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  • Black History Month 2017 - The Crisis in Black EducationSenators comment on this year's Black History Month theme, “The Crisis in Black Education.”

    Over the years the crisis in black education has grown significantly. In urban neighborhoods, public schooling systems lack resources and have overcrowded classrooms, which result to students of color reaping the disproportionate shortfalls of the racial achievement gap.

    In the past, whether by laws, policies, or practices, racially separated schools remained the norm in America. Because of that, black students today are underperforming and are not advancing like their white counterparts.

    This year’s national theme, The Crisis in Black Education, focuses on the evolution of black education and its meaning as it empowers students to grow, achieve and prosper.

  • Sen. Napoleon Harris IIICHICAGO – Illinois casinos could soon offer in-person or online betting on professional, amateur or collegiate sports under a measure spearheaded by State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey).

    Senate Bill 3432 can only go into effect if the federal sports wagering ban is lifted, and it would require a $10,000 licensing fee and a $5,000 license renewal fee for interactive sports wagering platforms. It also outlines consumer protections and integrity requirements for sports wagering operators, including record-keeping and annual reporting to the Gaming Board.

    “Our state continues to struggle financially, and we have an opportunity to gain much-needed revenue for education, human services and infrastructure should the federal sports wagering ban be struck down,” Harris, a former NFL linebacker, said. “We know that sports fans enjoy betting, and the state should offer a secure and legal way to do so.”

  • harris 040516State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) released the following statement in support of Senator Andy Manar’s education funding reform legislation, Senate Bill 231:

    “Our kids throughout Chicago and the South Suburbs are facing some tough issues because of where they live, and receiving a quality education shouldn’t be one of them. Thanks to Senator Manar’s initiative, we have the opportunity to open doors for them and all children living in low-income communities by providing more resources to schools who are most in need. Most would agree that education is the gateway to opportunity, and every child deserves a chance to reach their full potential. I look forward to alleviating some of the disparities created within our current system.”

  • harris 040516SPRINGFIELD- When a school board determines a student is a nonresident of a district, parents seeking to appeal a school board’s decision are faced with the financial burden of taking the issue to an appeals court, making it difficult for parents to afford the process.

    Under a plan which was approved in the Senate today, parents could soon have an affordable avenue for appealing student residency issues. House Bill 4606 provides a process for appealing the decision of a school board to the regional superintendent of schools for decisions of student residency.

    “Parents deserve to have their voices heard in this kind of situation,” State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) said. “Taking residency issues to an appeals court is too costly for families who may face this circumstance. We’re creating a fair process for both the student and the school district.”

    Furthermore, the legislation requires a school board to give specific reasons why the board believes a student is a nonresident of a school district. 

    The legislation now heads to the governor for consideration.

  • harris 050317HARVEY– Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) has helped protect taxpayers in Harvey and Dolton by working with local elected officials and bond holders (including Assured Guaranty) to avoid costly litigation and make payments on millions of dollars defaulted bonded debt.

    Both Harvey and Dolton missed their last debt service payments on municipal bonds that funded construction and operational services in the two municipalities. Harvey faced a May 1 deadline to make its most recent debt payment, and Harris is working to ensure that commitment is fulfilled.

    The tax bases of both Harvey and Dolton have been adversely affected by the declining economy and foreclosures. Both problems made it more difficult for the communities to make their bond payments, Harris said.

    Senator Harris worked with officials from both towns to meet their capital market financial obligations. 

    “I appreciate the work of Harvey and Dolton leaders for focusing on the urgent financial issues affecting their communities,” Harris said. “I plan to work on legislation to help permanently protect South Suburbs taxpayers by prioritizing the payment of debt service on bonds.”

    Harris said he expects to introduce legislation later this year.

  • harris campus demonstr introSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) introduced legislation that protects college students’ freedom of speech and would prohibit colleges from revoking athletic and academic scholarships as a result of protesting.

    Senate Bill 2279 came about after Republican lawmakers in Missouri filed legislation intended to punish African American football players who demanded the resignation of the head of the university after inaction against racism on campus.

    “Universities should remain strongholds for progress and freedom of speech,” said Harris, a former Northwestern University football player. “Students shouldn’t be treated like property for earning scholarships. I want to make sure it’s clear that students’ rights are a high priority in Illinois.”

    Harris noted that many students on athletic and academic scholarships come from low-income backgrounds and depend on their scholarships as their only means to a college education.

    “Legislation like what was introduced in Missouri is unconstitutional,” Harris said. “All students have the right to have their voices heard and no administration should be given the authority to silence them. I want to shut this down before anyone gets any dumb ideas here.”

  • Rocky Dedication111415State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) joined Annette Clark along with other officials, family and members of the Robbins community to honor the memory of her son with the dedication of the Honorary Rasul “Rocky” Clark Drive on the corner of West Lydia Avenue and South Hendricks Road in Robbins.

    “This day means to me that my son’s legacy will never die, that his legacy lives on and he’s with us. It’s just a blessed day,” said Clark.

    Rocky was a football player at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island when he was paralyzed during a game in 2000.

    “If you knew Rocky, you knew one thing about him: He never complained,” said Harris. “Rocky showed compassion. He showed a huge amount of strength, determination and perseverance. We can all draw strength from Rocky because I know going through his times one thing remained the same, that beautiful smile.”

    After his injury, Rocky went on to receive his high school diploma, attend college, coach football at Eisenhower and inspire many.

    “Young people have to know that regardless of your situation, your surroundings or your communities, you can be any and everything that you want,” Representative William Davis (D-Hazel Crest) said. “He [Rocky] was that example for all of us.”

    In 2010, the insurance provided to Rocky through the school district ran out, which forced him to rely on Medicaid, support from the state and his mother.

    His situation shed light on the need for high schools to provide catastrophic injury insurance to all their athletes. Rocky’s Law was signed in 2013 and with its approval, Rocky’s legacy was cemented into Illinois history.

  • harris 051116SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) led a measure that was signed into law Friday that would extend tax increment financing for the City of Oak Forest until 2037. Currently, the TIF is set to expire in 2025.

    “Oak Forest is a prime example of a product of the recession. They were hit hard and are still recovering,” Harris said. “They just need a little push. That is why I sponsored this measure to help them revitalize their economy, continue their development projects and keep them going in the right direction.”

    TIF districts are important for cities and towns going through economic trouble. They help attract private investment and bring new businesses to help with economic expansion.

    “As a small business owner myself, I know first-hand the impact they can bring on revitalizing local economies,” Harris added. “We need to make sure economic growth and expansion continues. “

    House Bill 4423 goes into effect immediately.

  • Sen. Napoleon Harris IIISPRINGFIELD – State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) is lead sponsor of legislation that would require every community college and public university to offer a course studying the events of Black History.

    “Education is the only way we can combat negative African-American stereotypes seen on the news, social media and in movies,” Harris said. “It should be a priority for our universities to offer a course that teaches students about our culture and the contributions we’ve made to society.”

     

  • harris 051116SPRINGFIELD- Parents seeking to appeal a school board for decisions of student residency could soon have an avenue to do so under a plan approved in committee Tuesday.

    The plan, which passed the Senate Education Committee, would provide a due process for a student enrolled in a district who is determined to be a nonresident by a school district.

    “Not many parents can afford to take residency issues to an appeals court,” said State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey). “This legislation creates an easier, costless process for families who deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

    Students attending a public school who are found to be nonresidents have to pay tuition to the school. Under provisions made by House Bill 4606, a person notified by a board of regional superintendents to pay tuition will have the right to request a hearing with the board and prove their residency.

    The measure now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

  • harris homansq cpdIllinois State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) welcomed news that the US. Attorney General will investigate issues of force and accountability within the Chicago Police Department. Harris has urged federal officials to broaden the scope by extending the investigation to the Homan Square detention facility.

    Various media outlets have reported these practices as well as one confirmed death within the Homan Facility. Earlier this year CPD confirmed that no cameras or fingerprinting resources are equipped within the facility. CPD has used this facility as "an interrogation site" dating back 15 years.

  • lic plateSPRINGFIELD- Drivers may soon have an easier time remembering when they need to renew their vehicle registration under a proposal approved by the Senate today. State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) carried legislation that would allow drivers to choose their birthday as their vehicle registration expiration date.

    “It’s common to forget to renew your vehicle registration,” Harris said. “This legislation saves drivers time and money by allowing them to choose a date that’s easy to remember, their birthday.”

    Many drivers depended on reminders from the Secretary of State to recall their renewal date. Unfortunately, they had to stop sending out reminders last April leaving many drivers with fines to pay.

  • harris mr 110115Senate President John Cullerton addressed the Chicago City Club today. Cullerton’s speech focused on education funding reform as a priority for legislature. State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) reacted to the speech with the following:

    “Affording children a quality education has been one of my priorities since becoming a state senator. I applaud President Cullerton for focusing on the issue in his City Club speech today. I’m currently working with Senator Andy Manar to produce legislation that would secure a fair, adequate and well-funded education for all children,” State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) said. “Our education funding formula doesn’t work, and it’s hurting the poorest kids in our state. We can’t continue to ignore this issue. Our state’s future is at stake.”

  • harris 053116SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) supported legislation signed by the governor this morning that ensures veterans who are eligible for the status of veterans for Illinois identification cards have access to them.

    The Secretary of State began issuing ID cards with a veteran designation in 2015. Senate Bill 2173 expands the program to include National Guard members who have not been called to active duty. Furthermore, it clarifies that the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs will certify and verify the status of veterans for the ID cards.

    Harris released the following statement regarding the new law:

    “These identifications give veterans an easy way to prove their status and be able to receive all of the services they have earned and are rightfully eligible for. We need to continue providing our veterans with tools that make their lives easier as a gesture of gratitude for their service.”

  • harris 050818SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) is lead sponsor of legislation that would require every community college and public university to offer a course studying the events of Black History.

    “We hear a lot of misinformation these days about the history of African Americans on television, social media and the internet in general,” Harris said.

  • harris 030917SPRINGFIELD – High-poverty suburban school districts, shortchanged for decades under Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation education funding formula, could see a significant influx of funding to level the playing field with wealthier suburban districts under a landmark school funding reform measure that recently passed in both houses of the legislature.

    “I eagerly joined my colleagues in support of a plan that fixes the inequitable way we fund public schools in. It also makes sure no schools see any loss of funding and offers property task relief to struggling homeowners. There is no reason Governor Rauner should not sign this legislation as soon as it gets to his desk,” Illinois said State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey).

    Senate Bill 1 has strong support from thousands of school administrators, superintendents, principals, educators, taxpayers and advocates for fair school funding. Illinois’ school funding formula has not been updated in more than 20 years and is considered one of the worst in the nation because it relies so heavily on local property wealth.

    Funding Illinois’ Future – a coalition that advocates for school funding reform – released estimates based on an analysis of Illinois State Board of Education figures. The analysis shows potential funding increases for local school districts under Senate Bill 1, an evidence-based model that accounts for factors such as students with disabilities, English language learners and low-income students.

    It also provides extra support for the neediest districts in the quest for adequate funding, and it offers property tax relief.

    No school district would receive less funding under Senate Bill 1 than they have received under Illinois’ current school funding formula.

    The estimated overall gain some area school districts would experience under the Funding Illinois’ Future analysis of SB1 based on FY17 funding levels:

    • Bremen Community High School District 228 - $2.9 million
    • Brookwood School District 167 - $449,799
    • Crete Monee Community Unit School District 201U – $447,217
    • Dolton School District 148 – $512,762
    • Harvey School District 152 - $626,447
    • Hazel Crest School District 152-5 - $381,697
    • Homewood School District 153 – $152,265
    • Midlothian School District 153 - $937,556
    • Posen-Robbins Elementary School District 143-5 - $865,816
    • South Holland School District 151 - $365,484
    • Steger School District 194 – $638,686
    • Thornton Township High School District 205 - $1.7 million
    • West Harvey-Dixmoor Public School District 147 - $558,879

    In addition, under Senate Bill 1, high-tax school districts are eligible for property tax relief up to 1 percent of their EAV. Estimated property tax relief for two area school districts:

    • Bremen Community High School District 228 - $3.9 million
    • Brookwood School District 167 - $1 million
    • Crete Monee Community Unit School District 201U - $3 million
    • Dolton School District 14 - $1.1 million
    • Ford Heights School District 169 – $228,369
    • Hazel Crest School District 152-5 – $681,918
    • Homewood School District 153 - $2 million
    • South Holland School District 150 - $224,619
    • South Holland School District 151 - $1.4 million
    • Steger School District 194 - $224,619
    • Thornton Township High School District 205 - $3.8 million
    • West Harvey-Dixmoor Public School District 147 - $488,309

    To review the Funding Illinois’ Future analysis, visit fundingilfuture.org.

  • harris 052316SPRINGFIELD- Small businesses may soon have better opportunities at acquiring and maintaining contracts with the Illinois Department of Transportation, thanks to a proposal the legislators approved Thursday.

    House Bill 4477, which passed the Senate 56-0, requires contracts using the services of a subcontractor to include terms for making advanced payments to the subcontractor for preliminary spending purposes, such as purchasing tools and machinery for a project.

    “The goal is to promote small business participation in state contracts,” State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) said. “Subcontractors are often in a position where they’re waiting far too long for a payment. That’s unacceptable.”

    Small contracting firms struggle to take on subcontracts due to payment delays from prime contractors. Mobilization payments to a subcontractor would be based on the total value of the subcontract on a tiered scale.

    The legislation was approved in both chambers and will head to the governor.

  • harris 0418SPRINGFIELD – The state of Illinois could look to legalize sports betting after the United States Supreme Court struck down a federal law Monday that prohibited the practice.

    “We’ve been working on legislation to legalize sports betting in Illinois in anticipation that the Supreme Court would strike down the federal law,” said State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey), former NFL Linebacker and sponsor of Illinois’ sports gambling measure. “This decision puts us on a clear path for negotiating the issue.”

  • harris 030917SPRINGFIELD — After two years of holding the Illinois budget hostage for political gain, Gov. Bruce Rauner now is faced with cutting an astounding $5 billion worth of state programs and services to balance the budget he presented to taxpayers last month.

    “We live in the real world where we have to be realistic. We need to think about contingency plans and moving forward,” said Senator Napoleon Harris III, a Harvey Democrat and chairman of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee. “From day one I have said we must work together to fix these issues. It’s going to take tough decisions by all to get this done.”

    Gov. Rauner has proposed a budget that is unbalanced by nearly $5 billion – a figure that was reinforced this week when the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accounting released an analysis that suggests the state’s revenues are $329 million lower than the governor’s February budget estimate, pushing his budget proposal further into the red.

    Yet during a series of Senate committee hearing this week, agency directors under the Rauner administration were unable or unwilling to identify cuts to personnel or programs that could enable the governor to bridge the gap. That includes representatives of the Illinois Department of Natural of Resources and the Illinois Department of Agriculture, both of whom appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

    “We posed a simple question to these agencies: Where in your agency’s budget can you cut to help fill this $5 billion hole in the governor’s proposed statewide budget?” Harris said. “They were stonewalling, or they’ve never given it a thought. Either way, it’s a problem for the people of Illinois who deserve answers.”