Community Renewal Society advocates for economic and criminal justice reform policies that restore opportunities for people with criminal records and support police accountability reform throughout Illinois. We oppose new mandatory minimums or sentence enhancements, especially as a solution to gun violence.
Our policy and organizing staff worked closely with our FORCE, faith leaders, and coalition partners throughout the session to help advance our legislation in Springfield. Illinois’ regular legislative session ended on May 31, 2017, and we saw progress on many of our legislative priorities. Thank you for your tireless advocacy and trips to Springfield, emails, phone calls, and in-district meetings with your legislators!
HB 2373 (Rep. Camille Lilly, Sen. Don Harmon)
HB 2373 expands eligibility for the sealing of criminal records, allowing more people to petition the court to have their records sealed from public view. It passed out of the House by a vote of 80-34 on April 27, and passed the Senate by a vote of 36-19-2 on May 30, 2017. Having passed both chambers, this bill now moves to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Thank you for your continued advocacy to remove barriers and increase opportunities for people with records to access quality jobs, safe housing, and education. Special thanks to our Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI) partners: Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and Heartland Alliance, and FORCE leaders who made 8 trips to Springfield this session to advocate for HB 2373.
HB 3142 (Rep. Barbara Wheeler, Sen. Pat McGuire)
HB 3142 “bans the box” in higher education by prohibiting Illinois’ higher education institutions from asking about an applicant’s criminal record in the admissions process. The legislation passed through the House by a vote 65-41 on April 4, but faced opposition and was not able to pass out of the Senate by the end of regular spring legislative session. We will work with other advocates and the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI) to help advance this issue in the coming months.
SB 1661/ HB 3202 (Sen. Jacqueline Collins, Rep. Will Guzzardi)
SB 1661 and HB 3202 supports investigations of police misconduct by removing the requirement for a sworn affidavit in order to file a complaint about police misconduct. This legislation, as well as other proposed police accountability reforms, did not advance in the Illinois General Assembly this session. Our Police Accountability Issue Team will reassess this campaign over the summer and create next steps on this issue.
SB 1722 (Sen. Kwame Raoul, Rep. Jim Durkin)
SB 1722 creates longer sentences for gun possession, and we opposed this legislation. Unfortunately, SB 1722 passed out of the House by a vote of 70-41-1 on May 29 and the Senate concurred on May 31 by a vote of 36-12. The Governor signed this legislation into law (Public Act 100-0003) on June 23. We will continue our work to advocate against these kinds of sentencing enhancements, while supporting more impactful and meaningful evidenced-based measures that actually reduce violence.
While SB 1722 in its final form did not contain some of the stronger provisions which had been suggested in order to reduce incarceration, there were some modest provisions. These include a new gun diversion program for first-time gun possessors under the age of 21, a reduction in sentencing levels of selected burglary related offenses, alterations to the public housing/school zone enhancement for drug offenses and eligibility expansion of existing diversion programs like Second Chance Probation. There is also a five-year sunset on all of the gun sentencing enhancements.
Illinois has a Budget
SB 6, SB 9, and SB 42 are the three bills comprising the state budget package. On July 6, the House overrode the Governor’s veto by a vote of 74-37 to end the devastating state budget impasse. Thank you for your tireless advocacy efforts in calling for a full budget with adequate, new revenue! Elected officials responded to your calls for permanent revenue to stop the cuts, repair some of the damage that has been done, and make smart investments in the future. We sincerely thank the legislators who voted in a historic bipartisan vote, to end the two-year state budget impasse by passing a full-year budget with new, permanent revenue.
There is still work to do, as the budget includes a number of cuts, including cuts to human services and higher education, which we do not support. We will continue to advocate with the Responsible Budget Coalition for adequate revenue to support state priorities and make smart investments; no more cuts to vital programs and services; and fairness in raising revenue.