SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, led and championed numerous reforms this spring to improve equity and local schools in Illinois.
Welch is the chief sponsor on a variety of social justice measures aimed at improving opportunities and equity for minority communities in Illinois. Welch passed legislation House Bill 3394, aimed at increasing corporate diversity by requiring corporations based in Illinois to report the racial and gender make up of their board of directors to the Secretary of State’s office. Additionally, the measure aims to shine a light on firms not making diversity a priority by creating an individualized rating for each corporation’s efforts to increase diversity on their boards.
“Many in the business community agree that there should be a greater emphasis placed on increasing diversity amongst corporate boards, but unfortunately there’s been a disconnect in turning that sentiment into results,” Welch said. “My proposal creates transparency and allows the state to examine which companies are prioritizing corporate diversity, what practices are working to improve diversity, and to hold corporations that are lagging behind in their efforts to create a diverse corporate culture accountable.”
Additionally, Welch passed legislation aimed at increasing minority participation in the trades. Welch’s House Bill 534 requires the Department of Labor to establish a bureau to increase minority participation in apprenticeship programs and extends diversity requirements for state contracts to include state construction contracts. Welch also spearheaded efforts to help ensure that individuals awaiting trial in a jail are able to exercise their right to vote.
“Illinois needs to make greater efforts to foster more minority inclusion in the building trades,” Welch said. “This measure takes a much needed step to helping bolster diversity in the trades and help connect families in our community with good-paying jobs.”
Welch led a variety of education-focused initiatives aimed at strengthening local schools. Welch passed Senate Bill 1226, which gives families more local control in decisions being made at charter schools. Additionally, Welch passed Senate Bill 1941, which creates a new state grant to promote school safety and healthy learning environments, and House Bill 2152, which requires college campuses to improve accessibility for mental health services for students.
“Ensuring that our children have quality educational opportunities is one of my top priorities,” Welch said. “These proposals help bring greater local control and accountability to our schools and make sure that our children are learning in safe and welcoming schools.”
“While we achieved significant accomplishments this session, there’s more work to be done,” Welch said. “Moving forward I’ll continue to fight to build a stronger Illinois by creating a brighter future for middle-class families in Illinois.”
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