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It’s almost a law

Wednesday, May 24, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Debt Free Justice Illinois…

Debt Free Justice Illinois, a statewide network of bipartisan organizations, and youth and racial justice advocates, today celebrates the passage of legislation through the Illinois General Assembly aimed at eliminating the unjust assessment of juvenile court fees and fines against Illinois youth and their families.

Today’s Senate passage is the final legislative action for the bill and a momentous step in the direction of economic justice for the state. Senate Bill 1463, sponsored by Senator Robert Peters and Representative Justin Slaughter, is aimed at abolishing juvenile court fees and fines in delinquency proceedings. Twenty other states, both majority Democratic and Republican, have eliminated or reduced these fees and fines in recent years.

“Today’s vote in the Illinois Senate is further proof that Illinois intends to continue moving in the direction of economic justice for Illinois youth and their families,” said Sen. Peters. “The status quo of unjust fees and fines do not work for our state’s young people and families and do not keep our communities safe. We must work toward accountability and rehabilitation for Illinois’ young people in the juvenile court system, not punishing them with monetary fees and fines.”

“I’m proud to stand with the advocates across our state for economic justice and working families,” said Rep. Slaughter. “Our vision of a fairer and more just juvenile court system is one that many other states have embraced. I encourage Governor Pritzker to sign this bill into law as quickly as possible and continue our work of building up youth and families to dismantle system inequalities and protect Illinois’ most vulnerable communities.”

Juvenile court fees and fines can range from $25 to over $800 and can quickly add up to thousands of dollars for a single family, depending on where they live. This unjust disparity creates a patchwork of injustice across the state, landing hardest on youth and families of color living in underserved communities. […]

SB1463 would prohibit courts, state agencies, and local government entities from assessing fees and fines in juvenile court in delinquency proceedings and requires the automatic discharge of all outstanding debt. Enacting the bill is important in furthering the goals of strengthening Illinois’ vulnerable families, improving the way we approach youth rehabilitation, and increasing the credibility and effectiveness of our public systems.

* Rep. Harper…

A bill by state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, aimed at addressing the theft of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, is headed to the governor’s desk after unanimously passing both houses of the General Assembly.

“That protecting the most vulnerable people and families in our state is critically important should go without saying,” Harper said. “Sadly, theft of SNAP benefits that can deprive needy families, including children, of their access to proper nutrition have been a persistent and increasing problem. It’s past time that something was done.”

SNAP benefits are also sometimes referred to as “food stamps”. In recent years, food stamps have been issued to recipients using a debit-card system where benefits are loaded onto the recipient’s card. Thieves have targeted food stamp recipients by using devices (called “skimmers”) that are covertly inserted into payment machines at food retailers to steal card information, or devices that can need only be held near a victim’s wallet in order to remotely copy the information necessary to make a “clone” of the victim’s benefit card which the thief can then use. This type of benefits theft has been on the rise, and authorities have struggled to address it.

Victims of SNAP theft generally do not have their benefits replaced, meaning that recipients whose benefits are stolen often end up struggling to buy food until their next installment.

Harper’s House Bill 2214 would require the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to track and collect data as to the scope and frequency of SNAP benefits fraud, especially when it occurs by means of skimming or cloning. Beginning in 2024, IDHS would be required to report its findings to the General Assembly quarterly.

Harper’s original bill included a requirement that IDHS replace victims’ stolen benefits, but this measure was removed by a Senate amendment.

“This legislation represents a solid first step in addressing this pressing issue. Going forward, it will be necessary to do more to make victims of SNAP benefits theft whole again,” Harper said. “Nevertheless, IDHS as well as my fellow lawmakers and I can now look forward to having much more robust information about this problem and how and where it is occurring, which is sure to help us craft smart policies to address it.”

* Press release…

The Illinois Secure Communities Coalition and REFORM Alliance applaud the General Assembly for passing smart and sensible supervision reforms that will increase public safety, save taxpayer dollars, and promote stronger, more stable communities.

More than 100,000 people in Illinois are currently serving time on probation, parole, or mandatory supervised release. Instead of holding people accountable, contributing to public safety, and increasing stability in communities, Illinois’ supervision system too often operates as a revolving door back to prison. A Department of Corrections (DOC) report revealed that more than 1 in 4 - or 25% - of people released from prison in Illinois end up back behind bars for a non-criminal technical violation, (like missing a meeting with their probation officer) within three years of their release. This needless incarceration places a heavy burden on taxpayers, crime survivors, and Illinois’ communities.

With unanimous support in the House and Senate, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 423, evidence-based legislation to create a more effective and transparent supervision system. Along with decreasing taxpayer costs and reducing the likelihood of recidivism, these reforms also significantly contribute to public safety by creating an incentive for people to pursue recidivism-reducing activities like education. These improvements would also safely reduce supervision officers’ caseloads, allowing officers to spend more time on those individuals with the greatest risks and needs.

SB423 was sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Jehan Gordon-Booth, Rep. Patrick Windhorst and Senate President Pro-Tempore Bill Cunningham. It now awaits Governor Pritzker’s signature. There are four evidence-based provisions that are expected to become law:

    1. Education credits. People on mandatory supervised release will be eligible to earn 90 days off their supervision terms by completing a secondary education diploma or career/technical certificate. These activities help individuals form a positive self-image and gain marketable skills, increasing their ability to transform their lives and provide for their families.
    2. Virtual check-ins. SB423 creates a statewide, permanent framework to enable people on probation, parole, and mandatory supervised release to report to their probation officers remotely. This mitigates one of the most common sources of technical violations while providing greater flexibility for officers to manage their caseloads and connect with people on supervision in a manner that better supports their rehabilitative goals. Many counties in Illinois embraced the greater use of technology for remote reporting during the pandemic, and successfully maintained accountability and protected community stability and safety.
    3. Sensible supervision conditions and drug testing. The newly passed legislation requires that courts impose individualized supervision requirements on each defendant, ensuring that one-size-fits-all conditions do not unduly serve as barriers to success. This also includes ensuring that drug testing is utilized only when there is a reasonable suspicion of illicit drug use, which will conserve state resources and limit interruptions to employers.
    4. Prisoner Review Board transparency. People on mandatory supervised release or parole have the opportunity to go in front of the Prisoner Review Board (PRB) to file for early discharge. But to date, the process lacked transparency. SB423 standardizes the case review process for early termination of supervision and creates clear guidelines and timelines. Those who are denied early discharge by the Department of Corrections (DOC) or PRB will have clear guidance on how they need to improve to be a good candidate in the future. This ensures that people are aware of the hurdles they must clear to be considered in the future and reduces the current frustration and confusion that comes from the lack of information and guidance accompanying present decisions.

…Adding… Maria Pappas…

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas spearheaded the passage of groundbreaking property tax reform legislation to help struggling homeowners.

The Illinois General Assembly passed the legislation today, Wednesday, May 24. It is expected to be signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker soon.

One of the key provisions of the legislation is that it will drop the interest rate homeowners and businesses in Cook County are charged for late property tax payments from 18% to 9% a year.

The interest rate reduction will save property owners between $25 million and $35 million a year with most of those savings benefiting Black and Latino communities.

It will also close loopholes that tax investors have exploited at the expense of local governments and allow the county to move away from the Scavenger Sale.

A news release is attached and also available here.

* Personal PAC…

Personal PAC, one of Illinois’ most prominent reproductive rights advocacy organizations, and Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, celebrated the passage of HB3326 by the full Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday. The bill ensures that Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) cannot be used for tracking individuals seeking reproductive healthcare or individuals assisting them, and that restricts data sharing with other governments or law enforcement agencies related to healthcare needs or immigration status.

“Anyone seeking abortion care in Illinois should not be harassed in any fashion, and this first-in-the-nation legislation will prevent Automatic License Plate Readers from being used as a tool for tracking, harassing or criminalizing lawful behavior,” said Secretary Giannoulias. “I am committed to allowing individuals to pursue and obtain the lawful healthcare they need without government intrusion. This legislation sets common-sense standards and protocols to ensure that Automatic License Plate Reader data is used properly.”

“We are thrilled the passage of HB3326 and thank chief sponsors Rep. Ann Williams, Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, and Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias for their championing of this crucial civil liberties issue that will help ensure that Illinois remains an oasis for safe access to abortions and other reproductive healthcare. HB3326 ensures that those seeking healthcare in Illinois can trust that their license plate data will be secure and protected, and that Illinois law enforcement agencies and municipalities will never turn their information over to states seeking to persecute them. This legislation is a model for the nation, and we are proud to have been part of the coalition that led to its passage.”

* Chicago Community Trust…

A coalition of community developers, affordable housing advocates and tax policy experts led by The Chicago Community Trust today applauded the Illinois Senate for passing legislation to reform Illinois’ delinquent property tax sale system that will increase investment in historically disinvested communities across the state. The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 1675 Amendment 1 reforms the Illinois Property Tax Sale system by closing loopholes that prevent blighted properties from redevelopment and allows local governments to intervene to save abandoned properties after only one failed delinquent tax sale rather than watching them to cycle through the tax sale system for years while the property deteriorates, requiring taxpayer-funded maintenance and eventually demolition. The measure, which was crafted in partnership with the Cook County Treasurer, is supported by cities with high concentrations of vacant properties across Illinois, including Chicago, Peoria, Rockford, Decatur and Kankakee.

These common-sense reforms would empower local governments to work with community developers and residents to restore vacant properties to return them to viable use. In Cook County alone, an estimated 50,000 vacant or abandoned properties are concentrated in its Black and Latinx neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides and in the south suburbs.

The legislation is the result of three years of community engagement convened by the Trust and grounded in findings from intensive academic research, including a landmark 2021 study by the Center for Municipal Finance at the University of Chicago analyzing the Cook County Scavenger Sale. The bill aims to increase homeownership, build community wealth and make the tax sale system work for communities instead of private tax buyers and institutional investors.

“Introducing this legislation is a big step forward for the Trust to advocate for systemic solutions in some of our most vulnerable and disinvested communities,” said Andrea Sáenz, President & CEO of The Chicago Community Trust. “We’re hopeful that putting the Trust’s name and century-old reputation behind this measure will send a clear message that we fully believe in the transformative power of this bill. Reforming Illinois’ property tax code can create a ripple effect, spurring investment in neighborhoods with high rates of vacant property, which, in turn, will stabilize neighboring property values, preserve homeownership, and strengthen the county tax base. This legislation is the spark we need to revitalize communities that have borne the brunt of the discriminatory policies of the past.”


1 Comment
  1. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, May 24, 23 @ 8:16 pm:

    –”Automated license plate reader” or “ALPR” includes a device that is owned or operated by a person who is not a government entity to the extent that data collected by the reader is shared with a law enforcement agency.-

    Just wanted to check and make sure that was still in the bill. Thankfully, it is.

    This is why it is so important;

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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