The dual pandemics of COVID-19 and the racist killings of Black men and women have laid bare the systemic racism and structural inequities Black, Latino/a/x, and communities of color are faced with daily. Relief from these crises must include systemic change centered on equity.
The moment is now to ensure immediate and long-term health, safety, and security for communities across Illinois.
The Shriver Center on Poverty Law recommends the following initiatives for consideration in an upcoming Illinois legislative session and inclusion in the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Agenda to address the pandemics facing our communities.
We’re advocating for laws and policies that will end unfair practices in the criminal legal system, ensure economic stability, and eliminate biases and injustices in the healthcare system.
End Unfair Practices in the Criminal Legal System
- HB 1115 – Limit Electronic Monitoring for People on Mandatory Supervised Release (Rep. Ammons / Sen. Peters) – Once people have served their prison time, they should be free. Every year in Illinois, thousands of people who have been released from prison after serving their time are immediately placed on electronic monitoring home detention by the Prisoner Review Board. Research shows that electronic monitors are disproportionately issued to Black people. Limiting the discretionary use of electronic monitoring could allow for scarce resources to be reallocated, and allow returning individuals to find employment, reconnect with family, contribute to their communities, and rebuild their lives.
- [PASSED] Pretrial Fairness Act (Sen. Peters / Rep. Slaughter) – The use of money bonds in the Illinois court system means that access to money becomes the deciding factor in determining whether someone remains in jail before the outcome of their case. This bill would reform the pretrial justice system for people accused of crimes to end the use of money bond. People should not stay in jail because they lack access to wealth. This bill will alleviate the financial burden money bonds put on families and accused people.
Ensure Economic Stability
- HB 2343 – Healthy Workplace Act (Rep. Gordon-Booth / Sen. Lightford) – About 1.5 million workers in Illinois do not have access to even a single paid sick day. Over three-fourths of low-wage workers do not have paid sick leave; Black, Latino/a/x people and women are overrepresented among low-wage workers relative to their share of the total number in the workforce. Too many low-wage workers go to work sick because they cannot afford to take unpaid leave, and fear losing their jobs if they do.
- The COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act (SB 3066, HA 4) (Rep. Ramirez, Rep. LaPointe, Sen. Peters, Sen. Villivalam) – In the face of the COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn, renters and homeowners need protection from losing their housing. The COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act addresses the housing crisis caused by the pandemic by creating protective measures for renters and homeowners. The bill protects tenants from the long-term consequences of eviction records, prevents eviction filings where the tenant is attempting to pay in good faith, extends the current statewide eviction moratorium, codifies certain provisions of the federally-funded emergency rental assistance program that will be administered by Illinois, and temporarily halts foreclosure proceedings for homeowners and small landlords. No one should fear losing their home, especially during a health pandemic.
- HB 5669 / SB 3429 Expands the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) (Rep. Welch / Sen. Steans) – The EITC helps over-taxed low-income workers in Illinois get a cost of living refund. By expanding the list of taxpayers eligible for the EITC to include caregivers, 18-24-year-old childless adults, adults over 65, students eligible for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, and all immigrants who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, this legislation builds on the success of the current program and expands racial equity. Black and Latino/a/x Illinoisans are overrepresented in low paid occupations that are not currently covered by the EITC. Currently, 14% of all dollars spent on EITC go to Black filers, and 10% of all dollars spent on Illinois’ EITC go to Latino/a/x filers. If this legislation is passed, 26% of new EITC dollars would go directly to Black filers, and 18% of the new EITC dollars would go directly to Latino/a/x filers.
Eliminate Biases and Injustices in the Healthcare System
- HB 4 – Doula Services (Rep. Greenwood) – This bill makes Doula services eligible for coverage under Medicaid. Doulas are non-medical professionals who focus on prenatal care, labor and delivery, and postpartum care. Doulas can help reduce the impacts of racism and racial bias in health care settings by providing individually tailored and client centered care and advocacy for pregnant and postpartum people through information, education, and physical, social, and emotional support.
- HB 5522 – Medical Implicit Bias Training (Rep. Welch) – This bill provides for implicit bias training for persons licensed under the Medical Practice Act, Nurse Practice Act, and Physician Assistant Act to address racial disparities in health care and the contributing factors of those disparities in health outcomes.
The Shriver Center is advocating on all fronts for systemic change. Sign our petition to support economic and racial justice in the face of COVID-19!
Contact Rudi Hancock, our Government Relations Liaison, for more information.