Dear Neighbor,

It is an honor to have the responsibility to serve as your state senator. This month I have introduced several legislative measures designed to enhance the well-being of our district and the citizens of Illinois. Please allow me to share some of the initiatives we have taken to improve life in our state.

To learn more about my legislation, please visit the General Assembly website at or the Senate Democratic Caucus website at .


Black History Month:

This month commemorates the contributions that African Americans have made to American culture for centuries. This month we celebrate our freedom from unjust laws and discrimination early African Americans experienced. Thanks to their perseverance, we now have the opportunity to live and pursue our dreams more vigorously than ever before. Enjoying our freedoms exemplifies the respect we have for the efforts early African Americans made.

The social shift of African American representation in entertainment, government, and science has rapidly increased over the past century. Our rich history and traditions have transcended throughout our society, and are celebrated by many cultures today. Due to the contributions of past and current leaders, we continue toward a path of a better tomorrow for our families and friends.

The quest for freedom is not over. Unfortunately, many racial and social inequalities exist that need to be addressed for us to advance as a nation. I remain optimistic that this celebration will further encourage individuals to continue to work collectively towards a common goal of peace and equality.

Click Here to see a video of many state senators reflections on Black History Month.

Dedication of Dr. Martin Luther King Bridge:

As February is Black History Month, I believe that it is only fitting that we honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of our nation’s most instrumental figures in the fight for justice and racial equality. Paying homage to the beloved civil rights leader, I sponsored a resolution which designates the bridge located at 99th and 100th Streets and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Rosemoor and Roseland Heights as the "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge. Dr. King dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of the most disenfranchised and underserved Americans. It’s only right that we honor his name by placing it on the bridge connecting these two neighborhoods.

 Consumer Protection:

This month, I introduced legislation that will place a cap on excessive fees charged by businesses that cash checks and sell pre-paid debit cards (Senate Bill 2939 and Senate Bill 3752). Consumers who purchase pre-paid debit cards will benefit from my plan to reduce itemized fees and penalties which vary by card, but are often expensive. Also as many check-cashing merchants are breaking the law by charging excessive fees for cashing checks in the community, the legislation I submitted will require such merchants to register with the state regulator, making the merchant subject to fines up to $10,000 per violation.

 Tax Relief for Illinois Families:

A new law I supported will provide direct tax relief for working Illinoisans with an increase in the standard exemption as well as an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  The new law is a companion bill to Senate Bill 397, which contained many business incentives and small business tax relief measures. It was also recently signed by the governor.

The standard exemption will increased from the current $2,000 to $2,050 and future increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the most accurate measure of inflation.  Yearly increases in the standard exemption will ensure that it keeps up with the increase in the cost of goods and services.  In addition, law raises the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is raised from 5% to 7.5% in 2012 and again to 10% in 2013.  Currently, Illinois is tied for the nation’s second-smallest EITC state credit. The credit is claimed by over 900,000 Illinois families.

Fixing Cemetery Oversight:

During the previous General Assembly, we passed the historical Cemetery Oversight Act in response to a horrific tragedy that occurred at Burr Oak Cemetery in 2009, when at least 300 bodies were illegally dug up and discarded in a pile so that their gravesites could be resold. Thousands of other bodies buried at the cemetery, including infants, have not been accounted for by their survivors. Senate Bill 1830, which became law on February 6th 2012, reduces the amount of regulation on smaller not-for-profit cemeteries, which are usually family burial grounds or owned by churches. Cemeteries are financially modest enterprises with permanent maintenance and record-keeping obligations. By exempting some cemeteries from  many of the stronger requirements imposed by the COA, smaller cemeteries can continue to operate. The legislation also provides law enforcement with a procedure to handle human remains when found at a gravesite.

 Minimum Wage Increase:

This month, my colleagues and I are once again pushing Senate Bill 1565, a measure that ties the minimum wage to inflation. I am co-sponsoring this bill because minimum wage has not risen fast enough to meet the needs of many of our state’s citizens. Minimum wage was at its historic high in 1968, when it was $1.60 per hour, which is equal to $10.03 per hour today. The last time minimum wage was increased was 2006, when it was gradually raised from $7.50 to $8.25 per hour.

The bill would make slight increases over the next 4 years, making minimum wage $10.65 by 2014, and giving workers who earn tips, such as waiters and salon workers, the same wages as non-tipped workers. This legislation would also increase consumer spending and put more Illinoisans above the poverty line, reducing the need for government assistance and saving the state money.

I will keep you updated on the progress of this initiative in the months to come.

I am honored to represent the people of the 14th district and eager to continue to serve you during the upcoming session of the 97th General Assembly. Your opinions are always appreciated, and I urge you to contact my Chicago office (773-995-7748) or my Springfield office (217-782-1147) if you have any questions or concerns.

I appreciate any comments or questions you may have about the content of this e-newsletter. Please feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if there are any other issues you would like addressed. Thank you for taking the time to consider these important issues.

Category: Blog

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Contact Info

District Office
507 West 111th Street
Chicago, IL 60628
P. 773.995.7748
F. 773.995.9061

Springfield Office
108A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
P. 217.782.9573
F. 217.782.5340