“Transparency is the first step we take to restoring the public’s trust.”

11142019HAO 0016SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans is pushing for new ethics reforms in the wake of scandals surrounding numerous Springfield lawmakers in recent months, passing legislation out of the Senate today.

“Today we took the first steps to reform the disturbing, unacceptable behavior that has rocked state government in recent months,” said Steans, (D-Chicago). “Raids, arrests and indictments are not what people expect of their elected officials. While they mean that the ethics laws we already passed are working and law enforcement is doing its job, it also means we need to change the culture in Springfield, close loopholes, and eliminate grey areas. We need to earn back your trust.”

Steans’ legislation takes aim at the practice of state lawmakers lobbying local units of government. The measure would require:

  • state lobbyists to disclose any units of local government they also lobby,
  • state lobbyists to disclose any elected or appointed offices they hold,
  • lobbying firms that contract out other lobbyists to disclose who is lobbying for each business or other client,
  • the Secretary of State’s Office to improve the lobbyist database, integrating these new provisions and making the entire system easier to search and navigate.

“Transparency is the first step we take to restoring the public’s trust,” Steans said. “That means we’ve still got much, much more to do. I urge the governor to sign this into law and I urge my colleagues in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle to continue working to make the state of Illinois a government worthy of its citizens’ trust.”

The legislation is Senate Bill 1639. Having passed the Senate without opposition, it awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

Expungement of a criminal record can be a long and complicated process. For help navigating the justice system, see information below about a Nov. 9th expungement fair in partnership with legal experts.

Expungement

Starting in December, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will begin accepting more applications for adult use cannabis licenses. Because Illinois is enacting the nation's most ambitious plan to ensure this process means opportunity for communities hit the hardest by bad drug policies, there are a lot of factors at play in granting licenses. Read IDFPR's press release below.

IDFPR Announces Next Round of Adult Use Cannabis License Applications

Applications for up to 75 Adult Use Dispensing Organization Licenses Now Available

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced Tuesday that applications for adult use cannabis licenses for new dispensing organizations are now available. Applications for new dispensing organizations can be found on the Department’s website.

The applications will be accepted by the department starting on December 10, 2019 and must be submitted by 12:00 p.m. on January 2, 2020. Applications will start being reviewed following the January 2nd deadline, with seventy-five conditional adult use dispensing organization licenses awarded by May 1, 2020.

“As Illinois enters the next phase of its adult use cannabis program, we are committed to a process that is efficient, timely and most critically, continues to place equity at the forefront,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “From ensuring social equity applicants receive points on their application to providing grants and technical assistance, this is a process that does more than any other state in the nation to make equity a priority.”

“We’re committed to ensuring that this process is transparent, fair and accessible to people from all communities in Illinois,” said Deborah Hagan, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. “Our Department understands the important role it plays in ensuring all applicants have an opportunity to become involved in this industry and we will continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure applicants have the information they need.”

Social equity applicants will receive points on their application and are eligible to receive technical assistance, grants, low-interest loans and fee reductions and waivers. To qualify as a social equity applicant, the statute requires the applicant to be an Illinois resident and meet one of the following criteria:

  • At least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals who have resided at least 5 of the preceding 10 years in a disproportionately impacted area;
  • At least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals [or family member of an individual] who have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for an offense that is eligible for cannabis expungement; or
  • Applicants with minimum of 10 full-time employees, at least 51% of employees who:
    • Currently reside in a disproportionately impacted area; or
    • Have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for an offense that is eligible for cannabis expungement, or is a member of an impacted family.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Development announced Monday which areas meet the definition of disproportionately impacted area. View the map here.

Once IDFPR awards a conditional license, the applicant has 180 days to find a location within its Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Region to operate. That location cannot be within 1,500 feet of another licensed dispensing organization. A map reflecting how many licenses will be granted in each BLS region can be found here.

As the state's licensing framework for cannabis moves forward, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has released information about the areas of the state most disproportionately harmed by bad drug policy. Read their press release below and download a pdf of it here.

State of Illinois Releases Disproportionately Impacted Areas for Cannabis Program’s Social Equity Applicants

2 Million Illinoisans Throughout the State Live in Disproportionately Impacted Areas

As the most equity-centric adult use cannabis program in the nation prepares to enter its next phase, the Pritzker Administration is releasing maps that designate which parts of the state qualify as “disproportionately impacted areas” for social equity applicants. More than 2 million Illinoisans live in the 683 Census tracts that make up the disproportionately impacted areas.

(View the map here.)

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity determined the disproportionately impacted areas using criteria established in the new state law. To be designated as a disproportionately impacted area, a Census tract must have high rates of arrest, conviction, and incarceration related to cannabis, among other qualifications including poverty and unemployment.

“As Illinois continues its path toward putting equity at the forefront of the state’s new adult-use  cannabis expansion, it’s important to create opportunities in communities that have been hardest hit by the war on marijuana,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Not only will social equity applicants receive points  on their applications, but many applicants will also get grants, technical assistance, low-interest loans and fee reductions and waivers. Taken together, these efforts will do more than any other state in the nation has done to focus on equity.”

To qualify as a social equity applicant, the statute requires Illinois residency and one of the following criteria:

  1. At least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals who have resided at least 5 of the preceding 10 years in a disproportionately impacted area;
  2. At least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals [or family member of an individual] who have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for an offense that is eligible for cannabis expungement; or
  1. Applicants with minimum of 10 full-time employees, at least 51% of employees who:
    1. Currently reside in a disproportionately impacted area; or
    2. Have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for an offense that is eligible for cannabis expungement, or is a member of an impacted family.

Upcoming milestones in the timeline include:

Timeline for Conditional Adult Use Dispensing Organization License:

  • The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will post the application on October 1, 2019.
  • IDFPR will provide two separate periods for applicants to submit questions to the agency.
  • IDFPR will begin accepting applications on December 10, 2019.
  • IDFPR will stop accepting applications at noon on January 2, 2020.
  • IDFPR will issue up to 75 licenses by May 1, 2020.

Collectively, these efforts demonstrate the administration’s commitment to ensuring communities that have been historically impacted by the justice system due to cannabis-related offenses are able to participate in Illinois’ legal cannabis industry. Later this year, DCEO will launch a program to provide low - interest loans to qualified social equity applicants. The loans will help applicants cover the expense of starting and operating a cannabis business.

“Too many communities in Illinois have been torn apart due to failed drug policies. By providing resources to justice-impacted individuals and members of their communities, we can ensure that the legalization of cannabis benefits all Illinoisans, regardless of income or background,” said Erin Guthrie, Acting Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

“We’re committed to ensuring that this process is transparent, fair and accessible to people from all communities in Illinois,” said Deborah Hagan, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. “We look forward to reviewing applications and providing information to those who are interested in learning more.”

Entrepreneurs who apply for a license to operate a cannabis business will have the option to include information to verify their status as a social equity applicant. Social equity applicants will also have the opportunity to apply for a DCEO loan.

In addition to offering loans, DCEO will offer technical assistance and support for social equity applicants on everything from putting together a business plan to applying for a license. To view the map of disproportionately impacted areas, click here .

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