Illinois Assembly earns a ‘D’ on scorecard

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House Speaker Mike Madigan also earns a ‘D’ while Black lawmakers earn top marks

Crusader Staff Report

Illinois’ 100th Assembly earned a ‘D’ for failing to push laws that would bring about criminal justice reform, police accountability, workers’ rights and equitable economic opportunity.

The grade was given by the Center for Racial and Gender Equality (CRGE), a non-profit organization committed to equipping Black constituents with critical advocacy  and electoral resources that includes legislative scorecards, policy reports, candidates’ questionnaires and voter guides.

House Speaker Mike Madigan also received a ‘D’ while most of Illinois’ Black lawmakers received ‘A’s.

As a whole, the Illinois Assembly’s D grade has left newly-elected Governor Jay Pritzker plenty of room for  improvement. The 101st Illinois Assembly got underway this month. However, the CRGE based its grade on the Assembly’s legislative activities that began in January 2017 and concluded in early January 2019. By applying a racial justice approach, the scorecard evaluates the legislature’s actions on key policies that would either advance or undermine racial equity in Illinois. The 100th Assembly was evaluated on criminal justice reform, police accountability, workers’ rights, equitable economic opportunity and direct democracy.

In determining individual legislator scores, each returning member of the general assembly who served for the entire 2017-2018 session was awarded points for introducing, sponsoring and voting for legislation that would benefit Black Illinois residents. Lawmakers were also given points for voting against bills that would perpetuate racial inequity. Points were deducted for introducing, sponsoring and voting for policies that would threaten racial justice issues in the state.

CRGE said the Assembly passed five out of 11 laws that would advance criminal justice reform efforts. Those laws include SB3904, which implements gender-responsive and trauma-informed programs to better address specific challenges faced by female prison inmates. The state also passed SB 899, which explicitly prohibits race-based discrimination in the jury selection process. However, the CRGE gave failing marks on six bills that state lawmakers declined to pass in Springfield. They included HB 1782, which would allocate monetary reparations to individuals who were wrongfully convicted of a crime based on a coerced confession.

The Assembly also failed in the category of police accountability, where lawmakers did not pass four bills that would outlaw racial profiling and a police union’ collective bargaining agreement that would limit an investigation into allegations against an officer.

In the category of worker’s rights, the Assembly failed for approving two of five bills that would support the wellbeing of employees. One of those bills is HB 2387, which would have raised the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $15 an hour. During his campaign for governor, Pritzker promised to raise the minimum wage to $15 to help employees whose families are struggling to keep up with the cost of living.

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