SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – With session ending for the summer, state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, spent this past spring working on a number of measures to protect reproductive rights, hold corporations accountable for pollution, protect immigrants from discrimination and pass a balanced, responsible budget that protects the middle class while funding critical services and education.
“Across the country, we are seeing states pass restrictive laws aimed at eliminating a woman’s right to choose as opponents of choice wage their war on women,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “Throughout history, women have been devalued, dismissed, discounted and have died just for attempting to exercise bodily autonomy. We cannot go back to a pre-Roe world. That’s why I supported the Reproductive Health Act because abortion is healthcare, and because Donald Trump and his allies should not be dictating what women can and cannot do.”
Right now, there are a number of antiquated anti-choice laws in Illinois that are only blocked from enforcement because of Roe V. Wade. Senate Bill 25, also known as the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) not only repeals those antiquated policies, but it ensures that access to reproductive services are protected in Illinois should Roe be overturned.
Gong-Gershowitz supported Senate Bill 9, which places stronger regulations and enforcement on coal power plants when disposing of their waste. Coal ash, a by-product of the combustion of coal, contains a number of toxic pollutants that deteriorate the quality of water making it unsafe for drinking. Recently, a study done by a number of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, found that of the 24 coal power plants located in Illinois, 90% had groundwater contamination with one or more unsafe pollutants. Gong-Gershowitz’s initiative will prevent the reckless disposal of waste in local water supplies.
“It is unacceptable that large corporations are skirting regulations to enrich themselves, while poisoning the local communities and taking no responsibility,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “It is on us to fight back against big business to ensure our children and future generations inherit a planet with clean water and air.”
Gong-Gershowitz also introduced House Bill 836 which provides a clearly defined path to designate a short-term guardian to protect children in the event that a parent or guardian is detained, deported or otherwise separated from their children by immigration officials. She also passed Senate Bill 1429 which places limitations on when someone’s immigration status can be used in civil proceedings in an effort to silence victims.
“As a human rights lawyer, I have brought my experience and expertise navigating the legal system on behalf of vulnerable populations to the General Assembly. I have witnessed firsthand how deficient, and in some cases malicious, immigration policies are and how they can tear families apart,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “I authored a bill to mitigate the pain and anxiety of family separation by ensuring that parents may designate a trusted legal guardian in the event they are deported or detained. While there are those who wish to exploit the status of undocumented people by targeting them for crimes, I passed legislation to prevent a victim’s immigration status from being used to intimidate them into silence.”
Gong-Gershowitz supported the “Fix the FOID Act,” which expands background checks to all firearm purchases and strengthens the background checks for FOID card applicants by requiring fingerprint submissions. It also requires coordination between the Illinois State Police and local law enforcement to ensure that individuals who have lost their FOID cards privileges surrender their guns when necessary. Under the Act, FOID cards must be renewed more frequently to ensure there are regular background checks for gun owners. That legislation, Senate Bill 1966, passed the Illinois House last week.
“Gun violence continues to plague communities across Illinois, which shows how much more work is required to end this epidemic,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “Recent tragedies, like the Aurora shootings this year, have proven the dire necessity for comprehensive background checks and new finger-printing requirements for FOID applications. I am proud to have supported this key gun safety reform to close loopholes and keep guns out of those who may cause harm.”
To help stabilize Illinois’ financial footing, Gong-Gershowitz supported a responsible, balanced budget that funds critical services like education, senior resources and health care, while making a full pension payment and meaningfully addressing the backlog of bills accrued under the Rauner administration.
“Cuts to education at the state level over the past two decades have led to higher property taxes and fewer opportunities for Illinois’ students. In particular, draconian cuts to higher education under the previous administration forced students to out-of-state colleges, where most of them will remain long after they graduate. This costs our state young college graduates, young families and economic growth,” Gong-Gershowitz added. “In this budget, we increased the state education funding for our K-12 schools to promote equity and alleviate property taxes.”
Gong-Gershowitz supported increased funding to our monetary assistance grant program (MAP) to provide financial assistance for low-income students who wish to attend university and keep our young people in Illinois. She also played a key role in the House Appropriations-Human Services budget working group, where she successfully negotiated more investments toward critical programs like meals on wheels, autism funding and addiction treatment.
“I voted to send the question of a fair tax to a direct referendum because I believe Illinois voters should have a voice in our state’s tax structure and supported a task force to investigate innovative methods of property tax relief in Illinois,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “We need responsible financial leadership now more than ever. It is my commitment to advocate for responsible spending on behalf of my residents.”
Visit Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz’s website
265-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
1812 Waukegan Road
Glenview, IL 60025