The 2019 regular legislative session began in January with a strong sense of optimism and resolve. We got right to work on bold legislation to improve Illinois families’ lives, passing a $15 minimum wage. The momentum didn’t slow down from there. This session saw the passage of the most equity centric adult-use cannabis bill in the country, significant funding for our schools and universities, establishment of progressive income tax rates for approval by voters, ethics reform, and signing of the Reproductive Health Act.
My primary focus this session was to champion forward-looking legislation that will protect our families and our future. I was proud to be the primary sponsor of bills to expand access to higher education, promote job opportunities for underserved populations, defend our seniors from financial exploitation, and reform DCFS processes to ensure no child’s well-being is overlooked.
I was particularly inspired this year to be joined in the House by 11 new female Representatives, bringing the total number of women serving to 44. It is my mission to guide the next generation of female leaders and I was honored to serve as a mentor for this freshman class. The work that the newly formed Illinois Democratic Women’s Caucus did this year, including protecting women’s right to healthcare and fighting for pay equity, is evidence that, together, women get things done.
This session ended the way it started, with major legislation to move Illinois forward. We were able to pass a balanced budget with bipartisan support, fully fund our pension obligations, and put together the first capital bill in 10 years. I fought to make sure affordable housing, bike and walk lanes and public transportation, education, and maternal health equity were included in our capital and budget priorities.
While I am proud of the work we did to secure Illinois’s fiscal future, there is still work to be done to ensure future generations inherit a thriving state. In the 2020 election, a progressive income tax referendum will be on Illinois voters’ ballots. If it is approved with 60% or more of the vote, Illinois will be able to relieve our property tax burden, establish a more fair income tax structure, and make progress towards paying down debt.
I have heard from so many citizen advocates about the critical need to address gun safety and the climate crisis. While we took steps this year to address both issues, there is still work to be done. Next session we will revisit legislation to strengthen gun safety laws and fix loopholes. I have also been working this summer with stakeholders to refine the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which will move Illinois to 100% renewable energy sources by 2050, and hope to see it passed in veto session this fall.
A full list of bills I sponsored this session is here.