ELGIN – After Amita Health announced plans earlier this week to close behavioral health units at two hospitals, including St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) released the following statement:

“I am extremely disappointed by Amita’s decision to close the behavior health unit at St. Joseph’s without any community input. Amita made an investment in the community, and many residents of the community rely on that investment. By pulling out, they are damaging lives.

“There is a substantial population of homeless people who use the services provided by the behavioral health unit to receive the treatment they need. That unit is also important for the well-being of minorities throughout the community. Since there are no other mental health wards nearby, closing this unit leaves these people with no options for treatment. This is shameful.

“Amita has left the community with no local access to much needed services. A few years ago, when former Gov. Bruce Rauner lowered the number of beds at the Elgin Mental Health Center, this put the community under a huge strain. Now, Amita is closing the acute mental health ward. This is detrimental to the community, especially during a time where we should be expanding access to mental health services.

“This closure leaves Elgin with so many unanswered questions. Amita didn’t notify anyone in the community or surrounding communities. For them to have made this decision without consulting or even notifying the public, myself, Rep. Anna Moeller, or any other elected officials is beyond shocking. I call on Amita to rethink the decision and allow the public to offer input on how closing this ward will impact their lives.”

Category: News

ELGIN – Illinois consumers will receive their rebates in a fair way, thanks to Senator Cristina Castro’s bill that was signed into law Friday.

House Bill 2156 makes it unlawful for retailers to offer consumers a rebate made on a store-value card – where the amount is on the card and not connected to a financial system – that charges inactivity fees or other post-issuance fees.

“If a consumer is owed money from a rebate, they shouldn’t be hindered by dormancy fees,” said Castro (D-Elgin). “It is unlawful and unfair. Consumers shouldn’t be at risk of being charged for getting a rebate. That is their money.”

In the past, companies would issue a rebate in the form of a check to a consumer. Under current law, if the check is not cashed within three years, the company is required to turn the amount of the check over to the Treasurer's Office as unclaimed property.

The State Treasurer and the Attorney General have worked together to protect Illinois consumers who have money owed to them from rebates.  

House Bill 2156 is effective immediately.

Category: News

SPRINGFIELD – Drivers will soon be able to choose a gender-neutral option to put on their driver’s license or ID cards under a new law by Elgin Democrat State Senator Cristina Castro.

Castro’s law will allow applications to choose between “male,” “female” or “non-binary” when defining their sex on their driver’s license or ID card.

“It has always been stressed that our driver’s license and state ID cards should be as accurate as possible,” Castro said. “Allowing a gender-neutral option only helps to make it more accurate. It has been long enough, and it’s time for not only the state, but also its agencies to adapt. I am happy to see the governor sign my bill.”

Currently, eight states and the District of Columbia offer a gender-neutral option on driver’s licenses and ID cards. 

House Bill 3534 is effective immediately; however, it won’t take full effect until the current contract with the Secretary of State licensing system vendor expires in Aug. 2021.   

Category: News

ELGIN – A measure to protect undocumented immigrant tenants from landlord harassment was signed into law today, thanks to Elgin Democrat State Senator Cristina Castro.

The new law creates the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, which prohibits landlords from questioning a tenant’s immigration status as a means of harassment or to force an eviction.

“We needed to put a protection in place to ensure that landlords are not holding their tenants’ immigration status over their heads to pressure higher rent or eviction,” said Castro.

Castro’s measure will now allow tenants to report criminal activity or habitability issues without being targeted based on their immigration status.

Castro filed this legislation because the Illinois Human Rights Act did not protect individuals based on immigration status, nor did it place any limitations on when a landlord may request or share that information.

“Tenants should feel free to come forward and report these important habitability issues no matter their status,” said Castro. “This was an important piece of legislation that I worked on tirelessly for over a year now. I am glad that it was signed into law today.”

Senate Bill 1290 goes into effect immediately. 

Category: News

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