Senator Van Pelt speaks on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) protects the rights of property owners by making it harder for law enforcement to seize personal property from Illinois residents.

“For too long, law enforcement has had far reaching authority to seize property from individuals regardless of whether they’ve been convicted of a crime,” Van Pelt said. “Law enforcement agencies have been profiting off of individuals by keeping or selling their property and making it incredibly difficult for people to reclaim their possessions.”

Currently, law enforcement agencies can take property – including cash, vehicles and homes – if they suspect it was involved with or related to a crime. The property owner does not need to be charged or convicted of a crime for the state to seize and permanently forfeit the property.

“Reforming our civil asset forfeiture process is a major step forward for criminal justice reform,” Van Pelt said. “This measure protects the rights of people who often don’t have the means necessary to reclaim their property. I am pleased that the governor signed the legislation, and I am looking forward to advancing more criminal justice reforms in the future.”

House Bill 303 reforms the civil asset forfeiture process by increasing transparency and shifts the burden of proof in forfeiture cases to the prosecution. The measure also requires law enforcement to have a preponderance of evidence to seize property.

House Bill 303 was signed into law today. It takes effect on January 1, 2018.

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Category: Press Releases

Senator Van Pelt speaks on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s vote on the new school funding legislation:

“While I believe that fixing Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation school funding model should be our top priority, I could not vote for a measure that includes more tax credits for the wealthy,” Van Pelt said. “We must first make sure all schools are adequately funded and are able to provide the best possible education for our children.”

Senate Bill 1947 includes a five-year pilot program that would award a 75 percent tax credit of up to $1 million to taxpayers who contribute scholarship funding for students to attend private schools.

“In my view, this tax credit does not promote our commitment to a fully-funded public education system that supports all Illinois children,” Van Pelt said. “My vote reflects these ideas.”

Having passed both chambers, Senate Bill 1947 now goes to the governor for approval.

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Category: Press Releases

Senator Van Pelt speaks during a press conferenceSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) issued the following statement about automatic voter registration becoming the law in Illinois:

“At a time when we're seeing attacks on voting rights at the federal level, I'm proud that Illinois legislators came together and passed a measure to make it easier for eligible citizens to participate in our elections,” Van Pelt said. “Automatic voter registration will remove a barrier to voting that has disproportionately affected minorities, women, seniors and low-income individuals and will help ensure that all eligible Illinoisans are able to participate in our democracy should they so choose.”

Currently, there are more than 2 million Illinoisans who are eligible to vote but aren’t registered. Under Senate Bill 1933, eligible Illinoisans will be automatically registered to vote when they interact with certain state agencies. If an individual does not want to be registered, they can opt-out.

Senate Bill 1933 was signed into law today in Chicago.

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Category: Press Releases

The Chicago Crusader - August 21, 2017 | original article

The future of Chicago Public Schools grew brighter Sunday, August 13 after the Illinois Senate voted 38-19 to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of the school funding bill.

Black leaders praised the move, saying CPS and minority students would have suffered under Rauner’s plan.

The vote moves the bill closer to helping CPS, which is counting heavily on the state to provide financial relief to the cash-strapped district.

The bill is now in the hands of the House, where it has 15 days to decide on the override. The deadline to send out state aid payments expired August 10, but the state lawmakers need to approve an “evidence-based” school funding formula before it can release those funds. The requirement is part of an agreement Democratic lawmakers included in a budget package that was passed in June.

Under Rauner’s plan, CPS would have received $463 less, according to an analysis by the Illinois state Board of Education.  Democrats were concerned that school districts such as Chicago would lose money in the next several years under Rauner’s plan, which would have redistributed funds from CPS to other school districts in the state. It’s a plan that Rauner said ensures fairness because the state is tired of bailing out CPS.

“For decades students have suffered under a broken formula that shortchanged low income children throughout the state,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood). “The governor’s veto fell far from our goal of making a quality education a reality for every child in Illinois.”

State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) issued the following statement.

“Youth throughout our state deserve the opportunity to have a fair shot at obtaining a quality education. My colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to ensure that our effort to bring equitable education to all parts of the state, was achieved. Our schools need the proper investment and certainty that Senate Bill 1 provides. I stand committed to making sure our schools stay open and fixing our broken funding formula.”

State Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) said “Our governor’s attempt at holding our children’s education hostage is just another political ploy.”

Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) said, “Senate Bill 1 is the only plan that ensures no schools in Illinois lose funding. I am proud to vote to override the governor’s harmful amendatory veto. It’s the best thing for all Illinois children. I hope the House is able to do the same.”

The Senate override of Rauner’s amendatory veto is good news to CPS, which recently unveiled a $5.7 billion 2018 budget after it announced a $269 million shortfall August 11. City officials are mum about where the funds would come from.

In addition to funds from the city, the CPS budget is counting on $300 million in the school funding bill that’s now in the House.

Chicago officials say the CPS budget will serve as only a framework for the eventual fiscal 2018 budget.

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