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Munoz seeks to stop the sale of illegal cigarettes

munoz-cigsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Tony Munoz’s (D-Chicago) legislation that would add cigarettes that don’t bear a city or county tax stamp to the definition of “contraband cigarettes” was approved by the Senate today.

“The sale of untaxed cigarettes does our community a disservice,” Munoz said. “The practice of selling contraband cigarettes is irresponsible and only attracts violence and crime to our neighborhoods.”

Senate Bill 509 would allow cities and counties to enforce criminal action against retailers that avoid their taxpaying obligations. Currently, cities may only enforce an Administrative Notice of Ordinance Violation, but the civil penalty doesn’t deter individuals from selling untaxed cigarettes.

The sale of illegal cigarettes promotes gang related activities because they can render more profits than illegal drugs.

“By cracking down on these crimes, not only can we bring more revenue to the city of Chicago, but also cut down on the funding stream going to gangs,” Munoz said.

The legislation now moves on for consideration in the House.

Pawnshop public protection plan passes Illinois Senate

harmon-pawnSPRINGFIELD – A proposed law passed by the Illinois Senate could make it easier to recover stolen property and to catch thieves and the pawnshops that help them fence their stolen goods. Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) introduced the plan in response to local residents concerned about pawnshops.

“Many members of the local community in Oak Park, Austin and Galewood are concerned about the number of pawnshops operating in our communities,” Harmon said. “We need to be sure that these shops aren’t profiting from theft to reassure nearby home and business owners.”

Under Harmon’s measure, pawnshops would be required to hold onto items for one week before selling them or releasing them back to the people who brought them in. This holding period would ensure local police have time to check pawnshops for stolen goods during burglary investigations. It also bans pawnshops from accepting items with missing or altered serial numbers.

“Local businesses have the responsibility to act lawfully and assist law enforcement’s efforts to reduce crime,” state Representative Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) said. “This bill not only aims to help recover an individuals’ stolen property, but it will also give peace of mind to local residents and small business owners in our community who strive to own and operate reputable businesses.”

The proposal, Senate Bill 1820, now goes to the Illinois House of Representatives, where it will be sponsored by Lilly.

Bennett works to protect college graduates

bennett-stud-loansSPRINGFIELD- Student loans are now the largest source for consumer debt in the United States surpassing mortgages and credit cards debt

More than 20 states including Illinois currently have laws in place that suspend professional licenses and certificates in the event a consumer must default on their student loans.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) passed an initiative to prevent licensing boards from denying, revoking or suspending individual professional licenses due to student loan default in Illinois.

“Our job is to put more people to work, not keep them from doing their job. Revoking or suspending professional licenses isn’t going to make people pay their loans back faster,” said Bennett. “The fact is if you are unemployed, you won’t be able to pay back your loans and will incur additional debt.”

Senate Bill 454 will put provisions in place to prevent individuals with student loan default from experiencing licenses being denied, revoked, or suspended in 38 professions such as occupational therapists, teachers, structural engineers, home inspectors and real estate agents.

“There isn’t a way for people to escape student loan debt. It is irresponsible to place them in an ineffective cycle that will only hinder their ability to work and develop professionally,” said Bennett.  

Student loan debt is the only type of debt in the U.S. that is not eligible for bankruptcy except in severe instances.

SB 454 passed the Senate and now moves to the House for consideration.

Tom Cullerton works towards protecting families

tc-savingsSPRINGFIELD- Families with disabled family members may soon have an important resource to provide a secure financial future for their loved ones.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) passed Senate Bill 1383, which creates a tax-exempt plan to assist individuals and families in saving money to cover the expenses for people with disabilities.

“We need to give family members the right tools to provide their loved ones with disabilities the means to live their lives with pride and respect,” said Cullerton.

SB1383 creates the Illinois Achieving a Better Life Expectancy Act (ABLE Act), which creates accounts similar to tax-advantaged college saving plans where income earned in the account is not taxable. This legislation comes after the federal government passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 with bipartisan support.

Last week, Virginia was the first state to enact the program since the federal legislation was passed.

“This plan would lighten the load a bit and make it easier for families to save money as they continue to make important life decisions for their future,” said Cullerton.

Under this initiative, the Illinois Treasurer’s office would be responsible for creating ABLE accounts in accordance with federal rules and regulations. The accounts can be used to pay for qualifying expenses such as education, health, housing and transportation costs.

SB 1383 passed the Senate and moves to the House for consideration.

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