MetraCHICAGO – The Auburn Park Station that State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) has long fought for came a step closer to reality today with Metra announcing it has approved a $28.2 million construction contract.

“The people of the South Side deserve better access to public transportation,” said Collins, who secured $30 million in state funding for the project. “Our communities have long suffered from disinvestment and unequal access to basic amenities. I promised that I would manifest real change, and I intend to keep that promise by seeing this station open.”

The new station, which will be located at 79th Street in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, will run on Metra’s Rock Island Line. The station will be fully accessible, include bicycle racks, an 84-space parking lot, and a vendor building with glass storefronts. It also will incorporate landscaped greenspace, a chemical-free snow melt system, and a living green wall along the existing retaining wall.

“I want to make sure the surrounding Black community remains engaged in this project,” Collins said. “We’ve been waiting more than a decade for this station, and members of the community need to be kept informed and given the opportunity to express ideas, opinions, and concerns.”

The new station will provide a direct rail link to downtown Chicago as well as the southwest suburbs, supporting economic development and creating construction jobs while it is built.

Empty desksCHICAGO – Illinois schools will be required to develop and communicate their truancy policies to families on a yearly basis under legislation by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) that was signed into law today.

“When it comes to chronic absences, we tend to just see the empty desk. The truth is that we need to see the student and the challenges they may face with transportation, family illness, mental health difficulties or disabilities,” said Collins. “This ensures that families are being informed of absence policies that are consistent and are applied consistently. I thank Gov. Pritzker for signing this into law.”

Chronic truancy — when a student misses more than 5% of the school year — has increased in Illinois since 2015, when about 9% of students were considered chronically truant. As many as 13.4% are chronically truant currently. Senate Bill 605 requires schools to develop a truancy and chronic absence policy each year and report it to families, including information on chronic truancy.

The legislation takes effect July 1, 2022.

800px Telemedicine ConsultCHICAGO – Insurers will be required to inform policyholders whether health care providers offer telehealth or telemedicine and how they’ll accommodate a family caregiver under a new law signed by Gov. Pritzker today, the result of legislation by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago).

“The shift to telehealth during the pandemic has actually been something of an upside for patients who struggle with mobility challenges or a lack of ready access to transportation,” Collins said. “This law acknowledges that this is a new normal, and that patients need to be informed of their options as they determine their coverage. I want to thank Gov. Pritzker for signing this into law today.”

Senate Bill 332 also requires insurance providers to detail whether a health care provider has the ability and willingness to include a family caregiver who is in a different location than the patient in a telehealth or telemedicine encounter.

The legislation is effective immediately.

001collinsCHICAGO– State Senator Jacqueline Collins was honored Thursday evening with Woodstock Institute’s Scheinfeld Award for her work to protect consumers, promote economic opportunity and advance financial justice.

The Institute recognized Collins for her efforts to pass the new historic Illinois Community Reinvestment Act and the Predatory Loan Prevention Act this past year. Both pieces of legislation, the result of years of research by Woodstock and advocacy on Collins’ part, were included in reforms contained in the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ Economic Equity Pillar.  They were signed into law earlier this year.

“I accept this award with gratitude, not just for the Woodstock Institute’s years-long partnership in fighting against these racist policies and practices, but with humility in light of the work we still have to do together to bring a true end to discriminatory and predatory lending,” Collins said. “I am honored to be recognized.”

The Predatory Loan Prevention Act puts Illinois in the same regulatory stance toward payday, auto title, and other small installment loans as 17 other states and the District of Columbia, capping the rates at 36% that lenders can charge borrowers. The Community Reinvestment Act, among other things, mandates greater efforts on the part of the State of Illinois to invest in businesses and financial institutions that can demonstrate a commitment to fairer lending practices.

Named for Aaron and Sylvia Scheinfeld, who in 1973 founded the nonprofit Woodstock Institute to fight on behalf of those suffering from the policies that have fueled economic segregation, the Scheinfeld Award is bestowed upon those with a long-term and visionary commitment to financial justice. Prior to Senator Collins, the last Scheinfeld Award winner was Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in 2013.

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