Van Pelt

  • Senate Black Caucus members stand with communities in calling for swift action

    Sen. Christopher Belt

    SPRINGFIELD—Senators of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus released the following statement after the protests and riots in Chicago brought on by racist acts of violence against countless African Americans, including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor: 

    Senator Christopher Belt(D-Centreville), ILBC Senate Co-chair

    “In 1903, the great black scholar, W.E.B. Dubois, stated “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line. Here we stand in 2020, fighting for justice and equality because of that very same issue, the color line. That said, please understand this is not just ‘our’ problem, but rather, it is a ‘we’ problem. I am calling on my fellow legislators to stand with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to denounce this system of racial injustice that injures, destroys and kills not only people of color, but the very fabric of the American tapestry,” Belt said.

    Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood)

    “COVID-19 was not done showing us just how deep the inequities in our country are before we had another series of Black murders at the hands of racists in the headlines. It is exhausting to feel like you have been yelling at the top of your lungs for years without being heard, and I am deeply pained for our people forced to live in fear in the very country they helped build,” Lightford said. “I extend a call to action to my colleagues in the Illinois General Assembly and legislators across the country to hear the ache in the hearts of those who are fed up. We can only move forward by coming together to ensure every individual’s basic human rights are protected.”

    Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago)

    “What we are witnessing from many of the protestors is a demand for change—an acknowledgment that the status quo is unacceptable and must end. They are crying out, screaming to be heard and wondering aloud how many more will have to die before we finally recognize the sanctity of black lives,” Sims said. “As we fight tirelessly for justice, I ask that we don’t use lawlessness as a means to do it. I know there is an overwhelming need to be heard and understood. If no one else hears you, I do. I will continue to work relentlessly with leaders on all levels to fix our utterly broken system and hold bad actors accountable. We can, and we will, achieve change together.”

    Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago)

    "The story of this crisis isn’t the looting, it is the why, the what, and the how,” Peters said. “Why are people so mad? Why are people so hurt? What do people need? How are we going to help?"

    Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago)

    “Just in the last month, we’ve mourned the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and now George Floyd,” Van Pelt said. “How many more names must be said? Countless black lives were lost at the hands of police, failed under a system that was never meant to protect them, never meant to protect people that look like me. We can’t breathe, and haven’t been able to since we were abducted from the shores of our native land."

    Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago)

    "What we are witnessing today is the strange fruit sown by institutional racism and neglect. It has given us a harvest of poverty, mass incarceration, food and health deserts as well as educational inequity.  We are not only fighting a virus, but violence and vandalism. Yet, we should not conflate the peaceful protests and righteous indignation with the criminality of a few bad apples," Collins said.

    "The days ahead of us must be days of rebuilding and healing, but they must also be days of reform and accountability that save lives. We must come together with one voice to say 'Black Lives Matter.' If we do not have reform and accountability, then there can truly be no healing."

    Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago)

     “The deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are painful illustrations of the deep-rooted systems of oppression, and systems of protection for bad actors, that continue to burden African-American families. These murders sow further hopelessness, anger, and agony, which has been expressed over the past few days through widespread protests. While some have seen this as an excuse to commit shameful acts of destruction, it was heartening to see countless Chicagoans take to the streets to peacefully demand justice and make our voices heard in a productive way,” Hunter said.

    “Our path forward must not end with protests. Now is the time to harness our collective anger to galvanize a movement toward ending police violence and enacting transformational reforms centered around police accountability, transparency, and oversight.”

    Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago)

    "It is sickening that we have to continuously address the racial biases the criminal justice system has against Black Americans. It's evident how much racial disparity is prevalent throughout the justice system and how much officers believe we are so much of a threat to the country that we helped build.

    "The whole situation is just tiring, and a change is more than overdue. Even if you're not a part of the problem, you must be well aware of the harassment that blacks receive daily and how the media would rather paint a bad picture of us than be a part of the solution. 

    "We cannot solve this problem on our own. We profess no easy answers. It's obvious that real change will only happen when all of America believes Black Lives Matter."

  • Illinois expanding vote by mail

    vote by mail 1200bSPRINGFIELD – Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) voted Thursday to pass a plan to guarantee that every Illinoisan who has voted within the last two years will be sent a vote by mail application for the 2020 election.

    “Voting is crucial to a functioning democracy,” Van Pelt said, speaking from Springfield while attending a special legislative session convened with social distancing measures. “We have the technology to accurately and safely ensure our voices are heard. We refuse to allow a pandemic to disrupt our self-governance.”

  • Van Pelt: We must act now to save seniors

    vanpelt 012820CHICAGO – To bring attention to the many West Side seniors who aren’t getting the help they need during the coronavirus pandemic, Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) held a press conference Sunday and urged the community to get involved with relief efforts.

    “What are these seniors supposed to do?” said Van Pelt. “They have no resources, no transportation, which means no access to testing, no way to get groceries, no basic sanitary products. Somebody’s got to act on their behalf.”

    Van Pelt was joined at the press conference by a number of community leaders, including:

     

    • Robin Hood, Senior Liaison for the 5th District;
    • Rosemary Coleman, Local Advisory Council President (LAC) for Chicago Housing Authority;
    • Louvenia Hood, Executive Director, Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere; and
    • Valencia Pringle, Executive Director, Family Cares Mission.

    They discussed the needs of the senior community, and how they have been neglected. Seniors are the most susceptible to the virus, with nearly half of the state’s cases being reported in nursing homes.

    Before the press conference, Van Pelt and her team distributed 10,000 pairs of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to hundreds of residents at Albany Terrace and Patrick Sullivan Apartments. Patrick Sullivan is one of three homes in the senior living community that has suffered coronavirus-related casualties, according to LAC President Rosemary Coleman.

    “I feared this would happen,” said Rev. Hood. “These seniors have been left in the dark, deprived of the resources they need to stay alive. I’m not going to sit here and wait for them to die.”

    Despite the PPE packages the seniors received on Sunday, Van Pelt says that won’t be enough to protect them against the worst of the coronavirus.

    “For the sake of our seniors’ health and safety, we can’t let the current conditions continue,” Van Pelt said. “I urge members of the community to step in and donate what they can to help make sure our older citizens can get the help they need.”

    Van Pelt’s office is partnering with Family Cares Mission and asks that anyone interested in helping the city’s seniors donate here.

  • Van Pelt: We must all count!

    census 050720Urges Chicagoans to complete the 2020 Census

    CHICAGO – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) reminded city residents to fill out the 2020 Census, pointing out that their legislative representation and federal funding is dependent on their participation.

    “Funding for everything from hospitals, unemployment, school lunch programs, community businesses– are all determined by census participation,” Van Pelt said. “It’s crucial that everyone fills it out. It will only take 10 minutes of your time.”

  • Van Pelt urges private student-loan borrowers to call their providers

    collegestudents 030520CHICAGO —Nearly 140,000 Illinoisans could benefit from a new effort to help people struggling to pay their student loans. In light of the countless Americans falling behind due to the unprecedented economic hardships faced on both a statewide and national level, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) emphasized the importance of seeking relief.

    “Paying student loans is the last thing people should have to worry about during this pandemic,” Van Pelt said. “I urge everyone impacted to contact their loan providers as soon as possible. Borrowers need to be aware of all student loan deferment options available to them.”

    Introduced by Gov. JB Pritzker and Secretary Deborah Hagan of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, this initiative will allow people with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Program Loans or privately held student loans who are having a hard time making their payments due to COVID-19 to be eligible for expanded relief.

    Borrowers in need of assistance are encouraged to contact their student loan provider immediately to set up a plan.

    Relief options are based on a person’s individual needs and include:

    • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance,
    • Waiving late payment fees,
    • Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting,
    • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days,
    • Working with borrower to enroll them in other borrower assistance programs, such as income-based repayment.

    Anyone having problems contacting their student loan servicer should call the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Division of Banking at 217-785-2900 or the attorney general’s student loan helpline at 1-800-455-2456.

  • Van Pelt expands Goal Setting Art Contest in response to school closures

    Sen. Patricia Van PeltCHICAGO – The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to school closures in Illinois, potentially leaving parents responsible for home-schooling their children through April. While families are making arrangements, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt is launching a career-focused art contest for students.

    Earlier this month, Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered all K-12 schools — both public and private — be closed from March 17 to April 7 (April 21 for Chicago Public Schools) to further safeguard communities from the spread of the virus.

  • Van Pelt works to expand rights for incarcerated women who are pregnant

    Sen. Patricia Van PeltSPRINGFIELD – Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) introduced legislation that would allow incarcerated mothers to remain with their child for 72 hours after giving birth, unless a medical professional determines otherwise.

    “It’s crucial for a baby to spend its first moments with its mother, and we want to ensure that,” Van Pelt said. “This way the baby gets the care it needs, while the mother is inspired to stay on her best behavior in the hopes she may return to her child.”

    The bill would also provide the mother with hygiene products and diapers for her infant. Even before the baby is born, Van Pelt wants to guarantee that incarcerated mothers are cared for by requiring corrections officials to incorporate health care training and education for their specific needs.

  • Illinois ahead in Coronavirus testing but more resources are needed

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  • Van Pelt to clarify business expense reimbursement rules under proposed law

    vanpelt 022620SPRINGFIELD – Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) recently filed legislation that would require an employer to reimburse an employee within 30-45 days after the receipt of a required business expense, a common workplace scenario that currently isn’t governed by any sort of statute.

    “A lot of employees despair of ever seeing their business expenses reimbursed,” Van Pelt said. “This should be a common labor protection, just as a 40-hour workweek is. Employees who float costs for their employers should receive reimbursements in a timelier manner.”

    Employers would also have clearer guidelines on what does and does not constitute a reimbursable expense. An employee authorized to work from home, but not required to, would not be entitled to reimbursement for any related expenses under the proposal.

    The Illinois Chamber of Commerce supports Senate Bill 3307, which just passed the Labor committee this afternoon. It awaits further action from the Senate.

  • When John Doe's life hangs in the balance: Van Pelt pushes for rights of unidentified patients

    vanpelt 022520SPRINGFIELD – Last April, a man named Elisha Brittman was found naked and unresponsive under a car in Chicago, beaten so badly his face was unrecognizable. The police failed to identify him through fingerprints or DNA. Instead, they used a mugshot to identify him as Alfonso Bennett. In turn, the hospital notified Bennett’s family, who decided to take Brittman off life support. Now, both of the families involved are filing a lawsuit.

    After learning of what happened to her constituent, Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is leading an effort to make sure no other family is ever faced with such an unthinkable situation.

  • Van Pelt and DHS expanding services for persons with disabilities

    vanpelt 021020SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D- Chicago) is leading an initiative with the Department of Human Services that will expand eligibility for special education facilities.

    The proposed legislation would allow people with an orthopedic or other physical disability to attend the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education-Roosevelt. 

    “As we become more knowledgeable about various kinds of disabilities, it is important to revise our policies so that they are as inclusive as need be,” Van Pelt said. “Our understanding has grown, so our legislation must be changed to address that.”

    In addition to updating some terminology, the bill would also require school districts to inform eligible families about the services available to those who have been diagnosed with a physical disability or impairment, and increase the qualified age of a “student” from age 21 to age 22.

    The legislation is Senate Bill 2996, and is pending further action from the Illinois Senate.

  • Mourning families receive update on DNA evidence backlog

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  • Van Pelt encourages anyone with information on rape referenced in confidential state communications to come forward

    vanpelt 022119SPRINGFIELD – Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D – Chicago) is calling for further action regarding an apparent rape cover-up revealed earlier today by a WBEZ article.

    “The cover-up of such an egregious act is simply inexcusable. Everyone involved in mishandling this injustice should be held accountable. If you know anything about this, it is your duty to report it,” Van Pelt said.

    The email was from 2012. There is no statute of limitations for charges of sexual assault in Illinois.

    “Too often women don’t come forward because the appropriate actions are never taken. We should fight to make sure that doesn’t happen here. I urge anyone with information to come forward,” Van Pelt said.

    If you have information please contact:

    Champaign County State’s Attorney, 217-384-3733

    Illinois State Police, 217-786-7107

    Illinois Executive Inspector General, 217-558-5600 or 312-814-5600.

  • Van Pelt demands answers, seeks ways to end the backlog in murder DNA processing

    vanpelt 032519 ftr

  • Van Pelt demands answers, pledges to end the backlog in murder DNA processing

    Sen. Patricia Van Pelt

    State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) demanded answers as to why the state crime lab has a backlog of DNA from more than 750 murder cases during a Senate Public Health committee hearing this morning.

    “There are as many as 750 Chicago families waiting for answers about the murder of their loved one,” Van Pelt said. “These families deserve answers. They deserve closure.”

    Representatives from the Illinois State Police Forensic Science Lab testified during the hearing, along with family members of murder victims who have been affected by the backlog.

    “I promise to do whatever it takes to end this backlog and make sure families of murder victims get justice,” Van Pelt said. “I ran for office because I didn’t understand why people in Springfield weren’t addressing the issues we face every day in my community. This is one of those key issues.”

    Van Pelt plans to hold another hearing on the matter in the spring.

  • Black Caucus members on Van Dyke verdict: We still have a lot of work ahead

    Illinois Black Caucus

  • Van Pelt on governor’s claims: I have my doubts

    vanpelt 062018CHICAGO – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt of Chicago reacted to Governor Bruce Rauner’s assertion yesterday that he has done more for Black community than any other governor, including Black-owned businesses, education and human services program. Sen. Van Pelt released the following statement:

    “I would like to hope the governor is projecting future efforts to improve his record in working with the Black community. But since past performance is the best predictor of future actions, I have my doubts.

    “I would like to see the governor put Illinois on the right side of history by refusing to send Illinois National Guard troops to the US border. We should take no part in the president’s human rights debacle, tearing families apart without justice, and the governor can make that statement on behalf of our state.”

  • Van Pelt advances measure prioritizing funding for communities with high rates of crime and violence

    vanpelt 052918SPRINGFIELD – A measure from Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) that would require state agencies to prioritize funding for communities that have high levels of crime, incarceration and community violence advanced out of the Senate today with strong bipartisan support.

    “It’s clear that business as usual isn’t enough to prevent crime and keep our neighborhoods safe,” Van Pelt said. “Neighborhoods hit hardest by crime and violence need special attention in order to address the root cause of violence. Prioritizing funding for areas with high levels of violence and crime is the best way to help struggling communities rebuild.” 

    The Safe and Full Employment (SAFE) Zone Act creates a process to identify high-violence communities and prioritize state dollars to go to those communities to fund investment to address the underlying causes of crime and violence.

    “Violence is a public health crisis,” Van Pelt said. “In order to address this crisis, we need to make sure we’re strategically directing funds to communities that are hardest hit by violence. The SAFE Zone Act addresses the inequity in the distribution of funds and uses data to determine which neighborhoods are most in need of priority funding.”

    HB 5308 creates a board of state and local officials and agencies to coordinate and maximize existing state programs to implement the SAFE Zone Act. The measure calls for the development of an evidence-based, community-designed investment plan through local economic growth councils.

  • Van Pelt introduces plan to reform use of controversial gang databases

    Sen. Patricia Van PeltSPRINGFIELD – Use of controversial gang databases by police would be reformed under legislation introduced today by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt.

    “My goal is to reform the use of gang databases so that we can ensure the data is accurate and can be effective in helping reduce gang-related activity while still protecting people’s rights.” Van Pelt, a Chicago Democrat, said. “We need to make sure people aren’t being added to the gang database when they shouldn’t be, something that has proven to be problematic for countless Chicagoans over the years.”

    The legislation was crafted after experts, advocates and community members voiced their concerns at an April 20 Senate committee hearing about the Chicago Police Department’s use of gang databases and its effect on communities.

  • Van Pelt pushes to reform interrogations of minors

    vanpelt 042518SPRINGFIELD – Minors arrested for certain crimes would have greater protections during police interrogations under legislation sponsored by Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), which advanced out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee Tuesday night.

    “According to the Juvenile Justice Initiative, nearly 80 percent of minors don’t understand the Miranda warnings, with the least understood warning being the right to an attorney,” Van Pelt said. “We must reform our interrogation laws and protect the rights of minors.”