101714RaoulCHICAGO — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) and State Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Buffalo Grove) will co-chair a hearing tomorrow on body cameras —devices law enforcement officers can attach to their uniforms to record their encounters with the public — and how a new eavesdropping law Raoul and others are negotiating could affect their use. The joint meeting of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees will take place tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in Room C-600 of the Bilandic Building in Chicago.

“As we craft a commonsense, constitutional eavesdropping law, I believe it’s extremely important to have a public discussion about how body cameras and their footage can be used,” said Raoul, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It’s a matter of striking a balance between privacy concerns and the need to protect officers while also holding them accountable.”

Read more: Raoul to co-chair hearing on police body cameras Eavesdropping law rewrite could affect how body...

051713js1171brSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the National Council for Compensation Insurance’s request for a 4.5 percent reduction in workers’ compensation insurance premium rates for Illinois businesses:

"Two years ago, Rep. John Bradley and I brought lawmakers, labor and the business community together to negotiate a solution to an exceedingly complex and divisive problem: the high workers’ compensation premiums that were hampering the state’s economic growth and job creation.

Today, Illinois businesses have already saved $315 million in premiums. Now, with an additional 4.5 percent reduction on the horizon, they stand poised to save $110 million more, with an overall 13.3 percent drop in rates since the reforms were implemented. The outlook is promising for further savings and an even better Illinois business climate.

The continued success of workers’ comp reforms demonstrates that there’s no substitute for sitting down at the negotiating table, taking each other’s concerns seriously and doing the hard work of hammering out an effective compromise."

032013br0266rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act:

"Forty-six years after Loving v. Virginia, which affirmed the marriage rights of interracial couples, the U.S. Supreme Court again struck a blow against laws that discriminate against people based on whom they choose to marry. Today, a majority of justices held that the Defense of Marriage Act — which prohibited same-sex couples, even those who are married in the eyes of the states in which they reside, from accessing federal marriage benefits — is contrary to the Constitution’s equal protection clause. I wholeheartedly applaud this decision. But it does not absolve Illinois lawmakers of responsibility; our work has just begun. Because same-sex couples in this state may enter into civil unions but not marriages, the federal rights and responsibilities of marriage do not apply to them – even after today’s ruling. It is now more critical than ever that the House pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, as the Senate did in February, so the commitments same-sex couples make to each other are recognized as marriages under both state and federal law."

052113br0153rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder to invalidate the formula that determines which jurisdictions were required under the federal Voting Rights Act to obtain preclearance of proposed changes to voting procedures:

"Yesterday’s decision, with which I am extremely disappointed, highlights the ongoing need for strong, state-level voting protections such as those found in Illinois law. I’m proud to live in a progressive state that values full participation by all citizens in the democratic process. Historically, African-Americans in many parts of the country faced discrimination and outright intimidation when they tried to make their voices heard at the polls; today, voting is made more difficult not only for racial minorities but also for senior citizens, students and low-income individuals when procedural hurdles such as ID requirements are put in their path.

Prior to the latest round of legislative and congressional redistricting, I introduced the Illinois Voting Rights Act to protect language and racial minorities from having their electoral influence diluted in the redistricting process. I also worked this year to make voting more accessible through online voter registration, early voting on college campuses, later in-person early voting hours on Sundays and protections for provisional voters.

Congress should take action to restore a strong federal Voting Rights Act that addresses the barriers to minority electoral participation still in existence today. Meanwhile, I believe Illinoisans can be proud of this state’s voting laws. I pledge to continue working to make them stronger and fairer."

032113br0391rSPRINGFIELD – The General Assembly approved legislation sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) to expand the practice of videotaping police interrogations, particularly for serious felony offenses.

“Recording a custodial interrogation protects both the suspect being questioned and the officers doing the questioning,” Raoul said. “It allows judge and juries to see for themselves whether suspects confessed or provided information in a coercive situation.”

Senate Bill 1006 allows law enforcement to videotape a custodial interrogation in any criminal proceeding. If the person being questioned is charged with criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated arson, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated carjacking, home invasion or aggravated battery with a firearm, the interrogation must be recorded in order to be admitted as evidence at trial.

“Illinois has a shameful history of forced confessions, including confessions extracted under torture,” Raoul said. “The more videotaped interrogations make it into our courtrooms, the more confident we’ll be that our criminal justice system is working as it should.”

SB 1006 now awaits the governor’s signature.