SB 2137CHICAGO — To fight the isolation that has only become worse for so many seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new law signed today requires virtual visitation options at long-term care facilities, the result of legislation by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago).

“The past year of this pandemic has seen nursing home residents suffer beyond what we could have imagined. Many have lost their friends or caregivers, and have had to live in fear for their own health and safety. Nursing homes in communities of color have been especially hard hit," Collins said. “I thank Gov. Pritzker for signing this law and acknowledging that our duty to older adults is not just caring for their bodies, but their hearts.”

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will be required to take steps to connect residents virtually with family members, loved ones, and religious or recreational activities when in-person visits are prohibited or restricted due to federal or state guidance.

The law, pushed for by the AARP, comes in the wake of 2020 research that shows alarming effects associated with isolation and loneliness. Isolated seniors’ risk of developing dementia increases 50%, their risk of stroke increases 32%, and they experience a nearly fourfold increased risk of death among heart failure patients.

Under the legislation, facilities will be required to implement policies to fight social isolation of residents, including:

  • Virtual visitation would be considered in addition to existing in-person visitation policies.
  • Technology and assistive equipment may be funded through federal Civil Monetary Penalty Funds and/or other state and federal resources.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and the development of a resident's individualized visitation schedule would be included in a facility’s virtual visitation policy.

Facilities will also be permitted to train volunteers and staff to assist residents in virtual visitation, and a resident’s right to use personal devices would not change. Penalties for nursing homes not in compliance would go into effect in 2023.

The legislation is Senate Bill 2137.

SB 1599

CHICAGO – The final pieces of a legislative package aimed at fighting human trafficking will become law today after Gov. JB Pritzker signed three key measures sponsored by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago). Collins’ plan comprises House Bill 588 and Senate Bills 1599 and 1600.

Collins is particularly concerned about the issue because a disproportionate number of the missing people in the United States are Black. According to the National Crime Information Center, there were 609,275 missing people in the U.S. in 2019. Nearly 34% of that number – 205,802 – were Black. 

“We cannot deny that human trafficking is here in Illinois, and it thrives on invisibility,” Collins said. “Today, we have taken steps toward raising awareness about this crime against humanity and studying the means to fight it. As a state that serves as a major international transportation hub, this is our duty to the people of the world.”

Senate Bill 1599 creates a Human Trafficking Task Force to study human trafficking in Illinois and make recommendations to the General Assembly on how to fight it. Studies have shown Illinois’ position as a major interstate and international travel hub makes it likely that thousands of victims of human trafficking could be present in the state on a given day, and that these victims are largely women and people of color. A 2014 study by the Urban Institute found as many as 40% of all human trafficking victims are Black.

The measures also direct businesses that are likely to encounter human trafficking to increase employee and public awareness of the crime. Senate Bill 1600 requires truck stops and restaurants to train employees to recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to report it — training that is already required for businesses like hotels. House Bill 588 encourages businesses like restaurants and truck stops to post information about human trafficking in public places and restrooms.

“In every way that matters, human trafficking is modern-day bondage,” Collins said. “We know in Chicago, as reported by John Fountain, that the lives, deaths, and disappearances of Black women receive disparate treatment from those of white women. I hope that fighting human trafficking will help us find some of the Black girls and women who have been missing for too long.”

Senate Bill 1599 is effective immediately, and the other two pieces of legislation take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

SB 919SPRINGFIELD – In response to a recent report that revealed 41% of older Black Illinoisans and 46% of Latinos don’t have access to broadband internet, State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) successfully championed a new law that will give minority groups a larger say in Illinois’ broadband policies.

“Broadband internet today is what electricity or the telephone was 100 years ago,” Collins said. “If you don’t have high-speed internet access, you can’t participate in so many parts of life: education, business, health care, and more.”

The new law, originally Senate Bill 919, adds four members to the Broadband Advisory Council. The new members must come from community-based organizations representing Black people, Latinos, Asian Americans or Pacific islanders, and ethnically diverse people.

The Broadband Advisory Council advises the Connect Illinois Program – Governor JB Pritzker’s statewide initiative to expand broadband across the entire state. Connect Illinois is overseeing a number of grant programs to help high speed internet reach every person in Illinois.

“Internet access is another area where our communities face long-standing inequities that worsen existing problems and barriers,” Collins said. “I hope that by bringing more minority voices to the table, we can truly overcome this problem.”

The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Senator Collins speaks on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – Someone who commits a serious crime, such as assault or harassment, motivated by someone’s immigration status – real or perceived – could soon be charged with a hate crime.

“There is no place for hate in our society,” said State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago), the measure’s sponsor. “This new law will help protect immigrants and children of immigrants from all across the world, but especially our Latino brothers and sisters.”

Though race and national origin are already protected under Illinois’ hate crime law, known or perceived immigration status is not. Over the past several years, people throughout the country have been targeted with physical violence due to their perceived immigration status, including a man in Milwaukee who had battery acid thrown at him and another man who was attacked with a cane on a Chicago Transit Authority bus.

Someone convicted of a hate crime is subject to a Class 4 felony for the first offense and a Class 2 felony for subsequent offenses. If someone commits a hate crime in or near a religious building, cemetery or mortuary, school or other educational facility, public park, or ethnic or religious community center, then they are subject to a Class 3 felony on the first offense.

“I hope this law helps prevent future acts of violence and intimidation,” Collins said. “This is a nation of immigrants, and everyone should feel safe in their homes and communities.”

The law, originally Senate Bill 1596, takes effect Jan. 1, 2022.

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