SPRINGFIELD – As the Trump administration rolls back important environmental oversight, such as a ban on the use of lead-based ammunition on federal lands, it will be up to state and local leaders to ensure wildlife, public lands and people continue to be protected, Senator Don Harmon said Thursday.
Harmon is the sponsor of Senate Bill 1985, which would bar the use of lead-based ammunition for hunting in state parks and natural areas in Illinois to curb the accidental poisoning of wildlife.
“I am pleased to help Illinois lead the way on this reasonable and very important public health initiative,” Harmon said. “Research indicates that bans on lead-based ammunition have a positive impact on wildlife and human health.”
In January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Obama administration outlawed the use of lead ammunition and fishing sinkers on 150 million acres of federal lands, including national parks, wildlife refuges and other public property.
However, the Trump administration overturned the ban last week.
Research shows that a single shotgun pellet can cause organ failure and brain damage that affect an animal’s neuromuscular, auditory and visual responses. Furthermore, there is evidence that lead poisoning causes lethargy, blindness, paralysis of the lungs and intestinal tracts, seizure and death in animals.
An estimated 10 million to 20 million animals are killed every year by ingesting lead shot.
In addition, experts say lead-based ammunition causes elevated lead exposure in gun users and can be incorporated into processed meat for human consumption.
SPRINGFIELD – As Illinois’ finances deteriorate and gridlock prevails in Springfield, dark money groups spend millions of dollars to influence elections and public policy without disclosing the sources of their funding.
That frequently leaves taxpayers and elected officials in the dark about a group’s true motivations for supporting or opposing legislation or policies.
Senate Bill 2089, sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), would require greater transparency of politically active dark money groups by requiring them to register as political committees and disclose their donors.
“Accountability for political donations is vitally important in our system of government and elections,” Harmon said. “For too long, dark money groups have been able to hide behind the cloak of their nonprofit status and conceal the true intent of their work, which is to raise unlimited amounts of money and peddle political influence, unbeknownst to the average voter and taxpayer.
Harmon noted that the groups in question are not the charities and civic organizations for whom tax-exempt status was intended.
“These are political groups organized specifically to take advantage of nonprofit protections and hide their political activity,” he said.
Harmon added that as Illinois continues to see unprecedented spending by candidates and outside groups seeking to influence elections, it’s important for voters that the General Assembly closes loopholes that allow runaway spending by dark money groups.
“I think nearly all of us can all agree that a flood of secret political donations by billionaires and corporations is not good for our state,” Harmon said.
Senate Bill 2089 advanced out of the Senate’s Executive Committee in an 11-3 vote Wednesday.
Numerous good-government organizations indicated support for the measure, including the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, the Better Government Association, Illinois PIRG, and the 2,700 members of the League of Women Voters of Illinois.
Only two organizations indicated they are opposed to the measure, although they did not send representatives to Wednesday’s hearing to explain why: the Illinois Policy Institute and Americans For Prosperity. Both are dark money groups that would be required to disclose their contributions and expenditures when they bill becomes law.
SPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat and president pro tempore of the Illinois Senate, issued the following statement regarding revelations about mismanagement of contract paperwork by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office and hiding the source of deputy governor Leslie Munger’s $138,000 yearly salary:
“Now that it’s come to light that Gov. Rauner can’t manage his payroll records correctly, I find it even more clear why he’s been unable to manage a state budget for two years.
“Gov. Rauner has the right to hire whatever staff he believes he needs to properly run his administration, even in this period of historic fiscal distress for state government. But surely he can understand the terrible impression it creates when he hides a six-figure salary in state accounts designated for paying medical providers who have been waiting months for payments from the state of Illinois.
“The governor pledged to be transparent and to manage the state’s affairs better than his predecessors. He’s failing.”
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois taxpayers, public universities and state agencies would benefit from a bipartisan plan to streamline the state’s purchasing rules that was negotiated by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).
The legislation, Senate Bill 8, was approved in the Senate on Tuesday.
Harmon said it became clear to lawmakers that the state’s procurement rules are ready for an overhaul. The legislature enacted a series of strict procurement reforms in the aftermath of the George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich administrations because of questions over how they handled contracting, bid-letting and transparency for state business.
But the rules may have gone too far, sacrificing some efficiency and savings in an effort to deter corruption, Harmon said.
“We heard from universities, in particular, that the state’s purchasing rules have caused real headaches for them,” Harmon said. “Rather than save money for the state, the rules frequently have caused them to waste more money and time than an average business would.”
Harmon sponsored the legislation with Republican Senator Pamela Althoff of McHenry.
The measure is a key part of the Senate’s so-called “grand bargain” compromise deal that Gov. Bruce Rauner is relying upon to achieve a balanced budget for the state. Rauner has pressed for procurement reform as one cost-savings measure.
Among other things, Senate Bill 8 does the following:
- removes inappropriate restrictions on the procurement of specialized purchases, including database licenses and food for resale on campuses;
- creates a pilot program modeled after one in California for the efficient purchase of heavy fleet vehicles, special equipment and off-road construction equipment;
- requires state agencies to respond promptly in writing to inquiries and comments of the Procurement Policy Board;
- streamlines the procurement code and protects lowest bids from disqualification for minor or technical issues;
- permits informational communication between vendors and the state, while still requiring that the inspector general be notified of any collusion or anticompetitive procurement practices; and
- creates a special committee on procurement efficiency in purchasing that will study ways to further streamline the process; study procurement laws about contracting with minority-owned, women-owned, disabled-owned, and veteran-owned businesses; and study ways to purchase additional goods and services from Illinois companies.
Senator Don Harmon
President Pro Tempore
Years served: 2003 - Present
Committee assignments: Assignments (Vice-Chairperson); Executive (Chairperson); Judiciary; Committee of the Whole.
Biography: Attorney; born 1966, in Oak Park; graduated St. Ignatius High School; B.A., Knox College; J.D. and M.B.A., University of Chicago; married (wife, Teresa), has three children: Don, Frances, and Margaret.
Associated Representative(s): Kathleen Willis, Camille Y. Lilly