03212019CM0652 rSPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) passed legislation in the Senate today that would expand the ability of schools and future teachers to participate in the Grow Your Own Teacher program.

“Illinois is dealing with a teacher shortage, so we need to do all that we can to place dedicated teachers in schools,” Martinez said. “We especially must work to ensure students at schools that are traditionally hard to staff – like those in low-incomes areas – have the same access to quality education as anyone else.”

The Grow Your Own Teacher initiative is a program designed to train people to become teachers in hard-to-staff schools.

Martinez’s legislation would expand the definition of "eligible school" and "hard-to-staff" schools for the initiative to include early childhood programs in which no less than 40 percent of the children it serves are receiving subsidized care under the Department of Human Services' Child Care Assistance Program.

It would also extend eligibility for participation in the initiative to high school students enrolled in a dual credit course at a participating institution of higher education.

Senate Bill 244 is similar to legislation Martinez passed last year that then-Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed. It passed the Senate without opposition and now awaits action in the House.

Category: News Releases

03202019CM0609 rSPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) introduced legislation in committee today that would use Lottery revenue to fund grants STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) programs in low-income schools.

“Studies show that almost all future jobs will relate in some way to the skills learned in STEAM programs,” Martinez said. “Children in low-income schools must not be left behind. This measure will help make sure all children in our state have equal access to education in these vital areas.”

The measure would require the Department of the Lottery to offer a special instant scratch-off game, revenue from which would be deposited into the School STEAM Grant Program Fund to fund grants to low-income schools.

Senate Bill 1669 passed the Senate Executive Committee and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Category: News Releases

03132019CM1141 rSPRINGFIELD — To address the scarcity of legal home birth providers, Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) passed a resolution last week creating a committee tasked with finding evidence-based solutions to the home birth maternity care crisis in Illinois.

“More women are choosing to give birth at home for a variety of reasons,” Martinez said. “They should not have to choose between going against their personal beliefs or having a safe birth.”

The number of women choosing to give birth at home has grown over the past decade, with home births increasing 50 percent in Illinois between 2007 and 2014.

While the number of home births is expanding, the number of licensed providers to attend them is shrinking. Illinois currently only has fewer than 10 recognized home-birth practices in Illinois, located in only six of the state’s 102 counties.

Illinois used to license community midwives but ceased issuing those licenses in 1972. Thirty-three other states currently license community midwives, including Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri.

Because of this scarcity of care, half of all babies born at home in Illinois are born with either no skilled assistance or under the care of underground community midwives who may or may not be licensed.

These unlicensed midwives do not have access to life-saving oxygen and anti-hemorrhage medications and also have no means of legally completing newborn congenital heart disease screenings, hearing screenings and metabolic screening tests, and no means of legally filing accurate birth certificate information.

“Studies show that, for low-risk women, giving birth at home is just as safe as giving birth in a hospital,” Martinez said. “We must ensure that women and babies are able to have a safe delivery with access to necessary medicine, no matter where they choose to give birth.”

Category: News Releases

03132019CM1685 rSPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) is continuing her work to ensure all qualified applicants are eligible for professional licenses, regardless of their citizenship status.

“If anyone in our state wants to contribute by working hard and paying taxes, they should not be denied because of where they were born,” Martinez said. “I am glad to continue the work we started last year by expanding the ability for immigrants to apply for professional licenses.”  

Martinez passed a law last year ensuring that citizenship is not required for licenses issued by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional or State Board of Education. It also requires the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to allow an applicant to use a taxpayer identification number as an alternative to a Social Security number.

Her new measure expands that requirement by stating that, unless otherwise provided by law, no department shall deny an occupational or professional license based solely on the applicant's citizenship status or immigration status.

The legislation also specifically modifies the Illinois Explosives Act, the Illinois Plumbing License Law, the Water Well and Pump Installation Contractor's License Act, the Illinois Horse Meat Act, the Liquor Control Act of 1934, the Safety Deposit License Act and the Coal Mining Act to ensure U.S. citizenship is not a prerequisite for licensure.

Senate Bill 1166 passed the Senate Licensed Activities Committee last Wednesday and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Category: News Releases

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