Senator Harmon

June 6, 2013

Dear Friends,

 

The 2013 spring session of the Illinois General Assembly is over. We had some major successes, such as enacting a state budget that for the first time in four years holds education funding steady, while also avoiding major facility closures and layoffs and setting aside some money to pay down overdue bills. We also brought Illinois into the 21st Century by allowing people to register to vote and request absentee ballots online.

 

But we did not get the job done on perhaps the session’s biggest issue – passing a fair pension reform measure to free up more funding for priorities like education and public safety. Like my Senate Democratic colleagues, I remain committed to passing a fair pension reform plan within the next few months.

 

I will keep you updated about other legislative matters and local events as the summer progresses.

 

Sincerely,
Don Harmon
Senator Don Harmon
39th District – Illinois

 

In Springfield...

 

As I already mentioned, I passed legislation that will allow the people of Illinois to register to vote and request absentee ballots online once the governor signs it into law. Other states have seen great success with similar programs. Arizona, for example, saw a 9.5 percent increase in voter registration. In addition to expanding the electorate, this law will save money, as the cost of processing an online application is only 3 cents as opposed to 83 cents for a paper application. I want to thank everyone who signed my online petition and helped me move this measure forward. You can read more here.

 

Senator Harmon speaks on the floorI also passed a measure that builds on my previous successes in stripping the fathers of children conceived by rape of parental rights. It allows mothers who can provide clear and convincing evidence that they were raped to remove the rapists’ visitation, custody and inheritance rights – even if there is not yet a criminal conviction. Read more here.

 

Another accomplishment I’m proud of was helping to open privately held natural areas to climbers, kayakers, fishers, bird watchers and hikers. Due to a complicated legal matter, Illinois had become the only state in the union that did not provide liability protection to landowners who open their natural areas to the public for free. Out of fear of lawsuits, many had stopped doing so. My legislation will restore their liability protection once it is signed into law. Read more in this Sun-Times article. Note, however, that the measure passed the House after the story was written and awaits the governor’s signature.

 

The big issues...

 

Despite passing a solid state budget, we still have significant budgetary pressures because no pension reform solution passed both chambers of the General Assembly. Although we passed my preferred plan in the Senate, Senate Bill 2404, the House never even called it for a vote. I believe we have to strike a balance between achieving significant savings while also honoring our constitutionally required obligations to state employees. After a special session on June 19, the General Assembly formed a conference committee to try to resolve the differences between the House and Senate. I am hopeful that a fair compromise will materialize soon.

 

I also was disappointed with the resolution of two non-budgetary issues: marriage equality and legislation allowing people to carry concealed handguns. I support marriage equality and will continue to work with my colleagues to find a way for the marriage quality bill that we passed in the Senate to pass the Illinois House. I also was disappointed with the concealed carry. I voted against it because I believe it does not go far enough to promote gun safety and prevent violence in our communities.

 

Thank you for your interest in these issues and I encourage you to visit my website, www.DonHarmon.org, to like my page on Facebook and to follow me on Twitter for more updates.

 

 

District Office

6933 W. North Avenue • Oak Park, Illinois 60304

708-848-2002 (Phone) • 708-848-2022 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

329 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8176 (Phone) • 217-558-5013 (Fax)

 

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Springfield Office:
329 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(p) 217.782.8176
(f) 217.558.6013

Oak Park Office:
6941-B W. North Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60302
(p) 708.848.2002
(f) 708.848.2022

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