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Pawnshop public protection plan passes Illinois Senate

Pawnshop CommitteeA proposed law passed by the Illinois Senate could make it easier to recover stolen property and to catch thieves and the pawnshops that help them fence their stolen goods. Senator Don Harmon introduced the plan in response to local residents concerned about pawnshops.

“Many members of the local community in Oak Park, Austin and Galewood are concerned about the number of pawnshops operating in our communities,” Harmon said. “We need to be sure that these shops aren’t profiting from theft to reassure nearby home and business owners.”

Read more: Pawnshop public protection plan passes Illinois Senate

Oak Park resident travels to Capitol to discuss juvenile justice reforms

Harmon and SpivyOne of the key themes at the state Capitol in Springfield this year has been criminal justice reform. Too many people are in jail, Illinois’ prisons are overcrowded, guards are overworked and incarceration costs are a growing drag on the already-precarious state budget.

State Senator Don Harmon is one of the legislators who has been working diligently to address these problems since before they made it into the public eye. This week, he was joined at the Capitol by Sara Spivy a Cook County public defender who was recently elected to the Oak Park-River Forest High School Board.

Spivy testified before the Senate’s bipartisan Committee on Restorative Justice. She believes that restorative justice reform needs to start with our education system.

“The discipline system in our public high schools needs to give students – both accused rule-breakers and victims – a voice. Without discussion, there is no room for growth,” Spivy said. “Reforming the system at the school level may prevent some children from ever becoming criminal defendants. Restorative justice is humane, efficient and, in the end, simple common sense.”

Read more: Oak Park resident travels to Capitol to discuss juvenile justice reforms

Renewable Energy plan clears Illinois Senate Committee

Renewable EnergyA plan sponsored by state Senator Don Harmon and backed by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is moving in the Senate. Dubbed the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill, the package is expected to create an average of 32,000 good-paying jobs per year investing in solar power, wind energy and increased energy efficiency.

“We owe it to our children and grandchildren to protect the Earth. That means we have to use energy more efficiently and to start using more renewable energy,” Harmon said. “More immediately, we can create good jobs across the state. Illinois has tremendous potential to grow its solar and wind energy industries, training people for jobs that will be needed far into the foreseeable future.”

Read more: Renewable Energy plan clears Illinois Senate Committee

Budget Town Hall

April 6 Town Hall

New pawnshop regulations up for debate in Illinois Senate

PawnshopA proposed law in the Illinois Senate could make it easier to catch criminals and the pawnshops that help them fence their stolen goods. Senator Don Harmon introduced the plan in response to a local incident where Oak Park Police worked together with Cash America pawnshop to locate stolen computers and jewelry in late 2013.

“I’ve heard from many Oak Park and Chicago residents who are concerned with the proliferation of pawnshops along North Avenue,” Harmon said. “I want to make sure that these pawnshops – or any others – aren’t helping criminals profit from theft.”

Under Harmon’s measure, pawnshops would be required to hold onto items for one week before selling them or releasing them back to the people who brought them in. This holding period would ensure local police have time to check pawnshops for stolen goods during burglary investigations. It also bans pawnshops from accepting items with missing or altered serial numbers.

Read more: New pawnshop regulations up for debate in Illinois Senate