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SPRINGFIELD –The Illinois Senate voted to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 years old today, with the measure now awaiting the governor’s signature to become law.
State Senator Ram Villivalam helped pass House Bill 345, prohibiting the purchase or possession of alternative nicotine products, electronic cigarettes and tobacco products by individuals under the age of 21.

“Just last week, a constituent shared with me that she lost her father to smoking-related illness when he was only 40 years old, leaving behind his wife, seven children and a baby on the way,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “She urged me to take action to prevent others from facing the same fate and I'm proud of the fact that today the State Senate took the necessary action.”

According to the American Lung Association, underage smokers’ primary source of cigarettes is their 18- to 20-year-old peers. The Association believes that increasing the legal age of sale of tobacco would virtually eliminate the ability for high school students to purchase and share products with younger children.

“It is our duty to encourage healthy habits among our youth,” Villivalam said. “Tobacco is an addictive and lethal substance that alongside alcohol and firearms should be restricted to those who are 21 and over.”

Additionally, the Association believes that raising the age would reduce smoking among 15-17 year olds by 25 percent and among 18- to 20-year-olds by 15 percent. Overall, the Association believes raising the age will result in fewer long-term smokers, reducing overall smoking rates by 12 percent.

If signed, the measure would take effect July 1, 2019.

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – Legislation introduced by State Senator Ram Villivalam that would promote the availability of the Child Care Assistance Program passed the Senate unanimously today.

“Public services are only valuable when those who they are designed to work for are aware of them,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “It is important for DHS to promote the availability of CCAP so families can take advantage of quality childcare options, allowing parents to work or attend school.”

SB 1321 would require the Illinois Department of Human Services to promote the Child Care Assistance Program, targeting all families with children under age 13, families eligible for child care assistance and child care providers.
Former Gov. Bruce Rauner reduced the eligibility of CCAP by lowering the income threshold to 50 percent of the federal poverty level. Though CCAP Eligibility has been restored to 185% FPL and eligibility expansion was extended to twelve months, there is only 31% take up in the program, meaning awareness of this program must be raised.

“I’m hoping this bill will increase awareness of programs designed to help working families, and will simultaneous allow those families with young children to trust that their government is back to working for them,” Villivalam said.

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Ram Villivalam’s legislation to protect workers from local right-to-work laws was signed by Governor Pritzker this morning.

“I am proud to sponsor legislation that would make it crystal clear that local right-to-work zones have no place in the state of Illinois. Workers deserve the right to collectively bargain for living wages and better working conditions in every part of our great state,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “Furthermore, there is no question that the regulation of collective bargaining should be a responsibility of state government.”
Senate Bill 1474 is designed to support economic development, protect the quality of essential services that are provided to the taxpayers of Illinois, and confirm the state’s commitment to maintaining and producing a highly trained workforce.

“The Collective Bargaining Freedom Act is commonsense legislation that keeps a level playing field in Illinois for employers and employees,” said Michael T. Carrigan, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “Right to work zones will only create a race to the bottom concerning wages and economic security in our communities. This bill protects middle class families.”

The bill takes effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Ram Villivalam to advance equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) older adults passed the Senate on Wednesday.

“It is important to protect our LGBTQ population at all ages. The older members of this community face very specific challenges as they age,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “We need to ensure that aging programming by service providers and the environments in assisted living facilities are welcoming and inclusive, and I’m proud to say this legislation does just that.”

Senate Bill 1319 would both highlight to service providers the need to develop aging programming that includes LGBTQ people and help cultivate affirming environments in assisted living facilities for LGBTQ older adults.

“LGBTQ older adults face many challenges as they age, including fears about neglect, abuse, and harassment because of their identities,” Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois said. “Sometimes, many LGBTQ older adults are forced by circumstances to go back into the closet as they age because of the absence of inclusive programming by service providers and a lack of affirming care in long-term care facilities. As they age, we must ensure laws and programming support and affirm them. Thank you, Sen. Villivalam, for leading this charge.”

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

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