Transformational Legislative Victories in Springfield

Thanks to the leadership of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and tireless advocates, the legislature passed transformational educational, criminal justice, and economic reforms in the waning hours of the 101st General Assembly. Of particular interest to the Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, are the following legislative proposals:
Carried by State Senator Kimberly Lightford and State Representative Carol Ammons, House Bill 2170 requires statewide kindergarten assessments to drive classroom instruction and measure students’ progress, acknowledges the impact of trauma on students’ learning, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, develops a framework for building restorative and trauma-informed schools, calls for the State to produce plans to tackle the inevitable learning loss stemming from the pandemic, establishes policies to address the underrepresentation of students of color in advanced high school classes, and mandates Illinois students learn about the “the history of the pre-enslavement of Black people from 3,000 BCE to AD 1619, the African slave trade, slavery in America, the study of the reasons why Black people came to be enslaved, the vestiges of slavery in this country, and the study of the American civil rights renaissance.” Special thanks to our partners at the Illinois Collaboration on Youth for their efforts in drafting this proposal and effectively advocating for its passage!
Written by advocates from the Coalition to End Money Bond, including our partners at the ACLU of Illinois, A Just Harvest, Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Chicago Community Bond Fund, Illinois Justice Project, and the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, and sponsored by State Senator Elgie Sims and State Representative Justin Slaughter, House Bill 3653 comprises 764 pages and promises a comprehensive array of criminal justice reforms, including the Pretrial Fairness Act, ending money bond in Illinois by 2023. 
On January 13th, both houses of the Illinois legislature passed the Employee Background Fairness Act, Senate Bill 1480, which would make employment discrimination based on a conviction record a civil rights violation under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Employee Background Fairness Act would also overhaul the troublesome background check process, which has long been one of the most difficult hurdles for those with prior convictions in securing employment, including for those assisted by the Moran Center’s Expungement & Sealing Help Desk.
The Public Housing Access Bill, Senate Bill 1980, championed by Senator Christopher Belt and State Representative Sonya Harper, creates new standards for the Public Housing Authorities of Illinois when going through their criminal background screening process. The proposal would reduce Housing Authorities’ abilities to use criminal records in considering housing applications and sets-up due process hearings for applicants to plead their cases if denied housing. This Act aims to alleviate the high rate of homelessness among people with prior convictions and reduce recidivism stemming from such disenfranchisement.
The Employee Background Fairness Act and Public Housing Access Bill passed the Illinois General Assembly because of the tenacity of the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois, including our close partners at Cabrini Green Legal Aid.
We now urge Governor Pritzker to sign House Bill 2170, House Bill 3653, Senate Bill 1480, and Senate Bill 1980 into law to repair historic institutional injustices that have disproportionately impacted Black and Brown Illinoisans for generations. This is justice, and justice changes everything!