Harmon02282017Illinois taxpayers, public universities and state agencies would benefit from a bipartisan plan to streamline the state’s purchasing rules that was negotiated by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).

The legislation, Senate Bill 8, was approved in the Senate on Tuesday.

Harmon said it became clear to lawmakers that the state’s procurement rules are ready for an overhaul. The legislature enacted a series of strict procurement reforms in the aftermath of the George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich administrations because of questions over how they handled contracting, bid-letting and transparency for state business.

But the rules may have gone too far, sacrificing some efficiency and savings in an effort to deter corruption, Harmon said.

“We heard from universities, in particular, that the state’s purchasing rules have caused real headaches for them,” Harmon said. “Rather than save money for the state, the rules frequently have caused them to waste more money and time than an average business would.”

Harmon sponsored the legislation with Republican Senator Pamela Althoff of McHenry.

The measure is a key part of the Senate’s so-called “grand bargain” compromise deal that Gov. Bruce Rauner is relying upon to achieve a balanced budget for the state. Rauner has pressed for procurement reform as one cost-savings measure.

Among other things, Senate Bill 8 does the following:

  • removes inappropriate restrictions on the procurement of specialized purchases, including database licenses and food for resale on campuses;
  • creates a pilot program modeled after one in California for the efficient purchase of heavy fleet vehicles, special equipment and off-road construction equipment;
  • requires state agencies to respond promptly in writing to inquiries and comments of the Procurement Policy Board;
  • streamlines the procurement code and protects lowest bids from disqualification for minor or technical issues;
  • permits informational communication between vendors and the state, while still requiring that the inspector general be notified of any collusion or anticompetitive procurement practices; and
  • creates a special committee on procurement efficiency in purchasing that will study ways to further streamline the process; study procurement laws about contracting with minority-owned, women-owned, disabled-owned, and veteran-owned businesses; and study ways to purchase additional goods and services from Illinois companies.
Category: News

CashThe controversial practice of “policing for profit” in Illinois would come to an end under a massive overhaul of the state’s civil asset forfeiture law sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).

Senate Bill 1578 would require more accountability of law enforcement agencies that seize property while investigating possible crimes and more transparency on behalf of innocent property owners who want to get their belongings back.

As currently written, Illinois law incentivizes police agencies and prosecutors to seize cash, cars, land and other property from people suspected of – but not necessarily charged with or convicted of – criminal activity. The property frequently is forfeited and auctioned off, with proceeds going into the police department coffers.

“Illinois has allowed a system to take root in which grandparents, for example, can be exploited by the justice system simply because they loaned their only car to a relative whom they didn’t realize had a revoked license. The next thing they know, that relative is in jail, the car is impounded, and they have limited recourse for getting it back,” Harmon said.

Critics of the state’s current law cite numerous problems with it. For example, it’s unclear if probable cause is a requirement for police to seize property in Illinois. Even if an owner is never charged or convicted of a crime, law enforcement agencies are not obligated to return property that was seized during an investigation.

Further, current state law makes it especially difficult for people to reclaim their property through the court system.

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SPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat and president pro tempore of the Illinois Senate, issued the following statement today reacting to the governor’s budget address to the General Assembly:

“I am alarmed that Gov. Rauner was no more prepared today to propose a balanced budget to the General Assembly than he was on this day in 2016 or in 2015.

“For nearly 200 years Illinois governors considered it a duty to set the spending priorities for the state and did their best to work with the legislature to be responsible to taxpayers – especially when times were tough. Not this governor. He considers it a political liability.

“Illinois is facing tough times now, and they’re getting tougher by the day because Gov. Rauner lacks the courage to do the job that 41 governors before him managed to do.

“The governor can continue to sit on the sidelines while my colleagues and I in the Senate do his job for him. We’ll craft a budget for the people of Illinois and save the state from financial ruin. All he has to do is stay out of our way, let us do his job and not make it more difficult for us.”

Category: News

Harmon02082017SPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat and president pro tempore of the Illinois Senate, issued the following statement regarding Wednesday’s movement toward a grand bargain budget deal:

“Governing is messy. So is negotiation. Yet, today we passed three good-government measures, negotiated by both parties, in our drive toward a budget grand compromise. Saying yes to government consolidation, procurement reform and financing relief for municipalities all in one day is no mean feat.

“Clearly, the Senate has more work to do on this bipartisan grand compromise of ours, but I cannot stress enough that time is of the essence. We need to pass the remaining components of the deal as soon as possible, because the fallout from the state’s fiscal crisis will continue to worsen.

“Every day, Gov. Bruce Rauner spends $11 million more than the state has available to spend. I hope he will stop his allies from opposing our compromise, engage in honest negotiations and begin to use his office to lead – not to interfere with the Senate’s efforts.”

Category: News

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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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