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  • Collins’ criminal justice reforms signed into law

    CollinsApril2016Measures address expungement, park district employment and cost of inmate phone calls

    CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) announced today that the governor has signed into law several pieces of legislation she sponsored that are part of a larger criminal justice reform agenda in Illinois. The measures help people have their arrest records expunged for crimes they did not commit, give park districts greater discretion to hire non-violent ex-offenders and cap the cost of inmate phone calls to keep family members affected by incarceration in touch with one another.

    “By ending the practice of allowing for-profit contractors to charge exorbitant rates for inmate phone calls, we are enabling families to stay connected,” Collins said. “And by granting park districts discretion to hire more ex-offenders who have turned their lives around, we continue the process of opening up employment opportunities to a chronically unemployed sector of our population.”

  • Cunningham pushes higher education compensation reform agenda

    cunningham hiedcompSPRINGFIELD—On Wednesday, Senator Bill Cunningham urged his colleagues on the Higher Education Committee to pass legislation that would reform the financial practices surrounding how higher education administration is compensated.

    The reforms were launched after a report revealed inappropriate financial practices occurring at institutions of higher education, including the recent scandal at the College of DuPage.

    “Our institutions of higher learning throughout Illinois have continued to be plagued by controversies involving excessive compensation for college administrators, which only cost the taxpayers and the students more money,” Cunningham said.

  • Harmon: The most meaningful reform is a balanced budget (AUDIO)

    harmon 031517SPRINGFIELD – The most meaningful reform Gov. Bruce Rauner can sign into law after two years of gridlock in Springfield is a balanced budget, Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said.

    “Citizens and businesses in Illinois need predictability, stability and certainty, and Senate Democrats are offering that with a balanced budget,” Harmon said. “They’ll know what they are in for, they’ll know the state will pay its bills, and they’ll know that the state will be here to provide the services that everyone relies upon us to provide.”

    Harmon elaborated on a series of reforms the Senate passed last week in conjunction with a balanced budget at the behest of Gov. Rauner and others to make the state more business friendly. The reforms include workers’ compensation reform, procurement reform, local government consolidation reform and school funding reform. Senate Democrats also have indicated a willingness to enact a two-year property tax freeze.

    “Nobody likes property taxes. We’re proposing a freeze in property taxes. We’d like to hit the pause button so that we can implement state financial reforms and protect local property taxpayers from increase at the local level,” Harmon said.

    He noted that the Senate most recently enacted major reform of the state’s workers’ compensation system in 2011.

    “Those reforms are paying dividends, but we aren’t seeing those benefits being passed down from the insurance companies to the local businesses that buy their insurance,” he said. “The reforms we’re advancing this session will attempt to deal with that, will attempt to ensure that the premiums, the rates people pay for their workers’ compensation reflect the strides we’ve made in reforming the system.”

    Sen. Harmon talks about the budget:

     

  • Harmon’s measure to cut red tape and streamline state purchasing becomes law

    Sen. Don Harmon

    SPRINGFIELD – Illinois taxpayers, public universities and state agencies will benefit from Senator Don Harmon’s (D-Oak Park) bipartisan measure to streamline the state’s purchasing rules.

    Senate Bill 8, which was signed into law yesterday, changes the way state government purchases goods and services.

    “This new law streamlines the state purchasing process, cuts red tape and saves taxpayer dollars,” Harmon said. “State universities will now be able to purchase products without having to jump through unnecessary and costly hoops.”

    The legislature enacted a series of strict procurement reforms in the aftermath of the George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich administrations because of questions over how they handled contracting, bid-letting and transparency for state business.

    But the rules may have gone too far, sacrificing some efficiency and savings in an effort to deter corruption, Harmon said.

    “Strict state purchasing rules have created more red tape in government and led to more harm than good,” Harmon said. “Rather than save money for the state, the rules frequently have caused them to waste more money and time than an average business would.”

    Procurement reform is one of several measures Harmon sponsored that would streamline government processes and save taxpayer dollars.

    Senate Bill 8 is effective immediately.

  • Hastings supports procurement reforms to streamline process

    hastings052017SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) worked to pass bipartisan and bicameral structural reforms that will make the procurement process more efficient and more transparent for Illinois’ taxpayers.

    Hastings passed Senate Bill 8, a plan to improve the way state government purchases goods and services.

    “This legislation is the product of bipartisan negotiations,” Hastings said. “I’m proud that the Illinois General Assembly came together to work in the best interests of our residents. The next step is to pass a bipartisan budget.”

    Hastings continues to hear from residents across the Southland that procurement rules can be difficult for vendors, state agencies and universities to navigate.

    “Removing red tape and streamlining the process will make it easier for local businesses to bid on state contracts,” Hastings said. “Our local businesses are the heart of our economy. And they will lead us back to prosperity.”

    This measure expands the ability of state universities to purchase needed products and services without going through the procurement process. Illinois would be allowed to enter into joint purchasing agreements with other governmental units. Vendors would also be given more flexibility when registering or submitting a bid.

    Procurement reform was a structural reform requested by Governor Bruce Rauner. Hastings hopes now that the Senate has acted to address the governor’s structural reforms he will work in a bipartisan and bicameral manner to work toward passing a state budget.

    The Illinois Senate has passed structural reforms in hopes the governor will compromise and pass a bipartisan budget that will be kind and compassionate toward the residents of the Southland. 

    “The time to act is now,” Hastings said. “The Illinois Senate has held up their part of the deal. We have passed local government consolidation, workers’ compensation reform and now procurement reform. It is time for the governor to help us help the people of Illinois. Our children, seniors and most vulnerable cannot afford to wait any longer.”

  • Hastings’ measure to streamline state purchasing process signed into law

    Sen. Michael E. HastingsTINLEY PARK - Illinois now has a more efficient and transparent procurement process, thanks to a new bipartisan law championed by State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park).

    Senate Bill 8, a structural reform to the way state government purchases goods and services, was signed into law today after passing the House and Senate earlier this year with support from Hastings.

    “Our local businesses are the heart of our economy,” Hastings said. “This new law will cut red tape and eliminate barriers to streamline the state procurement process. These changes will make it easier for Illinois businesses to bid on state contracts to help grow our economy and put our state back on track.”

  • Historic bipartisan accomplishments in spite of negativity

    bodycams mrWith so much attention drawn to the state’s ongoing budget impasse, historic accomplishments are too often overlooked.

    This year, lawmakers in both chambers and from both sides of the aisle did find compromise on a number of issues to improve the lives of Illinoisans and the safety, health and economic future of our state.

    Springfield’s NPR radio station, WUIS, covers developments at the Capitol. Recently, the station published an article looking past the friction to find positive achievements during the 2015 legislative session. Their story includes an interview with Charlie Wheeler, director of UIS’ Public Affairs Reporting program, and Jamey Dunn, Editor of Illinois Issues. Their analysis focused on achievements in criminal justice, including Senate Bill 1304, a comprehensive law enforcement package expected to be a model for reform across the US.

  • Landmark policing reforms become law

    hunter bodycamsSPRINGFIELD – New legislation creating law enforcement reforms was signed into law today. State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago, 3) supported the bipartisan push for officer-worn body camera protocols.

    “Law enforcement reforms help protect the safety of both officers on duty and citizens. Our communities are stronger when there is trust and practices in place to create accountability,” Hunter said.

    The proposal, Senate Bill 1304, would make Illinois one of the first states in the nation to adopt the recommendations of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The law implements the following recommendations:

    • Requiring independent investigations of all officer-involved deaths
    • Improving mandatory officer training in areas, such as the proper use of force, cultural competency, recognizing implicit bias, interacting with persons with disabilities and assisting victims of sexual assault
    • Creating a statewide database of officers who have been dismissed due to misconduct or resigned during misconduct investigations
    • Improving data collection and reporting of officer-involved and arrest-related deaths and other serious incidents
    • Establishing a Commission on Police Professionalism to make further recommendations on the training and certification of law enforcement officers


    The measure also bans the use of chokeholds by police and expands the Traffic Stop Statistical Study –which provides insight into racial disparities in motor vehicle stops and searches—to include pedestrians whom officers “stop and frisk” or temporarily detain for questioning.

    The state is set to become the first state with standards and protocols for the use of body cameras by any of the state’s law enforcement agencies. These policies include:

    • Cameras must be turned on at all times when an officer is responding to a call for service or engaged in law enforcement activities.
    • Cameras can be turned off at the request of a crime victim or witness, or when an officer is talking with a confidential informant.
    • Recordings are exempt from FOIA with some exceptions:
    • Recordings can be “flagged” if they have evidentiary value in relation to a use of force incident, the discharge of a weapon or a death.
    • “Flagged” recordings may be disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act; however, in certain sensitive situations, such as a recording of a sexual assault, victim consent is required prior to disclosure.
    • Recordings must be retained for 90 days or, if “flagged,” for two years or until final disposition of the case in which the recording is being used as evidence.


    The law goes into effect on January 1.

  • Manar, downstate senators demand reform for K-12 funding (AUDIO/VIDEO)

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  • Raoul measure targeting repeat gun offenders passes Senate

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  • Raoul: Measure aiding re-entry for ex-offenders signed into law

    raoul 111716CHICAGO — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) joined a number of elected officials at A Safe Haven, a transitional housing facility, for the signing of legislation that ensures a person being released from Department of Corrections or Department of Juvenile Justice receives a state identification card. Raoul released the following statement on Senate Bill 3368:

    “We are taking a step forward into guiding ex-offenders upon release to successful reintegration by working in a bipartisan fashion to provide them a tool we all commonly use, an identification card.

  • Raoul: New criminal justice reform laws build on data-driven, commonsense approaches

    Sen RaoulSPRINGFIELD — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) lauded  the signing of several criminal justice reform measures he sponsored this year as part of a larger push for commonsense, data-driven approaches to law enforcement, sentencing, incarceration and the reintegration of ex-offenders.

    “Illinois is again pushing forward as a pioneer of criminal justice reform – because it saves money, because it saves lives and communities and because it’s the right thing to do,” Raoul said. “These new laws on juvenile justice, expungement, access to licensed professions and sex offender registration policies will help bring the realities of criminal justice in line with its aims of genuine public safety and lasting rehabilitation.”

  • Raoul: We need a comprehensive approach to violence

    raoul 5yr dp

  • Senate approves two-year property tax freeze

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  • Senate Democrats make social justice reform and criminal justice reform top priority

    Senate Democrats make social justice reform and criminal justice reform top priorityThousands of police body cameras will hit the streets in the new year under major reforms sponsored by Senate Democrats in an effort to increase public accountability and confidence in the wake of scandals and unrest.

    The new law, Senate Bill 1304, takes effect Jan. 1 and sets the official parameters for the use of police body cameras, increases training and reporting requirements for officers and clarifies the public’s right to access the videos. It is one of several key criminal and social justice reforms enacted by Senate Democrats in 2015, covering everything from protecting students’ educational rights to common-sense consumer laws aiding women trying to escape domestic violence.

    “We’ve made great strides this year in defending the public’s right to be properly protected, with justice for all,” said State Senator Kwame Raoul, a Hyde Park Democrat who emerged as one of the state’s leading reform advocates.

  • Senate President on Senate approval of classroom funding reform (SB231)

    jjc sb231SPRINGFIELD - Statement from Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton regarding approval of SB 231, which reforms the state’s classroom funding formula.

    “Today marks a significant step forward in creating a new classroom funding formula that recognizes the real needs of students across Illinois.

    For too many children in too many communities, their paths to excellence are blocked by the existing school finance system that shortchanges their schools and fails to provide needed resources. It’s an injustice we’ve tolerated too long.

  • Tom Cullerton’s college administrative reforms signed into law

    tc suicideprevVILLA PARK – State Senator Tom Cullerton’s college administrative reforms were signed into law today.

    This reform package was advanced by Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, in response to the repetitive reports of abuse and misuse of taxpayer dollars at the state’s universities and community colleges, in particular the College of DuPage, located in Cullerton’s backyard.

    “These new laws are necessary first steps to stop waste, fraud and abuse at our state universities and community colleges, “ Cullerton said. “We need to put an end to the days of college administrators banking on executive perks at the expense of our college students.

    One of the new laws will prevent a lame duck community college board from entering into a new contract with a college administrator starting 45 days prior to Election Day through the rest of their terms.

    Cullerton knows that with these new laws we will be able to better protect taxpayers and tuition payers from future scandals

    The reform package would also require that community college and university boards be required to take four hours of professional development training in topics that include labor laws, open meetings act requirements, or ethics training.

    “We need to find ways to make a higher education more affordable in Illinois,” Cullerton said. “These new laws were a long time coming and will help keep some control on the rising costs of higher education.”

    Recognition Process (Senate Bill 2155) – Provides that for a  community college to be recognized by ICCB, the college must show compliance with applicable state and federal laws regarding employment, contracts and compensation.

    Community College Trustee Training (Senate Bill 2157) – Requires new college board trustees to complete four hours of professional development training that range from labor laws, open meetings act, freedom of information regulations, ethics and financial and accountability oversight.

    Preventing Lame-Duck Decisions (Senate Bill 2158) – Prohibits community college boards from entering into new employee contracts or changing existing employee contracts 45 days prior to Election Day for trustees and extends through the lame-duck period until the first meeting of the new board.

    In 2009, Former DuPage Community College President Breuder’s contract extension was approved by a lame-duck board.

    Transparency at Community Colleges and State Universities (Senate Bill 2159) – Promotes transparency by requiring contract terms, annual performance reviews of administrators and forbids contract buyouts in cases of pending criminal charges.

    University Board Training (Senate Bill 2174)-Requires every voting member of a public university governing board to complete a minimum of four hours of professional development leadership training that range from labor laws, open meetings act, freedom of information regulations, ethics and financial and accountability oversight.

    Cullerton looks forward to working with his colleagues next legislative session to further reform administrative costs at state institutions of higher education to move the state forward and protect Illinois’ college students.

  • Trotter backs policing reform law

    trotter bodycamsSPRINGFIELD – Legislation creating law enforcement reforms was signed into law today. State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago 17) supported the bipartisan effort to create new body camera protocols, making Illinois one the first states in the nation to adopt the recommendations of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

    “Now, more than ever, Illinois needs to lead the country in pushing for the use of body cameras by officers. Reforming law enforcement practices will go a long way in reducing the distrust between the public and the police,” Trotter said.

    Senate Bill 1304, sponsored by Chicago Democrats Representative Elgie R. Sims, Jr. and Senator Kwame Raoul, implements several recommendations of the federal task force by:

    • Requiring independent investigations of all officer-involved deaths
    • Improving mandatory officer training in areas, such as the proper use of force, cultural competency, recognizing implicit bias, interacting with persons with disabilities and assisting victims of sexual assault
    • Creating a statewide database of officers who have been dismissed due to misconduct or resigned during misconduct investigations
    • Improving data collection and reporting of officer-involved and arrest-related deaths and other serious incidents
    • Establishing a Commission on Police Professionalism to make further recommendations on the training and certification of law enforcement officers

    The measure also bans the use of chokeholds by police and expands the Traffic Stop Statistical Study –which provides insight into racial disparities in motor vehicle stops and searches—to include pedestrians whom officers “stop and frisk” or temporarily detain for questioning.

    The state is set to become the first state with standards and protocols for the use of body cameras by any of the state’s law enforcement agencies. These policies include:

    • Cameras must be turned on at all times when an officer is responding to a call for service or engaged in law enforcement activities.
    • Cameras can be turned off at the request of a crime victim or witness, or when an officer is talking with a confidential informant.
    • Recordings are exempt from FOIA with some exceptions:
    • Recordings can be “flagged” if they have evidentiary value in relation to a use of force incident, the discharge of a weapon or a death.
    • “Flagged” recordings may be disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act; however, in certain sensitive situations, such as a recording of a sexual assault, victim consent is required prior to disclosure.
    • Recordings must be retained for 90 days or, if “flagged,” for two years or until final disposition of the case in which the recording is being used as evidence.

    The commission will be created immediately. The bill goes into effect on January 1.

  • Winners, losers predictable in governor's ed funding plan

    edfund losers 2016 ftr