Collins said. “This could be transformative for families who live far apart but could help care for an aged parent if only we acknowledged that technology now makes it possible.”

Senate Bill 332 awaits consideration before the full Senate.

001collinsSPRINGFIELD – Schools would be required to maintain consistent truancy policies and communicate them to parents annually under a plan from State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago), which passed a Senate committee Tuesday and is set to be debated before the full Senate.

“Studies conducted in recent years have shown again and again that absences are a major barrier to educating so many of our students, and that the reasons they occur are complex,” Collins said. “The first step in addressing this has to be establishing truancy policies that are clearly communicated to families.”

The legislation came about due to recommendations from the Illinois Attendance Commission, which studies chronic absenteeism and truancy in schools. The number of chronically truant students in Illinois schools, who are defined as students who miss nine or more school days a year without a valid excuse such as an illness or the need to care for a family member, has increased in recent years, from about 9% in 2015 to 13% in 2019.

Senate Bill 605 passed the Senate Education Committee today and is scheduled for consideration before the full Senate.

“We must begin a new chapter in how we address sex work.”

001collinsCHICAGO – Felony convictions for prostitution would be expunged under a measure introduced by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) as part of an effort to reduce the stigma that follows those with felonies on their record even as prostitution is no longer charged as a felony in Illinois.

“By criminalizing prostitution, we have succeeded only in driving those who have become victims of it into the shadows,” Collins said. “We moved to stop charging prostitution as a felony, but that means nothing for those who have felonies on their records.”

Felony charges can be a significant barrier to finding housing or gainful employment, which only adds further injury to sex workers. Felony prostitution was ended in Illinois in 2013, but those with such convictions are still subject to all the penalties that come with a felony record.

“To allow felony charges to persist for sex workers is to send the message that they are akin to armed robbers or kidnappers. This, in turn, makes the business even more dangerous and exploitative,” Collins said. “We must begin a new chapter in how we address sex work, starting with expunging these records.”

The legislation would also remove a drug testing requirement for those seeking to expunge their drug felony conviction.

“Requiring a drug test to expunge a felony record is wrongheaded, irrelevant, and in light of the recent legalization of cannabis for adult use, nonsensical,” Collins said.

The legislation is Senate Bill 2136. Having passed the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday, it awaits consideration before the full Senate.

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