SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) voted on several pieces of legislation today that would update Illinois’ outdated tax structure and allow the state to implement a fair tax.

Steans voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would delete language prohibiting a fair tax and allow Illinois to tax lower incomes at lower rates and higher incomes at higher rates.

“Rates of income inequality are the highest they have been since 1928, the year preceding the Great Depression,” Steans said. “While the gap between the wealthiest Illinoisans and working and middle-class families continues to grow, the tax rate for everyone stays the same. Updating our tax structure will give us the flexibility to enact a system that is fair for everyone.”

If the amendment passes the Illinois House with a three-fifths majority vote, it will be placed on the November 2020 ballot. If 60 percent of those voting on the question vote “yes,” the Constitution will be amended.

Steans also voted to approve legislation sponsored by Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) that sets rates for a fair tax, providing the constitutional amendment is approved.

Under Hutchinson’s plan, contained in Senate Bill 687, 97 percent of taxpayers would see either no change or a decrease in their tax rate. Only the top 3 percent of earners would pay more.

Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 1 and Senate Bill 687 passed the Senate today and now head to the House for consideration.

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Yesterday we welcomed guests at the Capitol for Illinois Muslim Action Day. Young people from across the state came to advocate for important issues for and beyond their community, and to learn about being involved in government policy. This annual event is organized by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Chicago (CIOGC). I was happy to meet Nour Abdelsalam from Chicago who is a senior at Islamic Foundation School.

At Islamic Foundation School, Nour was the vice president of National Honor Society and earned several awards from state and regional science fair based on her research. University of Illinois in Chicago bought her
research topic about the effects of microwave radiation on plants, bacteria, and fungus. She also participated in Students for Social Justice, Green Club and was part of the varsity soccer and volleyball teams. At Benedictine University, Nour plans to pursue a major in chemistry and a career in pharmacy. After undergrad, Nour plans to pursue her pharmacy program and attend pharmacy school at Midwestern University.

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04102019CM1053 rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) passed legislation out of the Senate yesterday that would update Illinois’ suicide prevention strategy.

Steans’ measure requires the Department of Public Health to strengthen efforts to prevent suicide in Illinois. In 2016, suicide caused more deaths than homicide, motor vehicle accidents and prevalent diseases like liver disease, hypertension and HIV.

“Each suicide death caused loved ones left behind to wonder if they could have done anything differently,” Steans said. “The state has lagged behind in this area.”

Steans’ measure requires the department, working with the Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance, to develop recommendations to prevent suicide using evidence based practices and promote any coordinating activity needed to implement them.
Suicide caused nearly 1,500 deaths in Illinois in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available.

In addition to lives lost, suicide has a significant economic impact on Illinois, with each suicide death resulting in more than $1 million in medical costs and work loss costs, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Senate Bill 1425 passed the Senate without opposition and now heads to the House for consideration.

SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers sponsoring legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in Illinois released part two of a market study today, this time focusing on policy recommendations and best practices for a prospective legal market.

The study, commissioned by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), makes recommendations about a prospective legal cannabis system in Illinois, suggests policy alternatives, advises on practices to be avoided and highlights regulatory goals.

It also highlighted the need for Illinois to articulate clearly what should be expected upon legalization and provide the groundwork for the governing body that will oversee the industry.

“It is important that we work together to establish a functional adult-use cannabis market,” said State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, the legislation’s House sponsor. “We’re crafting a governing body, establishing a timeline that works for everyone, and encouraging inter-agency cooperation to ensure that everyone is at the table.”

The study points out that the goal of any legal system should be to provide safe, regulated, consistent cannabis to consumers, while making restorative justice principles a priority, displacing illegal markets, decreasing problems related to substance abuse and maintaining public safety.

“It is important that the policy changes we enact reflect the needs of the people who have been unfairly incarcerated over the years,” said State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights). “If we are going to move in a positive direction, it is absolutely vital that we learn from our past and do our best to try and remedy the lingering effects our antiquated and harmful policies have had on neighborhoods and communities across the state.”

The study, performed by the consulting firm Freedman & Koski, noted that public policy requirements in laws and regulations can have an impact on attaining the right number and type of licensees capable of producing an adequate amount of cannabis in a cost effective, safe, and timely manner.

“One of our primary goals with creating a legal adult-use cannabis market is to begin righting the wrongs caused by prohibition,” Steans said. “Prohibition does not work. By legalizing adult-use cannabis, we hope to bring existing sales out of the illicit market, providing people with a safe, regulated product.”

The first part of the study, which was released earlier this month, showed that the demand from Illinois consumers would exceed what the state’s existing licensed growers could supply.

The first part of the study can be viewed here: Illinois_WP_DemSnap_022419.pdf.

The second part can be viewed here: 20190311_Illinois_WP_part2_Final.pdf

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