Welcome to my website. I hope to make this site a very interactive tool that allows you, as a constituent, to communicate with me, stay updated on legislation and happenings in Springfield and find resources in our district. Using this site, you can join my email list, read my e-mail updates online, see the latest legislative news, view upcoming neighborhood events and contact me.
I welcome any questions, concerns or suggestions you may have. Please feel free to call my district office at (773) 769-1717 or email your question here. My district office is located at 5533 N. Broadway near Broadway and Bryn Mawr. We are typically open from 9am to 5pm, but please call to make an appointment.
Heather Steans - State Senator, 7th District
May 17, 2016
Illinois' system of funding public education is one of the least equitable in the nation. Far too often, where a child lives determines the quality of his or her education in Illinois public schools. The distribution of state resources doesn't do nearly enough to counterbalance the effects of poverty and inadequate local tax bases. And the Chicago Public Schools - the state's largest school district and one of the most challenged by poverty, with 87 percent of students coming to school from low-income households - is subject to an additional inequity, because unlike every other district in Illinois, its pension costs are not covered by the state.
Last week, the Senate passed Senate Bill 231, a comprehensive plan to reform state education funding. It replaces an outdated funding formula with one that takes into account student need and each community's ability to pay for its schools. It also takes a step toward parity for CPS by making the state responsible for the normal yearly cost of the employer contribution toward its teacher pensions. Chronically under-resourced school districts throughout the state - and the students they serve - will benefit.
This important legislation is now in the hands of the House. If you are concerned about K-12 education in Illinois and the continued ability of the Chicago Public Schools to educate our city's children, and if you don't believe students' opportunities should be limited by where they live, please sign my petition urging members of the House to vote for SB 231.
Please feel free to contact my office at (773) 769-1717 or by clicking here to send me a message on this or any other legislative topic.
Sincerely,Senator Heather Steans7th District – Illinois
5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640
773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)
122 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706
SPRINGFIELD – The House and Senate sent Governor Rauner a stopgap budget today that will offer relief to many social services providers struggling to stay afloat during the funding impasse, which has now entered its eleventh month.
“While this is still not a complete budget, it is the latest bipartisan step in the direction of full funding for essential state services, and I am encouraged by the conversations that have taken place across the aisle and between the House and Senate to make this happen,” said State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th), who presented the legislation in the Senate. “My priority remains keeping services available for Illinois’ most vulnerable residents while continuing to work on balanced and responsible budgets for the current year and the coming year.”
Senate Bill 2038 releases $715 million from the Commitment to Human Services Fund and a number of smaller funds in order to pay for community mental health care, homelessness assistance, sexual assault victims’ services, services for people with disabilities, meals for low-income seniors, addiction treatment, breast and cervical cancer screenings and more.
It will take effect if signed by the governor.
Senate votes to decriminalize marijuana possession
Steans’ legislation makes possessing small amounts punishable by a civil fine
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) secured Senate passage today of legislation that decriminalizes the possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis, instead making it a civil violation statewide while still giving local governments discretion to impose additional fines or drug treatment requirements.
“The criminal prosecution of marijuana possession has become a festering site of inequity in Illinois, and we believe there’s a better way,” Steans said. “Although substantially the same percentage of African-American and white individuals use marijuana, black Illinoisans are arrested for cannabis possession at seven times the rate of white residents. Making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil rather than a criminal offense will free up law enforcement resources and allow us to focus on offering drug treatment alternatives rather than disproportionately arresting and incarcerating people who already face disadvantages.”
The legislation, which incorporates changes the governor requested when a similar measure passed last year, also realigns standards used to determine whether a driver is under the influence of cannabis. Because THC, the compound in marijuana that produces its characteristic “high,” can remain in a person’s bloodstream long after he or she is no longer impaired, there is a need to redefine the threshold in order to ensure that drivers are being tested for their current level of impairment rather than their past usage. The new standard would mirror the current law regarding blood alcohol levels.
Currently, possession of up to 2.5 grams of cannabis is a Class C misdemeanor, while possession of between 2.5 and 10 grams of the substance is considered a Class B misdemeanor. Almost 50,000 Illinoisans are arrested for cannabis possession each year. Under Steans’ proposal, possession of up to 10 grams would be a civil violation punishable by a fine of between $100 and $200. The state’s local governments, more than 100 of which have already passed ordinances removing at least some criminal penalties for cannabis possession, would be able to assess additional fines and conditions, such as a requirement that the violator enter a drug treatment program, but could not impose criminal penalties. Records of cannabis-related civil violations would be automatically expunged each year.
Senate Bill 2228 passed the Senate by a vote of 40-14 and now goes to the House for consideration.
Thank you to everyone who made our town hall on educational funding inequities a success. If you couldn't make it Wednesday night, or if you'd like to review or share the information we received, here are the presentations given by Sen. Andy Manar and Advance Illinois.