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The Majority Report 02/03/18 - Senate Democrats react to State of the State address


Senate Black Caucus

Senate Black Caucus to Rauner: Illinois needs true leadership

The governor has failed to lead the state and address important problems facing people in the black community, members of the Senate Black Caucus said following Wednesday’s State of the State address at the Capitol.

Caucus lawmakers noted that the governor’s speech did not mention many of the struggles that face black and brown Illinoisans today, such as scarce opportunities for advancement and decimated services for senior citizens.

Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), who also chairs the joint Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, delivered a clear message: “The governor did not acknowledge the billions of dollars we’re in debt due to his lack of governing. Today he said he would deliver a balanced budget, but did not acknowledge all the cuts he would have to make to have a balanced budget unless there is additional revenue created.”

Despite the governor’s failures, the caucus has continued to focus on social justice, equitable access to education and social service funding for our most vulnerable populations. The caucus will continue to pressure the governor to fulfill his duties of passing a budget, but not at the expense of health care, economic development and job opportunities.

“We have had hospitals turn away patients because they do not have enough resources to aid the most vulnerable,” said State Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago). “It’s simple: access to quality health care is non-negotiable. We are demanding the governor to be fair and compassionate during budget talks.”

Video: Black Caucus reacts to governor’s State of the State address
Read more: Additional reaction from the Senate Black Caucus
Read more: Senate Democrats react to Rauner’s fourth State of the State


Senate votes to end Crosscheck for Illinois

Senator Kwame Raoul

State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) advanced legislation Wednesday ending Illinois’ participation in a controversial voter registration system.

The Illinois Board of Elections currently subscribes to two national voter database systems designed to help election authorities identify voters who may be registered in more than one state: the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program and the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). The legislation would remove Illinois from Crosscheck but allow it to remain in ERIC, widely viewed as the better system.

“We have heard from numerous experts that the Crosscheck system is unsafe and that it can be used as a tool to discriminate and suppress voters,” Raoul said “There is no reason to continue using this system when we have a better option readily available.”

Cyber security experts testified to a joint committee last year that the Crosscheck system has several security concerns that make private information easily accessible. Additionally, voting rights activists say Crosscheck is a vehicle for discrimination at the voting booth.

State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park), chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on cybersecurity, has continued to seek answers about the 2016 State Board of Elections security breach.

“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.”

Read more: Raoul’s full statement
Read more: Hastings’ full statement


Morrison seeks to reverse upward trend of teen tobacco use

Sen. Julie MorrisonFor the first time in years, overall tobacco use rates in teens is rising, thanks in part to increased use of e-cigarettes.

To prevent teens from ever starting to use tobacco, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) joined colleagues, advocates and health professionals in support of a popular proposal to increase the age to legally purchase tobacco products in Illinois to 21.

“We have known about the dangers of tobacco use since the 1960s. While that information is certainly not new, we continue to battle the problem of teens picking up a cigarette for the first time and smoking for the rest of their lives," Morrison said. "Decreasing the rate of smoking starts with teens, as nearly 9 in 10 current smokers first tried tobacco by the age of 18.”

Morrison’s plan would make Illinois the second state to raise the age to buy tobacco to 21.

State Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) is co-sponsoring the proposal. It's been more than 10 years since his Smoke Free Illinois measure banning smoking in most public places took effect.

“Smoke Free Illinois was a major step forward in improving the health of Illinoisans and making our state a better place to live,” Link said. “Tobacco 21 builds on that effort by reducing the number of teen smokers and curbing the next generation of adult smokers, moving us one step closer to a healthier, smoke-free Illinois.”


In case you missed it


Sen. President John J. CullertonSenate President John Cullerton: Rauner speaks of bipartisanship, Democrats don’t believe it | WTTW-TV, Chicago

Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Shorewood: Bertino-Tarrant pushes prioritizing children over private school tax credits | Chicago Tribune

Senator Melinda Bush, Grayslake: Flood victims can claim natural disaster income tax credit | Lake County Journal

Senator James F. Clayborne Jr., Belleville: Lottery board chairman resigns over tweet about East St. Louis | The State Journal-Register

Senator Tom Cullerton, Villa Park: Cullerton fights to give Quincy veterans the honor, respect they deserve | Chicago Tribune

Senator Bill Haine, Alton: Haine responds to the State of the State address | riverbender.com

Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Lawmakers override Rauner veto of school funding | The State Journal-Register, Springfield

Senator Pat McGuire, Joliet: Local state senators react to State of the State address | Joliet Herald-News

Senator Julie Morrison, Deerfield: Illinois officials propose raising smoking age | CBS St. Louis

Senator John Mulroe, Chicago: Lawmakers introduce bill on dense breast notifications | WTTW-TV, Chicago

Senator Steve Stadelman, Rockford: Is passenger rail still a possibility from Chicago to Dubuque? | Peoria Public Radio

Senator Patricia Van Pelt, Chicago: Ron Taylor, helped found coalition that fought for social justice, dies | Chicago Tribune


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