SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Illinois State Senator Heather Steans announced she is resigning her seat after 12 years, saying "it's time for fresh faces and new energy."
During her time in the Senate Steans, a Chicago Democrat, introduced and passed the bill that legalized gay marriage in Illinois, sponsored and passed HB 40 to ensure legal abortion in Illinois regardless of the status of Roe v. Wade, and was the senate sponsor for the Equal Rights Amendment, which was ratified by the state legislature in 2018.
RELATED: Governor JB Pritzker signs Reproductive Health Act, expanding abortion access in Illinois
"It's been the privilege of a lifetime to represent the most diverse Senate district in the State of Illinois," Steans said. "I've benefited tremendously from the many perspectives of the people I've represented. We've made great progress together, and now it's time to pass the baton."
Steans also wrote, and along with State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) passed, the bill legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois. Rep. Cassidy told ABC7 Eyewitness News she will seek to be appointed to Steans' seat when she vacates it on Jan. 31.
RELATED: Illinois House passes marijuana legalization bill, approves balanced budget
The successor to the seat will be chosen by weighted vote of the Democratic committee members from the wards in the 7th Senate District. That person will serve out the final two years of Steans' term, and then must run to retain the seat in the 2022 midterm election.
The Illinois 7th Senate District covers parts of Chicago's North Side.
Illinois Senate President Don Harmon issued a statement reacting to the news, saying, "Heather Steans forever changed this state for the better. People across Illinois had their rights recognized and protected thanks to her leadership. She is a forceful advocate for progress and problem solving, who fearlessly tackled many of the biggest issues in our society and was always looking for her next challenge. I wish her the best in her next adventures and thank her for all she has done for the Senate and the great state of Illinois."
State Senator Heather Steans announces resignation effective Jan. 31
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy says she will seek appointment to vacated seat