Evanston’s state representatives’ biggest accomplishments in 2023 legislative session


Illustration by Lily Ogburn

State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-Glenview) and State Sen. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) represent Evanston residents at the state capitol.

Jacob Wendler, Copy Editor

The Illinois General Assembly’s 103rd session came to a close early Saturday morning. Over the past four and a half months, Evanston’s legislators in Springfield prioritized health care, environmental protections and education.

Evanston is currently represented by State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) and State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-Glenview) in the Illinois House of Representatives, with Gabel’s 18th district encompassing most of the city.

Following the 2020 redistricting cycle, State Sen. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) now represents all of Evanston in the state’s upper chamber.

Here are some of the most notable policy wins for Evanston’s state representatives in the 103rd session:

Robyn Gabel

While serving her seventh term in the Illinois House of Representatives, Gabel took on an added responsibility as majority leader in the statehouse. In a January news release, Gabel named expanding access to health care, addressing gun violence, protecting women’s reproductive rights and pursuing a clean energy future as some of her priorities for the session.

In addition to shepherding 345 bills originating in the House through both chambers, Gabel successfully saw several bills that she sponsored bills pass.

This month, the legislature approved the Electric Vehicle Charging Act, which Gabel sponsored in the House. The bill aims to expand access to EV charging equipment in parking spaces of multi-unit residential buildings and single-family homes.

Gabel also sponsored multiple health care bills, including one that made Illinois the third state in the country to mandate paid time off for any reason. The bill passed in March.

“This law recognizes the added burden placed on working mothers,” Gabel said in a release following the bill’s passage. “It sends the message that no worker is somehow less deserving of the flexibility to tend to basic needs. And it improves our workplaces by empowering every person to care for themselves and those around them.”

Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz

Gong-Gershowitz (Pritzker ’09) has represented Illinois’ 17th district, which includes most of Evanston’s 6th Ward as well as Glenview and other surrounding suburbs, since 2019.

Gong-Gershowitz, who won reelection in November with more than 70% of the vote, chairs the Higher Education Committee’s Campus Activities subcommittee and the Judiciary Civil Committee and sits on three other committees.

Gong-Gershowitz sponsored or cosponsored dozens of bills that made it through both legislative bodies this term, including a measure to hold gun manufacturers responsible for “dangerous marketing tactics” and regulating single-use plastics and microplastics.

She also led the charge in the House to remove liability protections for ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft.

In this term — as well as her last — she continued to prioritize environmental protection measures, women’s and immigrants’ rights, and access to education. Gong-Gershowitz also recently heralded several bills focused on digital privacy, including protections for people targeted by “deepfakes” and doxing.

Laura Fine

After serving three terms in the Illinois House of Representatives, Fine ran for the 9th district State Senate seat in 2018 and comfortably won her reelection bid in 2022.

Fine currently chairs the Behavioral and Mental Health Committee and sits on the Insurance, Health, Environment and Conservation and Appropriations Human Services Committees.

She sponsored several bills this term to expand access to health care and mental health services in Illinois. One bill established a program to reclaim “forever chemicals” from firefighting foams and another requires health insurance providers to cover annual mental health visits.

In addition, after 10 years of working to advance health care affordability, Fine secured the Senate passage of two House bills Gabel sponsored. One of the bills would create a state health insurance exchange, protecting Illinois residents from a potential Affordable Care Act rollback, and another that would empower the Illinois Department of Insurance to deny unjustified rate hikes.

Fine also pushed to include investments in youth behavioral and mental health care in the next fiscal year’s budget. The budget includes $200 million to support residents with developmental disabilities and more than $20 million for a new Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative. The program will seek to increase the availability of essential resources and care to children and make it easier for families to seek support.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jacob_wendler

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