2018 End of Session Update 2: Will's Bills

Dear Neighbors,

I hope this note finds you well.

Earlier in the week, I wrote about the progress on the state budget. If you missed that email, find it here.

Today I'd like to tell you about some legislation I introduced this year and where it went.

One of my top priorities was an expansion of the Illinois Human Rights Act, the law that prevents discrimination in the workplace. Ready for a shock? Right now, the Human Rights Act only applies to businesses with 15 or more people. That means in most of Illinois, it's perfectly legal to discriminate on the basis of gender, age, religion, etc. as long as you have fewer than 15 employees.

Chicago passed a local human rights ordinance that covers all employers, but I believe those protections should apply to every employee in every part of Illinois. Workplace discrimination should be illegal everywhere. That's why I introduced HB 4572, which does exactly that: applies the Human Rights Act to all employers regardless of size.

I'm happy to report that the bill passed the House and the Senate, and is now awaiting the Governor's signature. Our friends at Equality Illinois made a form you can use to urge Gov. Rauner to sign the bill.

I also worked on legislation to allow qualified Illinoisans to receive professional licenses regardless of their immigration status. This will encourage our DACA recipients, green card holders, and others who have work authorization to seek out jobs in every field from medicine to social work to hair styling. The doors of opportunity should be open to everyone regardless of their status. This bill, SB 3109, also passed both houses and will head to the Governor's desk soon.

A few other pieces of legislation I introduced have passed as well. One bill will allow graduate research assistants to join a union. Another will work to reduce class sizes in public schools. Others will allow foster youth to receive birth certificates without a fee, allow farmers to sell canned tomatoes at market, and allow craft brewers to sell cider on tap.

One disappointing note: my "PHARMABRO Act," which I've written you about before, passed in the House but died in the Senate. The bill would keep drug companies from price gouging on essential generic and off-patent drugs. Unfortunately, the industry lobbyists were powerful enough to shut the bill down. But don't worry: I'm headed to DC next week for a conference to meet with some national advocates on the issue, and we'll be back next year to give it another shot!

We'll send one final update soon; meanwhile, don't forget about our town hall meeting on Wednesday, July 11th! Click here to RSVP.

All best,

-Will