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Trotter: Antiquated, unfair bond process hurts the poor

trotter 032017SPRINGFIELD – To end a system that punishes the poor, State Senator Donne Trotter is sponsoring a proposal that eliminates the state’s antiquated monetary bond process.

“Rather than providing all persons arrested an equitable opportunity to leave custody, it is only afforded to those who can pay the bond,” said Trotter, D-Chicago. “This antiquated bond process only increases the likelihood of low-income people being arrested for petty crimes and enduring harsher conditions than people from affluent backgrounds who commit the same crime. These trends of partiality toward people with wealth are prevalent in the justice system.”

The budget impasse has created a greater need for cost saving measures in Illinois. One area in great need of reform, said Trotter, is the prison system. The state squanders valuable resources on the holding of low risk offenders if they are unable to make bond.

The legislation is Senate Bill 552 which is in the Senate Criminal Law committee. An identical bill, House Bill 3717, has a hearing on Tuesday in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee. These two pieces of legislature are critical in the fight against inequity in the justice system that hurts minorities and poorer families.

Senator Donne E. Trotter is a Chicago Democrat and leading advocate for justice reform.

Trotter stands on the right side of history

trotter 021517This is the third year that Illinois has gone without a budget proposal. People are suffering and going without the resources they so desperately need because those in power are not willing to compromise for the greater good. Yesterday, the governor had the opportunity to restore the faith of investors and residents by providing a decisive plan for a balanced budget, but this was not the route he took.

In the budget address, the governor uttered a few phrases from Lincoln’s remarks to Congress on December 1, 1862: "The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew." But he left out the end of the phrase, and dare I say the most important part: We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. The word “disenthrall” means to free from bondage and or liberate. Lincoln spoke of the United States freeing itself from the dogmas of the antiquated past, which required the relinquishing of slavery. A month after this speech, Lincoln made history by signing the Emancipation Proclamation. So it is not farfetched to believe that Lincoln would encourage us to liberate ourselves from the contention of the past and moved forward in an effort to save the state.

Prior to taking political office,  a 45-year-old Lincoln had this to say on July, 1 1854: “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities.”

Rauner has a choice: he can either be the change he wants to see or continue the dismantling of the state he calls home. But one thing is for certain, something must be done to alleviate the devastation felt by poor communities all over Illinois as the financial burden is not equally distributed. It is felt most keenly by fiscally strapped neighborhoods that rely on social services many would deem vital. In order to provide basic services to the people who need it most, localities need funding.

Even before Lincoln’s entrance into the political arena, he was well aware of the role that government plays in the lives of its citizens. When government runs efficiently, it maintains legitimacy, and when it fails to do so it is delegitimized. The government is supposed to meet the needs of the people as opposed to its own self-interest. This has not been the case in Illinois for the last three years. We can do better and we should. No one man is bigger than the constituents he serves. First, Lincoln recognized the need for change, and then he pursued it. Rather than shaking things up for the sake of shaking things up, he altered things in order to provide a richer form of equity to all those embroiled in the vestiges of slavery.

History is being made and it is up to every one of us to determine how we want to be remembered. As senator of District 17, I pledge to do everything within my power to ensure that my constituents are not left in the cold by the lack of budget. I will continue to fight for the needs of all those who rely on the state to fulfill its promise.

Senate passes lead testing bill for water at schools

trotter leadSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed legislation today meant to address the issue of lead contamination in drinking water and other water supplies. The legislation, Senate Bill 550, would require elementary schools built before the year 2000 and licensed day cares to test drinking water and water used for cooking.

State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) was one of the bill’s chief co-sponsors.

“If we don’t address this issue in schools now, we are going to continue to see huge disparities in education,” Trotter said. “Older schools in heavy low-income and minority areas are much more likely to be affected, leading to developmental delays, learning disabilities and many other significant health problems. That is why lead testing is so important.”

The legislation now goes to the governor’s desk.

Legislation protecting tenants from lead poisoning set to take effect

Legislation protecting tenants from lead poisoning set to take effectCHICAGO – Legislation preventing the leasing of properties with high levels of lead in building materials and paint is set to take effect this January.

According to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, older buildings built before 1978 have a higher chance of containing lead-based paint.

Senate Bill 2300 seeks to address this issue by requiring landlords to address lead concerns before entering into any new leases.

Senator Donne E. Trotter


17th District
Assistant Majority Leader

Years served: 1988–1993 (House); 1993–Present (Senate)

Committee assignments: Energy and Public Utilities; Appropriations I; Executive; Appropriations II (Vice-Chairperson); Committee of the Whole.

Biography: Senior hospital administrator; born Jan. 30th, 1950, in Cairo; B.A., Chicago State University; M.J., Loyola University School of Law; married (wife, Rose), has four children.

Associated Representative(s): Marcus C. Evans Jr., Elgie R. Sims Jr.