05312021CM0766CHICAGO – To ensure a fairer justice system,  State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) spearheaded a measure to allow a person in the state justice system and their attorney to efficiently access a comprehensive record of vital information needed for a person's legal defense. The measure was signed into law last week.

“Access to a master file is critical for incarcerated people who are applying for clemency or other legal processes,” Pacione-Zayas said. “From allowing people to check their information for accuracy, to giving them a jumpstart on putting together a resume or legal argument, the master file is an important asset to those involved in our justice system.”

The new law will allow people committed to Illinois Department of Corrections facilities to request one summary of their master record file a year. Additionally, it would allow an incarcerated person’s attorney to request an additional summary of the master file annually.

The summary must be made available within 15 days of the request and must include the person’s name and identifying information, all digitally available information from the committing court, information on the person’s criminal history and more. Additionally, the incarcerated person can request available records on specific disciplinary incidents and grievances filed by them throughout their time committed.

"Incarcerated people deserve basic access to the records of their stay in prison," said State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), House sponsor of the legislation. "This law will help people prepare legal arguments, write resumes, and return home ready to contribute to their communities."

The new law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

Category: Press Releases

Apprenticeship stockCHICAGO – During the spring legislative session, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas was proud to support and sponsor measures to encourage more people to get into the field of trade work through education and apprenticeship programs.

“Whether it be a young person trying to decide what to do after high school or someone looking for a career change, ensuring Illinoisans have options when entering the workforce is important,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “The trades offer high demand, high pay jobs that can benefit both the individual and the growing workforce.”

Pacione-Zayas sponsored Senate Bill 3990, which requires high school guidance counselors to promote Career and Technical Education to students as they determine plans following high school. CTE includes education in fields like construction, health science, technology, manufacturing and more.

Additionally, Pacione-Zayas supported House Bill 5225, which creates the Job Training and Support Services Pilot Program. This program will be developed by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and will offer grants to individuals participating in apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship programs or other work-based learning programs. Grants can be used for transportation, child care, technology needs, income support and other areas.

“Under the Clean and Equitable Jobs Act that was signed into law last year, job training programs to help us get to a renewable future will be stood up across the state,” Pacione-Zayas said. “These measures will give individuals the tools they need to encourage them to pursue this workforce.”

Both measures were recently signed into law. Learn mearn more about opportunities to enter the workforce through Metropolitan Family Services Pre-Construction Training Program for young people here.

Category: Press Releases

032922HAO01273CHICAGO – To prevent developmentally inappropriate standardized tests from being administered to young children, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) championed the Too Young to Test Act, which was signed into law on Friday.

“Standardized testing has historically served to keep groups out of institutions, and we know that the value and validity in our education system of using these assessments are highly questionable,” said Pacione-Zayas. “This law acknowledges well-established brain science research that asserts the fluidity of child development during the early years rendering standardized tests as developmentally inappropriate. Further, it lives up to the Governor’s vision of Illinois as the best state in the nation for families raising young children.”

The new law, formerly known as Senate Bill 3986, ensures the Illinois State Board of Education does not develop, require, or purchase standardized tests for students Pre-K through second grade, except for the case of diagnostic and screening tests including determining eligibility for special education services, bilingual services, dyslexia interventions, observational tools like the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, and the federally mandated English Learner assessments.

"The Too Young to Test bill is not only about protecting our youngest learners from the harms of rigorous standardized assessments, but it also ensures we use our state educational resources on research-based approaches that truly support students and teachers," said House sponsor of the law, State Rep. Lindsey LaPointe (D-Chicago). "I am proud and grateful to have championed this bill with Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas and our tireless advocates."

Currently, the federal government only mandates standardized tests from third grade and on, although ISBE is currently considering allowing optional standardized tests for younger students.

"Standardized testing used for annual accountability purposes in older grades is not valid and reliable for children under age 8. It's not required by federal law, and it's not wanted by the majority of parents and educators who know that standardized testing isn't developmentally appropriate in early childhood,” said Cassie Creswell, director of Illinois Families for Public Schools. “We need to protect those years from further encroachment by high-stakes tests."

The Too Young to Test Act was signed into law on Friday. It takes effect immediately.


Category: Press Releases

open 208368 1920CHICAGO – Nearly 160 businesses in the district represented by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas received a total of $5.58 million in financial assistance through the Back to Business program.

“Small business are the heartbeat of our communities, and so many have struggled during these last two years,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “The B2B program has helped businesses keep their doors open in such unprecedented times.”

The B2B grants are awarded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity using funds allocated to them by the American Rescue Plan through last year’s state budget.

DCEO has provided $250 million in B2B grants to small businesses throughout the state, with an emphasis on hard hit sectors, such as restaurants, bars, barbershops and salons, with an emphasis on providing support to disproportionately impacted areas.

“From our favorite restaurants and shops, to other important businesses like gyms and art galleries, the B2B program has kept our neighborhoods economically robust,” Pacione-Zayas said. “I am excited to be able to continue to support these business as we continue toward recovery.”

Due to fiscal responsibility, the state saw an increase in funds available to assist small businesses.

Pacione-Zayas urges small businesses to visit the DCEO website for additional resources or contact DCEO’s First Stop Business Information Center Services at 800-252-2923 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Category: Press Releases

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