The Majority Report 05/22/16 - Expanding access to polls, rallying for working families


Senate OKs automatic voter registration

Senate OKs automatic voter registrationLegislation that would modernize and streamline the voter registration process for Illinois residents passed out of the Senate Thursday with bipartisan support.

Senate Bill 250 would automatically register eligible Illinois residents to vote when they apply for, update or renew a driver’s license or state ID. Under current state law, residents who wish to register to vote while they renew their licenses at the DMV must fill out separate, duplicative paperwork.

In addition to expanding access to the polls, automatic voter registration would allow Illinois to improve the accuracy of its voter rolls.

“The basic information that the secretary of state’s office and other state agencies get on a daily basis is everything an individual needs to register to vote,” said Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), sponsor of the legislation. “This plan would simply allow for you to begin the voter registration process in the same time it takes to update your license or get a state ID card.”

Senate President John Cullerton also backs the measure, as does U.S. President Barack Obama, who expressed his support during his speech before the General Assembly in February.

“Illinois is continually recognized as a national leader in voter access and modernization,” Cullerton said. “This policy maintains our leadership. I would hope that the Illinois House would similarly support this important legislation and the governor would sign it into law.”

• In the media: Harmon: Notion of rampant voter fraud unproven
• In the media: Holmes says she's never seen alleged busloads of illegal voters
• Encouraging voter participation: Link pushes for suffrage at 17


Democrats join labor rally, 10K strong, at Capitol

Democrats join labor rally, 10K strong, at CapitolSenate Democrats showed their support for Illinois working families at a rally and protest of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s anti-labor policies Wednesday at the state Capitol.

“I want you to know the Illinois Senate Democrats support labor unions in Illinois. We think you do a good job,” Senate President John Cullerton told the throngs of protesters. “Because of you, the people in Illinois make more money than people do in non-union states. We think that’s a good thing.”

The rally occurred two days after Rauner vetoed legislation, sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), that would have allowed binding arbitration in an effort to avert a strike or lockout of state workers who currently are engaged in difficult contract negotiations with the governor.

Nearly 40 labor unions and community organizations officially were represented at the rally to show support for working families, fair labor negotiations and a resolution to the state’s budget crisis.

• In the media: Thousands rally against Rauner's union-weakening demands
• In the media: Thousands of union members rally at Illinois Capitol


Senate votes to fund promised state MAP grants – again

Senate votes to fund promised state MAP grants – againSenate Democrats on Thursday voted for a plan that would enable Gov. Bruce Rauner to fully cover all promised MAP grants for low-income college students.

If Rauner chooses to sign the plan into law, it would provide more than $227 million in funding for state-funded college scholarships.

“We cannot expect our college students to fully perform on partial state funding,” said Chicago Senator Donne Trotter, who co-sponsored the legislation. “We are giving MAP grant recipients an additional $227 million, which is long overdue.”

Majority Caucus Whip Mattie Hunter also supports the measure.

“Fully covering promised MAP grants will give low-income students the same opportunities as their peers,” said Hunter, of Chicago. “This lifeline directly helps our students, universities and communities by fueling our state's economic engine.”


In case you missed it

Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant of ShorewoodIllinois veterans could find it easier to become business owners under legislation that passed out of the Illinois Senate last week.

The measure, sponsored by Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant of Shorewood, would create a program that would allow veterans to apply and receive business loans, similar to agribusiness and farming programs administered by the state treasurer.

“There are many veterans who heroically serve our nation, gain valuable leadership and management skills yet can have a hard time starting a new career when they come home,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “My plan would help our veterans get the start-up capital they need to start their own businesses and create jobs for others.”

The legislation is Senate Bill 324.


Senator Terry Link, Vernon HillsSenate President John Cullerton: Rauner and leaders meet, but ‘progress’ is a matter of opinion (Chicago Sun-Times)

Senator Daniel Biss, Evanston: End of session brings renewed hope, doubt for budget compromise (Chicago Tonight, WTTW-TV)

Senator Gary Forby, Benton: Impact of mine layoffs on economy not as bad as initially feared, some officials say (Southern Illinoisan)

Senator Bill Haine, Alton: Lawmakers send college tuition grant funding program to Rauner (Belleville News-Democrat)

Senator Don Harmon, Oak Park: Gov. Rauner vetoes Illinois union arbitration bill (Crain’s Chicago Business)

Senator Terry Link, Vernon Hills: Rauner budget proposal ‘smoke and mirrors’ (Lake County News-Sun)

Senator John Mulroe, Chicago: Bill to raise age for purchasing tobacco passes in state senate  (Northern Public Radio, DeKalb)

Senator Heather Steans, Chicago: Rauner likely to OK marijuana decriminalization bill (Chicago Sun-Times)

Senator Donne Trotter, Chicago: Future of Exelon-backed energy bill remains unclear (The Times of Northwest Indiana, Munster)


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