Van Pelt

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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.

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    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.”

  • vanpelt 030917SPRINGFIELD – After a week of testimonies from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s cabinet members on potential cuts they could make in their departments, it’s clear that Rauner has no plan to balance his proposed budget.

    “Governor Rauner has once again proved that he is all talk and no action,” Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) said. “He has spent the past two years harping on the need to reduce spending, but when given the opportunity to offer cuts, his cabinet members were silent.”

    Senate Public Health Committee Chairwoman Van Pelt is one of several Senate committee chairs who spent the week asking state agency directors what programs they intend to cut to help balance the nearly $5 billion in deficits Gov. Rauner proposed.

    “Every state agency across the board would need to cut spending by 20 percent to achieve the balanced budget the governor wants,” Van Pelt said. “I am absolutely stunned that Gov. Rauner hasn’t even asked agency directors to provide a list of cuts they could make in their departments. Every day without a budget costs the state $11 million. The governor should be offering solutions, but instead he is creating chaos and destruction.”

    The move by Senate committee chairs comes one week after Gov. Rauner derailed the Senate’s bipartisan plan to resolve the state’s budget impasse. Agency directors have been asked to return to Senate committees next week with a detailed list of cuts.

     

  • Senator Patricia Van PeltSPRINGFIELD – Even after cutting programs for AIDS, prostate cancer and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the Illinois Department of Public Health still would need to cut an additional $20 million in programs to help balance the governor’s proposed budget, state senators learned Tuesday.

    “I’m stunned Gov. Rauner didn’t consult with his own public health director about cuts to vital programs that would be needed to balance his own budget plan,” said Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), chairwoman of the Senate’s Public Health Committee.

    “Every state agency across the board would need to cut spending by 20 percent to achieve the balanced budget the governor wants. Those kinds of cuts in public health would have dire consequences, and people deserve to know what those cuts could be.”

    Members of the Public Health Committee heard from Illinois Public Health Director Nirav Shah, who identified $3.85 million in cuts – far less than the reductions needed to achieve the savings Gov. Rauner requires. Shah told the panel he could cut $3 million from the AIDS drug assistance program, $143,000 from a prostate cancer awareness fund, $470,000 from the University of Illinois-Chicago and $240,000 from the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome awareness program.

    The governor’s budget proposal includes $115 million for public health.

    “Gov. Rauner has been begging lawmakers to give him the authority to make line-item budget cuts. Clearly, he’s not up to the task,” Van Pelt said.

    Shah agreed to return to the committee next week with a list of $23 million in public health department cuts required to balance the governor’s proposed budget.

  • vanpelt 022817SPRINGFIELD – Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) voted today for a supplemental budget solution that restores funding for human service organizations and higher education. The legislation authorizes spending for the second half of the current fiscal year.

    “I’m proud to be part of the bipartisan group of senators who voted to restore funding for MAP grants, technical education programs and important human services that help reduce recidivism rates, treat addiction and provide youth employment,” Van Pelt said. “Investing in these programs is the key to ensuring our neighborhoods are safe and our communities are strong.”

    The stopgap budget expired Jan. 1, leaving public universities, addiction treatment centers, senior programs, mental health providers, programs for victims of sexual assault, youth services and breast and cervical cancer screening programs without state funding. This has forced many organizations to cut back on services or shut down completely. Senate Bill 6 would ensure organizations are paid for services rendered. It also appropriates funds for state worker pay.

    Senate Bill 6 is part of a budget and reform package of legislation currently being considered in the Senate.

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  • Van Pelt secures greater protection for youth during custodial interrogation

    SPRINGFIELD — A key legislative initiative introduced by Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), giving children in police custody for certain crimes would have greater protection when being interrogated by police under legislation was signed into law by the by the governor.

    Senate Bill 2370, which passed in the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives with bipartisan support, would require any child 15 or younger to have an attorney present during custodial interrogations by police when accused of murder and sex offenses. It also would require police to recite a simplified Miranda warning for youth.

    “I consider this a huge win for those who are underrepresented in this state. As this bill was signed today let us reflect on those lives who have been negatively impacted, prior to this legislative, specifically Trevon Yates,” Van Pelt said.

    Trevon Yates, then 17 years old, was arrested in 2013, by St. Clair County deputies and questioned in connection with a robbery of a couple that was lured to a parking lot in Belleville, where they expected to meet someone who had advertised an iPhone for sale on Craigslist. A two-hour interrogation video shows the East St. Louis teen repeatedly professing his innocence, begging for his mother and praying to God, before being coerced into confession by sheriff’s detectives.

    Yates, who has diminished cognitive ability, was charged with armed robbery and spent nine months in jail before the charges were eventually dismissed after additional evidence cleared him of any wrongdoing. He was later awarded a $900,000 settlement in a federal lawsuit alleging the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department violated his civil rights.

    Previous law only required minors under 13 years of age who are charged with murder or sex offenses to be represented by counsel during custodial interrogations.

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  • Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) argues the value of allowing juveniles the right to be read and explained their Miranda rights.


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