05302018KS0540 rSPRINGFIELD — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) criticized Gov. Bruce Rauner for vetoing legislation that would have ended Illinois’ participation in the controversial Crosscheck voter registration system.

“I can only suppose that the governor’s veto was politically motivated, as this piece of legislation is a sensible way to protect voter information,” Raoul said. “We have heard from numerous experts that the Crosscheck system is unsafe and that it can be used as a tool to discriminate and suppress voters. There is no reason to continue using this system when we have a better option readily available.”

The Illinois Board of Elections currently subscribes to two national voter database systems designed to help election authorities identify voters who may be registered in more than one state: the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program and the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). Raoul’s legislation, Senate Bill 2273, would have removed Illinois from the Crosscheck system but allowed the state to remain in ERIC, widely viewed as the better system.

Cyber security experts testified to a joint committee last year that the Crosscheck system has several security concerns that make private information easily accessible.

Additionally, many voting rights activists say that Crosscheck is a vehicle for discrimination at the voting booth. The system compares first and last names of state voter databases, ignoring middle names and designations like Jr. or Sr. This is viewed as problematic by experts because communities of color are more likely to share last names, making them easy targets for voter suppression.

“Illinois residents deserve a governor who will act in their best interest rather than blindly following a partisan agenda,” Raoul said. “Despite the governor’s actions today, I remain committed to my long record of fighting for voting rights in our state.”

05292018KS0368 rSPRINGFIELD —  State Senator Kwame Raoul (D- Chicago 13th)issued the following statement after the Senate passed a bipartisan budget package that fully funds education and restores funding for vital community programs:

“Instead of being consumed by partisan bickering, I am glad that we were able to work together this year to pass a balanced budget that provides certainty for our state. I hope that Governor Rauner lives up to his stated desire for criminal justice reform by signing this package that includes much-needed investment in disenfranchised communities

05162018CM0696 rSPRINGFIELD —  The Senate voted today to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of legislation sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) that gives the Attorney General greater ability to enforce employment laws.

Currently, the Attorney General can file suit under the state’s employment laws with a referral from the Department of Labor. This legislation removes that requirement and empowers the Attorney General to bring suits related to violations of laws like the Prevailing Wage Act, the Minimum Wage Act and the Day and Temporary Labor Services Act.

“We know there are workers who are getting their hard-earned wages taken from them by employers and having their rights violated in other ways,” Raoul said. “Valid claims should not get lost in bureaucratic red tape. It makes no sense to have laws on the book to protect workers if we don’t enforce them.

Raoul worked closely with Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville), who sponsored the measure in the House.

“Corporate interests that take advantage of their employees must be held accountable,” Hoffman said. “This measure will give the Attorney General’s office more tools to ensure Illinois workers have the right to a safe work environment and that they receive their rightfully owed wages.”

Senate Bill 193 also creates a task force to promote cooperation between the Attorney General and State’s Attorneys in enforcing criminal violations of employment laws. Having passed the Senate 39-15, it awaits an override motion in the Illinois House.

Raoul on floorSPRINGFIELD — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) passed legislation today making it illegal to sell, manufacture, purchase or possess bump stocks and trigger cranks.

Bump stocks and trigger cranks are both attachments that modify firearms to fire at a faster rate, close to that of a machine gun. Twelve of the rifles recovered from a hotel room after a gunman killed 58 people and injured 546 in Las Vegas were equipped with bump stocks.

“There are a lot of passionate voices on this issue, but one thing I hope we are all passionate about as lawmakers is keeping the people of Illinois safe,” Raoul said. “This is a simple step, but one that has the potential to save lives.”  

The measure drew bipartisan support as calls continue to grow nationwide for tighter gun laws.

Senate Bill 2343 passed the Senate 38-10 and heads to the House for consideration.

04172018CM1024 rSPRINGFIELD — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) passed legislation today that puts in place a series of reforms to the state’s workers’ compensation program.

“We refuse to participate in a race to the bottom when it comes to workers’ compensation rights,” Raoul said. “We put in place a series of extremely successful reforms several years ago. Now we need to hold insurance companies accountable and ensure they are passing on savings to employers and workers.”

The measure makes several changes to Illinois’ workers’ compensation system, including: requiring electronic billing for workers’ compensation claims, allowing first responders to receive benefits the day after their accident, creating an evidence-based prescription drug formulary and changing the way insurance companies set rates with the Illinois Department of Insurance.

Raoul worked with the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association and other stakeholders on the Senate’s overhaul of the workers’ compensation program in 2011. Since then, the state’s employers have saved more than $315 million in workers’ compensation premiums.

The measure passed today includes a provision empowering the Department of Insurance to ensure savings from these and past reforms are passed on to employers. Other key components of the measure include:

•    clarification that an American Medical Association impairment report is not required to award benefits or reach a settlement, although a report may be utilized when reaching a decision
•    penalties for unreasonable delay in authorizing medical treatment
•    classification of hip and shoulder injuries as leg and arm injuries, respectively

These reforms are the result of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations. Today’s measure is identical to legislation that passed the House and the Senate last year. Although several provisions in the legislation reflected recommendations from Gov. Bruce Rauner – including controlling money spent on prescription drugs and clarifying the use of AMA guidelines – he vetoed the measure when it reached his desk.

Senate Bill 2863 passed 34-21 and moves to the House for consideration.