SPRINGFIELD – Governor JB Pritzker on Tuesday signed a package of four bills that formed the “economic access, equity and opportunity” pillar of the Illinois black legislative caucus.
Speaking at a bill signing ceremony at Union Baptist Church in Springfield, Pritzker said the legislative package would go a long way in tackling the damage caused by “systemic racism” that has held back people from color to fully access employment, housing, public markets and credit.
“Together, these four bills mark significant progress in our efforts to bridge racial gaps and remove barriers that have unfairly held black and brown Illinois at too long,” he said. “While there is still work to be done, we are a better state at what is in this legislation today.”
Pritzker was joined at the press conference by Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, several members of the Black Caucus and others who helped set the ILBC agenda.
The four bills were all passed during the Lame Duck session of the General Assembly in January. Among them was Senate Bill 1480, which restricts the ability of employers to use a person’s criminal history to make hiring decisions.
“Because of this new law, an employer should never again refuse to hire someone on the basis of a criminal conviction if that conviction has nothing to do with this type of job sought,” Representative Sonya Harper Bill’s principal sponsor in the House, D-Chicago, said at the ceremony.
Senate Bill 1608 was also included in the bill, which raises the target for state contracting with minority-owned businesses to 30% instead of 20%. It also creates a new Equity and Inclusion Commission within the Department of Central Management Services, responsible for monitoring and making recommendations to enforce diversity requirements in public procurement.
Charles Harrell, chairman and chief executive of Information Technology Architect Corp., a Chicago-based black-owned IT company, said stricter enforcement of these rules has been lacking for years.
“While state agencies have frequently touted the number of suppliers they have granted certification to, they have struggled to meet its obligation to create a fair atmosphere for certified suppliers to participate fairly after awarding a certification. contract, ”he said.
The new law also creates the Illinois Community Reinvestment Act, which sets new standards for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to review low and moderate income loans from state chartered banks, credit unions and non-bank mortgage lenders.
Another bill that was part of the bundle was the Senate Bill 1792, which, among other things, caps the effective interest rate that lenders can charge on payday loans and other consumer loans from small amount at 36%, the same limit that applies under federal law. loans to active service members.
“Over the years, the black community and low-income communities have experienced patterns of discrimination in housing, education, health care and economic opportunities and access,” said Senator Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, co-sponsor of this bill. “There is no better example of systemic racism than this practice by some in the lending industry. Predatory loans have been responsible for the widening racial wealth gap. “
The final bill in the package was the Senate Bill of 1980, which prohibits public housing authorities from considering a person’s criminal history in deciding whether to rent or rent housing to an applicant, unless than federal law requires.
“Everyone deserves a place to lay their heads at night without the shame of their past following them,” Josephine Horace-Jackson, a member of the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois, said in a statement released by the office. of the governor. “Improving access to public housing is a vital step in ending homelessness and ensuring that those formerly incarcerated have a fair chance for a better future.
Capitol News Illinois is a non-profit, non-partisan news service covering state government and distributed to over 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.