Illinois Senate Black Caucus celebrates

On June 19, 1865, two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the end of slavery and ensure that all enslaved people were freed. Now, over 150 years later, Illinois has declared June 19 a state holiday to recognize Juneteenth National Freedom Day.

The initiative, led by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) began as an effort to keep Black history alive in Illinois by creating a statewide celebration of African American freedom and independence.

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New election law signed to encourage more voters to participate

SPRINGFIELD – Following the success of a law to provide more efficient ways for people to cast their ballot from home during the peak of the pandemic, a new proposal to make voting by mail permanently more accessible was signed into law.

“This keeps in place a number of voter conveniences that have proven popular,” said Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). “It’s a great example of lawmakers listening to the diverse voices of voters and taking steps to maintain and encourage voter participation.”

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Gun shop

FOID card modernization, elected Chicago School Board legislation head to governor

SPRINGFIELD – A measure to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and another to transition the Chicago School Board to fully elected – both of which were championed by two Democratic senators, respectively – are just a step away from becoming law.

House Bill 562, led by State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), would help keep communities safe by enhancing existing background check protocols, empowering partnerships with law enforcement, and dedicating mental health funding to communities most impacted by gun violence.

“We have to keep our communities safe by preventing guns from falling into dangerous hands, while at the same time not infringing on the rights of responsible gun owners,” Koehler said. “This legislation helps achieve both goals.”

Under the measure, electronic copies of both FOID cards and concealed carry licenses will also be made available to make it easier for people to have their licenses on them at all times. It also creates a task force to aid in enforcement of FOID card revocation or suspension enforcement.

To reduce wait times for FOID cards, it also allows applicants to voluntarily submit their fingerprints.

Additionally, the Chicago School Board would become fully elected by 2026 if legislation spearheaded by State Senator Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) receives final approval from the governor.

House Bill 2908 would make the board fully elected starting in November 2026, following a two-year hybrid period. The hybrid period would begin after the November 2024 election, when 10 members would be elected and 10 would be appointed by the mayor. The board president would also be appointed by the mayor.

“Creating an elected school board allows for more accountability, more democracy, and more community influence on our city’s school board,” Martwick said. “We need a school board that acts in the interests of our students, families, and communities.”

Both measures await final approval.


members in the news

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