haiti earthquakeCHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) released the following statement about the refugee crisis confronting the people of Haiti:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’

“Do the inscribed words of poet Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty have any meaning for the thousands of our Haitian brothers and sisters seeking shelter in this country, or even an opportunity for asylum?

“Are they not the tired, having endured devastating earthquakes and tropical storms that have left thousands homeless, injured or missing?

“Are they not the poor, being the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, partly due to the 150 million francs ($21 billion) the country was forced to pay France in ‘reparations’ after Haiti’s slave rebellion defeated Napoleon forces in 1804 and gained independence?

“Are they not ‘your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ of the political turmoil in the aftermath of President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination, the recurring gang violence and government instability?

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CollinsEOSState Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) continued her push to represent the 16th District during the 2021 spring session, and to ensure that all Illinoisans have a seat at the table, whether in the classroom, at the doctor, in the housing market, or in access to financial institutions.

As part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ economic pillar, Collins successfully pushed for the inclusion of the Predatory Loan Prevention Act and a new Illinois Community Reinvestment Act within Senate Bill 1792. The PLPA, containing language Collins developed, caps the allowable interest rates on certain types of loans and ensures Illinois joins more than a dozen other states that have more tightly restricted such financial products.

Senator Collins has spearheaded efforts to rein in the excesses of payday loans and has called for the rate cap for years.

“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 as the governor signed Senate Bill 1792 into law in March. “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.”

Senator Collins also stood up on behalf of women and people of color in her push to expunge felony prostitution convictions through Senate Bill 2136. Felony prostitution charges can be a significant barrier to finding housing or gainful employment, which only adds further injury to sex workers. Felony prostitution charges were ended in Illinois in 2013, but
those with such convictions are
still subject to all the penalties that come with a felony record. The legislation will also remove a drug testing requirement for those seeking to seal records of their felony drug convictions.

Collins’ anti-human trafficking legislation – found within Senate Bill 1599 – focused on reinstating the Human Trafficking Task Force to study the means of fighting such crimes in Illinois, and she also advanced Senate Bill 1600 to require more employees in industries adjacent to trafficking be trained in how to spot it. Another measure, House Bill 588, also requires more prominent placement of human trafficking information in establishments where trafficking occurs, such as truck stops and transportation hubs.

Collins also continued her record of fighting for schoolchildren with Senate Bill 605, mandating clear and consistent annual truancy policies, and for the elderly, with Senate Bill 2137, directing nursing homes and long-term care facilities to explore the ways communications technology can potentially fight the social isolation so many seniors struggle with. As the legislative session came to a close, Collins turned her attention to the Metra station in Auburn Gresham, for which she passionately advocated for years, and which will soon begin the bidding process.

SB 2136CHICAGO – Felony prostitution charges, which have not existed in Illinois since 2013, will be expunged under a new law signed today, the result of legislation by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago).

“The fact we have stopped charging prostitution as a felony means nothing to those whose records continue to be hurt by these charges,” said Collins (D-Chicago). “I want to thank Gov. Pritzker for signing this legislation and moving us beyond a dynamic that only serves to harm sex workers and perpetuate a dangerous, exploitative environment for them.”

While prostitution has not been prosecuted as a felony in Illinois since 2013, those with such convictions are still subject to all the penalties that come with a felony record. Included in the law is another provision that also allows defendants whose convictions may cause consequences under federal immigration law to file for a post-conviction hearing.

“Our justice system must operate on the premise that a defendant is well-informed of their rights and the consequences of their choices. There have been numerous cases in which those who plead guilty are unaware of how it may affect their immigration status, and are not well-informed by their defenders,” Collins said. “This is a step toward rectifying that.”

The legislation, originally Senate Bill 2136, is effective immediately.

SB 2137CHICAGO — To fight the isolation that has only become worse for so many seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new law signed today requires virtual visitation options at long-term care facilities, the result of legislation by State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago).

“The past year of this pandemic has seen nursing home residents suffer beyond what we could have imagined. Many have lost their friends or caregivers, and have had to live in fear for their own health and safety. Nursing homes in communities of color have been especially hard hit," Collins said. “I thank Gov. Pritzker for signing this law and acknowledging that our duty to older adults is not just caring for their bodies, but their hearts.”

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will be required to take steps to connect residents virtually with family members, loved ones, and religious or recreational activities when in-person visits are prohibited or restricted due to federal or state guidance.

The law, pushed for by the AARP, comes in the wake of 2020 research that shows alarming effects associated with isolation and loneliness. Isolated seniors’ risk of developing dementia increases 50%, their risk of stroke increases 32%, and they experience a nearly fourfold increased risk of death among heart failure patients.

Under the legislation, facilities will be required to implement policies to fight social isolation of residents, including:

  • Virtual visitation would be considered in addition to existing in-person visitation policies.
  • Technology and assistive equipment may be funded through federal Civil Monetary Penalty Funds and/or other state and federal resources.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and the development of a resident's individualized visitation schedule would be included in a facility’s virtual visitation policy.

Facilities will also be permitted to train volunteers and staff to assist residents in virtual visitation, and a resident’s right to use personal devices would not change. Penalties for nursing homes not in compliance would go into effect in 2023.

The legislation is Senate Bill 2137.

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