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

0914a034x rSPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) that aims to eliminate lifetime barriers to employment for adults who committed crimes as youth was signed into law today.

The measure makes it easier for people to have certain arrests sealed by a judge in Illinois, allowing them opportunities for jobs, housing and education that they might have been denied otherwise.

“It is fundamentally unfair that someone who made a bad decision earlier in life should never be given a second chance,” Harmon said. “If these men and women have paid their debt and served their sentence, they should not be shackled with a document that forever deprives them of the ability to take care of themselves and their families.”

The legislation does not immediately seal criminal records for every offender, but rather creates a process by which someone can go to court and request their records sealed. A judge will ultimately have discretion on whether or not to grant the request.

Harmon worked closely with one individual who will benefit from the legislation – Quintin Williams, a 33-year-old doctorate student, husband and father who was recently denied a teaching position because the employer feared he would have a negative influence on students.

Williams, a fourth-year Loyola University student earning his doctorate in sociology, is forever bound to a record for crimes he committed as a teenager and in his early 20s – crimes he regrets and for which he paid his debt to society.
Since then, thanks in large part to his faith and to the countless people who saw potential in him along the way, Williams has dedicated himself to his work, his studies and his family. He’s stayed out of trouble, worked several jobs, earned college degrees and participated in anti-violence efforts.

The National Employment Law Project estimates, using U.S. Department of Justice statistics, that 42 percent of Illinois adults have a criminal record, whether it’s an arrest or some other brush with the law.

Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) sponsored the legislation in the House. It is an initiative of The Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois, which includes the Heartland Alliance, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, the Community Renewal Society, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and the FORCE Project (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality).

House Bill 2373 becomes effective immediately.

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Category: News

SPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat and president pro tempore of the Illinois Senate, issued the following statement today in response to the violent white nationalist demonstrations in Charlottesville this weekend:

“It is vital that we stand in total opposition to the hatred, bigotry and violence displayed by the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville this past weekend. They are the heirs to the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. We fought two bloody wars in opposition to their ideologies. We must continue to fight those same twisted ideologies today.

Diversity has always and will always make America stronger and better. We condemn these groups and their actions, as they are the opposite of what our country strives to be.”


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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