2014 Legislative Session Begins

On January 20, Governor Quinn gave his State of the State address in Springfield and began the 2014 legislative session. The budget process is likely to dominate this session scheduled to adjourn on May 31, 2014. A portion of the temporary income tax increase will expire in 2015 resulting in an estimated $1.6 billion drop in state revenue. It’s also an election year, which means fewer bills could be passed in all areas. Get breaking updates from Springfield by following us on Twitter @CRSpolicy.

2014 Platform for Renewal

We will keep you posted on legislative bills for CRS’ 2014 Platform for Renewal to (1) end absolute, lifetime bars on employment for people with criminal records; (2) improve the fairness and efficiency of the Illinois criminal justice system by reducing the maximum time a person can be held before a preliminary hearing from 30 days to 10 days; (3) stand against new mandatory minimum sentencing and sentence enhancements. Stay tuned for opportunities to take action.

Here’s an update on legislation currently pending:

Support Fair Tax: HJRCA 33 & SJRCA 40

The campaign we’ve been building with our A Better Illinois coalition partners since last summer has made fair tax legislation – with lower tax rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes – a top agenda item in Springfield for the 2014 legislative session. The momentum is on our side! 
• More than 150,000 petition signatures collected statewide from every single legislative district – Republican and Democrat – across Illinois
• Support from more than 350 prominent civic and community organizations endorsing A Better Illinois’ campaign
• Commitments from 65 legislative co-sponsors of fair tax legislation
We will be working to ensure Illinois legislators pass fair tax legislation by May 1st of this year so Illinois voters can decide on a fair, graduated state income tax on the upcoming November 2014 ballot. Sign up here to get updates on the fair tax campaign, RSVP here to attend the Prayer Service for a Fair Tax on February 25, 2014, and add your name to the Faith Leaders’ Letter for Tax Fairness.

Support Raising the Minimum Wage: SB 68 & HB 3718

Momentum is also building to raise the minimum wage in Illinois. The current minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 an hour – about $17,000 a year. Hardworking people in Illinois, many supporting families, simply cannot earn enough to afford the basic necessities of life. We’re working with our Raise Illinois coalition partners to pass legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.65/hour, over three years. Take action now by signing the petition to raise the minimum wage.

Oppose SB 1342: Mandatory Minimums Don’t Work

Community Renewal Society, the FORCE Project, and our member congregations are calling on members of the Illinois General Assembly to oppose SB 1342 and any new legislation that expands mandatory minimums or enhances Illinois’ already harsh sentencing policies. SB 1342 imposes mandatory sentences for possessing an unloaded gun without a valid FOID (Firearms Owner Identification) card. Thanks to strong leadership by the Black Caucus and advocates like you this bill stalled during the 2013 Veto Session in the House.

Decades of research show evidence that mandatory minimums do not deter crime or make our communities safer. In fact, the national trend is to move away from mandatory prison sentences, which take away judicial discretion when sentencing individuals for specific crimes. Mandatory minimum sentences are very expensive, both in terms of the human costs and the impact on the state budget. God calls us to work for a justice system in which people are treated fairly and the punishment is in proportion to the crime. We will keep you updated on SB 1342, as well as new bills that propose new mandatory minimums, and let you know when to take action during this session.

Save these Dates!

We are planning a number of large-scale lobby days in Springfield. Transportation will leave from multiple sites. Save these dates and stay tuned for more information. 
• Fair Tax Lobby Day – Thursday, March 27 
• CRS’ Faith in Action Lobby Day – Tuesday, April 8
• Fair Tax Lobby Day – Tuesday, April 29
• Fair Tax Lobby Day – Wednesday, April 30