harmon swearing in 011920 for site

SPRINGFIELD – After representing the people of Oak Park and the state of Illinois for more than 17 years, Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) looks forward to serving as the 39th Senate president, and thanks his colleagues for recognizing his legislative accomplishments and for believing in his ability to lead the chamber.

“The Senate is a collection of diverse views and diverse experiences but consistent purpose—to best represent the citizens who send us to the Capitol, to collaborate, to compromise, and to create better opportunities, better outcomes, and greater faith in the honor and integrity of our state,” President Harmon said.

Senate President Harmon was first elected to the Senate in the fall of 2002, and has since promoted a progressive agenda based on his commitment to social justice and public service. In 2011, former-Senate President John Cullerton appointed him president pro tempore, offering Harmon a key role in shaping policy and moving legislation through the Senate.

Notable legislation spearheaded by Senate President Harmon include the Preschool for All Program to expand access to preschool opportunities for thousands of Illinois families, a law to make same-day voter registration a permanent option, and the Fair Tax constitutional amendment to allow Illinois to vote to replace the current flat income tax with a fairer, more equitable and efficient approach to lower tax rates for lower income levels.

“The work now begins in earnest,” President Harmon said. “I look forward to joining together with Governor Pritzker and leaders in both chambers as we work to change the trajectory of our state and set a better course for our future.”


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Harmon Giffords 04282016 CarouselCHICAGO — Illinois State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Thursday called for greater accountability from Illinois gun dealers in an effort to curb violent crime with illegally purchased guns in Chicago and elsewhere in the state.

Harmon is the Senate sponsor of legislation that would give state authorities and police agencies the tools they need to encourage better business practices by federally licensed gun dealers, while holding corrupt gun dealers accountable.

During a news conference in Chicago announcing the formation of a new statewide effort known as the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition, Harmon noted that licensed gun dealers are an important link between gun manufacturers and the public. While most Illinois gun dealers strive to be responsible and do the right thing, he said, other dealers are negligent and engage in practices that fuel illegal gun trafficking.

“Yes, many guns are being trafficked into our communities from outside of the state. But consider this: 40 percent of guns used in crimes in Chicago between 2009 and 2014 came from Illinois,” Harmon said. “And the state of Illinois doesn’t have the tools and authority it needs to combat illegal or negligent business practices that threaten Illinois families.”

The legislation, which is expected to be filed in the Legislature next week, would make the following changes to Illinois law:

— Require criminal background checks for gun dealer employees, who have access to large inventories of guns.

— Require training and education for gun dealer employees so the background check system can work better. Employees need to know how to conduct background checks, identify and stop straw purchases of firearms, and properly store guns to prevent thefts.

— Demand additional accountability from gun dealers by enabling state and law enforcement officials to inspect inventories of licensed gun dealers for missing firearms.

“This type of effort is long overdue in Illinois. We’ve been working on these issues for a long time, and we’ve learned a lot,” Harmon said.

“But the obvious fact to me is that often between a gun manufacturer and a crime scene is someone reporting to be a law-abiding gun owner who is not. This legislation is a commonsense response to a gun violence epidemic that is destroying families and communities.”

Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt during a meet-and-greet event with constituents in Tucson, and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, co-founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, which advocates for commonsense solutions to gun violence in America. Giffords and Kelly are gun owners.

During an appearance in Chicago Thursday with Harmon and gun violence prevention advocates, Giffords encouraged Illinois to fight for sensible change.

“Now is the time to come together, be responsible – Democrats, Republicans, everyone,” she said. “We must never stop fighting. Fight, fight, fight. Be bold. Be courageous. The nation’s counting on you.”

Illinois Representative Kathleen Willis (D-Northlake) is sponsoring the legislation in the House.

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Roughly 99 percent of Illinois taxpayers and an overwhelming number of small businesses would see an income tax cut under a proposal advanced Tuesday by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).

Legislation making its way through the Illinois Senate would amend the Illinois Constitution and permit the General Assembly to enact a fair state income tax, with lower rates applying to lower incomes and higher rates applying to higher incomes.

The amendment – SJRCA 1 – passed in the Senate Executive Committee on Tuesday, clearing the way for it to move to the Senate floor for consideration. Identical legislation is making its way through the Illinois House.

“I firmly believe it is time for Illinois to join the modern era and implement a fair income tax that helps the hardworking people of this state hold on to more of their paychecks,” Harmon said.

“Illinois taxes all residents at a flat rate across the board, regardless of income. This archaic system of penalizing the poor and rewarding the rich is ripe for exactly the kind of meaningful structural reform Gov. Rauner has been demanding.”

The constitutional amendment only would enable the state to enact a fair income tax. Separate Senate legislation – an amendment filed Tuesday to Senate Bill 518, which is sponsored by Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) – would implement the fair tax rates.

Illinois is one of only two Midwestern states with a flat tax, which is enshrined in the state constitution. Indiana has a flat tax, but it allows an additional local income tax to be collected, with rates that vary by county. SJRCA 1 would bar local governments in Illinois from imposing income taxes.

Among all states, 34 have a progressive – or fair – income tax. Nine have a flat income tax, and seven have no income tax at all. Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota have a progressive income tax structure.

“There are better ways to structure tax rates, as other states already have learned. Illinois has been slow to come to the table on this,” Harmon said.

“The time is right for serious consideration of a fair state income tax, which would result in a healthier bottom line for working families, as well as for the state government they help to support.”

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HarmonFloor03032016Averting the possibility of a strike or lockout of thousands of unionized state employees is in the best interest of Illinois and the economy of the communities where they live, work and pay taxes, Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said Thursday.

Harmon is the Senate sponsor of House Bill 580, which would allow the use of binding interest arbitration when the State of Illinois and employees can’t come to terms on union contract negotiations.

The Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 38-17 on Thursday. It previously passed in the House and now will go to Gov. Bruce Rauner for consideration.

“I am concerned about the inability of the state and AFSCME to come to terms on a contract and what that could mean for state operations, particularly in light of Gov. Rauner’s past comments that he is willing to shut down the government to make a point with unions,” Harmon said.

“A strike or lockout of thousands of workers throughout Illinois is not good for businesses – from daycare centers and grocery stores to banks and utility companies – nor is it responsible to the taxpayers who expect the state services they pay for.”

The state and employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, have been without a contract since it expired June 30, 2015. In addition to AFSCME, the governor’s office has not reached a deal with 80 other state employee unions whose contracts are under negotiation.

Interest arbitration would be an optional tool that could bring moderation to labor talks and offer both sides an incentive to stay at the table, rather than go to a strike or a lockout.

“This legislation does not force any particular outcome to negotiations, nor will it cost the state a dime more to have arbitration available as a tool,” Harmon said. “But, clearly, in these difficult times for state government, it is critical that both sides stay at the table and reach a deal. HB580 would help to ensure that.”

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AlmaMaterSen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) joined members of the Illinois Senate today in voting to override the governor’s veto of legislation that would provide college tuition assistance through the Illinois Monetary Award Program.

“Today, members of the Senate struck a blow for college students all over the state. These students and their families find themselves caught in the middle of a budget stalemate that is causing Illinois’ higher education network to unravel,” Harmon said.

“Our message today is clear: these students have not been forgotten, and they deserve a chance to continue pursuing their education with the state’s help as promised. Overriding the governor’s veto of MAP grant funding was the right thing to do for the state of Illinois, for its people and for its economy.”

More than 130,000 middle- and low-income college students in Illinois benefit from MAP grants, which help to cover the cost of tuition at community colleges and universities statewide.

In Harmon’s district alone, 2,362 students were awarded more than $6.7 million in MAP grants during the 2015 fiscal year.

The Senate voted 37 to 17 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 2043, which not only provides money for MAP grants for the 2015-16 academic year, but also includes money for community colleges and career-technical and adult education.

SB2043 passed both chambers in January, and the governor vetoed it in February.

The motion to override now heads to the Illinois House for consideration.

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Contact Me

Email President Harmon

Springfield Office:
329 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(p) 217.782.8176

Oak Park Office:
6941-B W. North Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60302
(p) 708.848.2002

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