052015CM0953CHICAGO – A national organization whose mission is to help put a stop to modern day slavery in the United States will get help from the state as it works to fight human trafficking. A measure sponsored in the Illinois Senate by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) was recently signed into law that will help promote the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline, designed to directly help victims of this horrible crime.

Senate Bill 43 will require the Illinois Department of Human Services and Illinois Department of Transportation to promote public awareness of the national human trafficking hotline, including displaying signs in high risk areas, such as truck stops, bus stations, train stations, airports and rest stops. The initiative will ensure more individuals have access to the hotline number and are also able to receive the help and resources they most need.

"I came to the Legislature to help restore lives and create a more just society. Senate Bill 43 helps move us toward that goal,” Van Pelt said. “By providing the victims of human trafficking this vital resource, we are helping to stop modern day slavery in our nation and working to rebuild shattered lives."

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, the hotline has fielded over 85,000 calls since 2007, resulting in uncovering over 39,000 victims of human trafficking. Many of those cases are related to the underground sex trade but also include forced labor. A vast majority of the victims of human trafficking are women. Since beginning of 2015, the hotline has received over 5,200 calls.

Victims of human trafficking are encouraged to call the hotline at 1-888-373-7888. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential. Online resources are also available at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s website, traffickingresourcecenter.org.

052015CM0953CHICAGO - Programs designed to help businesses and prospective employees alike are facing the chopping block as Governor Bruce Rauner has begun slashing programs and services rather than close corporate loopholes to try to balance the state budget.

On May 31, the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago, an organization whose mission is to assist businesses and promote economic development on the West Side of Chicago, received notice that at least two vital programs would no longer be funded by the state.

Grants that would help businesses and those seeking employment to better learn industry standard software, such as Quickbooks, PowerPoint and other business programs, known as “Eliminating the Digital Divide” grants were suspended by the Department of Commerce and Economic Development, or DCEO. Also eliminated was the “Employer Training Investment Program, or ETIP, which helped Illinois workers upgrade their skills to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

“My understanding was that we were all working to bring good paying jobs for highly skilled workers into Illinois. With the elimination of these grants, the governor’s office is going in the opposite direction. Without continuous training, our workforce will fall behind other, more technologically savvy nations. That will not help our middle-class and will not help our state,” Senator Van Pelt said. “These are programs businesses want and need to help them stay competitive in the face of global competition.”

The Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago estimates that in 2014, the work of the council, including work made possible by the eliminated grants, helped create more than 110 jobs in the West Side of Chicago, helping to export more than $30 million in goods and services.

“In order for our state and nation to keep up with the rest of the world, we must have the best trained and best skilled workers. Efforts such as the Digital Divide grants and the ETIP program help our workers, our families and communities thrive. I urge the governor to reconsider these cuts and begin concentrating on helping families, not hurting them,” Senator Van Pelt said.

051215CM0439SPRINGFIELD – The minimum wage would gradually rise to $11 an hour and millions worth of corporate tax loopholes would be closed under a legislative agenda Illinois Senate Democrats are rallying behind as negotiations with Governor Rauner have stalled.

“As I talk to residents of the 5th Senate District, they tell me that they are concerned with opportunities to advance the middle-class, including an increase in the minimum wage. They are also concerned that corporations are not sharing in the sacrifice so many are talking about today. That is why I’m supporting and will work to pass the middle-class economic agenda put forth by my colleagues and I,” Senator Van Pelt said.

Senator Van Pelt specifically pointed to three key provisions in the Senate Democratic plan:

  • Minimum wage. Increases the state minimum wage to $9.00 on July 1, 2015 and by $0.50 each year thereafter until the minimum wage reaches $11.00 on July 1, 2019. Provides a three-year tax credit for employers with less than 50 employees.
  • Healthy Workplace Act. Guarantees up to seven paid days of sick time to full and part time employees. Sick time would accrue at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees would not be able to take sick time for the first 120 days of employment
  • Corporate loopholes. Ends a variety of corporate tax breaks including corporations ability to automatically receive a tax breaks for production outside of Illinois. Closing these loopholes will bring the state $334 million.

“This plan will help counter the plans of the administration, which will do nothing to help working families and will do everything for corporate interests. The residents of the 5th Senate District want change that helps, not hurts middle-class families,” Senator Van Pelt said.

The new provisions come as Gov. Rauner has threatened to shut down state government and all state services if lawmakers don’t reduce worker protections, make it harder to sue corporations that make dangerous products and slash billions of dollars in services to at-risk children and seniors.

Senator Van Pelt plans to co-sponsor the legislation along with numerous other Senate Democrats. The proposals could be in final form for possible votes should lawmakers be called back into session this summer.

sticker1Procrastinating car owners can relax under a new law allowing drivers to temporarily stay on the road without a current registration sticker. Guided through the General Assembly by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D- Chicago), the new law allows drivers to stay on the road for a short time, provided the driver has a receipt proving that he or she registered the vehicle before the previous registration’s expiration date.

Those who wait to renew their registration through CyberService or the mail until the last days leading up to the expiration of their current registration will now be provided a way to avoid being issued a ticket for driving that vehicle if the sticker doesn’t arrive in time.

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