This year's national theme for Hispanic Heritage Month is "Hispanics: One Endless Voice to Enhance Our Traditions." We are invited to celebrate our diverse cultures while recognizing the common traditions and history that unite us.

I reflected on the generous spirit I see in my fellow Puerto Ricans, especially in times of need like after Hurricane Maria.

Category: News

08222018CM0014 rCHICAGO —All qualified applicants are now eligible for professional licenses, regardless of their immigration status, under a new law sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago).

A federal law passed in 1996 makes non-citizens ineligible for state-issued professional licenses, but allows individual states to pass legislation granting licenses to non-citizens.

“Immigrants contribute to our state by working hard and paying taxes,” Martinez said. “If someone wants to further their career by becoming a licensed professional, we need to do all we can to support that.”

The new law deletes a provision in the Pharmacy Practice Act that requires an individual to submit evidence that they are a United States citizen or legally admitted immigrant before receiving a license. It also requires the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to allow an applicant to use a taxpayer identification number as an alternative to a Social Security number.

Senate Bill 3109 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019.


Category: News Releases

CHICAGO — Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez spoke out strongly today against Gov. Bruce Rauner’s decision to veto her legislation expanding the Grow Your Own Teacher initiative.

“I truly cannot understand why Gov. Rauner would choose to veto a measure that would help address Illinois’ teacher shortage,” Martinez (D-Chicago) said.

“The Grow Your Own Teacher program is an investment in Illinois’ future. It encourages and provides support for people studying to become teachers. It places teachers in low-income schools that are often difficult to staff. I don’t see a downside.

“The governor may say he cares about improving the education system in our state, but his actions show otherwise.”

The measure would have extended eligibility for the Grow Your Own Teacher initiative to high school students enrolled at dual-credit courses at participating colleges and universities and to all pre-K teachers, not just those teaching at public schools.

The initiative provides financial, academic and emotional support to people studying to become teachers. After graduation, participants commit to teaching at least five years at a high-needs school or in a high-needs teaching position, usually at schools with a high percentage of low-income students.

Category: News Releases

All victims of human trafficking will have additional protection under a new law passed by Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago).

The law amends the Predator Accountability Act by expanding the protections available to sex trafficking victims to victims of involuntary servitude and labor trafficking.

“The sex trafficking trade is horrible, there are other forms of forced labor,” Martinez said. “We must protect anyone who is made to work against their will.”

Previously, people who have been subjected to the sex trade had the ability to seek civil damages and remedies, but that law did not extend to other forms of trafficking.

The International Labor Organization estimates that almost 25 million people are trafficked worldwide annually. Of these, the majority (68 percent) are exploited for labor. Forced labor occurs in many different industries, but large numbers of people were forced into work in construction, manufacturing and agriculture.

Senate Bill 3108 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Category: News

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