As we rebuild and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis, we must continue to lay the groundwork for a foundation that all can stand on with policies to address and dismantle institutional barriers that limit opportunity. The Shriver Center’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.
Protecting Low-Wage Workers
We work to protect low-wage workers and ensure that all families can meet their basic needs.
- The pandemic has underscored the importance of being able to take time off work without fear of losing your job or income if you or someone in your family is sick or recovering from a serious illness. The Shriver Center is advocating for a paid leave policy that empowers workers, as well as job-guaranteed paid family and medical leave.
- While 450,000 Illinoisans recently lost federal unemployment benefits, several critical supports for low-wage workers and people experiencing poverty continue to be debated on Capitol Hill. The Shriver Center supports the following state policies that will put money into people’s pockets so that they can meet their basic needs. These include expanding the earned income tax credit to include populations not eligible for the credit- while also raising the size of the credit, raising the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash grant from 30 percent of the federal poverty level to 50 percent, and using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support direct cash assistance or other economic supports to the lowest income Illinoisans.
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.
- Despite coverage gains under the Affordable Care Act, 925,000 Illinoisans remain uninsured. The lowest income Illinois residents have the highest uninsured rates, and a disproportionate share are Black and Latino/a/x. The Shriver Center supports policies to reduce racial and ethnic disparities and ensure health coverage is affordable and accessible for all Illinoisans.
- Medicaid participants are required to report changes in their income within 10 days of a change to maintain coverage. Medicaid flexibilities put in place during the public health emergency allowed for continuous eligibility. Under continuous eligibility applicants do not need to report changes in income throughout the year and retain coverage for a full year without sanction. Once the public health emergency is lifted, current Medicaid flexibility will end. Ongoing income reporting requirements for individuals with Medicaid coverage are burdensome on state staff and Medicaid participants, especially for those who have employment that is short term, hourly, or inconsistent. We support legislation to make continuous eligibility permanent and policies that make applying and reapplying for Medicaid easier. This will streamline the process, lessen the administrative burden on the Department, and keep Medicaid participants insured.
Securing Stable Housing
Housing is fundamental to achieving economic stability, better health outcomes, and thriving families and communities.
- 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. We support legislation to permanently expand the sealing of eviction records and continue the prohibition on the dissemination of sealed eviction records.
- Many Illinoisans face housing discrimination that locks them out of opportunities due to the exclusion of source of income (SOI) protections. Currently, 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. We support legislation that prohibits source of income discrimination and creates protections against evictions.
Ending Unjust Practices in the Criminal Legal System
We work to end unreasonable and unjust policies within the criminal legal system.
- Mandatory supervised release (MSR), 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 reincarceration, 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. The Shriver Center advocates for a reentry system that provides support for formerly incarcerated people rather than surveillance.
- Ending the War on drugs: Drug use is a public health concern. Currently all drug possession offenses (except for cannabis) are classified as felonies – even if someone is found with mere residue. Felony prosecution and convictions for small-quantity drug possession is an ineffective deterrent of drug use, and the harm caused by current drug possession laws cannot be overstated. We support legislation that would reclassify small-quantity drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, bringing Illinois in line with 20 other states.
We can’t do this work without you. Here are ways to use your voice to help advance economic and racial justice in Illinois.