05262017CM0276 rSPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) released the following statement today after withdrawing the hold he had placed on House Bill 40:

“The work of constituents and advocates who have urged the governor to sign this legislation appears to be having some effect, as the governor recently backed away from his promise to veto it. I believe Gov. Rauner understands that he has made a commitment to support women’s reproductive rights, and I look forward to him signing this bill as it passed the General Assembly.”

House Bill 40 protects the right of women to make decisions about their reproductive health by ensuring that abortion remains legal in Illinois even if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

The measure moves to the House now, which is expected to send it quickly to the governor’s desk.

Category: News

Chicago police car horiz2 rSPRINGFIELD – A much-needed overhaul of the civil asset forfeiture process in Illinois was signed into law today.

Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) sponsored the measure in the Senate, where it passed unanimously in May. It was heavily negotiated with police, state’s attorneys and civil rights groups, and it garnered bipartisan support among state lawmakers.

The new law seeks to end the controversial practice of “policing for profit,” which incentivizes police and prosecutors to seize cash, cars, land and other property from people suspected of – but not necessarily charged with or convicted of – criminal activity under current state law. The property frequently is forfeited and auctioned off, with proceeds going into the government coffers.

Illinois is taking steps to curb civil asset forfeiture as it is becoming easier for police to seize property across the country. In July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions in July rolled back a series of Obama-era reforms intended to limit the practice.   

"I am glad Illinois has taken this dramatic step forward, especially while the federal government is going backwards on this issue,” Harmon said. “It's a simple concept - the government should have to prove that it has a right to take your property, not the other way around."

The previous law in Illinois was unclear on whether probable cause was a requirement for police to seize property. Additionally, law enforcement agencies were not obligated to return property seized during an investigation, even if the owner was never charged or convicted of a crime.  

The new law increases accountability and transparency among law enforcement officials by doing the following:

•    Improves the rights of property owners by placing the burden of proof on the prosecution instead of the property owner and creating an expedited process to have cases adjudicated more quickly.
•    Increases the government’s burden of proof from probable cause to preponderance of the evidence.
•    Requires the government to do more to ensure property owners receive notice of forfeiture proceedings and understand the steps they must take to argue for the return of their property.
•    Eliminates the requirement that property owners must pay a “cost bond” equal to 10 percent of the value of the seized property before their case can be heard by a judge.
•    Exempts small sums of cash from forfeiture and provides that mere possession of a miniscule amount of drugs will no longer serve as a legal basis for forfeiture.
•    Provides for new data collection regarding property seizures and forfeitures. The information will be reported to the Illinois State Police, and the aggregated data will be posted online.

The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.


 

Category: News

voting booth rSPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) issued the following statement today after automatic voter registration was signed into law:

“I am pleased that automatic voter registration is now law in Illinois. This is a concept that benefits everyone. It saves the state money, it strengthens the integrity of the electoral system by cleaning up voter rolls and it makes it easier for Illinois residents to participate in the democratic process.”

The new law establishes an automatic voter registration system in Illinois by July 1, 2018. Harmon was a chief co-sponsor of the measure, which passed the Senate on a vote of 48-0.

Qualified voters will be automatically registered to vote when they visit the Illinois Secretary of State and other state agencies for services. Voters can opt out of the system, and a series of checks will protect against fraud.

Illinois currently has an opt-in voter registration system in which adults who are 18 or older must find, fill out and submit a voter registration form to an appropriate government agency. Voters frequently forget to update their voter registrations when they move, change marital status or go to college, causing confusion at the polls and inaccuracies on the state’s voter rolls.

Automatically registering voters when they do business with the state enables government to do away with redundant paperwork, streamline bureaucracy and be more cost effective for taxpayers.

Category: News

SPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) issued the following statement today after the Illinois Trust Act was signed into law:

“Illinois has a long tradition of welcoming people from all nations, cultures and backgrounds, and today we reaffirmed that commitment with the signing of the Illinois Trust Act. In a time when many immigrants are living in fear and uncertainty, it is important that we take steps such as this to foster trust between local authorities and the immigrants who are a welcome part of our communities.”

Harmon was a chief co-sponsor of the Trust Act in the Senate, which ensures that immigrants in Illinois can pick up their children from school or go to the hospital without fear of arrest. It also assures state and local police officers that they are not expected to enforce federal immigration laws. The Act:

•    clarifies that state and local police are not deputized immigration agents and therefore are not expected to expend resources enforcing or complying with federal civil immigration detainers and administrative warrants;
•    prohibits state and local police from searching, arresting or detaining a person based solely on citizenship or immigration status or an administrative warrant;
•    prohibits law enforcement agencies from using state resources to create discriminatory federal registries based on race, national origin, religion or other protected classes; and
•    establishes safe zones at schools, medical facilities and properties operated by the Illinois secretary of state, where federal immigration enforcement would not be admitted without a valid criminal warrant.

The Act does not bar state and local police from conducting valid criminal investigations or serving criminal warrants, nor does it bar them from working with federal immigration agents to serve valid criminal warrants.

The Trust Act takes effect immediately.

Category: News

08132017CM1129 rSPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) voted today in favor of legislation overhauling Illinois’ broken school funding formula and replacing it with an evidence-based model.

“We took a historic step today to reform our state’s worst-in-the-nation school funding formula,” Harmon said. “The new model will discontinue the current system of winners and losers and ensure that every student has equal access at a high-quality education.”

The measure that passed in the Senate today on a 38-13 vote is based on Senate Bill 1, which passed both Houses in May and was vetoed by the governor in July.

Under the legislation:

•    No school districts would lose funding.
•    Funding would be distributed on a per-district basis, not a per-pupil basis.
•    Initial funding would be based on FY17 disbursement levels. It would increase from that point year over year as school districts get closer to reaching their adequacy targets.
•    The Chicago Public Schools block grant would be repealed, but CPS would be held harmless like every other school district so that it would not lose funding as a result of the change.
•    $350 million in new K-12 state funding for this schoolyear would be distributed to districts using a tier system that prioritizes districts farthest from adequacy.
•    School districts and their boards will have certainty each year about how much state funding they can expect to receive, which will make budgeting easier and more effective.

The measure also includes a Republican-backed tax credit scholarship program that would award a 75-percent tax credit of up to $1 million to any taxpayer who contributes scholarship funding for students to attend private or parochial schools.

Although Harmon opposes the tax credit, he said he strongly supports the measure as a much-needed change to Illinois’ school funding formula.

“In years to come, we will know that we voted for a transformational event in Illinois education policy,” Harmon said.

Senate Bill 1947 passed both Houses and now awaits the governor’s signature.

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Category: News

Contact Me

Email Senator Harmon

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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