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Hearing highlights need for crime lab improvements, more minority contracting opportunities

capital hrng 050919 CHICAGO – Improvements to the State Police Department’s Joliet crime lab and increasing contracting opportunities for minorities were a focus as Lawmakers met in Springfield on Thursday to hear about the state’s infrastructure improvement needs.

Members of the Joint Subcommittees on Capital, led by State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Sen. Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago), heard testimony from the Illinois State Police and members of local government about what infrastructure projects need to be funded and potential revenue sources to pay for them.

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly recommended directing funding to improving to the department’s Joliet crime lab, which he said was in dire need investment to bring it up to current forensic science standards.

“The needs are getting to the point where it’s a desperate situation,” Kelly said. “There are people there that do hard work every day that are going to decide the fate of people who have been charged with a crime or that are going to decide whether a victim gets justice.”

Contracting opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses was another major topic brought before lawmakers. Denise Winfrey, Speaker of the Will County Board, advocated for hiring more firms owned by women and people of color to work on new construction projects in Will County.

Sandoval, a longtime advocate of supplier diversity applauded Winfrey for her support if minority and women owned business.

“I’ve been working for my entire tenure in the Senate to improve this state’s minority contracting numbers,” Sandoval said. “The introduction of a statewide construction plan is going to create thousands of jobs in Illinois and we need to make sure that people of color can take advantage of these opportunities.”

The Springfield hearing was the eighth and final installment of the subcommittees’ tour of the state to hear input from interested groups about infrastructure improvement needs. Lawmakers will now consider the testimony they heard over the last few months as they develop a plan to fund construction projects in Illinois.

“We’ve learned a lot since we first started this process back in January,” Manar said. “It’s time for us to distill all of the information we gained and put it to work to create a comprehensive construction plan that distributes funds fairly across the state.”