Harmon05262016Scholarships for the children of Illinois firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty would be funded again under legislation that passed in the Illinois Senate on Thursday.

Senate Bill 2051, sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), would appropriate $975,000 for college scholarships for children of deceased police officers, firefighters and correctional officers, as well as $5 million for payment of line-of-duty awards.

The payments have been held up because of the state budget stalemate.

“The least we can do for the survivors of frontline public safety workers who put their lives on the line in service to their communities and to taxpayers is to pay them what we promised to pay them,” Harmon said. “These awards offer some comfort and financial stability to families who face a great deal of uncertainty and hardship when their loved ones die in the line of duty.”

Among those who could benefit because of the legislation is the family of deceased Oak Park firefighter Kenneth K. Harris.

A 28-year veteran of the Oak Park Fire Department, Harris, 56, died Jan. 11, 2016, of cardiac arrest at his Berwyn home after working a 24-hour shift and an additional six hours of fire prevention work. He is survived by his wife, five children and several grandchildren.

“These scholarships and awards for the survivors are important. When a first responder dies in the line of duty, it’s comforting to know that their family is going to be taken care of financially,” said Mike Henkelman, one of Harris’ colleagues at the fire department and president of the Oak Park Fire Fighters Association, Local 95. “We certainly appreciate Senator Harmon’s efforts with this legislation.”

The Senate honored Harris this month with memorial resolution, SR 1881, acknowledging his service to the village of Oak Park and offering condolences to those who knew him.

Category: News

YogaA measure prohibiting new state regulation of training for yoga teachers will head to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 2743, sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Representative Daniel Burke (D-Chicago), garnered bipartisan support as a pro-business measure that curbs government regulation where it’s unneeded.

“There’s simply no reason for Illinois to regulate something that, for most people, is a personal pursuit, not a profession or a career,” Harmon said. “It makes no sense from a business standpoint, from a government standpoint or from a practical standpoint.”

Harmon’s legislation exempts yoga instruction and yoga teacher training from state oversight as a trade, occupation, vocation or professional school.

Several yoga teacher training programs in Illinois were notified earlier this year by the Illinois Board of Higher Education that they were subject to state regulation as vocational schools and that they must obtain IBHE approval to operate in the state.

The measure passed unanimously in the Illinois House on Wednesday. It passed unanimously in the Senate in April.

Category: News

Legislation that would modernize and streamline the voter registration process for residents of Oak Park, Austin, Addison and elsewhere in Illinois passed out of the state Senate Thursday with the support of Senator Don Harmon.

Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, is an enthusiastic co-sponsor of Senate Bill 250, which would clear the way for the automatic registration of eligible voters in Illinois.

“This is another important step in expanding access to the polls and ensuring Illinois’ voter registration process continues to improve,” Harmon said.

“Automatic registration would enable government to save money by bringing efficiency to the process and eliminating duplicative paperwork that government has to process. It also would encourage more people to participate at the polls and make government more reflective of the people it serves.”

Harmon was a champion of recent efforts to bring online voter registration and same-day voter registration to Illinois.

Senate Bill 250 would enable eligible Illinois residents to automatically register to vote when they apply for, update or renew a driver’s license or state ID. Under current state law, residents who wish to register to vote while they renew their licenses at the DMV must fill out separate, duplicative paperwork.

In addition to expanding access to the polls and streamlining the registration process, automatic voter registration would allow Illinois to improve the accuracy of its voter rolls. Oregon and California enacted similar automatic voter registration laws.

The legislation passed in the Senate by a vote of 42-16.

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday publicly expressed his support for simplifying Illinois’ voter registration process. Newspaper editorial boards have come out in support of the effort, as well, including the Chicago Sun-Times. Cook County Clerk David Orr is a champion of the effort, too.

Category: News

SchoolBusSenator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) released the following statement today regarding his vote on Senate Bill 231, a school funding reform measure that passed in the Illinois Senate on a vote of 31-21.

“Today in Illinois we have a flawed school funding formula that distributes state aid unfairly. It’s a system that’s been in place for nearly 20 years and no longer works for everyone.

“Illinois needs to distribute the resources it has more fairly across the state by giving more consideration to factors that increase the cost of educating youth, such as student poverty and the number of bilingual students in a school.

“This was not an easy vote for me because of the different needs of schools across our district. But after carefully looking at the numbers and weighing the benefits, I determined it was important to vote in favor of overhauling a flawed system and acknowledging that additional resources need to be directed to the schools and the students that need them the most throughout our district and Illinois.

“I don’t believe Senate Bill 231 will become law in its current form. But we’ve debated school funding reform for years, and we’ve always found a way to collectively say no. It’s time to start saying yes.

“This step today is a part of that conversation, not the final word. We need to find a way, consistent with the best evidence available, to direct new resources where they are needed the most. We must also strive to do so in a way that doesn’t divert resources away from districts that can’t make do without them.

“We need to ensure educational excellence across the state. We can do that only by appropriating adequate resources and distributing them fairly.

“Senate Bill 231 moves the discussion forward. I feel that this proposal, when paired with the appropriate level of state funding for schools, could work for everyone. I look forward to being part of a continued conversation about great public schools and fair funding in this state.”

Category: News

Illinois colleges and universities would receive additional money to help them keep their doors open during the state’s prolonged budget stalemate under a measure Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) voted for on Thursday.

Senate Bill 2048 would provide an additional $453 million for eight public Illinois universities and an additional $46 million for Monetary Award Program grants for students and funding for community colleges.

Combined with funding that was approved for higher education in April, the appropriation would represent about 60 percent of the money promised for these universities and colleges for Fiscal Year 2016.

“Although it’s an easy decision for me to vote to send more money to colleges and universities, our job in the General Assembly is not finished,” Harmon said. “This appropriation still falls short of what we’ve promised to our institutions of higher learning and to students who count on state tuition assistance to be able to afford college.”

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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