• The Majority Report 08/31/20 - Celebrating 100 years of 19th Amendment, artificial intelligence research and a call for equity at IDOT


    Celebrating 100 years of the 19th Amendment

    19th AmendmentOne hundred years ago, suffragettes who had worked for decades finally saw their long-sought 19th Amendment to the US Constitution become law, granting women the right to vote. The Illinois Senate Women’s Caucus offers a resounding thank you to the women 100 years ago for paving the way for more work to be done.

    Moreover, we honor African American suffragettes who continued to fight for 45 years until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and carved the path to get us where we are now.

    Read more.



    Senate Democrats believe artificial intelligence research at U of I will propel Illinois into the future

    Artificial IntelligenceCHAMPAIGN — The University of Illinois has been chosen to receive federal funding for two research institutes focused on artificial intelligence. This will build on the state’s commitment to boost science and technology, adding two research institutes focused on artificial intelligence.

    “This is a tremendous technological and economic opportunity for the future of our state,” said Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). “Senate Democrats recognized the great potential for this research and worked to secure the needed funding to make this happen. It's a great team win for all of Illinois. I’m pleased to see our state gain national recognition as a brain hub and center for cutting edge innovation.”

    Read more.


    Villivalam: Transparency and equity must be guiding principles of the IDOT Project Selection Process

    Road constructionCHICAGO — State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, led a virtual hearing focused on how the Illinois Department of Transportation chooses which projects to fund. He and other members of the committee believe that transparency and equity must guide the IDOT project selection process.

    “The state spends billions of taxpayer dollars on roads, bridges, and mass transit construction and repair,” Villivalam said. “The people of Illinois deserve to understand how, why, and where that money is spent. The decisions have to be equitable and transparent. It was great to hear that IDOT Secretary Osman and a number of stakeholders are committed to doing just that.”

    Read more.



    Senate President Don Harmon, Oak Park: Pritzker, Harmon push back hard on Exelon nuke closure warning | Chicago Business

    Senator Patrick Joyce, Essex: Joyce enraged over Dresden nuclear plant shutdown | Patch

    Senator Dave Koehler, Peoria: New commission to end systemic racism to launch in Peoria | NBC 25

    Senator Julie Morrison, Lake Forest: E-tobacco use among Illinois high school students trending in an alarming direction | Belleville News-Democrat

    Senator Steve Stadelman, Rockford: Sen. Stadelman announces driver’s license extensions for age 75 and older | Rockford Register Star


    Copyright 2020 - Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus - All Rights Reserved

    Subscribe to The Majority Report

  • Villivalam: Transparency and Equity must be guiding principles of the IDOT Project Selection Process

    roadconst 042320

  • Villivalam to hold virtual hearing on transparency in project selection at IDOT and equity in transportation and infrastructure projects

    infrastructure 082720CHICAGO– State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, is holding a hearing focused on transparency in project selection at the Illinois Department of Transportation and equity in transportation and infrastructure projects. 

    “We need to have an open and honest dialogue on transparency and equity as it relates to the process in which projects are prioritized and selected to receive funding,” Villivalam said. “Additionally, I think it’s important to have a project selection process that is transparent and facilitates productive communication between IDOT and those they contract with. Prioritizing transparency and equity would ensure public trust in the state’s transportation and infrastructure efforts as well as shed light on questions such as why a project that has been set to receive funding but has not yet been completed is taking so long to complete or what it will take to complete it.”

    This is the second committee hearing of the General Assembly to be held virtually.

    What:    Subject matter hearing and testimony regarding transparency and diversity as it relates to project selection and contracting with the Illinois Department of Transportation

                   When: 10 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020 

                   Where: Conducted remotely via Zoom and broadcast live on or on Blue Room Stream at which is a subscription-based service. 

                   Who:         The Senate Transportation Committee will hear testimony from:

    • Illinois Department of Transportation
    • Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association 
    • American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
    • American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois
    • Operating Engineers 150
    • Chicago Laborers’ District Council
    • Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago 
    • Transportation Equity Network 

    Additional witnesses can submit written testimony online at

  • The Majority Report 08/17/20 - Transportation diversity goals, more help for rental assistance and an update on DNA accountability


    Villivalam leads virtual transportation committee on transparency, diversity goals

    IL TollwayCHICAGO — In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s economy and more specifically, Illinois’ transportation and infrastructure system and workforce, State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, led a virtual hearing focused on transparency and diversity goals as it relates to contracts with the Illinois Tollway Authority.

    Among those who gave testimony to the committee were representatives from the Illinois Tollway Authority, the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, the African American Contractors Association, the American Council of Engineering Companies, the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association, the Federation of Women Contractors, and the Asian American Contractors Enterprise.

    Read more.


    Illinois Latino Caucus supports the Rental Assistance Program, but more help needs to be provided

    Rent assistanceCHICAGO — While the Senate Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus is pleased with the Emergency Rental Assistance Program introduced last week by Governor JB Pritzker, it unanimously agrees more work needs to be done. The program aims to avoid massive evictions across the state due to families’ inability to pay their rent. The Latino Caucus lawmakers fought hard to make this $150 million funding available to communities in need.

    Read more.




    Van Pelt on DNA accountability: ISP is on the right track

    DNACHICAGO — The Illinois State Police’s Division of Forensic Services Forensic Sciences Command released the DNA Accountability Report for Fiscal Year 2020 earlier this month, and State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is highlighting its major improvements to reduce the DNA backlog, while recognizing there is still work to be done.

    “I am excited about the progress ISP has made,” Van Pelt said. “I hope this trend continues, and I will keep tracking them to make sure they continue to move forward in fulfilling their commitment to giving these families justice.”

    Read more.




    Senator Melinda Bush, Grayslake: Illinois Democrats outline ethics proposals | Northwest Herald

    Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, Chicago: State-of-Art Urban Farming Campus to Chicago's South Side | Illinois Ag Connection

    Senator Rachelle Crowe, Glen Carbon: New Transportation Option Serves County's Most Vulnerable | RiverBender

    Senator Ann Gillespie, Arlington Heights: New Law Protects Essential Employees, First Responders | Patch


    Copyright 2020 - Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus - All Rights Reserved

    Subscribe to The Majority Report

  • Villivalam leads virtual transportation committee on transparency, diversity goals

    il tollway

    CHICAGO – In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s economy and more specifically, Illinois’ transportation and infrastructure system and workforce, State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, led a virtual hearing focused on transparency and diversity goals as it relates to contracts with the Illinois Tollway Authority. 

    Among those who gave testimony to the committee were representatives from the Illinois Tollway Authority, the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, the African American Contractors Association, the American Council of Engineering Companies, the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association, the Federation of Women Contractors, and the Asian American Contractors Enterprise.

  • Villivalam pledges renewed transparency as Chair of Transportation Committee

    villivalam 022720

  • Ellman: Let people legally drink on trains

    Sen. Laura EllmanSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) is taking action to remove an arbitrary law that prohibits drinking alcohol and hasn’t been enforced in nearly a century.

    “I was shocked to learn that people were technically breaking the law by ordering a glass of wine on Amtrak,” Ellman said. “There’s no reason responsible adults shouldn’t be able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage on a train.”

  • More seniors eligible for transportation assistance in 2020

    Sen. Laura FineSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department on Aging has adjusted its annual income eligibility limits for the Benefit Access Program, allowing more seniors to qualify to receive transportation assistance in 2020.

    “This is the first income limit increase since 2010, despite the rising cost of living,” said State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview). “It’s been a long time coming, but I’m glad to see that our most vulnerable seniors will now be able to get help with their transportation needs.”

    The Benefit Access Program includes the Secretary of State License Plate Discount, the Seniors Ride Free Transit Benefit and the Persons with Disabilities Free Transit Ride. The services aim to help older adults live independently by improving their transportation options.

    For applications submitted on or after Jan. 1, 2020, the new annual income limit for a two-person household is $44,533. This is an increase of nearly $8,000 from the previous income limit.

  • Murphy passes pedestrian safety measure

    Sen. Laura MurphySPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) advanced a measure from the Illinois Senate to address pedestrian fatalities on state highways.

    “This is a very personal issue to me,” Murphy said. “In Des Plaines we’ve witnessed four separate pedestrian fatalities at the same intersection, and countless other close calls. The local police department even did a sting operation and cited dozens of drivers for not yielding to pedestrians there.”

    Senate Bill 767 would require the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to conduct a traffic study for each pedestrian fatality on a state highway. Studies would consider design improvements, traffic control devices and any other improvements that IDOT may recommend.

    The measure passed the Senate 49-1 and will go to the House for consideration.

  • Cullerton pushes for increased awareness of Scott’s Law in the wake of a deadly season for Illinois State Troopers

    Illinois State TrooperVILLA PARK – In light of the last couple of deadly months on the highway for the Illinois State Troopers, Senator Tom Cullerton is pushing for greater awareness of existing laws that require Illinois drivers to slow down and give officers a wide berth.

    Cullerton (D-Villa Park) championed Senate Bill 947, which would require the Secretary of State to include information about Scott’s Law in every vehicle registration notice it sends to motorists. Scott’s Law requires that drivers must move over, if possible, and slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle.

    “Every day, State Troopers put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” said Cullerton. “In turn, we must do whatever we can to put a stop to these preventable, senseless accidents. It is plain and simple – when you see an emergency vehicle pulled over on the side of the road, you need to move over.”

  • Harris pushes for larger municipalities to hire more minority-owned contractors

    Sen. Napoleon HarrisSPRINGFIELD – To push for greater fairness and diversity in contract work, Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) proposed new legislation setting goals for larger municipalities to include minority-owned businesses.

    “We need to ensure that minority-owned businesses are not being passed over as these municipalities continue to hand out millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and a good place to start is setting contracting goals,” Harris said.

    The legislation would set goals for cities which receive more than $1 million in state motor fuel taxes to hire more minority-owned and -operated businesses when awarding contracts. The measure is an effort to include more minority, veteran and woman-owned businesses in local government contracting.

  • Sandoval’s bill to explore high-speed rail projects passes committee

    High-speed trainSPRINGFIELD – The Senate Transportation Committee passed a measure Tuesday sponsored by State Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago) to create a commission that would explore opportunities to create a statewide high-speed rail network.

    Senate Bill 1988 would create an 18 member High Speed Railway Commission comprised of representatives from state government and industry organizations that would create a plan to create a high-speed rail network connecting St. Louis with Chicago. The proposed route for the railway would pass through several Illinois cities, including Champaign, Decatur and Springfield.

    “High speed rail could very well be a big part of the future of transportation in Illinois,” Sandoval said. “As Chair of the Transportation Committee, I want to ensure that we study all available options to move our transportation infrastructure forward.”

    The measure passed committee as the Illinois Senate considers introducing a comprehensive plan to improve Illinois’ infrastructure. At a hearing on capital infrastructure needs on Monday, legislators heard from a representative from the Midwest High Speed Rail Association about the economic benefits and increased quality of life high speed rail could provide to Illinois residents.

    “High-speed rail would make travel throughout the state of Illinois far easier and would improve our economy by fostering tourism and commerce,” Sandoval said. “I look forward to hearing the commission’s findings and plotting the best path forward to introducing more high speed rail projects in Illinois.”

    The bill passed the Transportation Committee unanimously. It will now go before the entire Senate.

  • Sandoval: Decatur hearing moves us one step closer to infrastructure bill

    Senator Sandoval

    DECATUR – The Subcommittees on Capital for the Senate Transportations and Appropriations II Committees held their third joint hearing in Decatur Monday, hearing from local groups about capital infrastructure needs.

    Representatives from local government, health care professionals, transportation experts and other interested parties testified before the subcommittees about existing capital and needs that should be addressed in a potential bill to release funding for infrastructure improvements around the state.

  • Murphy urges public to attend hearing on Pace service cancellation

    Sen. Laura MurphyDES PLAINES – State Senator Laura Murphy is urging area bus riders to attend a public hearing about cancellation of Saturday Pace bus service on a route that serves Des Plaines and Park Ridge.

    The 209 Busse Highway route provides service to the Harlem Avenue station of the CTA Blue Line. Pace is considering cancelling the service on Saturdays only because of budgetary restrictions.

    “Many of the residents of my district rely on this route on Saturdays, especially disabled residents who might not have any other means of transportation” said Murphy (D-Des Plaines). “If Pace is considering canceling it, then those who will be affected by the cancellation deserve to have their voices heard.”

  • Munoz reminds drivers to switch lanes when passing a stranded vehicle

    Kennedy expressway

    Assistant Majority Leader Antonio “Tony” Munoz (D-Chicago) reminds drivers to be cautious when driving on expressways and move over when approaching a vehicle stranded on the side of the road.

    In 2000, Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver on the Dan Ryan Expressway. As a way to commemorate his life and protect emergency personnel from accidents or injury, Scott’s Law was passed to enforce penalties on drivers who cause accidents, injuries, or don’t yield to emergency vehicles.

    Recently, that law was expanded to cover all stranded motor vehicles as far too many accidents have occurred involving vehicles stranded on the expressway.

  • Trotter urges Rauner to release state money for Olive-Harvey Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Center

    Sen. Donne Trotter

    CHICAGO – Sen. Donne Trotter is among those who are demanding the governor release state money for completion of a college training center that is expected to prepare students for thousands of transportation-related jobs in the Chicago region.

    Construction on the $45 million Olive-Harvey Transportation Distribution and Logistics Center was halted in 2015 because of the state budget stalemate. Lawmakers included $15 million for the center in the state budget they approved in July. Weeks later, Gov. Bruce Rauner has not released that money.

    “This hold on the TDL Center is hurting the prospect of job growth in an area that desperately needs it,” said Sen. Trotter, a Chicago Democrat and vice chairman of a key Senate budget committee. “It’s time for Gov. Rauner to do what’s right to help train the people of Chicago.”

  • Schools could give housing assistance to homeless students

    Homeless youthSPRINGFIELD – School districts will now be allowed to help students who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless under a plan passed the Illinois Senate.

    Under House Bill 261, schools will have the option to use their own transportation funds to provide housing assistance to students in need if they determine it will be more cost-efficient.

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is the legislation’s sponsor in the Senate.

    “This legislation allows schools to take steps to use existing funds to help these students add some stability to their lives,” Bennett said. “A student whose family is going through tough circumstances should be able to stay in their school, which will provide stability.”

  • Take April as an opportunity to discuss safe driving

    Distracted Driver MonthIn the time it takes to look at a text message, a car traveling at 55 miles per hour will cover the length of a football field. Because a lot can happen in that time, State Senator John G. Mulroe sponsored legislation in 2013 to curb distracted driving by prohibiting the use of hand-held cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. Distracted driving includes any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from driving, including texting, operating navigation systems and eating.

  • Mulroe works to move emissions testing centers back to Chicago

    Emissions testingSPRINGFIELD – Chicago residents may no longer be forced to drive to the suburbs for their vehicle emissions testing based on new legislation sponsored by State Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago). After emissions test sites closed in the Chicagoland area in November, Mulroe introduced legislation to require the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to locate vehicle emissions inspections stations within a five-mile radius of those subject to testing.

    “By closing emissions testing facilities in Chicago, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has created an undue burden on Chicago residents to meet the emission testing requirement” Mulroe said. “Getting a vehicle’s emissions tested can already be a time-consuming task in and of itself. We should not add to that by forcing Chicagoans to driver further to fulfill this obligation.”

  • McGuire: Amtrak deal good for cities, colleges, students

    AmtrakSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation and Amtrak announced late last week that they have reached an agreement to maintain service on state-supported routes at a savings to taxpayers and without having to raise fares on the downstate routes.

    When the governor announced his initial plans to slash support for these routes, State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) questioned whether these cuts were wise in the long term.

    “The governor's proposal last spring to cut state support of Amtrak's intercity Illinois routes by 40 percent was troubling. In response, we held a Higher Education Committee hearing at which mayors, business leaders and university officials explained that frequent Amtrak service attracts investment, retains students, and reduces the need for on-campus parking,” said McGuire, chairman of the Senate’s higher education panel.

    College students make up a significant portion of the ridership on these routes, including the Lincoln Service, which runs four times a day between Chicago and St. Louis and passes through Joliet.

    “I'm pleased IDOT listened,” McGuire said. “This is good news for everyday Illinoisans and for Joliet's new multi-modal transportation center, too.”