PEORIA -- Here are two worthy recommendations from the Illinois League of Women Voters. One would allow people with low level felonies to find jobs, the other supports public schools, stops more charter school abuse.
Call or email your legislators now.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: SUPPORT HB 5723
(the Sealing Bill) (Ford - D)
ACTION NEEDED: Call or email your state representative and senator today, and ask them to vote FOR HB 5723 - the Sealing Bill - if it is called during the veto session.
WHY IT MATTERS: The League joins with others to address the needs of offenders returning to the community and supports efforts to remove barriers to employment for persons with criminal records. A 2005 Loyola University study found that those who attained 30 days of employment after leaving prison achieved a 67% reduction in recidivism.
The so-called sealing bill expands the list of non-violent felonies that would be hidden from view once sentences are complete. For example, it would offer those convicted of certain drug offenses, prostitution, forgery or retail theft a slightly easier time attaining employment and finding housing once they complete their sentences. When a record is sealed, an employer would no longer be able to see or consider that background in making a hiring decision The full records would still be available to law enforcement and others who need to see them for public safety/background checks.
Under HB 5723, those seeking to have their records sealed must wait 4 years after completing their sentence to do so. When a person applies to have their record sealed, the State's Attorney, Illinois State Police, the arresting agency, and the chief legal officer involved in the case would be able to object to sealing the record.
Our coalition partners are at work in Springfield visiting the legislators and counting the yeas and nays. To get this bill considered during the Veto Session, this week or next, we must convince leadership that we have the votes for passage.
SCHOOL FUNDING: OPPOSE HB5825 SA2 (Steans - D)
ACTION NEEDED: Contact and urge your Representative to oppose and Governor Quinn to veto HB 5825 SA 2: A bill making the Charter School Commission autonomous with no operational oversight. Please don't delay as this bill is scheduled for concurrence in the House.
HB 5825 SA 2 "Provides that the State Charter School Commission is established as an independent commission (instead of State agency)". The bill "provides that the Commission shall be under the State Board of Education for administrative purposes only" while prohibiting "the State Superintendent of Education from reducing or modifying the budget of the Commission or from using funds appropriated to the Commission without the approval of the Commission".
WHY IT MATTERS: The State Charter School Commission already holds a great deal of power. It was commissioned in response to the Obama Administration's Race to the Top requirement that states applying for RTTT funds grow their charter school numbers. The Commission was given the authority to establish charter schools in districts regardless of whether the district and its stakeholders felt a charter school was warranted or not. This bill further extends that power by making the commission exempt from financial oversight. ISBE becomes a pass through agency for a new appropriated line item in its budget.
The bill gives no reason as to why this autonomy is necessary. It is interesting to note that the Commission chairman, Greg Richmond, is also currently the CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
LWVIL opposed the establishment of this commission as our position on charter schools is one of caution due to the impact on school funding and because the Commission reduced local control and authority. -30-