PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Gov. JB Pritzker signed two bills into law Wednesday afternoon, both of which were sponsored by local Peoria Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth.

House Bill 4813: Providing healthy school lunch options

HB 4813, which is effective immediately upon today’s signing, increases access to nutritious, well-rounded food options in schools across Illinois.

“Students deserve to receive healthy, high-quality meals that help them grow and learn,” said Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth. “For too long, our laws have locked school districts in a race to the bottom for ‘lowest bidder full service’ contracts that have disproportionately hurt low-income and minority students. I am thankful for the years of advocacy from parents, students and school officials who made today a reality because they wanted to create healthier outcomes for our children.”

This bill makes food service providers participating in any USDA child nutrition program exempt from contract bidding processes, encouraging schools to give preference to these vendors.

Schools are encouraged to choose contracts that promote the health and well-being of students, source local food products, and value the welfare of animals. Vendors are required to submit data to schools during the bidding process, which sponsors of the bill hope will improve how schools select their food providers.

This bill is another step in Gov. Pritzker’s Healthy Foods Access Program. Under this program, grocery stores, corner stores, farmers’ markets, and other small retailers may receive assistance through grants, loans, equipment, or other financial assistance to be awarded on a competitive basis.

House Bill 3616: CROWN Act

The Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act codifies protections against discrimination against hairstyles historically associated with specific racial groups. Hairstyle traits such as hair texture and protective styling are categorized as race-based in this act and therefore protected from discrimination.

“For far too long, individuals – particularly in the Black community – have been targeted and discriminated against for having their hair in dreadlocks or other protective styles,” Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) said. “Today, Illinois is choosing to be a leader in stopping this prejudice behavior and ensuring that workers can no longer be discriminated against for hair traits historically associated with race.” 

Gov. Pritzker’s press release cites studies that have found Black women are 1.5 times more likely than their counterparts to be sent home from work because of their hairstyle and are 80% more likely to change their natural hair texture or style to conform to expectations at work.

Additionally, the American Bar Association reports children as young as six face disciplinary action for their hairstyles: Jett Hawkins, the namesake of Illinois’s original bill protecting against discrimination in schools, was only four years old when his school cited him for being out of dress code for having his hair in braids

Illinois’ CROWN Act goes into effect on January 1, 2023.