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Trotter measure demanding payment of exoneree claims passes Senate

trotter 051917SPRINGFIELD – Today, legislation meant to create a continuous fund for claims by people wrongfully imprisoned passed the Senate. Senate Bill 1993 is vital to keep up these court-ordered claim payments. It has been nearly three years since the Illinois Court of Claims stopped paying these claims because of the budget stalemate.

The passing of this legislation through the Senate is only the first step in properly restoring court-ordered claims payments for those who have been unjustly sentenced to time behind bars. The budget impasse in Illinois has stopped the claim payments of 20 exonerated inmates owned a total of $3.4 million. Their suffering was caused by the failure of the justice system to properly dispense rulings, but if this bill passes the House we are one step closer to providing those exonerated with some closure and monetary compensation.  

State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), the sponsor of the bill, has called the legislation an important step in providing equity for people unjustly held in the penal system that have won in court:

“This is a critical piece of legislation that passed out of the Illinois Senate. It is our duty to ensure that those receiving claims for being unjustly incarcerated are compensated. These court-ordered claims can be used to rebuild their lives torn apart by convictions that never should have occurred. We need to be accountable to those that have been wronged by the penal system and found favorable claim rulings in a court of law. These court-ordered funds give relief to those who have been wrongly incarcerated in a timely manner. ”

Senator Donne E. Trotter is a Chicago Democrat and leading advocate for justice reform.

Biss: We cannot trust Rauner with the power to overhaul Medicaid

biss 051717SPRINGFIELD – Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement regarding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s role in implementing the package of bills considered today by the Illinois Senate:

“Gov. Rauner expects lawmakers to give him unchecked freedom to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program that insures the poorest Illinois children and senior citizens, but he’s given us absolutely no reason to trust his judgment about what’s best for the people of Illinois.

“Gov. Rauner has refused to do his job and introduce a balanced budget and instead has claimed in public to support bipartisan Senate negotiations while secretly torpedoing that same work. We have no reason to trust him with carte blanche authority to destroy our safety net and punish the most vulnerable.

“I am not willing to give Gov. Rauner emergency rulemaking authority to implement Trumpcare in Illinois or cause undocumented children to lose coverage.

“In the meantime, Gov. Rauner is doing his best to dismantle the Community Care Program that tens of thousands of seniors rely on to live in dignity in their homes, and I cannot support a budget that facilitates his efforts to do just that.

“Our state urgently needs a budget, and I will continue to do all I can to move us toward a fair budget resolution that adequately funds our priorities. I stand ready to work with anyone toward that goal, and I am prepared to compromise.

“But I will not accept the premise that we must balance our budget on the backs of senior citizens and the poor.”

Murphy: Group home workers deserve living wage

05032017AM5837Group home workers who care for Illinois residents with developmental disabilities are among the lowest paid workers in the nation, and the agencies are facing employee vacancy rates of nearly 25 percent.  

This week, the Illinois Senate passed Senate Bill 955 that should help solve these problems. Senate Bill 955, supported by State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines), raises the wages of these workers to $15 an hour.

“Increasing wages of workers that care for the most vulnerable citizens with disabilities is a win for everyone,” Murphy said. “Workers receive a living wage. Employers can attract qualified employees to fill vacancies and patients receive better care.”

Bennett passes measure keeping memory of Air Force base alive

Tuskegee Airmen - Circa May 1942 to Aug 1943SPRINGFIELD – Rantoul-area museums displaying exhibits from the closed Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum will have access to funds purposed for the exhibits under a law passed by the Illinois Senate today.

Champaign County was previously home to Chanute Air Force Base until 1993. Originally opened in 1917, the base was one of the Army Air Corps’ original training schools for pilots. The site was chosen due to its close proximity to the Illinois Central Railroad and the University of Illinois.

During World War II the base, then called Chanute Field, was home to the first training classes for the officers of the 99th Pursuit Squadron. The squadron was an all-black unit that would eventually be known as the Tuskegee Airmen.