SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) and State Representative Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) gathered with community advocates to announce a step forward in the passage of Senate Bill 1786, which would protect upwards of 50,000 Illinoisans whose driver’s licenses are suspended every year due to non-moving violations like an inability to pay parking and compliance tickets, fines and fees. Legislators and advocates made a commitment with the mayor of Chicago to continue to work together through the summer in the effort to secure passage of the bill during veto session this coming fall.

“It is urgent we pass the License to Work Act. Each day, 57 people lose their job due to a suspension over non-moving violations,” said Representative Carol Ammons. “We stand with our many supporters today to announce that the bill will be advanced through committee. We have made progress, but there’s still work to do. We will pass this bill.”

“Today’s decision to move the bill forward is a small victory, but it’s only a start. We are steadfast in our commitment to correct this harmful system, which has put both the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago in national news over the past few weeks,” said Senator Omar Aquino. “Thousands are losing their cars and their driver’s licenses. People’s lives are being turned upside down over debt collection, city sticker tickets, and other non-moving violations. For too long, we have balanced city budgets on the backs of low-income people by burying them in ticket debt while divesting from their communities.”

There is bipartisan, statewide support for the License to Work Act, including 50 cosponsors in the House. Today’s announcement signals that the bill will be called for a vote in committee this week. The bill passed the Senate 38-10.

Legislators were joined by community members, who travelled from Chicago to tell the story of how driver’s license suspensions have harmed them.

“Driver’s license suspension is one of the main barriers to employment faced by my trainees. Jobs go vacant, even though I have qualified candidates to fill them, because they owe money on non-moving vehicle tickets,” said Manuel Rodriguez, executive director of Revolution Workshop, which trains unemployed and underemployed individuals in carpentry and woodworking.

“The vehicle ticketing system is in desperate need of reform,” said Rodney Shelton, a firefighter with the City of Chicago from West Garfield Park. “This system is a domino effect: first you get ticketed; if you don’t pay, the cost doubles; you lose your license, so you get in trouble at work, and you risk getting a criminal record if you drive on a suspended license; you file bankruptcy to get out of debt, but then your credit is ruined, you can’t get a loan. It’s unjustified. We don’t have time to sit and wait to correct this obvious wrong.”

“We can’t expect people to be able to pay off their debt if we take away their ability to get to work. The License to Work Act would reverse this unjust system, which harms both individuals and businesses in Illinois,” said Brian Costin, Deputy State Director of Americans for Prosperity Foundation - Illinois.

“When you take away a driver’s license, you take with it a family’s ability to move out of poverty. This broken cycle has to stop,” said Eric Halvorson, Policy Associate with the Chicago Jobs Council. Eric is a leader of the Transit Table, a broad community-based coalition that supports Senate Bill 1786. “The Transit Table welcomes the support of Chicago’s new Mayor and other elected officials to end driver’s license suspensions for non-moving violations and bring equity to our ticketing, fines, and fees systems in the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.”