Black Caucus Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference to highlight how the percent of state business going to minority contractors has fallen significantly under Gov. Bruce Rauner.
 
Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), who also chairs the joint Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, said: “For Rauner to act like he’s been a champion for our community after the last three years is appalling. Bruce Rauner talks about improving opportunities for minority-owned businesses, but the numbers tell a different story. Under Bruce Rauner’s administration, minority contracting requirements have been waived and the percent of state business going to minority businesses has actually plummeted.”

Records show that in January 2015, Gov. Rauner announced an executive order studying barriers in contracting for minority businesses. Then, in November 2015, the Rauner administration secretly waived minority participation requirements for a $94 million state contract.

Three years later, Gov. Rauner discussed another Executive Order to address these same issues. Members of the Senate and House said they felt this was a political move on the governor’s part.

“Rep. Will Davis and I have been working together on these issues for several years,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) “And, I can’t help but to question the governor’s intention on signing yet another Executive Order. In 2016, we established the Fair Practices in Contracting Task Force. Here we are two years later, conveniently when the governor’s running for re-election, he signs another order to address the same disparities—I’m tired of the political games.”

Read more: Black Caucus holds Bruce Rauner accountable for hurting minority contractors

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demilitarized policing  SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) is strongly urging the United States Congress to reduce, if not eliminate, the amount of military equipment provided to local law enforcement agencies. For the last 20 years, the United States government has used the 1996 National Defense Authorization Act to give local law enforcement agencies access to military equipment at no charge.

“Law enforcement agencies need to be held accountable and provide greater transparency around the flow of weapons into these departments,” said Hunter. “There is little transparency in which departments receive such equipment, and there is even less information provided to the public as to why local law enforcement may need such equipment.”

Militarized policing has deepened the divide between communities and police, reducing public trust in law enforcement officers. The federal government and the State of Illinois have failed to adequately provide reasonable long-lasting restrictions and oversight on the use of military grade weapons by police.

In 2015, then-President Barack H. Obama took steps to demilitarize local police by banning tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers and more. In 2017, President Trump rolled back the Obama-era demilitarization policies, thereby allowing law enforcement agencies access to military equipment, typically used for warfare.

“Over the past few years, we have seen this military grade equipment used in our own backyards —¬specifically on or against black and brown people,” Hunter said. “I have listened to the cries from my constituents as they begged for something to be done. We as legislators need to take the proper steps to ensure safety among all citizens no matter one’s geographical location or zip code.”

Hunter’s Resolution is set to be heard in the Senate State Government Committee.

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SPRINGFIELD – In response to the alarming report released by WBEZ, in 2017, which uncovered that Chicago Public Schools had been intentionally scaling back their special education funding and services, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) sponsored legislation to reexamine the school systems approach.

“Children with special needs should have the same opportunities regardless of race or socioeconomic background,” Hunter said. “It is our job as public officials and the mission of CPS to provide an opportunity for every student to reach his or her full potential academically.”

Senate Bill 3514 will require CPS principals and school personnel who are regular members of an individualized education program (IEP) team to determine special education staffing needs. The legislation aims to close disparities in education spending based on race and income. WBEZ found that schools with wealthier student populations spent the most per student while schools with mostly low-income students spent the least. Following the report, the State Board of Education appointed members to a Public Inquiry Team to examine CPS’s special education policy.

“Siphoning money away from special education programs and services to other programs is absolutely unfair to students with learning disabilities,” said Hunter. “We need to make sure that we have fully staffed schools designed to cultivate the talents of special needs students.”

Yesterday, the Public Inquiry Team released a second report which contained 43 findings of systemic problems that ultimately delay and deny special services to these students. One of the problems outlined in the report addresses CPS’s need to authorize individualized personnel teams.

Senate Bill 3514 passed the Senate 51-0 and now moves to the House for consideration.

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 After an increase in hospital visits during what was reported as an extremely harsh flu season, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) increased efforts to provide students and parents research and prevention materials regarding influenza.

“There was a very rapid increase in the number of people going to see their doctors or health care providers with flu related symptoms,” said Hunter. “We have to get in front of this issue by providing children and families the information they need to live healthy lives.”

Senate Bill 2654 requires the Illinois Department of Public Health to develop informational materials about influenza and flu vaccines for school districts. Additionally, school boards would be required to provide that information to parents when notifying them of other health related matters.

“Influenza is a dangerous illness that can have serious consequences, but people can take steps to protect themselves,” Hunter said. “We need to make sure no one ends up severely ill because they lacked information on preventative measures they can take.”

According to reports, there have been, a total of 114 pediatric deaths related to the flu; 30 deaths so far this year. Doctors' offices and emergency rooms experienced visits at levels almost as high as during the 2009 swine flu epidemic.

The bill passed 40-12 and will head the Illinois House of Representative for further consideration.

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Home care wages In an effort to increase wages for home care aides who provide in-home services for nearly 100,000 seniors, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) backed legislation to improve the quality of health care in the state of Illinois.

“Home care aides provide valuable services that not everyone can handle or are willing to do,” said Hunter. “The tasks that come with their work load are difficult but much needed in this state. The individuals willing to serve in this profession deserve to be compensated with higher pay and health coverage.”

Currently, the average wage for home care aides through the Illinois Department on Aging’s (IDOA) Community Care Program is only $10.98 per hour. Senate Bill 3511 aims to increase that wage to $19.89 on July 1, 2018 and by $1 each year after that.

“Better wages and benefits would bring stability to a vital workforce that experiences high rates of burnout and turnover.” Hunter said. “Unfortunately, many of our skilled professionals leave the industry in search of better paying jobs. High turnover causes confusion and uncertainty in the lives of these seniors who rely on the workers for daily care and compassion.”

For seven years, the program rates have gone unchanged. As for the Workers that have chosen to stay in the field, many struggle with low wages falling further behind as cost-of-living continues to increase.

The legislation passed out of the Human Services Committee and will be called in the Illinois Senate for further consideration.

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