052314CM0795RSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7) hailed today’s signing of legislation she sponsored requiring school districts to adopt robust anti-bullying policies that protect and empower victims and address bullying behavior. Since 2007, public school districts and non-sectarian private schools have been required to prohibit bullying. Steans and House sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago 14) introduced their plan in order to nudge schools with boilerplate or poorly enforced policies to have community-wide conversations resulting in effective procedures for combating bullying.

“Every child deserves to be safe at school,” Steans said. “Bullying behavior harms both the victim and the bully, and every school should be taking steps to stop the cycle and promote the wellbeing of its students. Most schools already do this every day; this legislation makes sure we’re all moving in the same direction.”

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Senator Steans


Dear Neighbors,


While I do not believe this session was as productive as the previous few years, mostly because of continued uncertainty about taxation and the state budget, the General Assembly passed a number of legislative initiatives that will have a positive impact on quality of life in Illinois. Below, I’ve summarized the highlights of legislation I was involved in negotiating and supporting.


Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois


First, some bills that were my initiatives and passed both chambers include:



Ban on cosmetic microbeads (SB 2727):


Illinois is the first state to ban the production or sale of any personal cosmetic product containing microbeads — tiny plastic spheres that function as exfoliants and abrasives in products such as soaps, facial scrubs and toothpastes. Researchers have found that these microbeads accumulate in large quantities in bodies of water, including the Great Lakes where they can be ingested by fish. This bill prohibits manufacturing such products starting Dec. 31, 2017. The sale of these products will be illegal beginning Dec. 31, 2018 (Dec. 31, 2019, for toothpaste). The governor signed the bill earlier this month.


Bullying prevention (HB 5707):


Based on recommendations from the School Bullying Prevention Task Force, this legislation requires school districts, charter schools and non-sectarian private schools to strengthen their anti-bullying policies in order to provide a safe learning environment for all students. Schools must designate staff members to receive anonymous reports of bullying, make efforts to investigate reports within ten days, protect student privacy, prohibit retaliation and false accusations, establish the types of interventions used to address bullying and inform students and parents of bullying-related procedures. This bill awaits the Governor’s signature.


Strengthening constitutional protections for crime victims (HJRCA 1):


This resolution will allow voters to decide whether to add additional protections and a judicial enforcement mechanism to the Illinois Constitution’s Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. Both chambers have adopted the resolution, and the question will appear on voters’ ballots on Nov. 4. If approved, the amendment will require courts to hear and rule on a crime victim’s request for enforcement of any of his or her constitutional rights. It will also establish that judges must take into consideration the safety of the victim and the victim’s family members when fixing bail, determining whether to release a defendant and setting conditions of release. The passage of “Marsy’s Law,” named for a murder victim whose parents were kept uninformed during their daughter’s alleged killer’s trial, was a joint effort to achieve strong victim protections that do not compromise the criminal justice system’s duty to public safety.


Restoring Medicaid Benefits (SB741):


While the 2012 Medicaid reforms were fiscally necessary to preserve medical assistance and other human services in Illinois, it soon became clear that some benefit cuts were actually costing more by substituting expensive ER visits and hospital stays for cheaper preventive or maintenance care. After carefully monitoring the implementation of the reforms I worked with my colleagues this year to restore adult dental benefits, one of the services whose elimination did not prove cost-effective and was taking a toll on vulnerable populations. SB 741 lifted the four-prescription cap for children with complex medical needs and exempted anti-psychotic medications from the limit. It also incorporates agreements concerning hospital and nursing home rate reform, a four-year hospital finance plan and Medicaid managed care policy. This legislation has been signed into law and takes effect immediately.


Urban Flooding Awareness Act (SB 2966):


This measure requires the Department of Natural Resources, in consultation with multiple environmental and state agencies, to submit a report evaluating the latest available research, laws, regulations, policies, procedures and institutional knowledge concerning urban flooding. Especially in Chicago, flooding has worsened in recent years, and this is the first step toward a comprehensive, proactive response. The report is due June 30, 2015. SB 2966 awaits the Governor’s signature.


New educational assessments (SB 3412):


In 2010 Illinois established new learning standards. This legislation enables Illinois to create new tests that are aligned with these new standards. The bill reaffirms that existing principles of testing must remain in effect — it must be reliable, fair, unbiased and in compliance with national standards. It also creates a committee — made up of parents, educators, school board members and testing experts — to review the transition from the ISAT and PSAE to the new tests.


Juvenile Justice Ombudsman (SB 2352):


The newly created Office of the Independent Juvenile Ombudsman will investigate alleged violations of the rights of young people under the control of the Department of Juvenile Justice. He or she will monitor the services to youth, serve as a liaison with families, investigate and attempt to resolve complaints of poor treatment and report to the governor any cases of severe abuse or misconduct. The goal is to improve conditions for Illinois’ incarcerated youth following a high-profile lawsuit filed by the ACLU and others alleging inadequate educational and mental health services, excessive use of solitary confinement and a high rate of sexual assault. The measure has passed both houses and is under consideration by the Governor.


Medical care for homeless youth (HB 4501):


This legislation allows health care providers to treat juveniles under certain circumstances even when their parents or guardians are not available to give consent. The provision is designed to help medical professionals aid homeless and runaway youth who are unwilling or unable to return to their homes and obtain the consent of a parent or legal guardian before receiving treatment. It has been sent to the Governor for his signature.


Communication with long-term care residents (SB 798):


This legislation will allow the State Long Term Care Ombudsman — a position created by the long-term care reform act I sponsored in 2011 — to inspect nursing home facilities without restrictions. Representatives of the Ombudsman will be able to communicate privately with all residents who give their consent. This bill awaits the Governor’s signature.


Changes to the Charter of Rosehill Cemetery (SB 1047)


This legislation makes changes to the 1859 charter act of Rosehill Cemetery which was last amended in 1863. Trustees of the Cemetery Reserve Trust Fund are now able to invest funds in a manner constituent with modern investment, as well as modernize the election process for trustees ensuring the board is set up to better fund management in a manner that will promote fiscal responsibility. This bill has passed both chambers and has been sent to the Governor.


I sponsored the following legislation that has passed in the Senate but not yet in the House:


Equal Rights Amendment (SJRCA 75):


Four decades after Congress proposed the Equal Rights Amendment to the states for ratification, the Illinois Senate approved a resolution to add a ban on gender discrimination to the U.S. Constitution. If three-fifths of the House members agree, Illinois will become the 36th state to ratify the amendment, and only two more states need to reach the threshold for a new amendment to be incorporated into the federal Constitution. The Equal Rights Amendment reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”


Reduction in filing fees (SB 2776):


A limited liability company is a type of business structure that combines the tax advantages of a partnership with the liability protections of a corporation and is a popular choice for small businesses and start-ups. This legislation would encourage entrepreneurship by reducing Illinois’ filing fee for establishing an LLC to $39 — the lowest in the nation. Currently, Illinois assesses one of the highest fees in the nation at $500.


Finally, some significant measures I supported that were initiatives of my colleagues moved forward:


Minimum wage advisory referendum (HB 3814):


There will be an advisory referendum on the November 4, 2014, ballot to ask Illinois voters whether or not the state minimum wage should be raised to $10 per hour. This will be a non-binding referendum that would simply advise lawmakers as to voters’ opinions of a minimum wage increase.


Women’s health referendum (HB 5755):


This legislation will place a non-binding referendum on the November 4 ballot asking voters if they believe Illinois law should continue to require health insurance plans with prescription benefits to cover contraceptives. Federal cases, including the lawsuit filed by Hobby Lobby, could threaten women’s health care protections under the Affordable Care Act.


Protections for pregnant workers (HB 8):


This legislation requires employers to make reasonable accommodations that allow pregnant workers to stay on the job without jeopardizing their health or the health of their unborn children. It has passed both houses and awaits the Governor’s signature.


Please respond to this email or contact me at 773-769-1717 with any comments or questions that you may have.



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


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M120 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)




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