Illinois legislators have recently proposed a number of acts that further the opportunities for demographic groups at-risk of being disadvantaged, such as women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. If approved, many of these acts will go into effect January 1, 2020. Below is a brief summary of just a few of the bills currently under consideration by the state legislators.
HB0002-Expanding Upon Pregnant Women’s Rights
This bill outlines and specifies a pregnant woman’s rights when receiving health care throughout pregnancy and childbirth. One aspect the bill would expand upon is the communication resources available to pregnant women. If enacted, the bill would require all hospitals to ensure pregnant women can receive information in a language in which the woman can communicate. This provision is intended to ensure that all medical decisions are made from a fully informed perspective and would aid in eliminating communication barriers. Additionally, if enacted, the bill details a woman’s freedom of choice with various aspects of the birthing process. For example, the bill would allow a woman the right to choose their own birth setting from the full range of options available in her community. This provision is accompanied by the additional right t to choose either a midwife or a physician as their care provider. If enacted, this bill will extend the general protections offered to all patients in the State of Illinois and specify these rights in the context of a prospective mother’s specific needs.
HB 2656- Securing Feminine Hygiene Products for At-Risk Women
This bill would require all homeless shelters make feminine hygiene products available free of charge for homeless women and youth. While the act does include the provision that said requirement is subject to the availability of funds in the shelter’s general budget, it should still be considered an advancement for the included specification that feminine hygiene products be listed as an operational expense. This specification allows shelters to include the cost on expense reports submitted for tax purposes to secure funds in the future.
SB 1479-Encouranging Business Opportunities for Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities
This proposed legislation would amend the Business Enterprise for Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities Act. If amended as proposed, the state would be able to give preference in the awarding of State contracts to organizations run by minorities, women, and persons with disabilities. This bill would increase the opportunities for any individual within these categories to secure State support for their organization.
HB 3394-Requiring Corporate Diversity Reports
If enacted, this bill would require Illinois corporations to report annually to the Secretary of State regarding the presence of diversity both in their company and hiring process. Some of the provisions required in the report include data on specific qualifications, skills, and experience that the corporation considers for its board of directors, nominees for the board of directors, and executive officers; whether each member of the corporation’s board of directors self-identifies as a minority person and, if so, which race or ethnicity to which the member belongs; and other information. Additionally, if approved, the bill would require the establishment of a statewide rating system assessing the representation of women and minorities on corporate boards. The collected information would be compiled and reviewed by the University of Illinois. The complete report would be published to the University’s website and would provide a summary of the aggregate data on the demographic characteristics of corporate boards residing in Illinois. This act would not only encourage opportunities for women and minorities but would also create transparency about the diversity practices of Illinois corporations.
These are just a few of the currently proposed legislative changes still under consideration in Illinois. It is important to note that none of these acts have yet passed legislative requirements. These acts are, however, illustrative of Illinois’ continued attempt to expand protections and opportunities to individuals at risk of being disadvantaged in everyday life.
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