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Van Pelt

  • Sen. Van Pelt on overriding MAP grant funding veto

    Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) defends her vote to override the governor's veto of MAP grant funding on March 2, 2016.


  • Black Caucus: State of the State address lacked solutions (VIDEO)

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  • Black Caucus: State of the State speech lacked scope, vision (VIDEO)

    ILBC lightford 012716The message was clear and the call for action united as members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus gathered outside the Senate chamber to voice their response to Governor Rauner’s State of the State address.

    The press conference began with ILBC Chair Kimberly Lightford giving opening remarks setting the stage for a number of initiatives important to the African-American community to be discussed, including education equity, restoring essential social services and police brutality and incarceration reform.

  • Democrats reject Rauner’s empty promise of CPS funding, demand real money to fix his mistake

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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.”

  • Few specifics, missed opportunities in governor's budget speech (VIDEO)

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  • Sen. Van Pelt argues for Juvenile Miranda rights

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


  • Sen. Van Pelt shares State of the State concerns

    Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) shares her concerns with the governor's State of the State address on January 27, 2016.


  • Sen. Van Pelt's own MAP Grant story

    Senator Patricia Van Pelt shares her personal experience with MAP grants and the lasting effect her education had on her life on January 28, 2016.


  • Senate approves stopgap funding for social services (AUDIO)

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  • Senate builds unanimous support for automatic voter registration

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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.”

  • Senate Democrats react to governor's State of the State address (VIDEO)

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  • Senate Democrats react to State of the State address (VIDEO)

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  • Senate Democrats: Bail decisions should not be based on ability to pay

    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.

  • Senate votes to override Rauner veto of MAP, college funding (AUDIO)

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  • Senator Van Pelt votes to fund human services, higher education

    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.

  • Top Ten New Laws for 2017

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  • Van Pelt advances plan to protect children during police interrogations

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  • Van Pelt legislation to lifts lifetime bars to employment signed into law

    pvp teachSPRINGFIELD – Residents of Illinois who have been convicted of minor drug or sex offenses but have worked to turn their lives around may now have the opportunity to become educators in the state thanks to a new law sponsored by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago 5th).

    The new law, proposed by the Illinois State Board of Education and Cabrini Green Legal Aid, to limit the types of convictions that would automatically disqualify individuals from employment within a school district, disqualify individuals from obtaining an educator’s license or result in revocation of an educator’s license.

    House Bill 494 states that persons convicted of possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis as well as those convicted of misdemeanor public indecency and prostitution will not be automatically disqualified for school district employment or obtaining licensing. The legislation also allows convicted drug offenders who have turned their lives around to apply for employment and licensing after seven years without committing new offenses.

    “Barring those who have made mistakes in their lives from gainful employment puts an undue burden on families and communities. By allowing those who have paid their debts to society a second chance, we are opening up opportunities to turn lives around and rebuild our communities,” Senator Van Pelt said.

    The new law was co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans and was promoted by the State Board of Education, along with other community stakeholders.

  • Van Pelt meets with UIC students on MAP grant, higher ed funding

    pvp hied mapSPRINGFIELD — Today, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) met with students from the University of Illinois-Chicago, who were participating in Illinois Public University Student Lobby Day. Senator Van Pelt and students discussed various higher education funding issues.

    Senator Van Pelt, earlier this summer, was one of 37 Senators who voted to pass Senate Bill 2043, appropriating $373 million in general revenue funds for MAP grants. The bill is currently in House Rules Committee.

    “MAP grant funding is absolutely essential for students throughout state, who may not be able to fully fund their education,” Senator Van Pelt said. “I have and will continue to support MAP grant funding, as well as other alternatives to assist with funding, such as The American Opportunity Tax Credit and The Lifetime Learning Credit.”

    Earlier this year, Senator Van Pelt joined US Congressman Danny K. Davis (D) in encouraging current and future students to look into a variety of tax break options available to ease the financial burden of higher education. Together they launched #TaxBreaks4Students campaign, designed to highlight the programs available to those paying for higher education.

  • Van Pelt moves to improve relationships between law enforcement, youth and communities

    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.