Senator Steans

March 3, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

Gov. Bruce Rauner sank to a new low this week, and he took the state’s latest hope for a budget deal with him.

 

For unclear reasons, the governor chose to interfere in Senate negotiations on the much-anticipated grand bargain, a package of bipartisan measures designed to cut costs, reform state government and generate revenue. Some of the proposals reflected Democratic priorities, others reflected Republican priorities. And some contained proposals that directly reflected priorities set forth in the governor’s agenda, such as workers compensation reform, pension reform and a property tax freeze.

 

Even the governor’s own budget proposal – unbalanced by at least $4.6 billion – was counting on the all-or-nothing comprehensive Senate deal. For weeks, the governor publicly encouraged the Senate to continue negotiating the grand bargain and vowed he would not interfere with our efforts.

 

But on Wednesday, as senators prepared to take votes on some of the more difficult issues in the package, the governor apparently no longer could sit idly by, choosing instead to intimidate Republicans into withdrawing their support for the deal.

 

His interference effectively killed a bipartisan compromise that had been in the works for months and could have helped resolve the state’s crippling two-year budget stalemate.

 

In my work as a state lawmaker, I rarely have felt as frustrated as I felt Wednesday when the rug was pulled out from under me and everyone else who had worked so hard on this deal and had negotiated in good faith.

 

Gov. Rauner refuses to present a balanced budget – even though the Illinois Constitution requires him to do so – and he killed the Senate’s effort to achieve one. That doesn’t sound like a governor whose number one priority is to end the budget stalemate.

 

In spite of those challenges, my colleagues and I in the Senate are committed to ending the budget stalemate. Expect to see this issue receive even more attention in the coming weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or online with any questions or concerns.

 

 Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

 

Fighting for direct support personnel

 

My legislation to increase wages for direct support personnel made it out of committee this week.

 

Senate Bill 955 would raise hourly starting wages to $15 from $9.30 for front-line workers paid by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

 

Direct support professionals have mentally, physically and emotionally taxing jobs and provide a great service to our communities. Many of them have struggled financially because they have not been paid a living wage for far too long. The starting wage has not been raised in nearly a decade.

 

Illinois direct support personnel receive some of the lowest wages in the nation for this type of work. Low starting wages has made attracting and retaining qualified staff challenging, leading to high vacancy rates and challenges providing quality care.

 

Get more involved in state government

 

Keeping track of what’s happening in Springfield can be difficult. Let me help make it easier to follow by sending you a list of noteworthy legislation that will be heard in committees that week.

 

 If you are interested in receiving this kind of update, please sign up here.

 

Upcoming Events

 

Indivisible Elected Official Panel and Workshop

Indivisible Illinois will meet Monday, March 6 at 6 p.m. (doors open at 5:45 p.m.) at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster Street, Evanston, IL 60201, for an update on federal and state issues and an activist workshop.

 

I will speak alongside Congresswoman Jan Schakowksy, Congressman Mike Quigley, State Senator Daniel Biss and State Representative Kelly Cassidy.

 

Indivisible Illinois empowers local progressive groups by uniting and amplifying voices through networks, resources, and public platforms in pursuit of liberty and justice for all. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP here by Saturday, March 4.

 

Know Your Rights

Please join me Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m. for an information session about the rights of individuals when confronted by immigration authorities. I will be joined by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Alderman Joe Moore, State Representative Kelly Cassidy and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.

 

The presentation will be conducted by the National Immigrant Justice Center, the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Centro Romero, the Syrian Community Network and Northside Community Resources.

 

The event will be in the Gale School Auditorium, 1631 W. Jonquil. It is free and open to the public. Simultaneous interpretation in Spanish and Arabic will be provided.

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

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Senator Steans

February 27, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

Following the presidential election, I have heard from many of you that you’d like to get more involved in state government and the legislative process. I am excited that so many of you are interested in local government and have reached out to me for more information.

 

Based on these inquiries, I’ve decided to create an update that I will send out prior to most weeks that the Senate is in session. These updates will provide information on noteworthy legislation that will be heard in committee that week and let you know when and where the hearings will take place. If you are interested in receiving this kind of update, please sign up here.

 

I have also included information on how to fill out and submit a witness slip below. Witness slips are a way to voice your support or opposition for a particular piece of legislation. Before legislation is heard in committee, citizens can submit witness slips to register their opinions.

 

If you are interested in tracking legislation beyond its hearing in a committee, you can sign up for a free bill tracking tool on www.ilga.gov. You can build queries based on which committees the legislation moves through and follow it as it is debated, voted on and passed to the other chamber. To sign up, click the “My Legislation” tab on www.ilga.gov.

 

Again, click here to sign up to receive more frequent updates on important Senate legislation that will be heard in committee.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or online with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

 

How to submit a witness slip

 

1. The first step is to identify which legislation you are interested in supporting or opposing, then finding out which committee will hear it. You can do that by going to www.ilga.gov and searching for the Senate or House bill.

 

2. Once you have determined which committee will consider the legislation, go back to the homepage of www.ilga.gov and click “GA Dashboard” under “Reports and Inquiry” in the middle column.

 

3. Click on House or Senate in the left-hand sidebar, depending on which type of legislation it is, and then click “Committee Hearings” in the dropdown menu.

 

4. If you wish to submit a witness slip for legislation that will be heard in committee that week, click the “Week” tab. If it will be heard later in the month, click the “Month” tab.

 

5. A list of all committees occurring that week or month will appear. Find the committee for the legislation that interests you. In the far right column, click the icon that looks like a piece of paper with the corner turned up.

 

6. You will be taken to a page that shows all legislation that will be heard in that committee. To submit your own witness slip, click “Create Witness Slip” in the right column of the legislation that interests you.

 

7. You will be asked to enter your information, the names of the groups or firms you represent and your position (support or oppose) on the legislation.

 

8. The last question asks what type of testimony you’d like to submit. The most common is “Record of Appearance Only,” which means you would like to register your support or opposition. During the hearing, the chairman or chairwoman will read how many people support and oppose a piece of legislation. If you are interested in presenting oral testimony in person at the committee hearing, click oral. If you are unable to attend the hearing but would like to submit a written statement, click “Written Statement Filed.” It is your responsibility to get a copy of your written statement to the chairman or chairwoman of that committee.

 

9. Once you have completed the required information, click “Create (Slip)” at the bottom of the page.

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

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Senator Steans

February 14, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

Illinois has been without a budget for almost two years now. Social service agencies are closing their doors, students are looking outside of Illinois to pursue higher education and our backlog of bills has reached over $11 billion.

 

The governor's constitutional requirementUnder the Illinois Constitution, the governor is required to submit a balanced budget to the General Assembly, something that he has failed to do two years in a row.

 

In his first year in office, the governor presented a budget that used accounting tricks and relied on false savings to appear balanced when it wasn’t truly. Last year, his budget proposal included a $3.5 billion deficit that he planned to finance by either forcing the General Assembly to enact elements of his turnaround agenda in exchange for increasing revenue or by broadly cutting services like K-12 funding, local government and other statutory transfers and lowering rates paid to providers.

 

We have already set a new record for the longest a state in the U.S. to go without a budget. While Illinois residents and businesses are suffering, how much further will Gov. Rauner go?

 

I hope that the governor will fulfill his constitutional obligation to present a balanced budget tomorrow in his budget address.

 

I have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a way to end this impasse and provide the state with financial stability. I will continue to push forward to create a balanced budget.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or online with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

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Senator Steans

February 3, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

Welcome Asylum Seekers and RefugeesLike many of you, I have been deeply disturbed by the president’s decision to halt refugees from entering our country and to ban immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

 

Given the fluidity of the situation, I’ve included the latest update on the ban and information on organizations that are helping refugees and immigrants below.

 

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last Friday banning refugees from entering the United States for 120 days and barring Syrian refugees indefinitely. Immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries are barred from entering the United States for 90 days.

 

We are all immigrantsAlthough the White House has touted this executive order as a way to protect the nation from terrorists, experts have stated that this immigration ban is unlikely to reduce the threat of terrorism in the United States.

 

 

The president’s actions are being challenged in court. A federal judge blocked part of the executive order that would have allowed the government to deport refugees and immigrants who had arrived in the United States. Four states have filed lawsuits against the Trump administration to stop enforcement of the ban, and 16 attorneys general have issued a statement vowing to fight the president’s ban.

 

The White House has changed its stance on green card holders. Initially officials said that green card holders from the seven banned countries would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine if they could re-enter the country. The White House reversed that decision, stating that the travel ban does not affect green card holders but that border agents could detain and question travelers from certain countries.

 

I am committed to doing what I can to help the immigrants and refugees affected by the president’s ban. I will support our federal leaders and do what I can to ensure that Illinois remains an immigrant-friendly state. I encourage those of you who are able to lend a helping hand. Together, we can overcome this moral test.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or online with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

 

Volunteer as a lawyer or translator at O’Hare

 

Lawyers and interpreters are needed at O’Hare International Airport to help those affected by the travel ban. Sign up for volunteer shifts at this link. The group is stationed in Terminal 5 across from a McDonald’s. This article contains more information on some of the lawyers and interpreters volunteering at O’Hare, including several from District 7.

 

Organizations assisting refugees and immigrants

 

  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)
    ICIRR is “dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society.” It partners with organizations to educate immigrant and refugee communities about their rights and to promote civic participation and citizenship.

  • World Relief
    World Relief partners “with local churches to end the cycle of suffering, transforming lives and building sustainable communities.” Its initiatives range from refugee and immigration services to health and child development and disaster response.

  • National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)
    NIJC is “dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.” It provides pro bono legal services to more than 10,000 people each year and obtains asylum for 90 percent of their cases.

  • Refugee One
    Refugee One’s mission statement is: “We create opportunity for refugees fleeing war, terror, and persecution to build new lives of safety, dignity, and self-reliance.” It is a refugee resettlement agency that provides a variety of services in the Chicago area.

  • Catholic Charities
    Catholic Charities assists refugees who have resettled in Chicago by offering a variety of services, including help securing housing, lessons on public transportation and enrollment in English classes.

  • Centro Romero
    A community-based organization that serves immigrants and refugees on the northeast side of Chicago. It offers youth programs, adult education, family services and legal services.

  • Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago
    The Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago is committed to serving the cultural, psychological and socio-economic needs of refugees and immigrants. It assists in the promotion of personal growth, financial stability, positive family and community relations and community empowerment.

  • Iraqi Mutual Aid Society
    The Iraqi Mutual Aid Society fosters the well-being and self-sufficiency of Iraqi refugees and immigrants in the United States. It eases their transition to life in America, forges connections between Iraqi and American societ, and facilitates the preservation and exchange of Iraqi culture.

In addition, here is a link to the many social service organizations in our community that are dedicated to providing support and services to immigrants and refugees.

 

Federal Representatives

 

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky
5533 N. Broadway
773-506-7100

 

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley
3223 N. Sheffield Ave.
773-267-5926

 

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin
230 S. Dearborn St., Suite 3892
312-353-0150

 

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth
230 S. Dearborn St., Suite 3900
312-886-3506

 

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

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Contact Us

District Office
5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
Office: 773-769-1717
Fax: 773-769-6901

Springfield Office
623 Capitol Building
301 S. Second St.
Springfield, IL 62706
Office: 217-782-8492