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Belt law provides neglected schools more cash flow

Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 10:55 AM

belt 041019SPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) that will allow impoverished school districts to issue more bonds to receive additional revenue was recently signed into law.

To calculate their ability to issue bonds, a school district factors in 85 percent of the Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) plus the district’s Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax. Belt’s proposal would count state aid as part of the baseline on which a district can base that 85 percent EAV calculation.

“With this legislation becoming effective, neglected school districts will now have the ability to improve their student’s future,” Belt said. “Making the accommodation of factoring state aid into the formula will help these school districts flourish and provide a better path to closing their achievement gaps.”

Senate Bill 1746 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.  

Belt law will require Medicaid screening for inmates upon being released

Published: Monday, August 19, 2019 10:52 AM

belt 052819SPRINGFIELD – To help inmates transition out of prison, State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) sponsored legislation to require the Department of Corrections (DOC) to screen inmates for Medicaid eligibility before being released, which was recently signed into law.

At this time, the Unified Code of Corrections requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) to give inmates the opportunity to apply for Medicaid at least 45 days before they are discharged and requires DOC to assist them in filling out their application.

“Assisting inmates with Medicaid screening will help reduce the chronic disease rate, which is a major cause of death and disability in Illinois,” Belt said. “We are trying to help inmates from recidivating and one of the best ways to do that is do ensure medical treatment is available upon discharge. This is of utmost importance as it will give them the chance to maintain their health when reintegrated into society.”

Under this proposal, officials of the correctional institution or facility will have a committed person assigned to assist eligible inmates in completing a Medicaid application to ensure they begin receiving benefits immediately upon release.

Senate Bill 1744 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Belt removes enhanced penalties for possessing cannabis at closed schools

Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2019 09:46 AM

belt 050819SPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) will reform criminal justice laws by removing the enhanced penalties for possession of cannabis on school grounds that are no longer operational.

Belt’s legislation amends the Cannabis Control Act to provide that the enhanced penalties for cannabis delivery on school grounds do not apply when the violation occurs in or on the grounds of a building that was formerly designated as a school but is no longer operational.

“As a father of two and former school board member, I know more than anyone how important it is to provide a safe, drug-free environment conducive for optimal learning,” Belt said. “However, once a decision has been made to close and shutter a school, then it is no longer a school, and the enhancement penalty should not apply. The perpetrator of any cannabis offense on a former school site should be prosecuted by the existing laws of the land relative to possession of cannabis.”

The current enhanced penalties of delivery of cannabis on school grounds are as follows:

  • Less than 2.5 grams: Class A misdemeanor
  • 2.5-10 grams: Class 4 felony and a fine not to exceed $50,000
  • 10 -30 grams: Class 3 felony and a fine not to exceed $50,000
  • 30-500 grams: Class 2 felony and a fine not to exceed $100,000
  • 500-2,000 grams: Class 1 felony and a fine not to exceed $200,000

House Bill 160 was signed into law and will become effective immediately.  

Belt announces state grant for Southwestern Illinois College’s adult literacy program

Published: Monday, July 29, 2019 11:15 AM

swic 072919BELLEVILLE – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) announced today that Southwestern Illinois College will receive a $36,094 state grant for its Project READ Adult Volunteer Literacy Program.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White awarded the grants through the Adult Literacy Grant Program, which helps learners develop and enhance their reading, math, writing and English-language skills.

“I want to thank Jesse White for his commitment to funding the crucial services the Project READ program provides,” Belt said. “This program helps give all adults the tools they need to succeed and makes an incredible difference in the lives of the men and women it serves.”

A total of 14,352 learners will be served by adult literacy programs around the state. A total of 6,086 volunteer tutors will provide training for learners putting them on the path to lifelong learning. Adult literacy projects help adults who read below the ninth-grade level or speak English at a beginning level to improve their reading, writing, math or use of English as a new language.

“An estimated 2.1 million Illinois residents need adult literacy and/or English-language instruction,” White said. “I am pleased to provide funding for 113 local literacy projects that will allow adult learners to achieve their utmost potential in the upcoming year. I will continue to do all I can to ensure that every citizen of this state has access to quality literacy programs.”

In total, the secretary of state’s office awarded $5.6 million in grants to adult literacy programs around the state.

To learn more about adult literacy grant programs, visit https://cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/literacy/adultlit-grants-overview.html.

Sen. Christopher Belt

Senator Christopher Belt

57th District

Years served: 2019–Present

Committee assignments: Criminal Law; Education (Vice-Chairperson); Energy and Public Utilities; Insurance; Labor; Licensed Activities; Subcommittee on Special Issues (IN); Opioid Crisis Abatement Spec. Com..

Associated Representatives:
LaToya Greenwood
Jay Hoffman