As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis, we must lay the groundwork for a foundation all can stand on with policies to address and dismantle institutional barriers that limit opportunity. The Shriver Center on Poverty Law’s 2022 Illinois legislative agenda builds upon innovative and proven measures that not only address long-standing disparities but fuel opportunity and improve quality of lives. Our agenda is rooted in equity and establishing long-term supports for communities across the state. The Shriver Center champions these policies in the 2022 legislative session.
Supporting & Protecting Low-Wage Workers
We work to protect low-wage workers and ensure that all families can meet their basic needs.
- Expand the Earned Income Credit (EIC) (Rep. Ammons) – Black and Latino/a/x Illinoisans are overrepresented in low wage occupations, yet currently only 14 percent of all dollars spent on Illinois’ earned income tax credit go to Black filers, and 10 percent go to Latino/a/x filers. This bill would build on the success of the current program and advance racial equity by expanding eligibility to 18-24-year-old childless adults, adults over 65, all immigrants who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and create a caregiver credit, providing a tax cut for many low wage Black and Latino/a/x workers in Illinois.
- SB 835 Paid Family and Medical Leave (Sen. Villivalam / Rep. Harper) – High wage workers have greater access to paid leave than middle- and lower-wage workers. Only 13% of workers have access to paid maternity leave; and only 9% have access to paid paternity leave. This legislation would create a state-operated program to provide all workers with paid, job-guaranteed leave. Reasons for leave include a worker’s own illness, to care for an ill family member, domestic or sexual violence, pregnancy, to care for a new child in the household, a need arising out of an active-duty family member in the armed forces, and for COVID-19. Nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted paid family and medical leave laws.
Expanding Access to Health Coverage
Everyone deserves access to affordable, comprehensive, culturally appropriate health coverage, no matter their income, race, gender, or where they’re from.
- HB 4437 Healthy Illinois (Rep. Ramirez / Sen. Aquino) – Extends a Medicaid look-alike program eligibility to low-income Illinois residents aged 19-54 with household incomes up to 138% the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), regardless of immigration status. COVID-19 lays bare historic racial, ethnic, and income inequities in access to health care. Undocumented immigrants – millions of whom are serving on the frontlines as “essential workers” – face incredible barriers to health care, from uncertain coverage of testing and treatment to feat of immigration consequences. We cannot continue to accept health care disparities as normal and inevitable.
- As part of Protect Our Care Illinois (a coalition of over 120 organizations), we are calling on the Illinois General Assembly to include $40 million in the FY 2023 budget for the reinstatement of an Illinois community-based enrollment assister program. There are 900,000 uninsured Illinoisans who are eligible right now for healthcare through Medicaid or Marketplace coverage but may not know they are eligible and/or need help applying for coverage.
- SB 3136 The Reducing Medicaid Churn Act (Sen. Simmons / Rep. Harris) – Under continuous eligibility put in place due to the public health emergency, Medicaid applicants do not need to report changes in income throughout the year and retain coverage for a full year without sanction. This bill will make continuous eligibility permanent. Ongoing income reporting requirements for individuals with Medicaid coverage are burdensome on state staff and Medicaid participants. The bill also requires the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to request guidance from federal CMS on how to move those identified as homeless at the time of their Medicaid application and those without countable income into an automated redetermination process, referred to as “Ex Parte”. This bill will streamline the process and keep Medicaid participants insured.
Securing Stable Housing
Housing is fundamental to achieving economic stability, better health outcomes, and thriving families and communities.
- Sealing of Eviction Records – The Shriver Center and its partners advocated for the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act which was signed into law on May 17, 2021. The law seals eviction records and puts protections in place to prohibit tenant screening companies from disseminating the sealed eviction court record. An eviction record, even the mere filing of a case, has long-term consequences that can hamper a tenant’s ability to secure future housing. The law sunsets on August 1, 2022. This bill would extend the sunsets of sealing eviction records and the prohibition on the dissemination of sealed eviction records to August 1, 2024.
- HB 2775 Source of Income (SOI) (Rep. Ford / Sen. Villivalam) Many Illinoisans face housing discrimination that locks them out of opportunities due to the exclusion of source of income (SOI) protections. Landlords in areas without SOI protections can legally deny housing to individuals simply because they choose not to accept the applicant’s legal form of income, which includes emergency rental assistance, Housing Choice Vouchers, Emergency Housing Vouchers for those fleeing domestic violence and sex trafficking and non-wage income such as Social Security, retirement income, SSI, and TANF. This bill prohibits source of income discrimination and creates protections against evictions.
Reducing Harms in the Criminal Legal & Foster Systems
We work to end unreasonable and unjust policies within the criminal legal and foster systems.
- Mandatory Supervised Release (MSR) (Rep. Cassidy) – MSR is a term of community supervision that most people in Illinois serve after they are released from prison. However, MSR conditions and lengths of time create barriers to successful reentry which often leads to re-incarceration, especially for Black and Latino/a/x people. When conditions of MSR are imposed, they are often not tailored to the individual and often are so numerous and, at times, expensive that they are difficult to fulfill. These conditions are justified as a way to reintegrate people safely back into communities, but there is little evidence that the conditions do that; in fact, there is evidence to the contrary. MSR drives mass incarceration in Illinois and disproportionately impacts Black and Latino/a/x communities. This bill will reduce the restrictions and conditions placed on returning residents.
- Statewide Data on Educator Reporting to DCFS (Rep. Ammons) – Of all professions required by Illinois law to report concerns of child abuse or neglect, education personnel are one of the top sources of reports to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). To date, there is no centralized system in the education field that collects the number of allegations and reports made to DCFS by schools and districts across the state. This bill would require all schools to annually submit to the State Board of Education data on allegations and reports made to DCFS by personnel in schools, as another metric to assess the needs of students, families, and communities in Illinois.
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