State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins was proud to introduce to the Illinois State Senate the 2012 state champions in boys’ basketball – the Simeon Career Academy Wolverines. In March, the South Side Chicago school claimed its third consecutive state title and its sixth overall, the most of any school in Illinois. Members of the Senate applauded team members, including nationally top-ranked junior Jabari Parker, for their athletic and academic achievements.

“These hard-working and talented young men are an inspiration,” Sen. Collins said. “I am honored to congratulate them on their record-setting achievements.”

Sen. Collins singled out forward Jabari Parker for recognition, noting his 3.8 grade point average and commitment to community service in addition to his extraordinary skill on the court.

“Jabari stands as a shining example of a true student athlete who uses his mind, body and soul to the best of his ability,” Sen. Collins said. “He is also a team player who credits his teammates for his success.”

Parker, considered the top-ranked high school junior player in the nation, was recently honored as Illinois’ Mr. Basketball 2012 and presented with the “Rising Star” award from the DuSable Museum in Chicago. He is weighing his many college options. Simeon Career Academy is also the alma mater of Derrick Rose, who now plays professionally for the Chicago Bulls.

Read more: Sen. Collins Welcomes Simeon’s State Champions to Springfield

State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins received the Blue Bow Award last Wednesday for her work in preventing child abuse and neglect through visionary public policy. The commendation was given by Children’s Home + Aid, an organization that facilitates adoptions and provides services to troubled families and abused children. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (a past Blue Bow honoree) presented recipients with their awards at the Children’s Home + Aid Champions for Children Luncheon on April 11. Sen. Collins received the award for her leadership in Englewood and surrounding communities, where child abuse and neglect rates are some of the highest in Chicago.

“I believe that protecting children requires safe homes but also safe communities,” Sen. Collins said.

Legislation regulating high-risk residential mortgages and sponsored by State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) passed the Senate today with unanimous support. Senate Bill 3522 would prohibit lenders from charging prepayment penalties on high-risk loans or requiring “balloon payments” – payments twice as large as the average of previous payments.

“Prepayment penalties and balloon payments punish homeowners who are trying to meet their obligations,” said Sen. Collins, who chairs the Financial Institutions Committee. “We should be making it easier, not harder, for people to stay in their homes,” added Collins, who is known for her work protecting consumers from financial exploitation.

The proposed legislation brings Illinois law into conformity with the federal Dodd-Frank Act, which prohibits prepayment penalties and changed the definition of “high-risk” to include a wider range of home loans.

“Neighborhoods are suffering real harm from the high rate of foreclosures, which flood the housing market and drive down property values when foreclosed properties are not maintained,” Sen. Collins said. “It is time for states and the federal government together to tell lenders they cannot continue to push consumers into high-risk loans and impose terms that make repayment difficult or impossible.”

Prepayment penalties can be assessed when borrowers pay off the balance of the mortgage and usually only apply within the first five years. However, the terms of some loans impose the penalty when borrowers refinance or when the home is sold – not just if the owner pays off the debt with cash. The penalties can thus trap homeowners in disadvantageous loans or keep them from relocating.

Senate Bill 3522 will now move to the House for consideration.

State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins’ has introduced legislation to protect vulnerable, mostly low-income consumers from exorbitant interest rates and hidden fees on Tax Refund Anticipation Loans. The push to curb these abuses comes after customers of Mo' Money Taxes, the target of a lawsuit filed today by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, complained that their checks for refund money were late, much smaller than promised or couldn't be cashed at all.

"Most taxpayers affected by these outrageous fees and interest rates are eligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit," Sen. Collins said. "My colleagues and I just voted to increase the state EITC, and we want that money to go into the pockets of the working poor to spend on essential needs, not into the pockets of predatory lenders."

Sen. Collins' legislation, the Tax Refund Anticipation Loan Reform Act (SB 3523), would cap interest rates on refund anticipation loans made by payday lenders, prohibit tax preparers from charging extra fees for facilitating loans and prohibit all loans in anticipation of the state EITC.

Mo' Money Taxes is under investigation in several states. Recent problems at a Chicago location spurred the Office of the Attorney General to investigate dozens of complaints and inspired Sen. Collins to find ways to protect taxpayers in the future. Her plan requires tax preparers to disclose interest rates, any applicable fees and the fact that customers can get their refunds within 8 to 15 days directly from the IRS – without taking out a loan.

Read more: Sen. Collins Fights Predatory Tax Refund Loans

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