By SAMANTHA SMYLIE
Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th) met with a group of constituents at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club to discuss policies and issues that concern them before the start of veto session, which begins at the end of this month.
After a short preamble about his life and work in Springfield — he passed 13 bills last session – those in the audience asked questions about affordable housing, incarceration, education and many more topics during the event.
When asked by one resident what he will do to reduce the population in Illinois Department of Corrections, Peters gave a long answer but started it with abolishing bail.
“Statistically, if you are in pretrial incarceration for a day or two, you have a high risk of losing your job and it impacts your ability to take care of your family if you do,” Peters said. “It, literally, is a disruptive practice so not only is it leading someone down the path of incarceration through the court system but even system. We need to reform our pretrial incarceration and that to me is abolishing bail and at least some form of a moratorium or risk assessment or at least some study on risk assessment so that we don’t just have a blanket risk assessment. I think that it is information that should be given to the general to the public.”
The remainder of his answer focused on appointing judges that reflect the community that they serve, an education campaign to help people know what makes a judge good or bad, providing resources to public defenders like reducing their caseload and ending hash truth and sentencing laws.
In answer to a survey from the Herald, Peters said that he will use the veto session to revisit House Bill 1115, which limits the instances in which a court can order electronic monitoring of formerly incarcerated people, and work with advocates and organizers to get a hearing on the bill to figure out how to get it passed. Peters is invested in looking into the Department of Corrections, the criminal justice system, and the youth in care programs in Illinois.
For education legislation, Peters was asked if the Elected School Board Bill, HB 2267, — a bill sponsored by Peters — will be discussed during veto session.
“I don’t think it comes up in veto,” he said. “I do think we should talk more about the elected school board and there is another bill that people should talk more about is the bill that undoes the 1995 strike limitations, what you could strike over, because that bill hasn’t moved either.”
Peters was referring to HB2275 and SB1732, bills that amend the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act and changes section 4.5 to allow Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) to strike for class sizes, special education and clinician staffing. Right now, CTU can strike only for wages.
On affordable housing, Peters was asked if he thinks HB0255, the bill that lifts the ban on rent control through the state, will be discussed in veto. His response was, “I don’t think that will be in veto session. I think that’s the next session, there might be a push, but I don’t see veto session as the place to where we are going to have a lot of action on that.”
The Herald sent surveys to State Reps. Curtis J. Tarver II (D-25) and Kam Buckner (D-26), but they had not responded by press time.
Aaron Gettinger, Herald staff reporter, contributed to this story.