A bipartisan group of female state senators announced the creation of the Women’s Caucus today at a press conference in Springfield.

“We’ve seen throughout history that when women mobilize and claim their seat at the table, they break barriers and find solutions to the most stubborn of problems,” said Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago). “I expect this caucus will do the same for the women of Illinois.”

The caucus is being formed to promote and advance women’s issues within the legislature and to support female senators from both political parties.

“Women’s issues transcend party lines and extend far beyond the confines of a legislative chamber,” said Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles). “I pledge to work with Democrat and Republican women who serve in the Senate to advance legislation that support, empower and protect women of all ages and in all environments.”

Although sexual harassment in the workplace will continue to be an issue of focus for the caucus, the group hopes to become the leading voice on a range of issues facing women in Illinois. It also intends to offer support for women within the workplace, institutions of education and home.

“The Women’s Caucus brings together a diverse group of legislators from across the political spectrum,” State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) said. “We recognize the importance of being bipartisan so that Senate leadership will respect our efforts. We intend to be taken seriously.”

“Women in the Senate have worked well together for years,” said Senator Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry). “This newly formed caucus just takes us a step further to ensure that we are creating a voice for the women of this state and that we are dealing with the issues that impact them.”

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State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement on the Senate’s action to address the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield:

05042017CM0082“I strongly believe that as a legislative body we need to ensure that there is a safe process for individuals to report sexual harassment claims and that harassers are held accountable for their actions. While I think this legislation is a start, I am concerned that it sets up a reporting system that is overseen or hired by legislators, which may perpetuate an unsafe work environment where people are afraid to come forward. In the coming weeks, I think we need to examine best practices and what other states have done to determine if a special ombudsman position should be created to handle sexual harassment complaints. I intend to actively participate in trailer legislation to address this issue.”

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02162017CM0120State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to the governor’s decision to sign House Bill 40, which protects women’s reproductive rights:


“I am thrilled that the governor decided to honor his commitment and protect women’s reproductive rights in Illinois by signing House Bill 40. Under this legislation, women will have access to safe and legal abortion services regardless of their income, employer or changes at the federal level. This is a great step forward for women in Illinois that would not have been possible without the hard work of constituents and advocates.”

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Senator Steans on the Senate floorNow that legislation to protect women’s reproductive rights in Illinois has reached the governor’s desk, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) is calling on him to uphold his commitment to support House Bill 40.

“I am heartened by recent reports that the governor has stepped back from his threat to veto House Bill 40,” Steans said. “This is his opportunity to stand on the right side of history and send a strong message to women that Illinois will remain a state where you can legally exercise your right to choose.”

Up until today, the Senate had placed a parliamentary hold on House Bill 40 to allow the governor time to reconsider his threat to veto this legislation.

“House Bill 40 will provide women with the right to choose regardless of their income level, employer or any changes at the federal level,” Steans said. “Illinois has been a safe-haven where women can legally exercise their right to choose in the Midwest without anti-choice barriers. This legislation takes a big step forward to ensure that freedom continues. I hope the governor will honor the commitment he made as a candidate to support such legislation.”

The governor now has 60 days to take action on the legislation.

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