State Rep. Curtis J. Tarver II (D-25th) got several pieces of legislation through both houses of the Illinois General Assembly during the spring session, though bills to end qualified immunity for law enforcement officers and to automatically expunge cannabis-related juvenile law enforcement records never made it to the House floor after affirmative committee votes.
Tarver, who did not respond to requests for comment for this article, represents southern Kenwood east of Woodlawn Avenue and Hyde Park west of Ellis Avenue in Springfield; his district stretches along the lakefront from North Kenwood to the East Side
Three of Tarver’s bills did pass. House Bill 14 amends the state's Civil Administrative Code so that, if the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation does not issue a license, certificate or grant registration to an applicant because of criminal conviction, the department must tell the applicant how the conviction would prevent the applicant from doing the job that requires the license.
The department must also post online all state licensing restrictions that prohibit applicants from working in positions that require licenses, and the department must include types of criminal convictions that contribute to denial of licenses in its annual report about licensing applications.
HB 15 amends the School Code, requiring schools to provide written notification of misconduct, described as "an incident that involved offensive touching, a physical altercation or the use of violence" to offending students' parents or guardians. Those parents or guardians are also given the ability to get access to a synopsis and other existing records about the incident as well.
If Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the bill into law, it would go into effect on July 1.
Local Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th) carried the bill in the General Assembly's upper chamber.
HB 3879 amends the Department of Healthcare and Family Services Law of the Civil Administrative Code to designate one or more health care telementoring entities, to be decided based on a state application, with approved applicants to be eligible for state funding under department-set rules.
"Health care telementoring" includes, but is not limited to, a program provided to improve services in a variety of areas, including adolescent health, Hepatitis C, drug abuse, diabetes, geriatrics, mental illness, maternity care, childhood adversity and trauma, pediatric ADHD and other priorities.
Tarver was the chief House sponsor to Peters' Senate Bill 63, which requires youth in care to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and Peters’ SB 2116, which mandates 270 minutes of civics instruction, including voting rights, for people in Department of Juvenile Justice custody. Both bills passed through the House and the Senate.
Tarver also got House resolutions adopted congratulating Rey. B Gonzalez on 40 years of Service at El Valor Children & Family Center in South Chicago, 3050 E. 92nd St., and another congratulating Chevy Humphrey on being named president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive.
One other bill got through the House but never got a vote in the Senate. HB 3878 would amend the Rental Housing Support Program section of the Counties Act to, among other things, create an Illinois Rental Housing Support Program Funding Allocation Task Force to study and make recommendations about the equitable distribution of rental housing support funds across the state and work with the Illinois Housing Development Authority to adjust funding allocations as 2020 Census data comes in.
In January, Tarver said cannabis expungements and other criminal justice issues were his biggest priorities as the spring session got started. Later, when he got his membership on the House's Energy and Environment Committee, he said he wanted to have a subject matter hearing on south lakefront erosion, which was scheduled in late March.
Bills on cannabis expungement and ending qualified immunity for law enforcement officers were among Tarver’s four that passed through various committees but never made it to the House floor for a vote.
HB 109, backed by several other House members of the Legislative Black Caucus, would modify allocations into Cannabis Regulation Fund, keeping law enforcement funding at 8% but mandating that 2% be used for de-escalation, cover, concealment and time, and high-risk traffic stops; 2% for body camera purchases; 2% for discretionary purchases; 1% for pretrial services; and 1% for juvenile expungements. The previous language did not list exactly how law enforcement should spend the money.
HB 1356 would make it so that the appointees to fill vacancies on the Cook County Board of Review must be Illinois-licensed attorneys.
HB 1727, the Bad Apples in Law Enforcement Accountability Act of 2021, would end qualified immunity in Illinois. A peace officer who deprived another person of individual rights under the state Constitution would be individually liable for appropriate relief. Officers who failed to intervene during the denial of rights would also be liable.
Attorney's fees and costs could be awarded to a plaintiff, with five years of civil action available for lawsuits. Local governments would have to make public disclosures about judgments or settlements under the law.
“Qualified immunity is one defense in a host of defenses that law enforcement has,” Tarver said at a hearing of the House Restorative Justice Committee, according to Capitol News Illinois. “Someone putting their knee on someone’s neck for nine minutes when they’ve already surrendered, that’s not a split-second decision,” he said, referring to the police murder of George Floyd last year in Minneapolis.
Law enforcement representatives came out against the bill at the hearing, saying it would hurt departments' abilities to recruit and retain police officers. Committee Republicans voted against it.
House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-7th) co-sponsored Tarver’s bill. Asked why the bill has not received a House vote and whether it will in the future, Welch's office said the next step is to allow the task force laid out in the criminal justice reform package, passed at the behest of the Legislative Black Caucus during the lame duck session last winter, to get to work.
"When our General Assembly passed the historic police reform package in January, lawmakers made a commitment to forming a task force that would continue these conversations deliberately and inclusively,” said Welch’s spokeswoman, Jaclyn Driscoll, in a statement. “The goal of the Task Force on Constitutional Rights and Remedies is to produce a report that clearly outlines how we better hold police accountable, and allows all stakeholders to operate from the same set of facts.
“We remain committed to moving these discussions forward, not only with the legislature but with communities across the state."
And Tarver's HB 1952, his longtime passion project, passed through the Judiciary Criminal Committee in April but never received a floor vote. It would amend the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 to expunge records of those who, as juveniles, criminally violated the Cannabis Control or Drug Paraphernalia Control acts on Jan. 1 and July 1 of each year.
In January, Tarver said he thought that everyone's cannabis records should be expunged now that marijuana is legal, but barring that, he said juveniles' records especially should be expunged.
"If they were a juvenile and had a cannabis offense, we can start there. They should have their records expunged," he said at the time. "It should not affect their ability to go to school, to get an education and to find jobs."