- 1 Updates
- 2 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 3 Elected Officials
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Obamacare / ACA
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Illinois lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- HB 3421 is a comprehensive bail reform bill that would eliminate the use of monetary bonds in Illinois.
- S 982 would require candidates to release their tax returns from the past five years to appear on the state's ballot.
- HB 6628 would prohibit state agencies from contracting with companies that will be building Trump's Mexican border wall and divest pension funds from these companies.
- HB 426 would allow schools, places of worship and medical facilities to deny any searches for undocumented immigrants by local and state agencies without an appropriate warrant.
Harmful bills proposed by Illinois lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- HB 672 Labor Relations-Right To Work Bill. The bill would allow the state to prohibit unions, that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers, from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. They are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- HB 2487 "Blue Lives Matter" bill, would include members of law enforcement in hate crime protections.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
- Governor, Bruce Rauner (R)
- Attorney General, Lisa Madigan (D)
- Secretary of State, Jesse White (D)
- Comptroller, Susana Mendoza (D)
- Treasurer, Mike Frerichs (D)
- Speaker of the House, Michael J. Madigan (D)
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you are registered to vote.
Register to vote here. The deadline is 28 days before Election Day by mail or online. In-person registration is available on Election Day. Bring proof of registration the first time you vote. No document is required to vote.
2018 House Elections
All 18 US Representatives are up for reelection in 2018. The following US House districts are swing districts, meaning that they were won by a vote margin of 15% or less in the 2016 election.
- Key Republican U.S. House seats to flip Democratic:
- IL-06 Peter Roskam won with 59.5% of the vote. However, Clinton won the district with 50.2% of the vote.
- IL-12 Mike Bost won by 14.6% of the total vote.
- Key Democratic US House seats to prevent being flipped Republican:
- IL-10 Brad Schneider won by 5.2% of the total vote.
- IL-17 Cheri Bustos won with 60% of the vote. However, Trump won the district with only 47.4% of the vote.
Bruce Rauner will be running for a second term in 2018.
Lisa Madigan will be running for a fifth term in 2018.
Secretary of State
Jesse White will not seek a sixth term in 2018.
Susana Mendoza was elected in 2016 in a special election, after incumbent Judy Baar Topinka died while in office. Mendoza will need to be reelected in 2018.
Mike Frerichs will need to be reelected in 2018.
- Chicago Ward 4 city council elections will be held February 28, 2017.
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 918,000 people in Illinois (or 5.1% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 184,000 people (or 8.9% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/26/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- Illinois is among the states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- If there is a full repeal, then it is projected that in 2021 Illinois will have 1,849,000 people uninsured, which is a 103.8% increase over the population who would be uninsured in 2021 without a repeal. (Retrieved from Table A1 at .)
- The Illinois Hospital Association is concerned that medical services and infrastructure will suffer if there is a repeal with no replacement.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 114,000 jobs could be lost in Illinois in the event of repeal. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.
- Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth and Richard Durbin voted to keep the ACA.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay Strategy, young adults in Illinois could pay $715 more in 2018.
- 123 people have been killed by police in the state of Illinois from the years 2013 through 2016.
- 52% of the people killed by police were black.
- Black people are 3.6 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts.
- Chicago is the state's largest city with the highest rate of police killings per capita.
- In 2013, 14% of the population of Illinois was foreign-born: 1,807,468 immigrants, more than the population of Philadelphia.
- From 2000 to 2010, more than half of the population increase in the Chicago metropolitan area was due to immigration. Bloomington, Champaign, Kankakee, Peoria, and Rockford also saw significant population increases thanks to immigration.
- 47.2% of immigrants in Illinois were naturalized US citizens and eligible to vote in 2013.
- Unauthorized immigrants made up roughly 3.7% of the population of Illinois in 2012.
- Immigrants made up 17.6% of the workforce of Illinois in 2013.
- Immigrants were responsible for 18% of the total economic output of the Chicago metropolitan area as of 2007.
- In the Chicago metropolitan area alone, unauthorized immigrants spent enough money on consumer goods in 2002 to create more than 31,000 jobs in the local economy and add $5.5 billion annually to the gross regional product.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Unauthorized immigrants in Illinois can get a driver's license.
- Illinois's public universities offer in-state tuition rates to unauthorized immigrants.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 5.2% of the state's workforce in 2012.
- If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Illinois, the state would lose $25.6 billion in economic activity, $11.4 billion in gross state product, and approximately 119,214 jobs.
According to State Department data, 794 refugees were resettled in Illinois in 2016.
Prior to the 2012 presidential election, Illinois passed a law curbing voter registration drives by limiting the allotted time to return voter registration forms. In 2016, the Illinois legislature passed a bill to allow automatic voter registration, but it was vetoed by Governor Rauner.
- Illinois incarcerated 68,878 individuals in 2014: 48,278 in prison, and 20,600 in jail.
- 123,862 people were on probation in 2014, and 29,586 were on parole.
- 5.7% of the prison population was serving life sentences in 2014, while 3.3% of the prison population were serving life sentences without possibility of parole.
- The white imprisonment rate stood at 174 per 100,000 in 2014, compared to 1,533 per 100,000 for black individuals and 282 per 100,000 for the Hispanic population.
- 0.5% of the Illinois population was disenfranchised due to felony conviction in 2016, compared to 1.98% of the black Illinois population.
- Illinois spent $1,488 million on corrections in 2014.
Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
- Illinois residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 341,000
- Adults and children: 1,037,000
- Children: 610,000
- In 2015, an average of 1,060,589 households and 2,042,306 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in Illinois. In 2011, approximately 14% of the population of Illinois was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps). The average monthly benefit per Illinois household was $261 per household and $132 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 34,881 households, including 15,690 families and 29,455 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in Illinois was $432 in 2014. Average benefits in Illinois have fallen in value by 24.9% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 54,250 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In 2015, there were 30,509 Social Security recipients who received on average $426.20 per person, for a total of $13,003,000.
- 386,300 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Illinois had 33 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In Illinois, there were 11,590 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 1,461 families, 949 veterans, 691 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 1,024 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Illinois received $1.9 billion in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Illinois, more than 220,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Illinois households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- Illinois’s infrastructure received a score of C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2014.
- This study identified inland waterways, roads, wastewater and transit as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 15.9% of Illinois’s bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 73% of Illinois’s roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $292 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
- According to Governor Bruce Rauner (R), IT systems are major infrastructure priorities for Illinois.
- In Chicago, the Riverline development project, which includes a public river walk, is underway. In addition, the Lathrop Homes public housing project is in the process of being redesigned, and areas of Goose Island are being redeveloped.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- Illinois has 17 Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, 13 centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 151,942 women of reproductive age.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There were 40 abortion providers in Illinois in 2015.
- In 2014, 4.2 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Louisiana had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- Parental consent is required for minors.
- Private insurance coverage is limited.
Contraception and ACA
Illinois has moved to protect no-cost birth control. One option per person is covered under state law, and this includes IUDs, oral contraception, tubal ligation, or vasectomies.
Religious Freedom Law
Religious Freedom laws protect the right of people to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. However, after same-sex marriage was legalized, conservative states have attempted to enact similar laws with provisions that allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals. A State Religious Freedom Restoration Act was enacted in Illinois in 1998 to protect religious minorities, and officials have pointed out it does not allow discrimination as the State also has nondiscrimination laws in place.
Illinois does have laws protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, insurance and credit, as well as a nondiscrimination policy for state employees. It does not have nondiscrimination laws in adoption, foster care or jury selection.
- A so-called "bathroom bill" was introduced on January 25, 2017. It "requires school boards to designate all student multiuser restrooms, changing rooms, and overnight facilities at schools or places used for school-sponsored activities for the use of students of only one sex," defining sex as "the physical condition of being male or female, determined by chromosomes and assigned at birth"; but the law allows for specific accommodations for transgender students with parental permission.
Illinois has passed laws on second-parent adoption and parental presumption for same-sex couples. It does protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in surrogacy and foster care, and requires foster parent training. However, the state lacks laws on de facto parent recognition and does not have laws on consent to inseminate (meaning that in the case of the insemination of one member of a female same-sex couple, the partner not carrying the child is not automatically recognized as a parent).
Hate crime laws
Illinois does include LGBTQ+ people in its hate crime laws as a protected group and does require reporting of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
Illinois has passed anti-bullying laws covering cyberbullying that explicitly mention LGBTQ+ youth. It does have laws promoting transgender inclusion in sports, as well as laws requiring school suicide prevention policies and protecting LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy. The state does not have laws addressing LGBTQ+ youth homelessness or promoting inclusive sex education, but it does have juvenile justice policies.
Health and Safety
Illinois does not include LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections in ACA exchanges but does ban insurance exclusion for trans health care. It does not include transgender health care in state Medicaid and does not provide inclusive health benefits for trans state employees. Illinois does, however, allow gender marker changes on drivers’ licenses and birth certificates, and collects information on LGBTQ+ health. It has passed HIV/AIDS criminalization laws.
- HIV criminalization laws are those that make it illegal for an HIV-positive person to “knowingly expose” another person to HIV—in some states, this means that it is illegal not to disclose HIV-positive status to a sex partner, but many laws criminalize behaviors that are unlikely to lead to transmission. Because the laws focus on disclosure, not actual transmission, they serve no real purpose. All states have other, non-HIV-specific laws that can be used to prosecute transmission of HIV, so these laws just needlessly single out and stigmatize HIV-positive people and reinforce the image of them as “dangerous.” It also allows the saliva or blood of an HIV-positive person to be classified in court as a “deadly weapon.” HIV criminalization laws also disproportionately target people of color, mainly African Americans, and gay men.
- Illinois is ranked 15th in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $7,291 per student.
- As of 2013, Illinois ranked 12th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $59,113 per year.
- 87% of students in Illinois attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 63% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 2.9% of total public school enrollment.
- Illinois's overall graduation rate is 86%, which is above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates are as follows:
- White: 90%
- Latino: 81%
- Black: 77%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 94%
- American Indian: 82%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 79%
- Limited English Proficient: 72%
- Students with Disabilities: 72%
Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- Illinois's minimum wage is $8.25, which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 but lower than Illinois’ living wage of $11.45.
- Illinois has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Illinois has no state law for paid family leave.
- Illinois is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- Illinois also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Illinois does allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Illinois does support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted this in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- Fossil fuels account for 40% of Illinois’s electricity generation, and nuclear accounts for 52%.
- Illinois has 45 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Illinois is a key American pipeline hub, featuring eight crude oil pipelines, nine pipelines for petroleum producst, and more than a dozen interstate natural gas pipelines, as well as two natural gas market centers and two oil ports.
- In 2014, Latino and Asian or Pacific Islander populations had the highest air pollution exposure indices—55 (Latino) and 54 (Asian or Pacific Islander), compared to an overall index of 44 and a White index of 39.
- In 2012, Native American adults in Illinois were most likely to have asthma (14.8%), compared to 8.6% overall and 8.2% of the White population.
- Threats to close Illinois nuclear plants have led Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to subsidize two nuclear plants for the next 10 years, staving off the spike in greenhouse gases that would result if the plants closed..
- The relevant environmental agency in Illinois is the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which is federally granted its authority from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Illinois Pollution Control Board.
- In December 2016, Illinois passed the Future Energy Jobs Bill, which was sponsored by a Republican governor and a Democratic legislature. The bill aims to reduce the state's greenhouse-gas emissions for power by almost 56%.
- Illinois has the 46th-highest percentage of disabled people in America: 10.7% of Illinois’s residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- Illinoisans with disabilities have the 31st-highest employment rate in the country, at 34.9%, the same as the national average. The overall employment rate in Illinois is 60.5%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1811]
- Approximately 14.1% of eligible voters in Illinois have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.71%.
- Of adults with disabilities in Illinois, 25.6% live in poverty, as opposed to 11.1% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 45.8%, as opposed to 21.2% for non-disabled children.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130)
- In Illinois, 4.7% of adults between 18 and 64 receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Action for a Better Tomorrow, full State of Illinois group
Action for a Better Tomorrow, East Central Illinois
List of Progressive Resources, Illinois
Environmental and environmental-justice advocacy and organizing groups
- Eco-Justice Collaborative
- Environmental Justice Alliance of Greater South Chicago
- Illinois Environmental Council
- Leadership Development for the Sustainable Self-Determination of Little Village, an EJ nonprofit located in a largely Latinx community
- Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO), an EJ nonprofit centered around Latinx communities
Local News Sources
|Chicago Reader||CBS Chicago || |- |Chicago Tribune||NBC Chicago || |- |Chicago Sun-Times||ABC Chicago|| |- |Windy City Media Group || WGN TV|| |- | ||WTTW - Chicago Public Television || |- | || Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette || |- | || Bloomington-Normal Pantagraph || |- | || Smile Politely - central Illinois online magazine, progressive leaning ||