CAPITOL RECAP: SAFE-T Act changes head to Pritzker; unemployment debt deal advances

CAPITOL RECAP: SAFE-T Act changes head to Pritzker; unemployment debt deal advances

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS

SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Thursday passed a long-awaited amendment to the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform’s provisions that will eliminate cash bail when the calendar hits 2023.

The measure expands the list of crimes for which a judge can order pretrial detention, adds to what a judge can consider when determining if a defendant is a risk of willful flight from prosecution, and standardizes language regarding a defendant’s danger to the public safety among several other changes.

The measure will still end the existing wealth-based system of pretrial detention in favor of one based on an offender’s level of risk to the public or of fleeing prosecution.

It passed the Senate 38-17 just before 2 p.m., then passed the House 71-40 just before 5:30 p.m. It will still require a signature from the governor to become law.

Trade groups for state’s attorneys and law enforcement, as well as pretrial justice advocates who were on the other side of the issue, adopted a stance of neutrality.

The bill didn’t receive any Republican support.

Most of the language addressed several concerns cited by state’s attorneys and others, including worries that the original law’s vague wording could lead to mass release of individuals being held in lieu of bail when the calendar hits Jan. 1.

The new measure clarifies the changes that will apply to those charged with crimes after that date. Those who were held in lieu of bail before 2023 will be able to petition to have their case moved to the new system.

It adds clarifying language regarding part of the bill which some had read as preventing police from arresting a trespasser.

While it maintains language instructing officers to issue a citation in lieu of custodial arrest for cases below Class A misdemeanors, it also specifies that police maintain discretion to make an arrest if the person is a threat to the community or they continue to break the law.

The bill states a person to be held based on dangerousness must be proven to be a “real and present threat to the safety of any person or persons or the community, based on the specific articulable facts of the case.”

All people charged with “forcible felonies” and non-probationable offenses may be detained under the dangerousness standard. Individuals accused of domestic violence may also be held pretrial.

It adds hate crimes, felony animal torture, aggravated DUI causing bodily harm, DUI while operating a school bus and other DUI charges as detainable offenses if the defendant is deemed dangerous.

Republicans criticized the measure’s approach to the crime of burglary. The bill states residential burglary or burglary “where there is use of force against another person” are detainable under the dangerousness standard. But if a burglary doesn’t meet those criteria, such as someone stealing change from an unlocked car, it’s not detainable based on an offender’s risk of danger to the community.

The offense would still be detainable under a “willful flight” standard, and anyone already out on pretrial release can be detained when charged with any crime. Per the law, “willful flight” means “intentional conduct with a purpose to thwart the judicial process to avoid prosecution.”

The amendment expands existing law to state “isolated” non-appearances are not evidence of willful flight, but “patterns of intentional conduct to evade prosecution …may be considered as factors in assessing future intent to evade prosecution.”

The amendment also allows more hearings to be conducted remotely, a measure at least partially spurred by an anticipated increase in workload for the court system.

* * *

UNEMPLOYMENT DEBT: Lawmakers on Thursday advanced a bipartisan plan to use state revenues to pay down the remaining $1.4 billion in debt taken on by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unemployment trust fund is generally funded by the state’s businesses through insurance premiums collected via payroll taxes.

A $1.8 billion state cash appropriation – the funding backbone of the bipartisan agreement between business and labor – would be included in a supplemental funding plan to spend the current year’s anticipated budget surplus. That measure passed the Senate and will await House action some time next year.

Over the next five years or more, the agreement announced Tuesday is expected to save businesses from approximately $915 million in tax increases they would have otherwise seen had the state not taken any action.

That’s according to Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, who was one of the lead negotiators on the business side of the bill.

The other part of the agreement passed both Houses this week, heading to the governor. It would increase an employee’s “taxable wage base” – which is the amount of an employee’s wages for which an employer must pay unemployment taxes – by 2.4 percent for each of the next five years. It would also increase the target balance of the fund’s reserves from $1 billion to $1.75 billion.

It does not decrease the number of weeks or maximum amounts of benefits an unemployed person can receive.

It’s the final step in paying down approximately $4.5 billion in debt to the federal government that the state’s unemployment trust fund incurred since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic and associated stay-at-home orders shut down the state’s economy and sent unemployment rates skyrocketing.

Gov. JB Pritzker was flanked by several Republicans to announce the agreement Tuesday between parties and business and labor interests.

Even with the latest announced action, Karr said, Illinois businesses are likely to see an increase of $114 million for the upcoming fiscal year. That’s because the state missed a Nov. 10 deadline that would have prevented it from becoming a “credit reduction state” in the eyes of the federal government.

What that means is a Federal Unemployment Tax Act tax credit for Illinois businesses will decrease by 0.3 percent, resulting in an increase of $21 in federal taxes per employee.

But, Karr said, if the actions announced by lawmakers this week become law, those increased tax payments from Illinois businesses will be directed to the state’s trust fund balances, rather than to the federal government.

Also as part of the agreement, the $450 million in state revenue to supplement the trust fund balance will be in the form of a no-interest loan. It is to be repaid over 10 years as a deposit in the state’s “rainy day” fund.

* * *

DCFS CONTEMPT: An appellate court on Wednesday reversed several contempt of court citations that were filed in recent months against Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith for failing to comply with court orders to place state wards in appropriate settings.

The court found that Smith did not willfully ignore a Cook County judge’s order to move children who were discharged from psychiatric hospitals into group homes or residential settings. He was just unable to do it.

The opinion written by First District Appellate Court Justice Joy Cunningham stated that for a judge to find a party in contempt there must be an order of the court and proof of willful disobedience of that order. The appellate court found that DCFS did try to comply with the court orders, but it acknowledged that those efforts “fell woefully short of expectations.”

In each case where Cook County Judge Patrick Murphy cited Smith for indirect civil contempt and fined him $1,000 per each day the kids remained hospitalized, he also acknowledged that DCFS was actively engaged in trying to secure appropriate placements for the minors.

Murphy found that Smith was in contempt for failing to comply with the court’s order, opining that DCFS had “ignored the trial court’s orders.” Cunningham wrote that such a ruling was “inconsistent with the record.”

Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert, whose office represents state wards, including eight children involved in 10 contempt citations, said Wednesday that he will ask the Illinois Supreme Court to review the decision.

While the court opinion was a win for DCFS, Cunningham also called the agency’s efforts to place the children “seemingly inefficient” and “clearly ineffective.”

The ruling found that while the contempt citations may have been issued in error, Murphy’s efforts were meant to force Smith and the agency into action in these cases to address “a serious widespread problem.”

The appellate court also noted that the eight minors were ultimately placed in appropriate settings.

* * *

RUSSIAN DIVESTMENT: The Illinois House gave final passage Wednesday, Nov. 30, to a bill aimed at prohibiting state investment in assets tied to Russia and Belarus in retaliation for their participation in the war in Ukraine.

House Bill 1293, by Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, urges the state’s five retirement systems to divest their holdings in companies domiciled in either of those countries as well as their sovereign debt, and prohibits them from making new investments there.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 and at times has used Belarus, with that government’s permission, as a staging ground for incursions from the north.

As of Nov. 7, the war had resulted in an estimated 6,490 civilian deaths, with another 9,972 civilians injured, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Millions more have been displaced from their homes or fled the country.

The bill urges, but does not explicitly require, all state pension funds and retirement systems “to divest their holdings in any companies that are domiciled in Russia or Belarus” while also urging all Illinois municipalities to reconsider any sister-city relationships they may have with cities in Russia.

A spokesman for the Illinois Teachers Retirement System, the state’s largest pension fund, said in an email that the system’s total exposure in Russian assets is only about $4.27 million, or 0.007 percent of the fund’s total portfolio. It has no investments in Belarus.

Public colleges and universities would also be required to disclose to the Board of Higher Education any endowment or other donation they receive from any company that is domiciled in or has its principal place of business in Russia or Belarus.

The bill also urges the U.S. State Department to resettle Ukrainian refugees in Illinois while giving the Illinois Department of Human Services authority to adopt emergency rules to ensure availability of refugee resettlement services.

Additionally, the bill creates an Elections and Infrastructure Integrity Task Force to prepare for and prevent foreign interference in elections.

It also creates a Money Laundering in Real Estate Task Force to identify vulnerabilities in the real estate sector that facilitate money laundering.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide, as well as hundreds of radio and TV stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Leave a Comment





Local News

new lane configuration 2-6-23

Tri-State lane closures start Monday as area ramps prepare to reopen

Spread the love

Spread the loveOvernight lane closures are scheduled next week to shift traffic on Interstate 55 and on the northbound Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) between Willow Springs Road and Plainfield Road and reopen the ramp connecting northbound I-294 to southbound I-55 and Wolf Road. On Monday, February 6, beginning at 9 p.m. and continuing until 5…

Newly installed Orland Park Area Chamber president Ramzi Hassan addresses members during last week’s installation dinner. (Photos by Steve Neuhaus)

Comings & Goings: Orland Area Chamber installs new officers

Spread the love

Spread the loveRamzi Hassan of Edwards Realty Company was installed last week as president of the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce. The 2023 board of directors was also installed and annual membership awards were handed out during ceremonies last Thursday at the Crystal Tree Country Club. Installation duties were performed by Orland Park Mayor…

Oak Lawn resident Clayton J. Beck III displays his work of art accompanied by the model at the first unofficial event for the Acorn to Oak Studios at the Pilgrim Faith Church campus. Beck will be on hand to moderate the first official session to be held Sunday at the church. (Supplied photo)

Oak Lawn studio wants to be haven for artists

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle An acorn may be the symbol that inspires the Oak Lawn community to unleash its artistic talents. The first official session of the Acorn to Oak Studios will be presented from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, in the north wing of the Pilgrim Faith Church campus, 9411 S.…

Matt Dugan

EPCHS names Matthew Dugan next principal

Spread the love

Spread the loveFrom staff reports Evergreen Park Community High School has hired Matthew Dugan as its next principal. Dugan’s appointment was made official during the January 24 meeting of the Evergreen Park Community High School Board of Education. Dugan will become principal on July 1, upon the retirement of current Principal Bill Sanderson. “I am…

Willow Springs resident Jim Distasio was the first speaker to criticize the proposed land sale for use as an industrial park. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Lyons Township school board rejects sale of 70-acre parcel in Willow Springs

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch The sale of 70 acres in Willow Springs to a developer who wants to build an industrial park has been rejected by the Lyons Township High School District 204 board, but the door remains wide open to a sale. The board voted unanimously Jan. 23 to reject bids of $46.5…

Children enjoying themselves at Flying High in Countryside on January 14. (Supplied photo)

Venezuelan asylum seeking families enjoy a night out at Flying High in Countryside

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Carol McGowan Twenty-three adults and 30 children of Venezuelan families seeking asylum enjoyed a fun night out on January 14 courtesy of Flying High in Countryside. The event was a collaboration between St. Cletus Church in LaGrange, and Flying High, at 5400 East Avenue in Countryside. Flying High opened their gym doors…

All that's left of Georgis Catering is a burned out shell. To the right, is mom and Dad's Deli, which suffered smoke and water damage. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

Georgis Catering owner vows to rebuild after fire

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Georgis Catering owner Buz Georgis is maintaining an upbeat outlook despite the destruction of his business in an early-morning fire Friday at 63rd Place and Central Avenue in Chicago’s Clearing neighborhood. “It’s been a pretty crazy week,” he said Monday. “But we are moving forward and we plan on being…

dvn beds plus soup1 2023

BEDS Plus Soup & Bread event to raise money to assist the homeless

Spread the love

Spread the love By Steve Metsch One way to warm up on a cold winter’s day is with a bowl of soup. And on Sunday, soup lovers can sample 20 different soups and also get the warm feeling received by helping a local charitable organization. BEDS Plus, which helps the homeless through the southwest suburbs,…

District 230 board member Dave O'Connor urges Sandburg parents to consider having their students take dual credit courses to save college tuition money at the Jan. 26 meeting. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Sandburg/MVCC dual courses could save plenty of money

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva The price of college tuition keeps going up and shows no sign of ever going down. Thus, District 230 Board Member Dave O’Connor is urging Sandburg parents with college-bound students to take a long look at the school’s dual credit program with Moraine Valley. “We get students here who will…

Cubework has purchased the former Sears propertry at Orland Square Mall. (Photo by Bob Bong)

Cubework to turn Orland Park Sears site into Coworking Mall

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong That vast empty space at Orland Square Mall that was once the home of retail giant Sears may be getting new life. California-based Cubework has purchased the former Sears property at Orland Square Mall and is marketing the former mall anchor store as a Coworking Mall. The 16-acre purchase includes…

Neighbors

DVN JCs Restoration House Ad
new lane configuration 2-6-23

Tri-State lane closures start Monday as area ramps prepare to reopen

Spread the love

Spread the loveOvernight lane closures are scheduled next week to shift traffic on Interstate 55 and on the northbound Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) between Willow Springs Road and Plainfield Road and reopen the ramp connecting northbound I-294 to southbound I-55 and Wolf Road. On Monday, February 6, beginning at 9 p.m. and continuing until 5…

Newly installed Orland Park Area Chamber president Ramzi Hassan addresses members during last week’s installation dinner. (Photos by Steve Neuhaus)

Comings & Goings: Orland Area Chamber installs new officers

Spread the love

Spread the loveRamzi Hassan of Edwards Realty Company was installed last week as president of the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce. The 2023 board of directors was also installed and annual membership awards were handed out during ceremonies last Thursday at the Crystal Tree Country Club. Installation duties were performed by Orland Park Mayor…

Oak Lawn resident Clayton J. Beck III displays his work of art accompanied by the model at the first unofficial event for the Acorn to Oak Studios at the Pilgrim Faith Church campus. Beck will be on hand to moderate the first official session to be held Sunday at the church. (Supplied photo)

Oak Lawn studio wants to be haven for artists

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle An acorn may be the symbol that inspires the Oak Lawn community to unleash its artistic talents. The first official session of the Acorn to Oak Studios will be presented from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, in the north wing of the Pilgrim Faith Church campus, 9411 S.…

Matt Dugan

EPCHS names Matthew Dugan next principal

Spread the love

Spread the loveFrom staff reports Evergreen Park Community High School has hired Matthew Dugan as its next principal. Dugan’s appointment was made official during the January 24 meeting of the Evergreen Park Community High School Board of Education. Dugan will become principal on July 1, upon the retirement of current Principal Bill Sanderson. “I am…

Willow Springs resident Jim Distasio was the first speaker to criticize the proposed land sale for use as an industrial park. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Lyons Township school board rejects sale of 70-acre parcel in Willow Springs

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch The sale of 70 acres in Willow Springs to a developer who wants to build an industrial park has been rejected by the Lyons Township High School District 204 board, but the door remains wide open to a sale. The board voted unanimously Jan. 23 to reject bids of $46.5…

Children enjoying themselves at Flying High in Countryside on January 14. (Supplied photo)

Venezuelan asylum seeking families enjoy a night out at Flying High in Countryside

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Carol McGowan Twenty-three adults and 30 children of Venezuelan families seeking asylum enjoyed a fun night out on January 14 courtesy of Flying High in Countryside. The event was a collaboration between St. Cletus Church in LaGrange, and Flying High, at 5400 East Avenue in Countryside. Flying High opened their gym doors…

All that's left of Georgis Catering is a burned out shell. To the right, is mom and Dad's Deli, which suffered smoke and water damage. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

Georgis Catering owner vows to rebuild after fire

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Georgis Catering owner Buz Georgis is maintaining an upbeat outlook despite the destruction of his business in an early-morning fire Friday at 63rd Place and Central Avenue in Chicago’s Clearing neighborhood. “It’s been a pretty crazy week,” he said Monday. “But we are moving forward and we plan on being…

dvn beds plus soup1 2023

BEDS Plus Soup & Bread event to raise money to assist the homeless

Spread the love

Spread the love By Steve Metsch One way to warm up on a cold winter’s day is with a bowl of soup. And on Sunday, soup lovers can sample 20 different soups and also get the warm feeling received by helping a local charitable organization. BEDS Plus, which helps the homeless through the southwest suburbs,…

District 230 board member Dave O'Connor urges Sandburg parents to consider having their students take dual credit courses to save college tuition money at the Jan. 26 meeting. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Sandburg/MVCC dual courses could save plenty of money

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva The price of college tuition keeps going up and shows no sign of ever going down. Thus, District 230 Board Member Dave O’Connor is urging Sandburg parents with college-bound students to take a long look at the school’s dual credit program with Moraine Valley. “We get students here who will…

Cubework has purchased the former Sears propertry at Orland Square Mall. (Photo by Bob Bong)

Cubework to turn Orland Park Sears site into Coworking Mall

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong That vast empty space at Orland Square Mall that was once the home of retail giant Sears may be getting new life. California-based Cubework has purchased the former Sears property at Orland Square Mall and is marketing the former mall anchor store as a Coworking Mall. The 16-acre purchase includes…

CRR NH Reliable Waterproofing House Ad
CRR NH Ptecik Bakery House Ad