Dear friends,

Happy New Year! The Senate started 2021 off with a busy end to the 101st General Assembly.

We passed sweeping reforms to address inequalities in education, economic opportunity and the criminal justice system.

We also passed measures to help businesses stay afloat during the ongoing pandemic and give CPS teachers the same bargaining rights as all other teachers in the state.

A brief overview of these measures is below.

If you have any questions, please reach out to my district office at (708) 848-2002 or send me an email at



Senator Don Harmon

Senate President, 39th District

Education reform

The education pillar of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda addresses systemic racism and the reality that many children never get a fair chance at a quality education. The measure allocates resources to children whose lives may already be shaped by trauma by the time they start kindergarten and will require a real examination of the way biases influence our school systems and curriculums.

The bill also:

  • Seeks to eliminate barriers to college admission by requiring two years of laboratory science and a foreign language to graduate high school. This matches the admission requirements for most public colleges and universities in Illinois.
  • Makes it easier for students to succeed by requiring schools to automatically enroll them in the next level of advanced coursework if they meet or exceed state standards in that subject matter.
  • Expands access to Early Intervention services to give students an equitable start.
  • Codifies the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment to ensure children start on equal footing when entering Kindergarten.

Chicago Public Schools bargaining

House Bill 2275 allows Chicago teachers to collectively bargain over issues like class size, length of school year and staff reductions.

All other teachers in the state are already allowed to bargain over these items. This legislation simply gives Chicago teachers parity.

Economic recovery

Businesses are struggling to survive as the state has imposed necessary mitigation measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many have turned to curbside pickup and delivery, but there was not a statewide standard for alcohol delivery, limiting some establishments’ ability to conduct business.

Senate Bill 54 allows retail establishments to use third party delivery services like Instacart to deliver alcohol along with other items like groceries.

Economic access, equity and opportunity

The economic development pillar of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda addresses disparities faced by communities of color.

It is divided into four pieces of legislation that address different issues:

  • Housing
  • Hiring and pay equity
  • State contracting and procurement
  • Business barriers and predatory lending

Click here for more details.

Criminal justice reform

This comprehensive criminal justice reform bill makes significant reforms in the areas of police training in everything from crisis intervention tactics to de-escalation, police accountability, transparency in law enforcement and the rights of detainees and prisoners.

Spurred by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans at the hands of police, it is the culmination of nine public hearings over four months with over 30 hours of public testimony and many more hours of stakeholder meetings and negotiations.

What the bill does:

  • Modernizes sentencing laws.
  • Replaces the cash bail system with a new system that detains all dangerous defendants, regardless of their ability to pay.
  • Institutes certification & decertification system statewide for police officers.
  • Requires the use of body cameras.
  • Prevents destruction of law enforcement misconduct records.
  • Connects substance abuse treatment programs with first responder duties.
  • Increases and improves de-escalation and mental health training for law enforcement.
  • Requires police to develop a plan to protect children during search warrant raids.
  • Empowers the attorney general to investigate deaths occurring in police custody.
  • Addresses officer wellness and mental health awareness and screenings.
  • Bans use of chokeholds and other extreme measures.
  • Establishes statewide use of force standards by 2022.

What it does NOT do:

  • Does NOT defund the police.
  • Does NOT modify or remove protections to allow police departments to be sued (qualified immunity).
  • Does NOT change or take away collective bargaining rights.
  • Does NOT allow those that are charged with a serious offense and are a risk to a person or the community or is a flight risk to be released from custody.
  • Does NOT prevent a judge from revoking pretrial release.
  • Does NOT alter prison time for individuals serving time for heinous crimes.