Licensing officers, education reform, medical emergency

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The General Assembly had a busy Sunday in Springfield even though lawmakers didn’t pass any of the major proposals out of either chamber.

The House Judicial-Criminal Committee highlighted a new proposal that could require licensing for police. Attorney General Kwame Raoul hoped to make the change while he was still serving in the Illinois Senate. Raoul says House Bill 841 could help police with uniformity, transparency, and professionalism.

“Thirty-six states allow for [the] revocation of certification or license,” Raoul explained. “Of those 36, 29 of them have broader authority to decertify than the state of Illinois.”

The plan would also give the Attorney General’s office authority to investigate unconstitutional practices within departments. You can read more about Raoul’s plan here.

Black Caucus hits back at critics

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus stressed police unions and sheriffs are using scare tactics to try and convince lawmakers to reject their massive criminal justice proposal. Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) says lawmakers should operate out of of hope instead of fear.

“The challenge before us is immense, but it’s one that we’ll not take up on our own. We will do this together – downstate, suburb and Chicago,” Peters said.

Rep. Justin Slaughter (D-Chicago) and Sen. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) explained House Bill 163 isn’t meant to dilute labor unions or community-based alternatives. The caucus says their plan can root out bad policing and racist criminal justice policies.

“We have every hope that our colleagues will embrace these ideas and stand with us in solidarity to end the systemic racism that has plagued our community for far too long,” said Caucus Chair Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago) said.

Slaughter said the state needs to go “from protests to progress” as criminal justice reforms can’t wait. They hope to pass the proposal before lame duck session ends late Tuesday night.

Education reform bill

Lightford also presented the Black Caucus’ education reform plan before the Senate Executive Committee. She wants Black and brown communities to receive adequate school funding and a restructured curriculum to improve the quality of life for every student. Some of the critical pieces of the omnibus bill include equitable early childhood education, establishing a task force addressing environmental trauma for students, and behavioral health services.

“When I see all these African-American men who should be in a place of employment or retaining higher education and they’re not doin so, I’m wondering what happened? How could we be more helpful to help them gain skills,” Lightford asked.

The proposal could also improve the college admissions process to ensure no student is excluded from enrolling in a public university. Advocates say it’s past time to help every student succeed.

“When research tells us loud and clear that there are more effective ways to teach early literacy and support new college students traditionally stuck in remedial courses and we fail to enact them, we’re denying them the opportunity to fulfill their potential,” said Jessica Handy, Government Affairs Director of Stand For Children.

The proposal also addresses diversity in hiring practices for teachers and staff. Advocates say students can succeed and go on to college if they have teachers that look like them.

Medical emergency

Hours later, representatives showed a sign of unity by helping Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) who passed out on the floor. Paramedics already in the Bank of Springfield Center had Bailey on a stretcher ready for transport within minutes. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin explained Bailey hit his head when he fell and was dealing with gastrointestinal issues while fasting.

Bailey’s spokesman Jose Durbin later confirmed the Representative was feeling better and receiving treatment at a local hospital. Durbin also noted hospital staff tested Bailey for COVID-19. His results came back negative, but he was staying overnight for additional testing and observation.

The Eastern Illinois lawmaker became well known earlier this year for filing a lawsuit against Gov. JB Pritzker’s COVID-19 executive orders. Bailey will be inaugurated as a Senator for the 55th District on Wednesday.

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