IL tollwayCHICAGO – State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) is urging residents to take advantage of a new initiative announced by the Illinois Tollway this summer. TOLLING 2020 is a new tolling reform package that will significantly reduce the costs of unpaid toll fees.

“Thanks to this relief period, motorists who have been unable to pay outstanding fees due to COVID-19 will be able to catch up,” Villivalam said. “I believe customers will save under the new invoice process and violation relief.”  

For the remainder of 2020, the Tollway is reducing all outstanding violations with the Illinois Tollway, and all existing $20 and $50 fines per toll will also be reduced to $3 per toll, providing an opportunity for relief to thousands of motorists. Any unpaid tolls that occurred between March 9 and June 25 during the Stay at Home Order will not incur additional fines or fees.

Here are some important takeaways for customers under this new program:

  • As always, customers can continue to avoid fees completely for at least 14 days by paying online.
  • Vehicle owners who fail to pay a toll will now initially face a notice with a $3 invoice fee for each unpaid toll rather than a notice with a $20 violation fine, an 85%reduction. (Currently, a $20 fine is assessed for each unpaid toll if left unpaid. That penalty escalates by another $50 if the notice remains unpaid for an additional 60 days.)
  • Customers looking to take advantage of the significant reduction in fines can visit the Tollway’s website to review and pay their updated balances through the end of the year, even if they were previously at collections. (No special arrangements are necessary.)
  • Customers with unpaid tolls during the COVID-19 period will receive an invoice for their unpaid tolls only and are able to pay those tolls online as well. 

The Illinois Tollway is still operating all-electronic toll collection to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so tolls should still be paid online to avoid any fines and fees. Anyone who wants to learn more about the program, or how to pay unpaid tolls and violations, should visit the Illinois Tollway’s website at www.illinoistollway.com.

Category: Press Releases

raise minimum wageCHICAGO — State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) is hailing Illinois’ minimum wage increase, beginning today, as a welcome boon for working families and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I’ve advocated for paying minimum wage workers a living wage for years, and this increase will be a welcome change for struggling families who need the extra income because of the pandemic,” Villivalam said. “It’s more important than ever to support those who are fortunate enough to be employed and those who are providing essential services.” 

The state’s minimum wage increases to $10 per hour on July 1, the second increase in a series of increases required by a law that was supported by Villivalam and passed last year. That law requires the state of Illinois to increase the wage by $1 on January 1 of each year for the next five years until it reaches $15 per hour in 2025. 

“Our minimum wage earners really deserve this raise. Until this law took effect in January, they hadn’t seen a pay increase since 2010,” Villivalam said. “I have learned a great deal about the challenges faced by small business owners and have worked to address them in other pieces of legislation. I do strongly believe, in the overall picture, this is a win-win. Workers get the raise they deserve to provide for their families, and businesses have a better shot at retaining their workforce.” 

While this wage increase is a statewide mandate, Chicago and other communities around the state already have higher local minimum wage requirements. 

Category: Press Releases

Vote1CHICAGO – Governor JB Pritzker recently signed legislation ensuring that all Illinoisans will be able to safely cast their ballots in the November election.  

“Given the COVID-19 pandemic, my colleagues and I worked to find ways to keep people from congregating in enclosed spaces, standing in long lines for hours, or otherwise risking their health in order to exercise their right to vote,” said State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), a chief co-sponsor of the measure. “By designating Election Day as a state holiday and creating an expansive vote-by-mail program, it will allow a greater number of people the opportunity to vote without having to worry about missing work or school.” 

Under the new law, those who voted within the last two years or registered to vote after the 2020 primary election will be receiving an application for a vote-by-mail ballot. Additionally, it designates Election Day 2020 as a state holiday, allows for drive-by voting, extends early voting, and allows more people to serve as election judges.

People who aren’t automatically sent an application will still be able to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot through the State Board of Elections’ website. 

“Allowing people to vote by mail or go in person to vote early are two great options to allow people to maintain a safe physical distance from each other,” Villivalam said. “Participation in the election process shouldn’t be a life or death decision.” 

The law, Senate Bill 1863, takes effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

Family working from homeSPRINGFIELD –State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) traveled back to Springfield to help pass a budget that will support working families, small businesses, and immigrant communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This budget isn’t perfect, but we needed to pass a responsible plan that preserves key funding for essential services and provides relief for businesses to help them stay afloat until it is safe to reopen our state,” Villivalam said. “Additionally, there is no question we need further assistance from the federal government. The state of Illinois already sends more dollars to the federal government than it receives prior to the pandemic. We need them to step up.”

The new budget addresses key priorities including:

  • Providing more than $600 million in funding for businesses impacted by COVID-19
  • Preserves $12.6 billion in P-12 education funding
  • Providing an additional $400 million for local health departments
  • Providing $32 million in funding for immigrant welcoming centers to help recent immigrants get the COVID-19-related help they need
  • Providing IDES with nearly $60 million in additional funding to address challenges with the unemployment system

“This pandemic has shown us that we were not prepared to handle a crisis of this magnitude,” Villivalam said. “It is more important than ever to make sure we support struggling Illinoisans in any way we can, and this budget will at least provide some stability for the foreseeable future.”

Senate Bill 264 passed the Illinois Senate 37-19. 

Category: Press Releases

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