05092017CM0249 mStarting in January of 2018 Illinois will have additional safeguards against hate crimes under a new law sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago).

The governor signed House Bill 2390 on Tuesday, which expands the definition of a hate crime to include transgressions that are committed on the grounds of a place associated with a particular religion, not just inside a church, synagogue or place of worship.

“This legislation is designed to send a strong message that we will not tolerate hate crimes in Illinois,” Steans said. “Individuals who deface the grounds of a religious facility will now be held accountable for their actions.”

The law removes the $1,000 restitution cap and allows courts to impose fines that are commensurate with any injury or damages caused. Courts also will have the discretion to award punitive damages. In addition, parents and legal guardians now will be held liable for any damages caused by a minor under the law.

“With recent events in Charlottesville and across the nation, now more than ever it is important to cement the rights and protections of religious organizations into law,” Steans said.

Senator Steans presenting legislationUnder a new law sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago), social service providers will have at least 30 days’ notice of a change in contracts with the state.

House Bill 3110 allows authorized social service providers and the state to terminate, suspend or reduce a contract for any reason as long as the other party is provided with 30 days’ notice.

“Immediate contract changes can create an immense financial hardship for social service providers and those they serve,” Steans said. “In the aftermath of the budget impasse, I felt it was important to increase protections for social service contracts and afford providers with more notice so that they can better prepare for financial changes in the future.”

House Bill 3110 also requires state agencies to provide 45 days’ written notice to the governor and legislative leaders if it intends to change a contract because of either a reduction of funds or a failure of appropriation.

“This gives the legislature time to act to prevent reductions of services if they so choose,” Steans said.

This legislation only applies to non-governmental social service providers. It takes effect immediately.

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement on the Senate’s action to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1:

Senator Steans on the Senate floor“The governor attempted to remove equity for Chicago from Senate Bill 1 in his amendatory veto and force Chicago Public Schools’ students to pay for a pension problem they did not create. To be truly equitable, school funding reform must recognize the fact that Chicago is the only school district in the state that is responsible for its own pension payments. Senate Bill 1 corrects this inequality and provides pension parity for Chicago Public Schools.

“Today I voted with my colleagues in the Senate to override the governor’s veto and bring Illinois students—both in Chicago and throughout the state—one step closer to a fair school funding formula for the first time in decades. It is time for all Illinois students to have access to a quality education, regardless of where they live.”

SSenator Steans hears testimony in committeePRINGFIELD – Students will be shortchanged of educational resources and opportunities beyond the classroom under Gov. Bruce Rauner’s rewrite of a landmark school funding reform measure which forces tens of thousands of Chicago children to pay for a pension problem they did not create. Today, the governor issued an amendatory veto on Senate Bill 1 to remove equity for Chicago Public Schools.

“Illinois has treated CPS students unfairly for decades because lawmakers have been reluctant to change a flawed school funding formula that rewards affluent communities and punishes those with high concentration of poverty and lower property wealth,” Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) said.

“Gov. Rauner had the opportunity to correct this injustice and enact fair school funding that benefits all students in Illinois. I’m disappointed that today he instead chose to put politics and divisive rhetoric before the needs of Illinois school children.” 

Senate Bill 1, which passed in both houses of the Legislature on May 31, would enact an evidence-based school funding formula that prioritizes funding for school districts that are the least adequately funded. The model uses 27 evidence-based practices that are proven to enhance student achievement in the classroom.

Under Senate Bill 1, no school district would receive less funding than it did in Fiscal Year 2017. CPS would receive about $70 million to implement the evidence-based model.

Additionally, the state would cover normal pension costs for CPS as it does for every other school district in the state.

Though the governor claimed to agree with 90 percent of what’s in the legislation, he had vowed to issue an amendatory veto on Senate Bill 1 so that CPS would lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Students across Illinois should have access to a quality education, regardless of their ZIP code,” Steans said. “For too long, we’ve poured money into a broken system that has widened the achievement gap among students and perpetuated a system of winners and losers. It is shocking to me that a governor of Illinois would be willing to punish one group of students solely because he wants to score political points in another part of the state.”

CPS is the largest school district in Illinois and serves nearly 20 percent of all Illinois schoolchildren. More than 381,000 students attended CPS’ 652 schools last year. More than 80 percent of CPS students were considered economically disadvantaged, and more than 17 percent were English Language Learners.

The General Assembly now has the option of accepting or overriding the governor’s changes to Senate Bill 1.

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