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SPRINGFIELD – Children who are detained will no longer be able to be held in solitary confinement starting Jan. 1 thanks to advocacy from State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr.

“Sadly, across the nation, young people are being held in solitary confinement for unreasonably long periods of time, sometimes spending 22 hours or more alone each day,” said Sims (D-Chicago). “That is inhumane and can cause long-term grave psychological, physical and developmental harm.”

Sims’ law prohibits the use of solitary confinement on young detainees in detention centers for any purpose other than preventing immediate physical harm.

Young people in solitary confinement are isolated both physically and socially, often for days, weeks, or even months on end. Sometimes there is a window allowing natural light to enter or a view of the world outside cell walls. Sometimes it is possible to communicate by yelling to other inmates, with voices distorted, reverberating against concrete and metal. Occasionally, they get a book or bible, and if they are lucky, study materials. But inside this cramped space, few contours distinguish one hour, one day, week, or one month, from the next.

“For children, who are still developing and more vulnerable to irreparable harm, risks are magnified – particularly those with disabilities or histories of trauma and abuse,” said Sims. “Children should not be deprived of the services, programming, and other tools they need for healthy growth, education, and development. We should be helping children grow into productive and healthy adults, not harming them, this is particularly true when they have come into the criminal legal system. If we are going to have true safety and justice, we must invest in a criminal legal system that creates pathways to success not one that tears down our young people and creates a cycle of recidivism.”

House Bill 3140 takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – After months of negotiations, State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. passed a measure to enhance oversight over the pawnbroker industry. 

“Working with consumer advocates and other interested stakeholders, we passed a comprehensive plan to ensure transparency and ethical practices within the pawnbroker industry,” said Sims (D-Chicago). “The Predatory Loan Prevention Act stopped many forms of predatory lending in Illinois, and we are working to continue down that path.” 

Sims’ measure creates the Pawnbrokers Regulation Act of 2023, regulating how a pawnbroker can operate and conduct its operations to ensure they are being fair, transparent, and equitable. It gives the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation authority to oversee and regulate the industry. Further, it establishes a complaint and penalty system, which could result in the termination or suspension of a pawnbroker’s license. 

As part of the Black Caucus’ Four Pillar Agenda in 2021, Sims was instrumental in passing the Predatory Loan Prevention Act. The PLPA was aimed at reining in the high-interest, short-term loan industry. The bill passed today by the Illinois Senate creates a robust, consumer-focused regulatory process aimed at building on the work started with the passage of the PLPA. 

Sims worked alongside IDFPR, various consumer advocates, and the Illinois Pawnbrokers Association to put forth House Bill 779 to ensure the pawnbroker industry is safe and well-regulated. 

“Today’s bipartisan action helps to protect people who are struggling and need to use the services of a pawnbroker,” said Sims. “We must stop predatory practices in any lending industry by giving consumers the peace of mind that they will be dealt fairly and equitably.” 

House Bill 779 passed the Senate Wednesday. 

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – For the ninth time in just over two years, Illinois has seen another improved bond rating. Fitch Ratings – one of the nation’s major credit rating agencies – announced upgrades Tuesday thanks to the fiscally-responsible decisions made by Illinois Democrats.

State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) – who serves as the Senate’s Appropriations Leader and Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee – released the following statement in response:

“When I look at the budgets we have passed in recent years, I see the work and years of fiscal responsibility paying off. We were able to pay down our bills and put money back in the pockets of the state’s hardworking families. Illinois is a stand-out state when it comes to putting the needs of our residents first – and we do so in a responsible, equitable way.

“The nine upgrades Illinois has seen in recent years shows our fiscally responsible budgeting approach is working and is independent proof that our state is headed in the right direction. Our future looks bright and I look forward to continued collaborative efforts with my colleagues to keep Illinois on this upward economic trajectory.”

Category: Press Releases

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CHICAGO – State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. announced that a combined total of $1.6 million is coming to local communities to support revitalization efforts.

“Investing in affordable housing uplifts our community and boosts our local economy,” said Sims (D-Chicago). “We are taking strong strides toward revitalization and attracting investments in the communities that need it most. All Illinoisans deserve sustainable, livable housing options.”

The Illinois Housing Development Authority recently approved $19 million to support affordable housing and community revitalization efforts across Illinois. Awarded under the Strong Communities Program, the initiative will provide funding to 68 units of local governments and land bank authorities for the acquisition, maintenance, rehabilitation and demolition of abandoned residential properties in their communities. The program is designed to support local revitalization efforts and attract further investment in communities that may lack the resources needed to tackle vacant, abandoned and deteriorated properties.

The second round of Strong Communities Program awardees include:

  • Cook County Land Bank Authority: $562,000
  • South Suburban Land Bank and Development: $562,000
  • Village of Hopkins Park: $195,000
  • Sauk Village: $337,000

“Vacant and abandoned properties continue to be a strain on local budgets and resources in communities throughout Illinois, which is why IHDA created the Strong Communities Program to assist local governments with their neighborhood revitalization efforts,” said IHDA Executive Director Kristin Faust. “Through the Strong Communities Program, IHDA seeks to help communities transform these properties back into positive, revenue-generating assets for neighborhoods.”

The grants are funded by the Rebuild Illinois capital plan and will leverage IHDA’s existing funding to increase property values, create jobs, help reduce crime, generate additional tax revenue and attract further community investment in underserved communities around the state. A total of $30 million in grant funding has been awarded through two application rounds.

To learn more about the Stronger Communities Program, click here.

Category: Press Releases

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