001collinsSPRINGFIELD – In response to pervasive scandals that have undermined citizens’ trust in state government, State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) will call on the members of the General Assembly to impose mandatory recusal upon themselves in cases when they would need to vote on matters of personal financial interest.

“Before a single word of the Illinois Constitution was ever written, the faith of the people of Illinois in elected lawmakers was the basis of our democratic government,” Collins said. “That faith has been shaken in recent months, and to restore it we must show that there is a hard separation between our personal financial interests and the best decisions for the state. We can accomplish this by requiring lawmakers to recuse themselves in situations that involve a clear conflict of interest.”

Under Collins’ plan, lawmakers with a substantial financial interest in a business, investment, real property, lease or other enterprise – or who have an immediate family member with such an interest – must ask to be excused from voting on any matter involving it. The General Assembly’s Legislative Ethics Commission would have the power to slap violators with $1,000 fines.

“Transparency and accountability measures are good and necessary, but we must do more to prevent this kind of graft,” Collins said. “We do not merely ask corruption to forbear. We must demand it to yield.”

The legislation is Senate Bill 3339. It awaits consideration in the Senate.

001collinsAs Human Trafficking Awareness Month ends, Collins calls for more training for service workers

As an international transportation hub, Chicago is a major venue for one illicit industry: Human trafficking.

Targeting victims who often have tenuous legal status or are otherwise without resources, human trafficking often goes unreported unless concerned citizens discover it and act to inform the authorities. As Human Trafficking Awareness Month comes to a close, State Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) announced legislation that would expand awareness training to include more types of service jobs in Illinois, giving employees the tools to spot and report human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is industrialized kidnapping and modern-day slavery,” Collins said. “By expanding this training program, we are empowering more citizens to know when and how to step forward and do the right thing. These crimes against humanity are hiding in plain sight here in Illinois, and we must all be vigilant.”

In Illinois, the Department of Human Services is developing training on how to spot the signs of human trafficking and report them to authorities. Once developed, employers in the hotel and motel industries will be required to periodically provide the training to employees. Collins’ legislation would expand that training requirement to include restaurants and truck stops as well.

“This is especially urgent at a time when Illinois has committed to expanding gambling, which promotes the sort of travel and rise in entertainment and hospitality that can create the conditions that human traffickers seek to exploit,” Collins said. “By doing this, we’re giving working people the power to fight crime that enslaves people and undercuts law-abiding business.”

Collins’ legislation has been drafted and awaits consideration in the Illinois Senate.

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.

1962 MetraAuburn Aerial Render 0822 004

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

Read more: Collins secures funding for new Metra station, construction set to begin

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.

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