05082019CM0766rSpeaking at a Latino Unity Day press conference on Wednesday, Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez stressed the importance of a complete count in Illinois during the 2020 Census.

“Each person not counted means revenue lost for the State of Illinois from the federal government,” Martinez said. “This means fewer dollars for roads and infrastructure, less money for education, less reimbursement for cities and towns, less money for essential human services and less money for the most vulnerable among us.”

Martinez is the sponsor of Senate Bill 1408, which would appropriate $25 million to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to provide grants to community providers and local governments to encourage full participation in the upcoming Census.

Martinez cited a recent study by the Chicago Urban League that found that over 40 percent of Illinois’ black residents and 1 in 3 Latino residents lives in a hard-to-count community.

She also said the threat of an incomplete count is heightened by a proposed citizenship question on the census that would make immigrant communities reluctant to participate in the census.

“In today’s world, with the rhetoric coming from the White House, we need to educate people and make sure they are not fearful,” she said.

Martinez said she is working closely with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to ensure that every hard-to-count group is covered.

View Martinez’s full remarks below.

Category: News Releases

05092019CM0021rSPRINGFIELD – Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez spoke Thursday on the need for clarity in state law regarding worker cooperatives, a model in which businesses are owned and controlled cooperatively by workers.

“Worker cooperatives are a proven model that provide living wage jobs, especially for workers in communities of color, who often work in the low-wage economy where wage theft and discrimination are extremely common,” Martinez said.

Martinez is sponsoring House Bill 3663, which would provide clarity of what a worker cooperative is and the benefits and rights of those that operate under its construct. It also sets guidelines for organizing and managing a worker cooperative.

State Senator Robert Peters, a chief co-sponsor of the legislation, said the measure will make it easier for people to come together and create business opportunities in areas that have seen disinvestment, like the south side of Chicago.

“In the state of Illinois, let’s be at the forefront of worker cooperatives,” Peters (D-Chicago) said. “Let’s make it easier for people to do so, and let’s change how we reinvest in our communities.”

State Senator Mattie Hunter, also a co-sponsor of the measure, said that only 18 percent of Chicago businesses are owned by people of color. Of those, 6 percent are Latino business owners, and only 2 percent are African American.

“This is unacceptable to us,” Hunter (D-Chicago) said. “We must support innovative models that are proven to work for communities of color.”

House Bill 3663 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee without opposition and awaits action in the Senate.

View video of the senator's remarks below.

Category: News Releases

085 rSPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) passed legislation today that works to move away from the use of lead ammunition for hunting in Illinois.

The measure mandates that only steel or other non-toxic shotshells can be used to take waterfowl. It also bans the use of any shotgun larger than 10 gauge or smaller than a .410 bore to take wildlife and the use of lead shotshells on Department of Natural Resources properties on or after Jan. 1, 2022.

“As we become more aware of the dangers of lead exposure, we must work to eliminate it in all forms,” Martinez said. “There is no reason why people should not be able to hunt safely without endangering animals or people with lead ammunition.”

The Centers for Disease Control states that there is no safe level of lead exposure. Lead ammunition puts animals at risk, but anyone who eats meat from animals killed with lead-based ammunition is also at risk of exposure.

Senate Bill 780 passed the Senate without opposition and now heads to the Illinois House for consideration.

Category: News Releases

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

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