Improving Democracy

CHANGE Illinois advocated for passage of these laws to improve government and democracy:

SB1236: County good governance omnibus

This county government law improve checks and balances, increases transparency, and encourages fiscal responsibility. The bill not only prohibits elected county officials from double dipping — receiving pensions and salaries simultaneously — but it also creates a process for the removal of a county board chair. The law also increases audit options for newly elected countywide officials and creates additional contract disclosures by requiring family relationships to be documented prior to contracts being awarded. 

2020 Census appropriation

Illinois made the largest investment nationally to ensure a complete and accurate count for the 2020 Census. Illinois is projected to lose one or two congressional seats based on its anticipated population loss. Counting every resident in Illinois is important to ensure we have a shot at fair political maps that represent all of us and to ensure our state’s interests are represented in Congress. We also receive federal dollars that are important for road repairs, building projects and public services based on our state’s population. The state has allocated $29 million to assist in outreach, education, and public awareness for the census count.

SB2090: County jail ballot access

People who have not yet been convicted now have their voting rights restored to them. Our justice system’s foundation is that a person is innocent until proven guilty, therefore, no one should have their right to vote taken when they are detained. The law also calls for a polling place inside Cook County Jail.

HB2265: Middle school civics education

The middle school civics education law is a step toward helping students prepare to be civically engaged by requiring that middle schools offer a course on civics education. The course will equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to actively participate and understand government and the democratic process. The civics education curricula will include instruction on government institutions, discussion of current and societal issues, and simulations of democratic processes. To support middle-school teachers, schools, and districts, the McCormick Foundation has pledged to raise and fund $3 million in private donations to pay for the program statewide. 

HB2541: Re-Entering Citizens Civics Education Act

The act makes certain citizens who are leaving adult and juvenile prison facilities are provided with civics education courses to better prepare them to re-enter society. The courses will be peer-to-peer taught and focus on government structures and how they work, as well as current political events and local issues. Research shows re-enfranchising people with criminal convictions and engaging them in their governments and elections reduces recidivism.