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.

05312017CM1513 rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement on Governor Rauner signing the Bail Reform Act into law:

"It is unjust for someone’s wealth to determine whether they stay in jail while awaiting a trial, rather than the nature of their alleged crime.

The cash bond system disproportionately harms lower-income offenders, often leaving low-risk offenders in jail and contributing to the overcrowding of the prison system. The legislation that becomes law today will ensure that a person’s threat to public safety determines their potential release, not the amount of money in their bank account."

05312017CM0211 rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) today secured passage in the Senate of a measure allowing for the election of the Chicago Board of Education starting in 2023.

Before this legislation, the Chicago Public School district was the only school district in the state without an elected school board.

“It’s important that Chicago stay on par with the state, not only with funding but also with democracy,” Raoul said.

Similar legislation passed the House in 2016 but did not advance in the Senate. The measure passed today sets the size of the elected board at 15 members and establishes a redistricting commission to draw districts for board members.

“We amended the legislation to make sure the legislature was not drawing districts but that redistricting was done by people within the city of Chicago,” Raoul said.

Currently, the Chicago Board of Education is composed of seven members appointed by the mayor of Chicago.

HB 1774 passed the Senate 53-2 and heads to the House for a concurrence vote.

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.

You can view Senator Raoul's remarks on workers' comp reform here.

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.