Metra station artist's renderingMetra representatives broke ground on a new train station at 79th Street and South Lowe Avenue this Monday morning after State Senator Jacqueline Collins successfully secured state funding for the facility.

Speaking during a groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site of the planned station in the northeastern part of the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, Collins said the station represents a new investment in the community.

“Today, I join with my neighbors, other elected officials and many civic leaders in looking forward with joy and hope to the construction and opening of the new station,” Collins said. “I sincerely believe that in years to come we will view this investment as a turning point in the renewal of this Southside neighborhood, whose flourishing will enrich us all.”

The facility at Auburn Park has been in the planning stages for years, with Metra originally seeking to fund it with proceeds from two state bond programs from 2009. However, that funding was held up in the state’s budget woes and then cut in 2017. Since funding was restored with Collins’ help, the state has released $20 million for the new station’s construction.

The project’s design phase is expected to be finished by the end of 2019, with bidding to begin in 2020.

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The image above is an artists's rendering of the proposed station. Senator Collins' full remarks are below:

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001collinsThe Illinois Treasurer will have more options to invest state money and accept deposit collateral on the state’s behalf under a new law, signed Friday, that State Senator Jacqueline Collins sponsored.

“At a time with anemic interest rates, when we are still recovering from a devastating governor’s administration that harmed finances, taxpayers deserve the assurance that we have every option available to act quickly to make smart, secure investments,” Collins said. “This removes burdensome regulations that require us to deposit money outside our own state, and increases options for those engaged in securities proceedings with the state of Illinois. It’s my belief that this empowers the Treasurer to act in the best interests of taxpayers.”

Senate Bill 1289 authorizes the Illinois Treasurer to hold securities in any bank or a depository trust company in the United States, altering current law that mandates they be held only in institutions based in New York. The legislation also adds to the classes of securities that the State Treasurer may accept as collateral for deposits that are not insured by the federal government. Further, it adds to and modifies the investments the State Treasurer may invest or reinvest in.

The new law is effective immediately.

State Senator Jacqueline Collins and State Rep. Mary Flowers issued the following statements today as Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law part of the legislative package aimed at reducing rising infant and maternal mortality rates:

“We brought this plan forward to fight against an environment where women’s concerns over their bodies and their children’s well-being are diminished or ignored, often in ways that can be deadly for women of color in particular,” Collins said. “When we see studies that show a college-educated black woman in a high-paying career is more likely to die as a consequence of childbirth than a white woman without a high school diploma, we have to act.”

“I want to thank the governor for signing House Bill 1 and Senator Collins for shepherding the bill through the Senate,” Flowers said. “For some reason, African American women in Illinois are dying at a rate six times greater than white women for doing something that should come naturally: giving birth. My committee on Health Care Access and Availability convened hearings in September and October of 2018 where testimony from care providers showed that they see disparities due to racism, chauvinism and misogyny, and that health care professionals often do not listen to or respect African American women when they talk about their health problems. Why are there more African American women dying from giving birth? House Bill 1’s purpose is to have a task force to investigate this racial disparity in death from childbirth.”

House Bill 1creates a Task Force on Infant and Maternal Mortality Among African Americans.

House Bill 2897 directs the Department of Public Health to seek federal grants for use in addressing the issue.

Four of the state’s public universities would automatically accept high school students in the top 10 percent of their class under legislation by State Senator Jacqueline Collins, which passed the Senate today.

House Bill 26starts a four-year pilot program in which Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western Illinois Universities admit any undergraduate admission application from a first-time freshman who has graduated high school in the top 10 percent of their graduating class. Students would also need to fulfill each university’s standard ACT or SAT requirements in order to qualify.

“More and more, the job market has shifted to a de facto requirement of at least a four-year college degree. For all job applicants who seek gainful employment with stable hours and benefits, it’s no longer about one’s K-12 education, but about one’s K-16 education,” Collins said. “It’s our hope that by extending this guarantee of admission to state universities which offer a variety of strong career-oriented colleges, we’re encouraging high school students to achieve and ensuring our highest-performing students have an inherent assurance of a college education.”

House Bill 26 must be approved by a concurrence vote in the Illinois House to pass the General Assembly.

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