voting booth rSPRINGFIELD —  State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) and State Senator Bill Cunningham plan to introduce legislation ending Illinois’ participation in the controversial Interstate Crosscheck system.

Despite calls from state and national legislators to withdraw from the program, the State Board of Elections voted Monday to remain in the national voter registration database.

“If the Board of Elections will not act to protect Illinois voters, then it is our duty as legislators to do so,” Raoul said. “The right to vote is sacred, and citizens in our state should know that their information is secure when they cast their ballot.”

At a joint hearing of the House Elections Committee and the Senate Telecommunications and Information Technology Committee last week, legislators heard testimony on security concerns with the system.

Shawn Davis, a faculty member at the Illinois Institute of Technology Center for Cyber Security and Forensics Education testified that the Crosscheck system uses an unsecured network system. Most websites handling sensitive information use secure file transmission networks called SFTPs.  

“The risk of exposing the personal information of millions of Illinois voters to an Equifax-style data breach is not worth the small benefit of remaining in the Crosscheck system,” Cunningham said. “This should not be a partisan issue — it is a data protection issue and it must be addressed immediately.”

Additionally, many voting rights activists say that Crosscheck is a vehicle for discrimination at the voting booth. This is because Crosscheck compares first and last names of state voter databases, ignoring middle names and designations like Jr. or Sr. This is viewed as problematic by experts because communities of color are more likely to share last names, making them easy targets for voter suppression.

The Illinois Board of Elections currently subscribes to two national voter database systems designed to help election authorities identify voters who may be registered in more than one state: Crosscheck and the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). This legislation will remove Illinois from the Crosscheck system but allow the state to remain in ERIC, widely viewed as the better system.

08132017CM1073 rSPRINGFIELD —  State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement after the Senate voted today to override the governor’s veto of legislation prohibiting local governments from establishing right-to-work zones:

“The governor likes to claim that he’s pro-business, but he supports measures that are anything but. Everyone loses when right-to-work laws are in place. We cannot improve the business climate of Illinois if we implement laws that lower wages and strip away workers’ rights.”

Gov. Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 1905 last month, and the Senate voted 42-13 today to override his veto.

SPRINGFIELD —  State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement after voting to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1, an evidence-based school funding reform measure:

“Gov. Rauner’s changes to Senate Bill 1 attempt to protect a system in which there are clear winners and losers in education.

The governor’s plan would take nearly $500 million away from the hundreds of thousands of students in Chicago Public Schools who deserve the same chance at a quality education as every other child in the state.

I voted to uphold Senate Bill 1 today because it is the only plan that ensures fair funding for all Illinois students and takes steps to end the apartheid in our education system.”

011516CMPAN2 rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement after the Senate voted to pass a balanced budget:

“I was proud to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle today and vote for a balanced budget that will at long last restore stability to our state and bring the certainty that comes from paying our bills on time.

I call on Governor Rauner to put the people of Illinois above partisan politics and re-election campaigns and sign this budget into law.”

SB1722 signing rA comprehensive criminal justice reform measure sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) was signed into law today by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The measure is aimed at reducing the unacceptable gun violence in Chicago and across the state.

“This law is a continuation of my record of criminal justice reform efforts focusing on individualized treatment of offenders,” Raoul said. “It is vital that we distinguish between repeat offenders who are more likely to be shooters and first time offenders who may be better candidates for diversion.”  

The measure is targeted toward repeat gun offenders, recommending that judges sentence them on the higher end of the existing sentencing range. It does allow judges to deviate from the higher sentencing recommendation if they find circumstances indicate departure is appropriate.  

Raoul collaborated with House sponsor Rep. Jim Durkin (D-Western Springs) to include a provision in the bill creating a diversion program in lieu of sentencing for first-time offenders under the age of 21.

The legislation also puts in place a series of criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing the prison population and providing low-risk offenders with better access to rehabilitation programming and opportunities after release. These reforms include:

 

    • Increases access to educational, vocational and re-entry programming for individuals incarcerated for truth-in-sentencing offenses, allowing eligible individuals to reduce their sentence up to 15 percent.

 

    • Reduces the protected area for drug crimes from 1,000 to 500 feet, removes public housing as a protected area and requires prosecutors to prove a connection between the crime and the protected area before a felony can be enhanced.

 

    • Expands the eligibility for the Offender Initiative Program, Second Chance Probation and all other drug probation programs.

 

      Allows the Prisoner Review Board to terminate a person’s mandatory supervised release if a risk assessment tool determines that the person is considered low-risk and need.

 

Among supporters of the measure was Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who testified twice in its support during the legislative session.

“Those numbers represent multiple generations of young black men who never have a chance to make something of their lives because of illegal guns and criminals willing to pull the trigger,” Johnson said during testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee in May. “Quite frankly, as an African American leader, I’m disgusted, and as a cop, I’m angry.”

SB 1722 takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.

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State Sen. Kwame Raoul new 'it guy' in Springfield

Chicago Tribune

For more than a year after he was appointed to fill then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's seat in the Illinois Senate, Kwame Raoul did all he could to avoid contact with his predecessor.
He would not call Obama for advice unless he absolutely had to. He skipped public appearances where the two might run into each other or, worse, be photographed together.
"I had a sense early on that people, probably including Barack, were concerned about whether I was trying to coattail on his success," Raoul said. "And I was really sensitive about that."
Nearly seven years later, Raoul finds himself the new "it guy" in Springfield. He has led high-profile Democratic pushes to ban the death penalty, reform pensions, overhaul the state's workers' compensation system and redraw legislative boundaries.
Even some Republicans want a piece of him. House Republican Leader Tom Cross appeared with Raoul last month to promote legislation that would require schools to adopt policies regarding concussions and head injuries for athletes.
"People think I am crazy," said Raoul of his workload, which he says sent him to the hospital twice in the last year with stress-related heart arrhythmia. "I don't want to just be down there saying, 'I'm a senator.'"
The 46-year-old son of Haitian immigrants first became interested in politics while an undergrad at DePaul University during the Council Wars in the 1980s. After Mayor Harold Washington's unexpected death, Raoul joined thousands of protesters outside City Hall as aldermen held a tumultuous meeting that eventually saw Eugene Sawyer chosen as mayor.
Raoul, who wanted then-Ald. Timothy Evans as mayor, wound up being hours late for his job as a bill collector so he could pass out "No Deals" signs at the rally.
"I subsequently got fired from a job I wasn't very good at and didn't like, but I remember going home and watching the council proceedings and thinking, 'Wow, we've got to do better than this.'"
Raoul twice ran and lost for alderman against Toni Preckwinkle, who's now the Cook County Board president. She eventually became an ally and backed him for Obama's state Senate seat in 2004 — against Obama's wishes at the time.
Raoul has a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law and a year ago went to work in the Chicago office of Michigan-based Miller Canfield. The firm, which also employs Paul Durbin, son of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is serving as an underwriters' counsel on a $3.5 billion bond sale the state issued in January 2010.
Raoul said he's never made any calls to help the firm secure state business and voted present Wednesday on a bill that would provide tax credits for Continental Tire, which he said the firm represents. The bill passed.
"I try to be careful and make sure the firm isn't doing anything that could get me in trouble," said Raoul, who added that he is learning about municipal financing so he can help towns and cities with bond deals.
Raoul's signature achievement was pushing through a death penalty ban that few expected to pass.
"I was very surprised when he told me he had enough votes," said Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. "And that's because it was a very individual, personal type of vote. Those type of bills come along once in a career."
For now, Raoul said he plans to run for his Senate seat next year.
"There's a lot of room out there to serve. I don't want to be one of those people that is trying to hold on to power beyond my time," said Raoul, who added he's not worried if he loses. "For me there's enough stress, there's enough time away from my kids and family."