SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, is highlighting a major package of reforms to promote economic access, equity and opportunity passed as part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) agenda to address systemic racism.
“Today Illinois has taken a major step forward in ensuring that all people in the state, regardless of their race or color, are given the opportunity to succeed,” Harper said. “While these efforts are born out of the struggle against injustices directed toward African Americans, they will lift up all Illinois families to create a more equitable economic system in our state and one that doesn’t just level the playing field but raises it.”
Harper sponsored four bills, Senate Bill 1480, Senate Bill 1608, Senate Bill 1792 and Senate Bill 1980, that focused on banking and investment, economic mobility, entrepreneurship, housing, state procurement law and workers’ rights. Additional measures focused on specific industries including agriculture, beauty supply and cannabis.
“To put working families first, I fought for fair housing and job opportunities no matter your background and equal pay for equal work no matter your color or gender,” Harper said. “I also cracked down on predatory lending that takes advantage of families at their most vulnerable to lock them into a lifetime spiral of debt.”
Harper fought to ensure that people seeking a roof over their heads or a job to support themselves and their family are fairly evaluated and aren’t unfairly denied because of a criminal history. Harper’s measures also enact stricter equal pay for equal work laws in Illinois by ensuring that employers certify their equal pay status. Additionally, she fought to crack down on predatory lending by capping interest rates for payday loans.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities across Illinois and small businesses have been hard hit,” Harper said. “As we work to recover from the pandemic, we can’t return to the days of unequal lending access and banking services. We must ensure that financial institutions across the state invest in the small businesses that are the backbone of successful communities.”
Harper worked to increase investments in underserved communities by ensuring that financial institutions chartered in Illinois engage in fair banking and lending practices. Furthermore, she fought to ensure that Illinois invests funds in community banks and local financial institutions. The economic pillar of the Black Caucus agenda also includes a series of programs to provide grant funding for small business technology firms, leverage federal small business grants and to boost investment in small businesses through the Illinois State Treasurer. Additionally, it increases state investments in businesses owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities.
“We know that for years African Americans have faced discrimination across the board, but in some industries racial disparities are particularly stark,” Harper said. “That’s why I took action to combat disparities in agriculture, beauty supply and cannabis and fought to create an action plan to target intergenerational poverty and ensure equality.”
Harper’s economic reform package includes measures for a disparities studies on the beauty supply industry and on African American farmers as well as an equity commission to ensure the state fulfills social equity goals laid out in the law that legalized adult use recreational cannabis. Additionally, the package creates a commission that will work to ensure equity and equality for African American descents of slavery, work to reduce and eliminate poverty among this group, and study the issue of reparations for descendants of slavery in Illinois.
“These critical economic reforms will ensure that more people in our state have the access, equity and opportunity necessary to provide for themselves and their families,” Harper said. “At its heart, these reforms will help raise families out of poverty, support small businesses, and help ensure that people are able to access good jobs, affordable housing and fair wages free of discrimination.”
Visit Rep Harper’s website
274-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
4926 South Ashland
Chicago, IL 60609
(773) 925-6584 FAX