Tuesday, March 5, 2013

State Senator Jacqueline Collins Newsletter

Senator Jacqueline Collins
March 5, 2013
Dear Friends,

February has been a busy month here in the Capitol. I’ve worked on Senate Bill 26: landmark legislation that will allow Illinois to use federal money to provide health care access to uninsured, low-income adults. I’m continuing to address the foreclosure crisis from every possible angle so communities and homeowners can recover from the housing slump. And my colleagues and I observed Black History Month, drawing attention to the fact that Illinois was the first state in the union to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. Please read on for details, plus an exciting employment opportunity with CTA.

Tomorrow Governor Quinn will deliver his budget address, and the legislature will begin to consider next year’s spending. My role in this process will be to represent the 16th District and work to allocate program cuts fairly so we do not balance our budget on the backs of those least able to bear the weight. Because the sluggish economy and rising pension payments mean money is still tight this year, the legislature will need to prioritize. As I have done throughout these lean fiscal times, I will continue to speak boldly for prioritizing the needs of “the least of these.” Only by responding justly and compassionately to the needs of our most vulnerable residents can we improve quality of life for everyone in Illinois.

As always, it is an honor to serve and represent you. I welcome your questions and ideas about the budget or any other legislative matters. Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts or if I can be of any assistance to you or your family.

Jacqueline Collins
Senator Jacqueline Collins
16th District – Illinois

Medicaid expansion: health care access and job creation

I was proud to co-sponsor legislation, approved last week by the Senate, allowing Illinois to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income adults not currently eligible for the program. The federal government, under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, will fully reimburse the state for medical assistance spending on the newly eligible population.

Medicaid expansionThe National Black Caucus of State Legislators featured my work on Medicaid expansion on its website this month. You can also visit my website to read more about this great opportunity for hospitals, communities and the medically underserved. Although the Senate voted for this legislation, the House must still approve it in order to send it to the governor for his signature. Please consider contacting state representatives in support of better health care for people who currently have few options beyond the emergency room.

Grace period foreclosure counseling: a success story for homeowners

Last week the Financial Institutions Committee approved a measure I introduced to extend protections that allow homeowners facing foreclosure to obtain counseling. Called the “30-30-30” approach, these legal safeguards require lenders to delay a foreclosure proceeding while a homeowner works with a counselor on a loan modification plan. If the bank accepts the plan, the homeowner and his or her family may be able to stay in the home while still making payments. Using financial counseling and loan modification to avoid foreclosure is a winning proposition for homeowners and lenders alike.

Since 2009, the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network has connected nearly 600,000 people to free foreclosure help. More than 48,000 homeowners have received free homeownership counseling. The Illinois Hardest Hit program has given temporary mortgage payment assistance to more than 6,500 struggling homeowners. With funding from the National Foreclosure Mitigation Program, the Illinois Housing Development Authority has facilitated at least 3,100 loan modifications, with 900 of those mortgages now reported as current.

The success of these efforts is made possible by federal funding but also provisions of Illinois law that require a lender to wait 30 days after a payment is due, send the homeowner a notice informing him or her of the availability of counseling, wait another 30 days for the homeowner to obtain assistance from a licensed counselor and then give the homeowner and counselor 30 more days to offer the bank a modification or work-out plan. Senate Bill 56 will renew these protections for three more years so we can continue fighting foreclosure and stabilizing the housing market.

Illinois and the Thirteenth Amendment

Moviegoers who saw the film “Lincoln” last year learned about the great political struggle to secure congressional approval of the Thirteenth Amendment. The other part of the story is its ratification by the states and the fact that Lincoln’s home state of Illinois led the way.

13th amendmentOn February 23, I attended a celebration in remembrance of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, born one hundred years ago this month, and presented a resolution I sponsoreddeclaring February 2013 “Thirteenth Amendment Ratification Month.” John Paul Jones, one of my constituents and president of the Sustainable Englewood Initiatives, asked me to find a way to publicly acknowledge Illinois’ status as the first state to ratify the amendment, which outlawed slavery in the United States and formally freed all slaves still in bondage in 1865.

Illinois’ prompt ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment is something we can all be proud of today, nearly 150 years later. I sponsored this resolution because it’s important for our children to know about the significance of this moment in history – the beginning of a road that has stretched from Jim Crow to Brown v. Board to Selma to our nation’s first Black president and beyond. This part of our journey started with the legal, constitutional right to be free.

Please click here to watch me discuss the significance of the Thirteenth Amendment and the Emancipation Proclamation.

New law helps neighborhoods recover from foreclosure crisis

On February 8, Governor Quinn signed a law I sponsored to address the glut of abandoned properties clogging the court system and to give communities money to clean up or demolish abandoned residential properties. Abandoned houses stuck in the foreclosure process for hundreds of days are keeping the housing market sluggish. They stay on banks’ balance sheets and become neighborhood eyesores, adversely affecting property values. They can also be safety hazards and havens for criminal activity.

foreclosureNow courts can use a new, expedited foreclosure process once a lender has proven a property is abandoned and not occupied by any legitimate residents. This change in the law will shorten the foreclosure process in such cases from more than 500 days to about 100 days. An increased filing fee on the largest lenders will go into a fund for counties and municipalities involved in renovating or demolishing abandoned lots and houses. The additional money will also fund free foreclosure counseling for about 18,000 households.

Please see my website for more information.

Job Opportunity: CTA Customer Assistant

I want to make sure my constituents who are seeking employment are aware that the Chicago Transit Authority is hiring customer service assistants. The position pays $12.40 per hour and offers benefits and growth potential. CTA will hold two job fairs:

Friday, February 22 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
JLM Abundant Life Community Center
2622 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago 60612

Saturday, March 23 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Roberto Clemente Community Academy
1147 North Western Ave., Chicago 60622

Military veterans in particular are encouraged to apply. CTA is an equal opportunity employer. Interviews will not be conducted at the job fairs; you will be contacted after the event if CTA selects you to interview for a position.

Job candidates must be 21 or older, pass drug and alcohol tests and a criminal background check, be able to understand and follow oral and written instructions, be able to pass a basic test of customer service skills, accurately perform basic arithmetic, communicate clearly both in writing and speaking and maintain a neat and professional appearance. Please contact my office with additional questions.

District Office
1155 West 79th Street • Chicago, IL 60620
773-224-2830 (Phone) • 773-224-2855 (Fax)

Springfield Office
M114 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706
217-782-1607 (Phone)

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