05262017CM0304 rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) secured passage of legislation today that streamlines the state’s workers’ compensation system while keeping valuable protections in place.

“We refuse to participate in a race to the bottom when it comes to workers’ compensation rights,” Raoul said. “We have addressed this issue before with great success. Although we can always look for ways to reform workers’ compensation, we must also maintain Illinois’ longstanding commitment to workers’ rights.”

Today’s measure makes several changes to the House’s workers’ compensation reform plan, including: capping the time awarded for repeated injuries to the same part of the spine at 500 weeks, allowing first responders to receive benefits the day after their accident, creating an evidence-based prescription drug formulary and establishing reasonable rates for procedures performed at Ambulatory Service Centers.

Raoul worked with the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association and other stakeholders on the Senate’s overhaul of the workers’ compensation program in 2011. Since then, Illinois employers have saved more than $315 million in workers compensation premiums. The measure includes a provision empowering the Department of Insurance to ensure savings from these and past reforms are passed on to employers.
Key components of the measure include:

  • clarification that an AMA impairment report is not required in order to award benefits or reach a settlement, although a report may be utilized when reaching a decision.
  • penalties for unreasonable delay in authorizing medical treatment.
  • classification of hip and shoulder injuries as leg and arm injuries, respectively.
  • requirements for employers and insurers to accept electronic claims by June 30, 2017.

These reforms are the result of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations over the past year. Several of the provisions in the legislation reflect recommendations from the governor, including controlling money spent on prescription drugs and clarifying the use of AMA guidelines.

HB 2525 passed the Senate 35-19-1 and now moves back to the House for consideration.

05102017CM1520 rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement on the Senate passing a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 18:

Today, Senate Democrats did what Governor Rauner and Republicans would not do – we voted to pass a balanced budget that will restore stability to our state.

During months of bipartisan negotiations, the governor praised the Senate’s efforts while working behind the scenes to derail them. Although Leader Radogno came to the table ready to negotiate in good faith, the governor repeatedly pulled Republican votes off of the grand bargain.

Governor Rauner touts a pro-business agenda, but his disastrous policies have nearly broken our state, hurting existing businesses and making Illinois unattractive to new ones. The business community has made their voice heard, and what they want is the stability that comes from passing a balanced budget, the state paying its bills on time and securing revenue for necessary services.

As legislators, we have a responsibility to fix the governor’s failure. The budget passed today incorporates funding for vital human services, higher education and public schools, and it will stop our $14 billion backlog from growing further.

With the passing of a balanced budget, we can begin to repair the damage the governor has wrought and look towards long-term growth for our state.

04052017CM0573State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) introduced legislation last week that seeks to find treatment for trauma victims accused of gun offenses rather than imposing harsh sentences on them.

“The trauma caused by violence in many communities often goes untreated and can have a lasting impact on victims, sometimes leading them to commit crimes themselves,” Raoul said. “Diversion programs to treat the underlying trauma will have a much more positive impact on these individuals and their communities than incarceration will.”

The measure creates the Unlawful Possession of Firearms Diversion Program, which recognizes the role of trauma in the crime and provides treatment options. It requires courts to advise people charged with unlawful possession of a firearm about the program if the judge believes the they suffer from trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder. If the person is eligible and elects to participate in the program, he or she will be placed on probation for the duration of the program.

Before being placed in the Diversion Program, the person charged with the crime must undergo an examination by a Department of Human Services licensed program to determine if he or she suffers from trauma or PTSD.

The Diversion Program can continue for a period of time equal to the maximum sentence for the crime or for five years, whichever is less. If someone has no prior criminal record, they are eligible to have their sentence vacated once they complete the program.

SB 592 will be heard by the full Senate later this month.

04062017CM0593 RState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) secured passage today of legislation aimed at taking a comprehensive approach to criminal justice reform and reducing the unacceptable gun violence in Chicago and across the state.

“The step we took today 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 and those who just picked up a gun for the first time.”  

Raoul has also introduced legislation, SB 592, that recognizes the impact of trauma in communities and creates diversion options for first time gun offenders.

The measure that passed the Senate today is targeted towards 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. 

It 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 after a risk assessment tool determines the person is considered low-risk and need.

SB 1722 passed 35-9-4 in the Senate and is headed to the House for consideration.

repeat gun offenders billThe Illinois Department of Corrections estimates that a measure targeting repeat gun offenders cosponsored by Senator Anthony Munoz (D-Chicago 1st) and Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) could save the department $62 million over 10 years.

“Many opponents of this legislation speculated that it would drive up costs and increase the prison population due to the recommendation of tougher penalties for repeat gun offenders,” Raoul said. “This estimate from the Department of Corrections shows that, because the recommended increase in sentencing ranges is coupled with other criminal justice reforms, it could actually decrease the population and save money.”

In addition to saving millions of dollars, the Department of Corrections said the reforms could result in a decrease of 1,471 incarcerated offenders over 10 years.

The legislation increases sentencing guidelines for repeat gun offenders while enacting a series of criminal justice reforms aimed at lowering the prison population and addressing the disproportionate sentencing of nonviolent offenders.

 

 

Reforms in the legislation include:

  • Reduces certain drug possession offenses from Class 1 to Class 2 and 3 felonies based on amount.
  • 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
  • Reduces the period of mandatory supervised release for certain offenses and allows the Prisoner Review Board to terminate a person’s mandatory supervised release if that person is determined to be low-risk.

SB 1722 advanced out of the Senate Criminal Law committee with a 6-5-0 vote last week and will move to the Senate for consideration.