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Update from Senator Weaver: September 22

New laws were signed this week to spur economic development, and protect property owners while targeting criminal activity.

In other news, the Illinois Department of Transportation is working to keep young passengers safe with a statewide “National Seat Check Saturday” initiative on Sept. 23 that boasts nearly 100 free car-seat safety checks throughout Illinois.

EDGE Tax Credit Signing

On Sept. 18, the long-awaited overhaul of the Illinois Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit legislation was signed into law.

House Bill 162 was a bipartisan measure that supporters say is a critically important tool to helping boost economic development in Illinois by encouraging job creation, growth and competitiveness.

Key updates to the law encourage more transparency, requiring the EDGE agreements to be posted with 10 days of the project being secured in Illinois. Additionally, incentives will encourage Illinois employers to expand their businesses into more economically-depressed areas of the state, while eligibility thresholds will be lowered to allow more small businesses to grow in Illinois.

Proponents of the new law underscored the important role the EDGE program plays in border communities, which are frequently competing with neighboring states. The EDGE program helps these border communities remain competitive by keeping established businesses in Illinois and encouraging new job-creators to settle in-state.

To learn more about the EDGE tax credit program, visit https://www.illinois.gov/dceo/ExpandRelocate/Incentives/Pages/EDGE.aspx.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Revamp Becomes Law

This week, the Governor also signed legislation to restructure Illinois’ civil forfeiture laws.

House Bill 303 seeks to strike the proper balance between targeting criminal enterprise and safeguarding the rights of innocent property owners. The new law seeks to improve the current system by providing increased protections for property owners and requiring greater accountability from law enforcement.

Asset forfeiture laws target the heart of much criminal activity – the financial gain. Law enforcement finds the seizure of monetary assets to be an effective way to target drug trafficking organizations and high-level drug suppliers.

However, when asset forfeiture is not utilized appropriately it can have a significant, negative economic impact on innocent property owners. In some instances, innocent parties have been forced to forfeit their cash, vehicles, or even their homes, creating financial insecurity and disrupting their lives and the lives of their family members.

Under the new law, Illinois’ civil forfeiture law mirrors federal standards, shifting the burden of proving guilt to the government in order to seize property, instead of requiring the property owner to prove their innocence. The government must also demonstrate a higher burden of proof, increasing from probable cause to a preponderance of evidence. The new law also creates an expedited process of innocent owners to have the cases adjudicated more quickly.

Additionally, the law requires new data collection with regard to seizure of property by police departments and forfeitures by prosecutors in Illinois. The information must be reported to the State Police, and then posted on ISP’s website, so that taxpayers and lawmaker can determine how much property is being seized by different law enforcement agencies in Illinois; how much and what type of seized property is being forfeited; the amount of forfeiture proceeds received by law enforcement agencies; and how those agencies spend the money.

Seat Check Saturday in Illinois for Child Passenger Safety Week

Common car-seat mistakes can have deadly consequences. With 59 percent of child car seats installed incorrectly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is encouraging motorists to take advantage of “National Seat Check Saturday” on Sept. 23, with nearly 100 free car-seat safety checks planned throughout the state and listed at BuckleUpIllinois.org.

The public is encouraged to consider getting their car seats checked and talk with a certified child passenger safety technician about the common mistakes to avoid.

As part of National Child Passenger Safety Week, IDOT and AAA are highlighting eight common car-seat mistakes:

1. Turning the child forward facing too soon.
2. Not adjusting the harness snugly against the child.
3. Not securing the car seat in the vehicle properly.
4. Forgetting to register the car seat for recall notifications.
5. Having toys or other items unsecured in the vehicle.
6. Not using the lower anchors/LATCH system as approved.
7. Not using the top tether on a forward-facing car seat.
8. Moving to the next car seat or booster seat too soon.

While Illinois law states a child must be in an appropriate car seat or booster seat until their 8th birthday, most 8-year-old children are not tall enough for the seat belt to fit them correctly. These children need to stay in a booster seat until they are at least 4-feet, 9-inches tall.  Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that about 26 percent of children ages 4 to 7 are moved to seat belts too soon, when they should have been riding in booster seats. In Illinois, not only are children are required to be in a car seat or booster seat until at least age 8, all children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.

NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible up to the top height or weight allowed by their particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and top tether. After outgrowing his or her car seat, the child should be placed in a booster seat. 

For more information about the proper use of car seats and booster seats, visit BuckleUpIllinois.org/8carseatmistakes.

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