Since 2008, Heather Steans has represented the 7th Senate District of the State of Illinois. She currently chairs the Appropriations I Committee and the Special Committee on Oversight of Medicaid Managed Care, she vice chairs the Appropriations II Committee and serves on the Executive, Environment and Conservation, Government Reform and Human Services Committees.
Senator Steans has been a leader in the effort to legalize cannabis in Illinois, resulting in landmark legislation prioritizing equity and criminal justice reform. She has also been a champion for LGBTQ equality, passing the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act to make marriage equality the law for all Illinois residents. Additionally, she was the Senate Sponsor of House Bill 40, protecting women’s reproductive rights in Illinois.
Senator Steans has fought to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law and reform Medicaid legislation to ensure the ongoing solvency of the program while addressing the state’s $2.7 billion shortfall. She has enacted significant reform legislation to improve nursing homes, and she passed bills reduce mercury waste and create commercial composting capabilities to protect the environment. She also sponsored the repeal of the death penalty in Illinois. Moving forward, Senator Steans is working on legislation to require increased testing for lead in drinking water.
Heather earned her bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Princeton University and her master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. During her career, she has focused on government finance, economic development and education reform. She is the former budget director of the Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations, served as a strategic planner with the Chicago Public Schools, and was a consultant with Ernst & Young.
Heather has lived in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood for more than 20 years with her husband, Leo, and their three children.