Jen’s First Term
As a first-term legislator, Jen fought the status quo and worked to pass new landmark legislation to secure Illinois women’s healthcare access, create humanitarian protections for immigrant children, and fight the flow of guns onto our streets. She worked across the aisle to pass a truly balanced budget that responsibly addresses Illinois’ fiscal problems while making smart investments, increasing transparency, and ensuring accountability to taxpayers.
Protecting Women’s Rights
Extreme politicians are pushing an agenda across the country that puts women under attack. As a first term legislator, Jennifer stood up to extremists and worked to pass the Equal Pay – No Salary History Act to combat unfair payment practices that harm women in the workplace. Jennifer worked tirelessly to pass the Reproductive Health Act, landmark legislation that protects women’s access to reproductive healthcare in Illinois. By passing the RHA, Jennifer ensured that Illinois trusts women to make their own medical decisions. Through her work on the Human Services Appropriations committee, Jennifer protected funding for treatments that save women’s lives like breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Fighting for World-Class Schools
Illinois’ school funding system ranks last in the nation, denying students opportunities and burdening homeowners with high property taxes. Jennifer kept her promise to fight for quality education at every level – demanding increased funding for the Evidence-Based Formula and the Property Tax Relief Grant program to promote funding equity across our school districts. Jennifer knows that access to higher education is key to economic opportunity and success. That’s why Jennifer supported a 5% increase in funding for Illinois’ colleges and universities, enabling the University of Illinois system to freeze tuition for in-state freshman. It also provides additional funding for grants which allow up to 16,000 additional students to attend Illinois postsecondary institutions.
Keeping our Families Safe from Gun Violence
Tragic mass shootings like those in Las Vegas, Parkland and Sandy Hook were carried out by using deadly, military-style assault rifles. Jennifer opposes the NRA and their extreme agenda. She introduced legislation to fight the flow of guns onto our streets and was proud to co-sponsor the “Fix the FOID Act,” which expands background checks to all firearm purchases and strengthens the background checks for FOID card applicants by requiring fingerprint submissions. It also requires coordination between the Illinois State Police and local law enforcement to ensure that individuals who have lost their FOID card privileges surrender their guns when necessary.
Advocating for Environmental Health
Jennifer is a proud member of the Green Caucus. She is committed to combating climate change and protecting our environment in the absence of leadership in Washington. Jennifer is fighting to restrict ethylene oxide emissions that pollute our air and put our health and safety at risk. She co-sponsored the Clean Energy Jobs Act and worked to pass SB 9, which places stronger regulations and enforcement on toxic coal ash disposal by coal power plants. This legislation will prevent the reckless disposal of waste in local water supplies and protect the safety of our drinking water.
Protecting Immigrant Children and Families
Throughout her career as a human rights lawyer, Jennifer witnessed firsthand how deficient, and in some cases malicious, immigration policies are and how they can tear families apart. Jennifer brought her experience and expertise navigating the legal system on behalf of vulnerable populations to the General Assembly, where she authored a bill to prevent family separation in the event a parent is detained by immigration officials. Jennifer passed legislation to prevent a victim’s immigration status from being used to intimidate them into silence and place limitations on when immigration status can be used in a civil proceeding, ensuring that access to justice is available to everyone.
Passing a Balanced Budget that Reflects our Values
Jennifer believes that Illinois needs to spend responsibly in a way that reflects the shared values of our community.
That’s why she worked towards and helped pass a responsible, balanced budget with bipartisan support to help stabilize Illinois’ finances; fund critical services like education, senior resources, and health care; make a full pension payment; and meaningfully addressing the backlog of bills accrued under the Rauner administration.
Cuts to education at the state level over the past two decades have led to higher property taxes and fewer opportunities for Illinois’ students. In particular, draconian cuts to higher education forced students to out-of-state colleges, where most of them will remain long after they graduate. This costs our state young college graduates, young families, and economic growth. In this budget, we increased education funding to invest in our future and prioritize our state’s most valuable asset – our children.
Jennifer played a key role in the House Appropriations-Human Services budget working group, where she successfully negotiated more investments toward critical programs like Meals on Wheels, autism funding, and addiction treatment. She believes that responsible financial leadership means funding programs that deliver services at lower cost like the Community Care Program, which enables seniors to stay in their homes and live with dignity while spending 80% less than traditional nursing home care.
Jennifer voted to send the question of a fair tax to a direct referendum because she believes Illinois voters should have a voice in our state’s tax structure. Jennifer also supported a task force to investigate innovative methods of property tax relief for families being hit hardest by recent increases.
Jennifer knows that the work to address Illinois’ structural deficit, grow our economy, and provide opportunities for all Illinoisans requires a long-term focus and commitment to making hard choices to build a stronger Illinois.
Government Transparency and Fair Maps
Transparency is key to controlling government spending. That’s why Jennifer voted to require the state’s top financial officer to open the books, and publish every contract, expense and salary online so taxpayers can see exactly where their money is going.
Reform is needed to make the legislative redistricting process more transparent and accountable. The redistricting process should promote diverse representation in the General Assembly and maximize minority participation in the electoral process. Voting districts must not be designed for political gain by parties but rather to encourage participation by the people. The families of Illinois deserve real accountability from their government, which can only come from competitive elections and fairly-drawn electoral maps.