Illinois Legislative Black Caucus

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, Illinois lawmakers wrapped up the work of the 101st General Assembly.  And there is  a new House Speaker - Chris Welch - after Michael Madigan lost the support of his caucus after nearly four decades in power.

Rich Miller of Capitol Fax joins the panel.

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The Illinois General Assembly passed an expansive criminal justice bill on the last day of the lame-duck session, which, among other changes, would end the use of cash bail and impose new certification requirements for police officers. The measure was a part of a slate of bills spearheaded by the Legislative Black Caucus.

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Illinois lawmakers spent much of their weekend session debating criminal justice reform bills.

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is using the lame-duck session to address a range of social equity issues, from healthcare to education to criminal justice.

Office of state Rep. Sonya Harper

State Rep. Sonya Harper was among the most vocal critics of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s attempt to distribute cannabis dispensary licenses through a lottery.

The scoring put minority applicants at a disadvantage, said Harper, a Chicago Democrat who is the new chairwoman of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. 

Now, Harper says she likes efforts by the administration to slow down and rethink the process. The caucus wants to see changes in the cannabis tax act that would include the creation of a social equity commission.

Ilinois Senate Democrats

Cash bond could be eliminated in Illinois if a push by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is successful.

State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) said his measure would benefit lower-income people who are sometimes detained as long as years waiting for their case to be brought to trial or dismissed because they can't make bail.

“It's a system where you have to pay to pass go. Iit doesn't mean someone is safe or unsafe, it means that someone is poor or rich,” he said,

A judge could order pretrial detention if a potential detainee is deemed dangerous.

Hannah Meisel/NPR Illinois

Citing a sharp uptick in Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across Illinois, Democratic leaders of the Illinois General Assembly canceled their planned two weeks of Veto Session late Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Gov. JB Pritzker said scrapping session while the state is in dire fiscal straits “would be disappointing.”

Illinois Legislative Black Caucus

Members of the Illinois General Assembly’s Black Caucus Tuesday released a four-pronged agenda that they say will dominate this fall’s legislative session. 

The group of lawmakers wants several areas addressed: criminal justice reform, which includes violence prevention and  police accountability; education and workforce development; economic opportunity and equal access; and health care and human services.

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat,  said the time to address racism at the federal level, and in Illinois, with legislation is now.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Protests and in some cities looting and destruction the past week in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police have taken place nationwide and in Illinois.  On this week's program, a discussion of the causes and consequences, and the reactions of the Governor and the Mayor of Chicago.

The Chicago Sun Times' Maudlyne Ihejirika joins the panel.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner and black state legislators are escalating a fight that began earlier this week.

Sarah Mueller WUIS

The Illinois legislature sent a measure to the governor Friday giving $600 million to community colleges and public universities the first state funding they've seen in almost 10 months. It was a bi-partisan effort to push short-term spending by rank-and-file members frustrated by the budget impasse.

Black legislators say Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner hasn’t done enough in the wake of the release of police shootings of LaQuan McDonald and other African Americans.

When asked by reporters, Gov. Rauner said he cried after watching the 2014 video of black Chicago teenager LaQuan McDonald getting shot 16 times by a city cop.

“That video — shocking, terrifying. I cried for the young man who was brutally shot," he said.

In recent days officers responding to a call killed two other black Chicagoans.

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  So far, it seems no police officers have been disciplined for helping conceal the circumstances under which Chicago teenager Laquan McDonald was killed. Because of that, a group of black lawmakers say Illinois should consider licensing police.

African American legislators say the impoverished parts of the state will be most affected by budget cuts.

Dangerous and Draconian. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus uses those words to explain $26 million Governor Bruce Rauner recently suspended in state grants.  He's proposed more cuts for next year.
 

Senator Kim Lightford says Rauner's cuts will be devastating in four main areas public safety, education, health and the economy.