SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — While the controversial criminal justice reform bill (HB163/HB3653) grabbed most of the headlines during last week’s lame duck session, it was not the only thing the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) was able to accomplish.
The ILBC was able to get four large bills passed through the General Assembly.
They said this will change Illinois as we know it.
The ILBC said it took months of preparation, meetings, and committees to get the legislation ready, but they say they were able to accomplish sweeping transformational change in the state of Illinois.
"We really wanted to take a broad-based approach to how policy was implemented, and the pillars really reflected that,” Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, said.
Over the six-day session, the ILBC’s legislation focused its energy around four key pillars.
Most of the focus went to just one of them: the criminal justice bill.
However, Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Champaign, said the education reform, economic equality, and health care equality bills could have an equal or greater impact.
"So, all of these things impact everybody's life every single day, so we look at these as the pillars of building a good foundation,” Ammons said.
The education pillar increases access to K-12 education and changes some standards for higher education, among many other things.
One key highlight of the economic equality pillar is that it reduces interest on payday loans.
One thing about the health care pillar is that it makes mental health resources easier to access.
"What the final product is a great step forward," Ammons said.
Sims said a lot was accomplished during the lame duck session, and it’s not just for good minorities, but for all of the people of Illinois.
“It was a successful session for all Illinois citizens because when Black residents do well, all citizens do well,” Sims said. “So, it's a good session for marginalized communities and it's a good session for individuals who have been locked out and left behind."
All four bills passed both chambers, but the health care bill passed each with slightly different language, so that one will have to be taken up again in the spring.
The other three are heading to Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk for final passage, where he is expected to sign them into law.
Now that the 102nd General Assembly has been sworn in, they will next get together on Tuesday, Jan. 26.