Reentry jobs bill passes the Illinois House, moves on to the Senate

Working with Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic and the Community Renewal Society, CCH’s Reentry Project visited Springfield three times this spring to advocate for House Bill 494, which removes lifetime bars to work in or near schools for people with records.

Our advocacy proved effective: The Illinois House passed HB 494 on a vote of 66-47 on April 23, receiving strong support from both sides of the aisle.

Rentry advocates celebrate House vote for HB 494
Rentry advocates celebrate the House vote for HB 494, with (third from left) CCH’s Jonathan Holmes and Charles Austin, State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and (3rd from right) CCH’s Gloria Davis.

Sponsored by State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), the bill first passed out of the Elementary and Secondary Education: School Curriculum and Policies Committee on March 25. 

After that, our coalition negotiated amendments with the Illinois State Board of Education, including a requirement that the wait period for people convicted of drug offenses be seven years after completing probation or parole. Our coalition talked to legislators in Springfield on April 16, before the amended bill passed out of committee by a 16-7 vote on April 22.

Leaders and advocates will continue advocacy as HB 494 moves to the Illinois Senate. CCH leaders Charles Ausin and Gloria Davis have been active advocates for CCH’s Reentry Project, which is organized by Rachel Ramirez.

Advocacy was supported by leaders and staff from the Community Renewal Society, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and Heartland Alliance. Other groups that have shown support include the Chicago Jobs Council and the conservative Illinois Policy Institute.

– Jonathan Holmes, Policy Fellow