State Senator Karina Villa on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – Menstrual hygiene products will be available to college students at no cost under a new law sponsored by State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago).

“Every student on campus deserves equal access to a proper education, but that access can be severely limited if a student is stuck at home because they can’t afford menstrual hygiene products,” Villa said. “We need to treat period poverty like the public health crisis it is and fight for change across our state to increase access to necessary menstrual hygiene products.”

Public universities and community college districts will be required to make menstrual hygiene products available to students at no cost in campus bathrooms under Villa’s law.

“Period products are necessary items, like soap and toilet paper, that should be easily accessible to anyone who needs them,” said State Representative Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville), who sponsored the bill in the House. “Many of us know a student, or have been that student, who is late to class because they are trying to find a teacher they trust to ask for a tampon. By tackling period poverty at our schools and universities, we’re helping students stay healthy and focused on their education.”

House Bill 641 was signed into law Thursday and takes effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

State Senator Karina Villa on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – Protections for survivors of sexual assault will expand to allow family members of survivors to file petitions for civil no-contact orders under a new law sponsored by State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago).

“Survivors of sexual assault should be able to go about their daily lives without worrying about their abuser contacting them or their loved ones,” Villa said. “Expanding civil no-contact orders to include family members of survivors is imperative to restoring a sense of normalcy and peace in the lives of survivors and their families.”

Under current law, a petition for a civil no-contact order can be filed by a survivor of non-consensual sexual conduct or by another person on behalf of a survivor who cannot file the petition. Villa’s new law will expand eligibility to offer protections for family or household members of survivors of sexual harassment and assault.

In order to qualify for these protections, the person filing the petition must first receive consent from the survivor.

House Bill 1742 was signed into law Friday and will take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Category: Press Releases

Person browswing the internetWEST CHICAGO – In order to expand access to high-speed broadband for Illinois families, State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago) is encouraging Illinoisans to apply for the second round of state broadband funding.

“From e-learning to telehealth, the COVID-19 pandemic amplified the need to expand broadband across Illinois,” Villa said. “Our lives are becoming more and more reliant on internet access, and it’s imperative that we make sure no community is left behind.”

The Office of Broadband Regional Engagement for Adoption + Digital Equity (READY) program is designed to increase access, adoption and use of high-speed internet access through the lens of digital equity and inclusion. To further these efforts across all ten economic development regions of the state, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Broadband is launching the next READY notice of funding opportunity, with another $250,000 available for grants.

The Broadband READY program is part of a comprehensive Digital Equity Package to boost broadband capacity while addressing existing broadband equity gaps. The READY program and other investments to enhance community planning and equitable implementation will complement the Connect Illinois program, a $400 million plan to deliver universal access to high-speed internet statewide.

Funding can be used to expand immediate broadband connectivity, conduct outreach and engagement to identify current digital inequities, and establish next steps forward. Its aim is to create a digital inclusion ecosystem through regional collaboration among institutions of higher education, planning councils, community and economic development organizations, schools, libraries, health care and local leaders, and other related stakeholders.

“Everyone in Illinois deserves access to the endless information available online,” Villa said. “This broadband funding is key to eliminating the digital divide across our state.”

The application deadline for the second round of READY grants is Oct. 4, 2021. Visit the Illinois Office of Broadband website for information on eligibility criteria or application assistance.

Category: Press Releases

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


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