Supporting quality education, improving the affordability of higher education, and offering alternative career paths to our youth have been my objectives since coming into office. Education is a primary reason people move to our district and I want to ensure our students feel supported even after high school. I will always look for ways to enhance resources for our students and parents.
Bringing Students to the Table
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) manages several key Illinois programs of higher education and tuition assistance, including the MAP grants. I believe that as this directly impacts students, it should be a requirement that there always be student representation on the board. Legislation I sponsored ensures that students will always be present and can contribute to decisions and conversations about tuition assistance in Illinois.
Advancing Science, Technology, Engineering & Math for our kids
As an engineer, I know the value of exposing our young people to STEAM & STEM career paths. We mirror what we see and believe is possible – and when I was a kid, I had no idea that a career like mine was even possible. That’s why I am dedicated to advancing STEAM education and am working with a women’s group to host a STEAM academy. Through this academy, we are working with constituents to identify gaps in the career pipeline while also exposing middle and high school students to local engineers, mathematicians, and analysts, and opening the door for them to dream big.
I’m passionate about protecting our environment and I believe that we must do everything we can to keep our rivers, lakes, and waterways clean from harmful toxins, that’s why I championed the first PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) related bill to reduce the introduction of PFAS into our waterways by prohibiting firefighting testing foam from being released into our waterways. PFAS are “forever chemicals” – toxic microscopic chemicals that never degrade – harming the environment, our bodies, and the long-term health of our communities. Until scientists figure out how to filter PFAS out of our waterways or remove them, it is critical we prevent these toxins from ending up in streams, lakes, and rivers altogether – which is exactly what my bill aims to do.
Creating a fiscally responsible budget and sticking to it ensures that we avoid long-term debt and that our community programs have the funding they need. Our budget is also a moral document – it shows our commitments to the people we serve and the challenges they face.
I knew getting Illinois back on track to fiscal responsibility started with addressing our budget and looking for sustainable solutions. Thanks to my work in the Senate, Illinois has been able to pay down extra on the unfunded pension liability, receive 6 credit upgrades, and increase funding for education.
I’m proud to chair the financial institution’s committee which has passed policies that protect people from predatory lending. It is deeply important to me as a legislator to do everything in my power to reduce the wealth gap in our communities.
Transitioning to clean energy presents an opportunity for job growth in the 21st district and I have been persistent about pursuing new and innovative opportunities for our residents while protecting our local economy and phasing out coal plants at a pace that doesn’t require abrupt layoffs.
Hydrogen can be used as fuel in large transportation, industry, and agriculture. It has the potential to help us reduce our carbon footprint while creating jobs and I believe Illinois is poised to be at the center of a growing hydrogen economy. For this reason, I have created a Hydrogen Hub Task Force to investigate what opportunities could benefit families throughout Illinois.
As a breast cancer survivor, I know how important it is to have access to reliable and quality healthcare. That is why I have supported legislation to enhance healthcare coverage, protect women’s reproductive rights, and advocate for increased access to mental health services.
Improving healthcare coverage and Insurance
I don’t think anyone should experience a surprise out-of-network charge, which is why I have been a consistent supporter of bills that enhance our communities’ healthcare coverage, and why I am working to advance legislation that would ensure people referred to reproductive healthcare at a different facility aren’t charged out-of-network prices.
The work I’m most proud of is the work led by and in collaboration with my constituents. That’s why, when a community member came to me with concerns about diabetes prevention and testing, I listened and pushed for legislation that ensured preventative screening was covered by insurers. Diabetes is dangerous and costly to an individual and I believe we must do all we can to inform people who are at risk of developing this harmful disease.
Diabetes is a costly lifelong disease that impacts a person’s long-term health outcomes and requires insulin for proper management. People with diabetes shouldn’t be extorted by pharmaceutical companies looking to make a bigger profit. That is why I supported capping out-of-pocket insulin expenses so that those suffering from diabetes don’t have to make a decision between getting groceries or paying for their medication.
I support a woman’s right to choose and I believe Roe v. Wade should be codified nationwide. Here in Illinois, I have supported reproductive rights and will push for legislation that continues to protect and enhance the care women can access.
Protecting privacy and access to abortions matters because it protects some of the most vulnerable pregnant minors, who may have been victims of rape and incest. These decisions should be between a person and their doctor, not the government, and that is why I supported repealing the Parental Notification act and allowing young women to make decisions that are best for their wellbeing.
When constituents come to me with their concerns, I don’t just listen, I do something about it. When Alex Green’s family approached me after he tragically died of an overdose in 2018, I got to work on Alex’s law, a measure that expands protections from criminal prosecution for people if they call in an overdose and are found to be in possession of controlled substances. The opioid crisis impacts every community and our priority will always be to save lives. We don’t want people to hesitate when a friend is overdosing. Saving lives will always be my top priority.
For those addicted to opioids and their families, overdose is a constant threat. That is why I voted to make naloxone more accessible, to prevent overdose death. We have got to reduce deaths by overdose and focus more attention on addressing the roots of addiction.
To be a good legislator requires listening to your community and having an unwavering dedication to constituent services. That’s exactly what I have been doing and will continue doing in my role as State Senator for the 21st district. Our office has helped hundreds of people –– before, during, and after the pandemic –– access unemployment benefits as well as additional state and federal aid. I pride our office on being responsible, accessible, and accountable to my constituents, and I will always listen and adapt to what our community needs and fight for the resources we deserve.
CRIME & PUBLIC SAFETY
During my time in office, I have worked to keep peace in our communities by passing common-sense policies that help deter crime, increasing 21st-century safety measures, working with our law enforcement agencies, and pursuing justice for victims.
I supported the Safe-T Act after speaking with police departments and law enforcement leaders in my district, who are already training and employing the best practices described in the law. I believe that once the rest of the state deploys these data-backed strategies, our communities will be safer and people will feel more comfortable carrying about their daily lives. To ensure we keep the highest standards in our police departments, I will continue to push for funding and legislation that gives our law enforcement agencies the resources they need.