Springfield victories for racial justice!

Collaborating with Community Renewal Society of Greater Chicago and the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois, we won three legislative victories passing bills that will expand employment opportunities for people with criminal records wanting to turn their lives around -- jobs in schools, park districts, and health care are now open to them through HB4360, SB3005, and SB42. Passed with significant bipartisan support, these bills now sit on the Governor's desk. One bill in this cohort eliminating barriers to employment remains to be passed -- HB4515. These barriers affect people of color most particularly, as they are tossed into prison for non-violent offenses at a dangerously high rate of discrimination. Hard work in this impasse legislative year -- and we say, Yay!

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Illinois Fair Tax downed again!

After having the Fair Tax amendment die in the Illinois Senate at the end of 2015, it was introduced again as SJRCA1 and HJRCA8. These advisory proposals for a referendum on the November ballot to establish a graduated income tax structure for Illinois gained significant bipartisan support and momentum this legislative year, but legislative leaders failed to bring the proposals to the floor for a vote -- so it's wait til next year again -- or more likely two years from now when a November ballot will be available again. A fair and comparably low graduated income tax would generate enough revenue to balance the budget and reinstate the social service programs now being denied funds. These programs form a safety net under our most vulnerable families; without them now, many people are failing to maintain even the basic necessities of life. Funding these programs again is our most BASIC road to increased economic justice.

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Clean Jobs bill is still alive!

The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill has emerged as the only bill that can protect the consumers and the environment while creating an estimated 32,000 jobs annually. “The Illinois Clean Jobs bill has the most grassroots and legislative support of any energy-related bill pending in the General Assembly this year,” said state Sen. Don Harmon. “And the news for consumers and clean energy keeps getting better: the state’s leading watchdog for utility customers — Citizen’s Utility Board — found that the Illinois Clean Jobs bill will save people a total $1.6 billion by 2030.” The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will strengthen policies to ramp up renewable energy like wind and solar to 35 percent by 2030 and cut energy use through efficiency by 20 percent by 2025. This initiative, two years in legislative process is gaining significant bipartisan support and is likely to move to passage in the veto session in the fall. Ask your legislators to support SB1485 and HB2607. And if they do, say "Thank you!"

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Minimum wage is poverty wage -- let's lift these families up by raising the minimum wage

Victoria Bruton talks about what it takes to piece together a life on tipped minimum wage which has been frozen at $2.13/hour for more than 20 years.