Eye On Illinois: Hunting guide to Legislature’s website regarding the SAFE-T Act – Northwest Herald


“Have you published a list of those lawmakers who were responsible for passing the SAFE-T bill? I would love to see it.”

Thanks to the Kane County reader who asked the question, one of many regarding the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act, because it gives an opportunity for expositive writing. Although the General Assembly website (ilga.gov) is full of information, finding the precise details can prove challenging, especially once you need to look into the past.

The SAFE-T Act passed at the end of the 101st General Assembly, shortly before everyone elected in November 2020 took their oaths for the 102nd, the current legislature. My favorite time machine shortcut is clicking on “Site Map” in the blue menu bar, which opens a page full of links to legislation and public acts from as far back as the 90th Assembly.

No matter whether you’re searching in the past or present, you also have to know the formal designation of what you need to open. In this case, that’s House Bill 3653. Scroll down the list of House Bills from 3601-3700 and click on 3653 even though the heading is “CD CORR-RELEASEE-REENTRY INFO.”

That’s because the SAFE-T Act itself is Senate Floor Amendment 2, filed Jan. 13, 2021, tacked on to a bill originally filed Feb. 15, 2019. Perusing the history table shows every addition of a co-sponsor, readings, debates, committee referrals and so forth. This is where the bold text comes in handy.

The row reading “1/13/2021 – Senate – Third Reading – Passed; 032-023-000″ indicates a 32-23 passage. The numbers are a link that open a page of more links: the Senate vote and the House concurrence vote on amendment 2. And that’s where we finally answer the reader’s question.

Each chamber has its own page, with the members listed in alphabetical order by last name and a designation for Yes, No, No Vote or Excused Absence. The Senate vote was 32-23-3, with three members not voting. In the House, it was 60 yes, 50 no, three not voting, four excused absences and one unexcused.

I don’t have space to list all 177 members by name. However, I did create shortcuts to the PDFs: tinyurl.com/SafeTHouse and tinyurl.com/SafeTSenate. (To read all 764 pages of the law itself, visit https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/101/PDF/101-0652.pdf.

If you’re looking for state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, check the House roll because he was still in the lower chamber for a few more hours, where Michael Madigan was still speaker. Many other voters were lame ducks. A handful have since resigned. Still more aren’t on this November’s ballot.

That information doesn’t render the votes irrelevant, but context is important. It’s still fair to ask candidates their positions. Knowledge is power.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

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September 20, 2022 at 07:22AM

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