Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, surrounded by members of the Illinois State Association of Letter Carriers, looked on today as Governor Pat Quinn signed into law  measure she sponsored allowing judges to increase criminal penalties for those who assault or rob letter carriers.

“A recent rash of attacks on letter carriers in the Chicago area, including in my district, inspired this legislation, which received unanimous support in both chambers of the legislature,” Sen. Collins said. “We depend on postal workers to deliver our mail in all types of weather and under all kinds of adverse conditions, and we owe them our best efforts to ensure they are not targets of crime as they go about their essential work in our neighborhoods.”

Kenny Lewis, an Iraq War veteran employed by the Postal Service for the last 20 years, was delivering mail on West 80th Street in Gresham when he was brutally attacked by two men on May 1. They knocked him unconscious and stole his mail bag. He suffered loss of vision and severe headaches after the incident. In April 2011, a postal worker was robbed at gunpoint while delivering mail on the South Side. In December 2010, six attacks on Southeast Side letter carriers were reported within two days; one attacker pulled a knife on his victim.

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Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins has sponsored legislation tightening the regulation of mortgage lenders and protecting borrowers seeking loan modifications or short sales. Senate Bill 4521, now on its way to the governor’s desk, requires lenders to submit to background checks performed by a national industry standards group, increases licensing fees and fines for violators and prohibits lenders from charging homeowners in advance for loan modifications.

“In 2009, I co-sponsored the law that enrolled Illinois in the National Mortgage Licensing System and Registry; today, we are taking another step toward an objective, transparent and accountable process for licensing and regulating the lenders who hold so much power in our economy,” Sen. Collins said. “Exercising vigilant oversight in the areas of loan modifications and short sales will be particularly beneficial as we work to slow the rate of foreclosure and protect distressed homeowners from financial exploitation.”

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Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins secured passage in the Senate today of a package of reforms designed to protect Illinoisans from financial exploitation when they pay their taxes and when they buy a home. Once signed by the governor, Senate Bill 1692 will impose stricter controls on tax refund anticipation loans facilitated by tax preparers; it will also ban balloon payments and prepayment penalties on high-risk residential mortgages.

“Exorbitant interest rates, undisclosed terms and hidden fees associated with loans help keep the poor in poverty,” Sen. Collins said. “Measures like this one empower borrowers to make informed decisions as they seek to meet their financial obligations and improve their families’ quality of life.”

Tax refund anticipation loans (RALs) allow customers to get their refund money up front after a tax preparation firm estimates the amount. RALs have come under scrutiny recently, especially after problems at a Chicago location of Mo’ Money Taxes spurred the Office of the Attorney General to open an investigation. Customers complained that their refund checks were late, much smaller than promised or couldn’t be cashed. SB 1692 prohibits tax preparers from charging extra fees for facilitating these loans and caps RAL interest rates at 36% for non-bank entities like payday lenders.

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Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 2840 – Medicaid reform legislation containing program eliminations and reductions, provider rate cuts, procedures for removing ineligible individuals and families from medical assistance, and other cost-cutting measures:

“I am disappointed that the General Assembly has passed a package of Medicaid cuts that asks the sickest, poorest and most vulnerable among us to sacrifice disproportionately. From the deep reductions this legislation makes in critical services like prescriptions for seniors and adult dental care, it appears as though the burden of the reforms is being carried on the backs of ‘the least of these.’

For too long, Illinois nursing home residents and families have struggled with weak regulation that has allowed for substandard care, neglect and abuse. Over the past several years, I’ve worked with advocates and my fellow legislators to guarantee quality care for all nursing home residents, regardless of race, geography or income. Unfortunately, by setting the minimum RN staffing time at 10 percent instead of 15 percent, the measure passed today will in fact perpetuate the unjust disparities between black and brown nursing homes and majority-white facilities. Illinois still ranks number one in the most poorly-rated black nursing homes in the nation. This legislation represents a devastating step backwards for the nursing home reform movement.

I maintain there can be no true nursing home reform without addressing the registered nurse staffing disparity, and there can be no true Medicaid reform where this racial gap is exacerbated and vulnerable Illinoisans are punished for a fiscal situation not of their making.”

SB 2840 has also passed the House and requires only the governor’s signature to become law.

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Contact Info

Chicago Office:
1155 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(773) 224-2830

Springfield Office:
M114 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-1607

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