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The Majority Report 12/01/17 - Senators look to end Illinois' participation in flawed voter database


State Senators: It's time to stop using the flawed Crosscheck system

Crosscheck Press ConferenceThe Illinois State Board of Elections would no longer be allowed to share sensitive voter information with a controversial voter registration system under a new measure introduced in the Illinois Senate.

Senate Bill 2273, sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and cosponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, would prohibit the state from sharing any voter information with any interstate voter registration program other than the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

In doing so, the state's participation in the controversial Interstate Voter Registration Data Crosscheck Program would be halted. Crosscheck, which was pioneered by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is seen by many as nothing more than an attempt to keep minorities from voting.

Raoul has made his opposition to the racially biased program clear, calling for the state to cease using it at once.

"Crosscheck can be used to knock valid voters off the rolls, and it disproportionately impacts minority voters, who are more likely to share last names and be flagged by the system," Raoul said. "That flies in the face of the voter protection policies we have embraced in Illinois."

Citing testimony heard earlier this month on security flaws with Crosscheck, Cunningham said the best way to protect voter information is for Illinois to get out of this system before something worse happens and instead utilize a better one.

"There are far too many concerns with Crosscheck's security and intent," Cunningham said. "It is time for the state of Illinois to stop using this flawed system and focus on programs that are more secure."

State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park), Chairman of the Illinois Senate's Sub-Committee on Cybersecurity, has continued to investigate the 2016 State Board of Election security breach.

"Based on testimony from the Illinois State Board of Elections, it is evident that Crosscheck is an inferior program that makes the citizens of Illinois' personal information susceptible to hackers," Hastings said. "The right to vote is a fundamental component of our nation's democratic values.  It's our duty to protect voters' personal and sensitive information and promote impartial and honest elections."

View the senators' remarks at a press conference here.

In the news
CBS Chicago: Democratic lawmakers push for bill to stop Crosscheck system
WAND: Lawmakers tackle controversial voter registration system
U.S. News & World Report: Democrats unveil plan to remove Illinois from voter database


Renowned travel guru joins Illinois' effort to legalize cannabis

Rick StevesLawmakers heard testimony from advocates on the potential economic impact of legalizing cannabis at a hearing earlier this week. Illinois could see up to $699 million in new revenue by legalizing cannabis use among adults through a measure that would spur economic development while protecting public safety.

Among those testifying was nationally known travel writer and television host Rick Steves, an active proponent for ending America's prohibition of marijuana.

"I'm not pro-drugs - I'm pro-civil liberties and anti-prohibition," Steves said. "Marijuana is here to stay. We can either keep building more prisons or figure out a better solution. I think it's obvious what the solution is, and it's happening around the country as it did in my home state of Washington. We need to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults."

"It is clear that prohibition doesn't work and that by lifting cannabis restrictions we can encourage economic development in Illinois," State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) said. "We are carefully considering all aspects and potential impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis, including job growth."

In addition to increased tax revenue, legalized cannabis could provide a boost for job growth in Illinois. According to a report from New Frontier Data earlier this year, the legal marijuana market could create more than 250,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2020. Legalizing adult-use marijuana creates a variety of jobs including scientists, dispensary employees and growers, among others.

"Legalizing cannabis will spur the creation of new small businesses and much-needed jobs," State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) said. "We are leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity on the table by continuing the outdated status quo of prohibition."

Read more here >

In the news
ABC Chicago: Rick Steves testifies in favor of marijuana legalization in Illinois
Chicago Sun-Times: Rick Steves: Marijuana legalization can help West, South Sides


Manar conducts district-wide hospital tour

Sen. Andy Manar hospital tour

Senator Andy Manar's (D-Bunker Hill) exhaustive effort to take the pulse of hospitals and federally qualified clinics in his district revealed good news and cause for concern this week during a tour of every hospital and federally qualified health clinic in his Senate district.

Millions of dollars in state payments are finally flowing  to those community institutions, they reported.

But there are deep concerns and confusion about the state's Medicaid managed care program, and answers are difficult to come by from the Rauner administration, Manar was told at nearly every stop of the tour.

"The goal is pretty simple. I want to listen to what the needs of the hospitals are and what the needs of the federal health centers are in the 48th district and take those concerns back to Springfield when session begins in 2018," Manar said.

A Senate hearing on the Medicaid managed care program is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 8 at 11 a.m.

The tour also highlighted the importance of rural health care in Illinois and called attention to the need for continued investment in this vital sector of the economy. Manar toured facilities, learned about advancements and challenges in providing health care in central Illinois and spoke with hospital officials about regulatory challenges that could be addressed through legislation.

Additionally, the senator focused on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on rural and downstate health care, the gains hospitals and clinics have made under the ACA and the implications that a roll-back could have on the delivery of services and employment in the region.


Memorial for fallen military personnel dedicated at Capitol

Sen. Koehler Military Memorial

A memorial remembering fallen soldiers and their families was dedicated at the Illinois State Capitol this week. The memorial is sponsored by America's Gold Star Families, an organization that helps the families of fallen servicemen and women.

The Tree of Honor, located just east of the rotunda, is decorated with ornaments bearing the names and pictures of members of the military from every branch who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) spoke at the dedication, stressing the need to never forget the sacrifices our military families make.

"We can never truly appreciate what their families have experienced and given to our nation," Koehler said. "But that does not mean we should not try.We can and we must find ways to honor the memory of the fallen."

The tree was decorated by military families with ornaments commemorating fallen soldiers from every conflict all the way back to the Civil War. It will remain up at the capitol through the holiday season.

Read more here >


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Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Shorewood: Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant: ‘Plainfield is a great place to live, work and raise families' (Chicago Tribune)

Senator Daniel Biss, Evanston: New Illinois initiative helps find people with dementia (Chicago Sun-Times)

Senator Tom Cullerton, Villa Park: Tom Cullerton urges military veterans and service persons to take advantage of free statewide legal hotline (Chicago Tribune)


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