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.

CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) joined Gov. JB Pritzker Tuesday as he signed the Predatory Loan Prevention Act, the culmination of years of work on the part of Collins and advocates to rein in the payday loan industry.

The legislation caps payday loan rates at 36%. Illinois will join 17 states and the District of Columbia in instituting such a cap.

“I was proud to stand as chief co-sponsor to this legislation,” Collins said. “Payday loans are targeted directly at communities of color and only reinforce the dynamics that keep poor families poor. I applaud Governor Pritzker’s action today and thank the people who have called for this long-overdue new law.”

Collins has spearheaded efforts to rein in the excesses of payday loans and has called for the rate cap for years. She successfully pushed for passage of the Predatory Loan Prevention Act as part of the raft of major economic reforms the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus proposed last summer.

“Just as it is with redlining, with bias in insurance rates, and with the ongoing disparity in home lending, this is not just about financial ethics. It’s about racial justice,” Collins said. “There is a growing understanding among Illinoisans that these financial systems target people of color and entrench racial poverty. When we have honest, hard conversations, we can topple barriers.”

The legislation was Senate Bill 1792 under the 101st General Assembly.

001collinsCHICAGO – In light of reports showing familiar disparities in ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts between Chicago’s well-to-do communities and majority-minority communities, State Senator Jacqueline Collins called on Gov. Pritzker Monday to focus resources on the same neighborhoods that are suffering from the highest rates of infection and death but are to date seeing the slowest rollout of the vaccines.

“When the pandemic began, we saw disparities in infections and deaths,” Collins said. “As it continued, we saw disparities in testing and care. Now, we are seeing disparities in reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. These disparities are literally killing us. I am calling on Gov. Pritzker to interrogate the reasons that the most affluent North Side ZIP codes are seeing such success in vaccination while impoverished communities like mine are struggling, even as we’re seeing the worst rates of spread. And I am calling on him to do something about it.”

A recent report from the Chicago Tribune showed vaccination rates in areas of the city such as the Magnificent Mile and Wicker Park have been relatively high, while rates in areas like Englewood have been much lower. Early data indicates white Chicagoans are twice as likely to receive the vaccine as other groups, the Tribune reported. The Associated Press also reports that the disparity is hardly unique to Chicago.

Another report out today shows the same neighborhoods that have dealt with long-term issues such as pollution are also struggling to get a place in line for vaccinations.

“The governor moved to rectify testing disparities in the Auburn Gresham area when we pointed them out, and now it is home to the city’s state-run, free testing site,” Collins said. “I am again calling on him to recognize that a more targeted effort is needed to immunize the communities where this virus has struck the hardest.”

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