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Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017

Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton recently spoke at a government forum sponsored by Elmhurst College. His presentation was on the fiscal realities Illinois faces with its budget and why the state needs to get its backlog of unpaid bills under control.

The following slides accompanied his speech and walk through where the state of Illinois gets its funding, where that funding goes, the true pressures facing the state budget and the devastating trajectory of the backlog of unpaid bills.

The Senate President has been working on what’s been called a “Grand Bargain” to try to stabilize the state’s finances and enact key economic reforms.

Read more: Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017

Legislation protecting immigrant communities moves forward

martinez 040517SPRINGFIELD — After legislation that would protect immigrants and restore trust between immigrant communities and local police was passed by the Illinois Senate Executive Committee today, Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) issued the following statement:

“Here in Illinois, we need to lead the way in promoting trust between the immigrant community and law enforcement and protecting immigrants from federal overreach. That’s why moving this initiative forward today was positive. I want the immigrant community to know that I have their back and will continue fighting so that no one is deported when seeking medical treatment at the hospital or dropping their kids off at school.”

Martinez is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 31, which would create the Illinois Trust Act. Certain components of the measure are listed below:

  • Clarifies that state and local police are not deputized immigration agents and therefore are not expected to expend resources enforcing or complying with federal civil immigration detainers and administrative warrants.
  • Prohibits law enforcement agencies from using state resources to create discriminatory federal registries based on race, national origin, religion or other protected classes.
  • Establishes safe zones at schools, medical facilities, courts and properties operated by the Illinois secretary of state, where federal immigration enforcement would not be admitted without a valid criminal warrant.

The Illinois Trust Act will have to be approved by the Illinois Senate before being considered by the Illinois House.

Biss: People should not fear going to school or talking to police

biss 040517SPRINGFIELD – As tension grows between the Trump administration and local communities that choose to reject his anti-immigration agenda, it will become increasingly important for states like Illinois to pass laws that reflect local values and protect basic American principles, Senator Daniel Biss said Wednesday.

“People in Illinois should not live in fear of going to school or talking to the local police,” said Biss, a Democrat from Evanston, which has been a sanctuary city where all people are welcome since 2008. “We should not allow children, parents, the elderly and the infirmed to retreat into the shadows because they are terrified that they could be detained and deported by immigration authorities anytime they or their loved ones step out of their homes to go to school or to a clinic.”

Biss is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 31, which creates the Illinois Trust Act to blunt the impact of federal overreach on immigration matters. The legislation would:

  • clarify that state and local police are not deputized immigration agents and therefore are not expected to expend resources enforcing or complying with federal civil immigration detainers and administrative warrants;
  • prohibit state and local police from searching, arresting or detaining a person based solely on citizenship or immigration status or an administrative warrant;
  • prohibit law enforcement agencies from using state resources to create discriminatory federal registries based on race, national origin, religion or other protected classes; and
  • establish safe zones at schools, medical facilities, courts and properties operated by the Illinois secretary of state, where federal immigration enforcement would not be admitted without a valid criminal warrant.

The measure also would establish deadlines for police to complete certification forms that are requested by immigrant victims of violent crimes who cooperate with police. The certifications are among the requirements for immigrant crime victims to apply for certain visas.

The act would not bar state and local police from conducting valid criminal investigations or serving criminal warrants, nor would it bar them from working with federal immigration agents to serve valid warrants.

The Illinois Trust Act passed out of the Senate Executive Committee today and is expected to be voted on by the full Senate.

“What this legislation says is that Illinois is not OK with the federal government deputizing local police departments to do work they have neither the resources nor the training to do,” Biss said. “It also says Illinois does not condone any effort to catalog human beings based on their race, religion or nation of origin.

“Every day, state and local police throughout Illinois try to foster trust – not fear and suspicion – with immigrants in their communities so that they can protect people, solve crimes and keep the lines of communication open,” he added. “Trump’s deportation rhetoric accomplishes exactly the opposite. That’s not good for America or for Illinois.”

Harmon advances plan to get wind farm construction boomin’ in Illinois

windenergySPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon’s effort to correct ambiguous language in the Rauner administration’s massive Exelon bailout bill could have a profound positive effect on Illinois’ economy – to the tune of at least $2.2 billion in the short term.

By striking seven words in the Exelon bill, Illinois can clear the way for continued investment in wind energy in the prairie state – projects already permitted but that are on hold because of the murky language. That investment includes:

  • $2.2 billion in Illinois wind farms,
  • 650 new wind towers, and
  • 1 million hours in construction work.

Significant additional projects await the permitting process if the ambiguity in state law can be eliminated through Senate Bill 71, said Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat and a longtime proponent of renewable energy and clean jobs. The legislation represents the kind of sensible, business-friendly legislation that can spur economic investment in Illinois.

“The Exelon bill created significant uncertainty that prevented investment in Illinois by the wind industry, which makes no sense,” Harmon said. “Once we learned of the problem, I knew we would need to resolve it as quickly as possible because we want Illinois to retain its place as a national leader in wind energy.”

The legislation has bipartisan support and passed unanimously in the Senate’s Energy and Public Utilities Committee last week. Proponents include the Environmental Law and Policy Center, the Illinois Environmental Council, the Laborers’ International Union Midwest Region, the Citizens Utility Board, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club and others.

Twenty-five Illinois wind farms supply power to about 1 million homes. The first wind installation in the state went online in 2003.

According to a 2016 report by the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University, wind farms support about 870 permanent jobs in rural Illinois, generate $30.4 million in annual property taxes and produce $13.86 million in yearly income for landowners who lease their land to wind farm developers. Wind farms have a total economic benefit of $6.4 billion over their lifespans, according to the analysis.

“Economic development isn’t as difficult as Gov. Rauner wants people to believe it is. As we watch demand for renewable energy increase in the coming years, it’s important that lawmakers foster the industry’s growth in Illinois and seize opportunities to protect it from unnecessary government meddling,” Harmon said.

“These are the kinds of things that will make Illinois a business-friendly state and help us to get the economy ‘boomin’,’ as Gov. Rauner likes to say. I look forward to his support on this legislation.”