State Rep. Curtis J. Tarver II (D-25th) at a Sept. 28 constituents' meeting at Shoesmith Elementary School, 1330 E. 50th St.

State Rep. Curtis J. Tarver II (D-25th) expects legislating on abortion rights, gun control and the SAFE-T Act when legislators return to the statehouse for the fall session, though he doesn't know what the bills' stipulations and parameters yet.

He does, however, have a bill of his own to push and opinions about the aforementioned policies driving state politics at the present time. 

While Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the the legislature's Democratic leaders promised a special session in response to the Supreme Court's overturning of federal abortion rights and Highland Park Fourth of July parade shooting, none transpired.

Tarver said there has been "some ire and some angst among a lot of individuals" about the proposed special session in light of local Black state legislators' unanswered call for a special session in June 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and subsequent unrest as well as the immediate response to the mass shooting in the suburbs and proposals to ban assault weapons when there are chronic shootings on the South Side.

Tarver said he is unsure if bills related to abortion rights or an assault weapons ban will come up during the legislature's October and November "veto session"; legislative working groups are meeting over reproductive health, firearm safety, mental health resources and online extremism. 

Should nothing move during the veto session, Tarver noted that legislators are being asked to keep a week in January open for a possible lame duck session ahead of the swearing-in of the new General Assembly and victor of the November gubernatorial election.

At any rate, Tarver is interested in moving his House Bill 5046 that would eliminate the discrepancy between state and municipal codes that allows convicted felons to serve in state elected office but not municipal elected office. Felons can serve in state office unless they were convicted of election fraud.

"The purpose of bill is to, one, have an ecumenical statute as it relates to running for office, so there's not a discrepancy between a kid who steals a laptop in college can't run for mayor but he can run for governor or state rep," Tarver said, adding that he would like the bill to include a provision banning felons who commit crimes that go against the public trust, like bribery, from running for office again.

Tarver noted "what we've seen as of late" — such as South Side state Sen. Emil Jones III (D-14th) has been indicted on three felony counts stemming from an alleged bribery scheme involving a red light camera company; he has pled not guilty, though Pritzker has asked him to resign — and said he hopes there is an appetite in Springfield to pass his bill.

Tarver also expects that there will be another trailer bill amending the SAFE-T Act, which abolishes cash bail beginning in January 2023, reforms police training, certification and use-of-force standards, expands detainee rights and requires body cameras at all departments by 2025.

Prior trailer bills relaxed rules around body cameras, removed some use-of-force restriction language and extended deadlines for new training standards as well as clarified issues relating to pretrial services, detainee phone calls and moved back effective dates in the police decertification system and body camera footage labeling.

At the meeting, Tarver said, "I will say here, I will say it continuously: I have voted against every trailer bill to the SAFE-T Act. I will continue to vote against every bill that's a trailer bill to the SAFE-T Act. I have a fundamental problem with each branch of government standing up, talking about this bill, signing off on the bill to appease predominantly Black and brown individuals and then as soon as there's pressure from law enforcement and others to appease typically white individuals in the suburbs now all of the sudden saying, 'We've got to scale it back.'"

Tarver said the SAFE-T Act on the whole is a good bill and ending cash bail is a good thing. He noted that judges have discretionary power to hold people pretrial, if they are, as Injustice Watch has reported, deemed a flight risk or a safety risk to a specific person.

He additionally noted that a task force report on ending qualified immunity in Illinois — a legal defense for law enforcement officers accused of committing civil rights violations on the job that Tarver passed a bill through committee to do in 2021 — has been delayed a year because of the first SAFE-T Act trailer bill.

"There wouldn't be a need for the SAFE-T Act if there were not a John Burge, who retired with a pension and so on. There would not be a need for a SAFE-T Act if it wasn't for Dante Servin, who shoots into a crowd because they're too loud and hits Rekia Boyd in the head. There'd be no reason for it. There'd be no reason for these conversations. There'd be no reason for a consent decree," Tarver said. "I'm not anti-law enforcement. I'm just pro-common sense."

Capitol News Illinois, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, contributed

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