Van Pelt

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  • Sen. Patricia Van Pelt

    State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) demanded answers as to why the state crime lab has a backlog of DNA from more than 750 murder cases during a Senate Public Health committee hearing this morning.

    “There are as many as 750 Chicago families waiting for answers about the murder of their loved one,” Van Pelt said. “These families deserve answers. They deserve closure.”

    Representatives from the Illinois State Police Forensic Science Lab testified during the hearing, along with family members of murder victims who have been affected by the backlog.

    “I promise to do whatever it takes to end this backlog and make sure families of murder victims get justice,” Van Pelt said. “I ran for office because I didn’t understand why people in Springfield weren’t addressing the issues we face every day in my community. This is one of those key issues.”

    Van Pelt plans to hold another hearing on the matter in the spring.

  • Illinois Black Caucus

  • vanpelt 062018CHICAGO – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt of Chicago reacted to Governor Bruce Rauner’s assertion yesterday that he has done more for Black community than any other governor, including Black-owned businesses, education and human services program. Sen. Van Pelt released the following statement:

    “I would like to hope the governor is projecting future efforts to improve his record in working with the Black community. But since past performance is the best predictor of future actions, I have my doubts.

    “I would like to see the governor put Illinois on the right side of history by refusing to send Illinois National Guard troops to the US border. We should take no part in the president’s human rights debacle, tearing families apart without justice, and the governor can make that statement on behalf of our state.”

  • vanpelt 052918SPRINGFIELD – A measure from Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) that would require state agencies to prioritize funding for communities that have high levels of crime, incarceration and community violence advanced out of the Senate today with strong bipartisan support.

    “It’s clear that business as usual isn’t enough to prevent crime and keep our neighborhoods safe,” Van Pelt said. “Neighborhoods hit hardest by crime and violence need special attention in order to address the root cause of violence. Prioritizing funding for areas with high levels of violence and crime is the best way to help struggling communities rebuild.” 

    The Safe and Full Employment (SAFE) Zone Act creates a process to identify high-violence communities and prioritize state dollars to go to those communities to fund investment to address the underlying causes of crime and violence.

    “Violence is a public health crisis,” Van Pelt said. “In order to address this crisis, we need to make sure we’re strategically directing funds to communities that are hardest hit by violence. The SAFE Zone Act addresses the inequity in the distribution of funds and uses data to determine which neighborhoods are most in need of priority funding.”

    HB 5308 creates a board of state and local officials and agencies to coordinate and maximize existing state programs to implement the SAFE Zone Act. The measure calls for the development of an evidence-based, community-designed investment plan through local economic growth councils.

  • Sen. Patricia Van PeltSPRINGFIELD – Use of controversial gang databases by police would be reformed under legislation introduced today by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt.

    “My goal is to reform the use of gang databases so that we can ensure the data is accurate and can be effective in helping reduce gang-related activity while still protecting people’s rights.” Van Pelt, a Chicago Democrat, said. “We need to make sure people aren’t being added to the gang database when they shouldn’t be, something that has proven to be problematic for countless Chicagoans over the years.”

    The legislation was crafted after experts, advocates and community members voiced their concerns at an April 20 Senate committee hearing about the Chicago Police Department’s use of gang databases and its effect on communities.

  • vanpelt 042518SPRINGFIELD – Minors arrested for certain crimes would have greater protections during police interrogations under legislation sponsored by Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), which advanced out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee Tuesday night.

    “According to the Juvenile Justice Initiative, nearly 80 percent of minors don’t understand the Miranda warnings, with the least understood warning being the right to an attorney,” Van Pelt said. “We must reform our interrogation laws and protect the rights of minors.”

  • vanpelt 042318SPRINGFIELD – Chicago Police Department officials opted last minute not to send a representative to today’s Senate Public Health Committee hearing on CPD’s collection and use of information in the department’s gang databases.

    “I’m very disappointed about CPD’s last-minute decision not to testify at today’s hearing,” said Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago, chair of the Senate Public Health Committee). “There’s no shortage of questions and criticisms on how the CPD collects and uses the information in its gang databases, but CPD officials have continued to claim the databases are valuable tools. Today was their chance to address the critics and make their case for the database and they chose not to show up.”

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  • ilbc amazonYesterday it was reported that an official letter was submitted to Amazon executives with an attached state and city bid signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the legislature’s top four leaders. Members of the Illinois Legislative Senate Black Caucus are cautiously optimistic about the potential of Amazon moving its second headquarters to Chicago. 

    Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), who also chairs the joint Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, delivered a clear message: “Job creation is a top priority for the caucus, specifically in our impoverished neighborhoods where unemployment rates soar due to lack of sustainable jobs.

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  • vanpelt 092017SPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) protects the rights of property owners by making it harder for law enforcement to seize personal property from Illinois residents.

    “For too long, law enforcement has had far reaching authority to seize property from individuals regardless of whether they’ve been convicted of a crime,” Van Pelt said. “Law enforcement agencies have been profiting off of individuals by keeping or selling their property and making it incredibly difficult for people to reclaim their possessions.”

    Currently, law enforcement agencies can take property – including cash, vehicles and homes – if they suspect it was involved with or related to a crime. The property owner does not need to be charged or convicted of a crime for the state to seize and permanently forfeit the property.

    “Reforming our civil asset forfeiture process is a major step forward for criminal justice reform,” Van Pelt said. “This measure protects the rights of people who often don’t have the means necessary to reclaim their property. I am pleased that the governor signed the legislation, and I am looking forward to advancing more criminal justice reforms in the future.”

    House Bill 303 reforms the civil asset forfeiture process by increasing transparency and shifts the burden of proof in forfeiture cases to the prosecution. The measure also requires law enforcement to have a preponderance of evidence to seize property.

    House Bill 303 was signed into law today. It takes effect on January 1, 2018.

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  • Sen. Patricia Van PeltSPRINGFIELD – Ex-offenders can now obtain their birth certificates at no charge thanks to a measure sponsored by Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago).

    “We should be doing everything possible to remove barriers to success and reduce recidivism for ex-offenders,” Van Pelt said. “Waiving the fee requirement for birth certificates for an individual who is released from a Department of Corrections facility removes a financial burden, giving ex-offenders a better chance at success.”

    Senate Bill 1413 waives the fee for birth certificates for individuals when they are released from a Department of Corrections facility.

  • bail reformToday, a new law passed by the Senate to base bail decisions on a defendant’s threat to public safety and flight risk rather than their ability to pay bail became law. The Bail Reform Act of 2017, sponsored by State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), was signed by the governor and goes into effect immediately.

    “Pretrial release must not focus on the defendants’ ability to pay,” said Trotter. “This new law allows the courts to look at the threat to the public safety or their risk of failure to appear.”

    Senate Bill 2034 grants a number of rights to defendants, including the right to a public defender or attorney at their bail hearing, the right to a new bail hearing, and that any bail set should be non-monetary and that the court should address the risk in the least restrictive way possible.

  • vanpelt 053017SPRINGFIELD – Senator Patricia Van Pelt’s (D-Chicago) measure intended to foster communication between law enforcement and youths and enhance neighborhood safety passed in the Illinois Senate today.

    House Bill 243 would allow high schools to establish partnerships with local law enforcement to create law enforcement job training programs for high school students.

    “No one is well-served when there is a breakdown in trust and communication between law enforcement and the community,” Van Pelt said. “It’s time to put into effect meaningful programs that help foster positive relationships between law enforcement and our neighborhoods and encourage Chicago youth to pursue careers in law enforcement. If successful, law enforcement agencies will be more diverse and their officers will have a better understanding of the communities they serve.”

    The measure also creates the Police Training Academy Job Training Program and Scholarship Fund, which requires the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to administer a scholarship program for students who have participated in such programs and have been accepted into one of Illinois’ public colleges or universities.

    Having passed both chambers with bipartisan support, House Bill 243 now goes to the governor’s desk.

  • AVR

    After carefully negotiating changes requested by the governor, state agencies and other stakeholders, State Senator Andy Manar’s plan to modernize the voter registration process received unanimous support in the Illinois Senate today.

    “I am proud that the state Senate once again has voted to bring automatic voter registration to Illinois, and I hope the House will follow our lead and that Governor Rauner will sign it into law,” said Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill.

    If enacted, eligible Illinois citizens would be given the option to opt out of registering when they interact with certain state agencies, as opposed to the current system that requires citizens to opt-in.

    “At a time when we're seeing a major rollback of voting rights across the country, I'm proud that Democrats and Republicans came together and voted to expand access to the ballot in Illinois,” said Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago). “Voter registration laws disproportionately affect minorities, women, seniors and low-income individuals. Automatic voter registration will remove a barrier to voting and help ensure that all eligible Illinoisans are able to participate in our democracy should they so choose.”

    “I am happy to see this measure receive such great support from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” said Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin). “The right to vote is a pillar of our democracy. Automatic voter registration will bring more participation and allow more voices to be heard in the legislative process.”

    “Automatic voter registration is important to the health of our democracy,” said Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora). “There are so many existing roadblocks to participation. Something as basic as registration should not be one of those roadblocks. I am dismayed by how low voter turnout is, especially in local and off-cycle elections, and I believe that automatic registration will give more people an opportunity to let their voices be heard in the political process.”

    Currently, there are more than 2 million Illinoisans who are eligible to vote but aren’t registered. Automatic voter registration will significantly reduce this number and will remove a barrier to voting for all eligible Illinoisans.

    “We should make it easier to vote, not harder,” said Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills). “This legislation will ensure that every Illinois resident who is eligible to vote doesn’t have to go through the sometimes burdensome process to register. This only enhances the voice of the voter during an election.”

    Rather than giving individuals the option to fill out a separate voter registration form when conducting business with a state agency, the measure would allow agencies to electronically transfer an individual’s data to the State Board of Elections. Automatically registering eligible voters will streamline bureaucracy, do away with redundant paperwork and save taxpayer dollars.

    “When it comes to modernizing state government, automatic voter registration checks all the boxes: it eliminates redundant paperwork, it cuts down on the number of times people have to interact with a government office, it curbs voter fraud, and it saves money,” said Manar. “The time is right for this reform.”

    “Not only does automatic voter registration remove a barrier to voting for eligible citizens, it is a common-sense way to modernize the registration process, reduce bureaucracy and duplication and save the state money,” said Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake). “I hope this good government reform receives the same bipartisan support in the House and from the governor as it did in the Senate.”

    “We should be making it easier, not harder, for people to vote and have a direct say in who represents them,” said Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood). “Making automatic voter registration law will save taxpayer dollars, streamline a government function and ensure the ballot box is as easily accessible as possible for voters.”

    In March 2015, Oregon was the first state to enact automatic voter registration. Since then, California, West Virginia, Vermont, Connecticut, Alaska and the District of Columbia have adopted automatic registration, and thirty other states introduced legislation this year.

    “In the end, this effort is going to register people to vote, no matter who they vote for – Democrats or Republicans. It’s going to save money, modernize government and streamline our system,” Manar said. “And it’s going to lead more citizens of our state, regardless of where they live or their party affiliation, to participate in our electoral process. That means we all win as citizens of the state of Illinois.”

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    SPRINGFIELD — Months after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a measure that would have secured funding for Chicago Public Schools, Illinois Senate Democrats rejected his attempt to promise $215 million to the school system without any funding source to provide it.

    “This measure would have made yet another promise to Chicago students without taking the necessary steps to ever follow through on it,” said Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago. “We already approved a measure last year – which the governor saw fit to veto – that would have addressed this very problem in a responsible way, with the necessary funding. As it is, this is another broken promise in the making.”