Time running out as lawmakers look to tweak SAFE-T Act
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — In the second and final week of the short veto session, the trailer bill tweaking the SAFE-T Act is still not ready.
On Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker took a victory lap announcing a bipartisan deal to pay off debt in the state’s unemployment trust fund. But the controversial SAFE-T Act remains on many peoples’ minds.
The Democratic majority in Springfield is racing against the clock to tweak the SAFE-T Act before veto session wraps up this week.
“It is very important that we address the misinformation, the misunderstandings that exist about the SAFE-T Act,” Gov. Pritzker said.
Leaders, like Representative La Shawn Ford, acknowledge portions of the massive public safety overhaul need clarifying.
“Anytime that you have people that you are making laws that they have to follow such as the police, the courts,” Ford said. “If they’re asking for clarity, then we need to make sure that we give clarity.”
Specifically, Democratic lawmakers say they’re focused on the provision eliminating cash bail set to take effect on Jan. 1.
“We shouldn’t be flinging the doors open on Jan. 1 with the misinformation that’s been put out there as the driver of that,” Pritzker said. “Let’s fix that.”
Republicans, who used the SAFE-T Act during the election to label Democrats as soft on crime, want the law repealed. And they said Democrats have locked them out of veto session negotiations.
“We haven’t seen anything. This has been done behind closed doors,” State rep. Jim Durkin said. “The process is as important as the product. I hope the Democrats would be kind enough to share the draft with us so I can give them my thoughts.”
Behind the scenes, Rep. Ford is pushing to change language requiring police to ticket rather than arrest people for certain misdemeanors. Critics complain the law states police can’t remove trespassing suspects.
“We will make sure the police will have the authority to remove an individual that’s trespassing on someone’s property that should not be there,” Ford said.
Bottom line is the powerbrokers, including Governor Pritzker and Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, said a clean up bill will pass before lawmakers adjourn.
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