State Senator Karina Villa on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – In an effort to deter wage theft, State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago) sponsored a new law that increases the amount employers who underpay their employees must pay in damages.

“It is unacceptable for an employer to withhold hardworking employees’ wages,” Villa said. “Working families across Illinois deserve to be justly compensated and should receive increased damages for cases of wage theft.”

Currently, employees who do not receive wages in a timely manner are entitled to file a claim to recover their unpaid wages, plus damages totaling 2% of the amount of monthly underpayments. Villa’s legislation will increase the percentage paid in damages from 2% to 5% to more effectively deter wage theft by employers.

The workers typically impacted by this issue are low-wage workers, who often lack bargaining power and are not in a position to object to wage theft.

"People deserve to be paid for the hours they work," said State Representative Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), who sponsored the bill in the House. "And employers who don't pay should be held accountable for making their workers whole. This law is a huge step toward deterring wage theft and giving restitution to its victims."

House Bill 118 was signed into law Friday and takes effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

State Senator Karina Villa on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – In an effort to expand the rights of survivors of sexual assault, State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago) sponsored a law requiring hospitals to use the Illinois State Police online evidence tracking system and establishing a set of crime victims’ rights.

“Survivors of sexual assault need to know health care professionals and law enforcement officials are providing them with information on all available resources at their disposal,” Villa said. “It takes a brave person to come forward to report assault, and survivors deserve to feel at ease by staying in the loop on charging decisions and other updates to their cases.”

In 2020, the Illinois State Police launched an online tracking system for sexual assault evidence collection kits that allows survivors of sexual assault to track evidence in their cases, but not all hospitals in Illinois opted to participate. Villa’s law requires all hospitals to enter collected sexual assault evidence into the tracking system and requires health care facilities or law enforcement to provide survivors information on how to use the tracking system.

Villa’s law will also allow survivors to follow their cases through the justice system by establishing survivors’ right to timely notice regarding charging decisions and providing the opportunity to meet with the state’s attorney’s office to discuss the decision. Additionally, this law ensures survivors are able to seek judicial intervention to enforce their crime victims’ rights or get assistance with complaints from the office of the attorney general.

House Bill 1739 was signed into law Friday and will take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Category: Press Releases

Firefighters extinguishing a fireMONTGOMERY – The Montgomery & Countryside Fire Protection District will receive $6,565 in small equipment grant funding to purchase critical equipment, State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago) announced Tuesday.

“Properly functioning lifesaving equipment can make the difference in a life-or-death situation, and our first responders deserve to have all the necessary tools at their disposal,” Villa said. “Words will never be enough to thank the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities, but I’m hopeful that this critical funding will help extend our gracious thanks to Illinois’ first responders.”

These grants are part of the Small Equipment Grant Program, under which 149 fire departments, districts and EMS providers across Illinois have been selected to receive $3.3 million to purchase new firefighting and ambulance equipment. The program will help fire departments and not-for-profit ambulance services in Illinois, particularly those that have trouble generating the necessary revenue for small equipment.

“Departments have had to make tough financial decisions, especially this year during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez. “The Small Equipment Grant Program helps reduce the burden on smaller departments/districts while replacing aging and sometimes failing small equipment.”

A full list of grantees is available here.

Category: Press Releases

Friends walking their bike down a bike pathWEST CHICAGO – Illinois families will have safer access to bridges, sidewalks and bike paths thanks to a $1.7 million investment in Sugar Grove and Geneva, State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago) announced Thursday.

“Illinoisans can finally travel and explore other communities with our state reopened, and it’s imperative that we provide safe and accessible transportation options,” Villa said. “These investments in our local infrastructure will benefit everyone in the 25th District.”

Residents of the 25th District will see improvements to bridges, sidewalks and bike paths, including:
• Blackberry Creek Bridge and shared-use path in Sugar Grove,
• Sidewalks for safe routes to schools in Sugar Grove, and
• Kautz Road Bike Path in Geneva.

These projects are part of the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, for which the Illinois Department of Transportation has selected 99 projects totaling $105.7 million. Projects receiving funding in this round of investment include biking and walking paths, trails, streetscape beautification, and other projects designed to encourage safe travel across the various modes of transportation at the local level.

“Working families across Illinois will be able to enjoy a higher quality of life with these expanded travel options,” Villa said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to enjoy the enhanced pedestrian and bike paths with our community.”

Category: Press Releases

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