SPRINGFIELD – Conversations of equity and equality have recently been at the forefront of legislative measures, but Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) realized there was a place it was missing: environmental policies.

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It led Bush to hold conversation on environmental justice in Illinois during Thursday’s Senate and Environment Conversation.

“We cannot have a strong environment unless we have equitable environmental policy,” Bush said. “Today’s hearing was a learning opportunity for all of us so we can best move forward with passing environmental legislation that supports all people and communities.”

Representatives from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others, provided their expertise.

Mike Atty, executive director of United Congregations of Metro-East, said communities of color are disproportionally impacted by environmental structures that place toxic industries in their neighborhoods. A common misconception, he said, is that Black and Brown communities don’t care about the environment. Rather, Atty testified it’s the exact opposite and environmental issues are degrading to his community’s way of life.

“When we think of environmental justice and environmental racism, we are committed to working with the Illinois EPA and General Assembly to bring equity and provide resources for jobs and training for communities that have been historically left out of the process,” Atty said.

Eduardo Flores from Clean Power Lake County said people who live in environmental justice communities often are faced with more health issues, including higher rates of birth defects, heart attacks, lung cancer and strokes, just to name a few. In Lake County alone, one out of every three children has asthma or asthma-like symptoms, which have been said to be linked to a lack of clean energy.

“By remaining in my home city [of Waukegan] I know I am jeopardizing my life and health,” Flores said. “Fossil fuel companies have taken advantage of the community, making a profit and leaving behind a toxic mess. Now, Waukegan residents have a life expectancy 15 years lower than someone living just seven miles away.”

Bush said she is committed to continuing conversations about environmental justice and pledges to look through its lens when considering legislation.

“People are fighting for the right to breathe and for their children to have open spaces to play,” Bush said. “People are also breathing contaminated air and living around contaminated land. We must pass fair and equitable legislation to allow people to live comfortably and safely.”

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SPRINGFIELD – People who have lived in an apartment might have noticed they typically only have one option to dispose of their waste: a large trash can. To give tenants a more sustainable way to get rid of garbage, State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is leading the charge to require recycling options at apartment complexes.

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“We all know recycling is the right thing to do, but not everyone has readily available access to it,” Bush said. “The best way to be environmentally friendly and reduce waste is to make recycling more accessible.”

Any apartment building with more than four units would be required to offer a recycling service and the building owner would be required to provide tenants with recycling bins if Senate Bill 1676 becomes law.

While all counties and municipalities must have a recycling plan under current law, they aren’t required to consider apartment complexes.

“Recycling is a simple, everyday act that can help save our environment if everyone takes part,” Bush said. “We don't let apartment complexes neglect trash collection, and we shouldn't let them neglect recycling.”

The measure passed the Senate Licensed Activities Committee Wednesday and now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

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SPRINGFIELD – A no-contact order typically instructs a defendant not to have any in-person contact with a victim. However, unless a measure led by Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) becomes law, they could still hound their accuser via text message, email or social media.

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“When a person pursues a no-contact order against someone, there is nothing stopping the perpetrator from sending threatening texts or leaving harassing voicemails,” Bush said. “In the age of technology and online dating, far too many people have experienced unwarranted communications after drawing the line.”

Electronic contact – which includes texting, emailing and calling – would be considered a violation of a person’s stalking no-contact order under Bush’s proposal. If a person were to break the order, they would face the same repercussions as they would for in-person contact.

Under current law, electronic contact is not considered means of correspondence. Without the clarification found within Senate Bill 1677, a stalker could contact someone virtually and harass them without facing consequences. 

“Once a no-contact order is in place, no one should have to worry about hearing from their abuser,” Bush said. “As technology evolves, so too must the measures we take to help people feel safe.”  

The measure passed the Senate Criminal Law Committee Tuesday and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

 

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SPRINGFIELD – A mother of three is out shopping when the inevitable happens: one of her young boys needs to use the restroom. It’s at that moment when she’s faced with the reality of having to choose between taking her sons into the women’s restroom or taking herself and her daughter into the men’s.

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It’s this kind of everyday situation that led State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) to file a measure to allow a multiple-occupancy restroom to become an all-gender restroom

“This proposal simply calls for the needed privacy safeguards to make these restrooms work for anyone,” Bush said.

In January 2020, it became law that all single occupancy public bathrooms in Illinois become gender neutral.

Senate Bill 457 simply expands on that law. However, the legislation is permissive – gender specific multiple-occupancy restrooms are still allowed. Moreover, multiple-occupancy all-gender restrooms will have to meet additional privacy safeguards. Any restroom designated for all genders must have specified signage and floor to ceiling stall dividers.

“People who have disabilities, older adults, or anyone else who needs the help of someone of another gender can receive the assistance they need without having to search for a single occupancy restroom,” Bush said. “Or, think about the moms accompanying young boys, dads with young girls and parents with multiple kids. It’s easy to be unsure which restroom they should use.”

The measure was filed last month and Bush hopes to present it in committee soon.

 

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Springfield Office:
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