In our last TCGN issue, we provided you with a recap of the three major policy issues of this past legislative session: pensions, Medicaid, and the budget. This week we want to focus on some of the specific issues that didn’t pass during the spring session but might be dealt with during the November veto session. Take a look and of course, feel free to contact Laura Dean or Courtney Eccles with any questions!
Minimum Wage (SB1565):
PCG has been extremely active in the Raise Illinois’ Campaign which calls for an increase in the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $10.65 an hour over the course of three years. Each year thereafter the wage would be automatically adjusted to keep pace with the rising cost of living. The legislation passed out of the Senate Executive Committee but was never called for a full floor vote. Advocates who spoke with legislators were frequently told that this issue was just “too controversial” to vote on before the election. We remain hopeful that the Senate will call the bill during veto session. PCG will work with our partners over the summer to ensure there are enough votes. Contacting your state senator to let them know they should support an increased minimum wage would be incredibly helpful!
Fracking Regulations (SB3280):
This is the second year in a row that legislation to regulate high-volume hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) of natural gas did not pass both chambers. The Senate unanimously passed legislation that included some basic regulations for chemical disclosure, waste-water disposal and well casing standards. Environmental advocates were hopeful that a stronger bill would emerge in the House with the support of the Governor, the Attorney General, and Speaker Madigan. We worked diligently during the last hours of session but were unable to move a bill forward. Over the summer, advocates will work to create and negotiate a bill that contains comprehensive regulations that we can pass during the November veto session. Keep your eyes peeled for more information on this particular issue!
Comprehensive Sex-Education (HB3027):
While this legislation passed out of the Senate and out of committee in the House, it was never called for a vote on the floor. The bill would require any public school that chooses to offer sex ed to use a curriculum that is medically accurate, age appropriate, and comprehensive. It applies only to 6th through 12th graders and allows any parent to remove their child from the course for any reason. Furthermore school districts are allowed to choose with acceptable curriculum they want to use. Despite the straight-forward nature of the bill, there is still an immense amount of pushback from more conservative faith and secular groups. Like our other two initiatives, there is hope that this bill can be called for a vote during the veto session.
Criminal Record Sealing Bill (HB5723):
The last bill on our “veto session” list is focused on expanding the list class 2, 3, and 4 felonies for which a person can petition the courts to seal their records. Petitions are allowed four years after the individual’s release provided that the person has had no further contact with the criminal justice system. While this bill passed out of the House Criminal Law Committee, it was never called for a vote by the full house. We will continue to work with our allies over the summer, as well as the bill sponsor, to push for a fall vote. The sealing of non-violent offenses for individuals who have remained out of the system can make a significant difference to those seeking employment, housing, and a second chance.
As you can see, we’ve got our summer work cut out for us. Please consider “contacting your legislators“http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/515/getLocal.jsp and asking them to support these crucial pieces of legislation – and stay tuned for opportunities to join us in Springfield during the fall veto session. These are important issues and we’re ready to keep pushing forward!