04102019CM1670

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois residents 21 and older could soon be able to purchase and possess cannabis legally under legislation approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Cahokia) voted in support of the legislation that creates an automatic expungement process, a Social Equity Program, revenue allocation and a vocational training pilot program.

“Minorities have suffered for years from aggressive enforcement of cannabis possession laws,” Belt said. “This has been devastating for minority communities and I hope that the Social Equity Program guarantees their involvement in the industry.”   

Minor cannabis offenses under 30 grams would be automatically expunged under the proposal, and a pardoning process would be put in place to address other nonviolent offenses. Those convicted of Class 4 or Class A misdemeanor offenses would be able to petition to expunge their offenses.

The Social Equity Program would help ensure the involvement of minority communities in the industry by providing access to grants and loans that help cover some up-front costs of participating in the cannabis industry.

Tax revenue would be allocated for a variety of programs including public education and safety campaigns, law enforcement funds, substance abuse programs and mental health services.

“Legalizing cannabis will bring a substantial amount of revenue into the state,” Belt said. “Additionally, removing marijuana from the controlled substance list will save some of the dollars that might otherwise be spent on law enforcement and incarceration.”

House Bill 1438 also establishes the Recover, Reinvest and Renew program to provide support for communities disproportionately affected by unfair criminal justice practices.

Community colleges would also play a role by working with the Department of Agriculture to create eight programs across the state that teach students how to grow cannabis.

The legislation will now head to the House on concurrence.

Category: Press Releases

05282019CM0356

BELLEVILLE – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Cahokia) announced today that the City of Belleville is the recipient of a $30,000 community stabilization grant.

“The value of a home located in a neglected neighborhood can depreciate,” Belt said. “The Belleville community will benefit greatly from the renovating of vacant homes.”

The Illinois Housing Development Authority Board of Directors awarded a total of $8.1 million to 62 municipalities, counties and land banks across Illinois to help community revitalization by eliminating blighted and abandoned properties.

Illinois has over 515,000 properties that are foreclosed, blighted and abandoned. This has become burdensome to local government since many lack the funds to restore those homes.

Category: Press Releases

05222019CW0386

EAST ST. LOUIS – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Cahokia) announced today that The New Broadview housing development project is one of the recipients of a federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

“The creation of The New Broadview will allow East St. Louis senior citizens to remain independent in their community,” Belt said. “Most essentially, this development will provide a reasonably priced path towards equitable housing for low-income families.”

The New Broadview development is a planned renovation of the former Broadview Hotel into 109 affordable apartments for senior citizens.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority Board of Directors approved a total of $28 million in conditional awards to fund 25 affordable housing developments in 16 counties throughout Illinois.

The federal tax credits will generate an estimated $257.7 million in private capital to finance the creation and/or preservation of 1,864 affordable units for low-to moderate-income families, seniors, veterans and persons with special needs.

Category: Press Releases

05232019CM0385

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Cahokia) continued to act as a champion of criminal justice reform by passing legislation today removing the enhanced penalties for possession of cannabis on school grounds that are no longer operational.

Belt’s legislation amends the Cannabis Control Act to provide that the enhanced penalties for cannabis delivery on school grounds do not apply when the violation occurs in or on the grounds of a building that was formerly designated as a school but is no longer operational.

“The enhanced penalties were enacted to protect children, which is something I care deeply about,”

Belt said. “Once a school has been shut down by an act of local government, however, it is no longer a school and perpetrators should be charged by the current laws of the land but without the enhancement.”

The current enhanced penalties of delivery of cannabis on school grounds are as follows:

  • Less than 2.5 grams: Class A misdemeanor
  • 2.5-10 grams: Class 4 felony and a fine not to exceed $50,000
  • 10 -30 grams: Class 3 felony and a fine not to exceed $50,000
  • 30-500 grams: Class 2 felony and a fine not to exceed $100,000
  • 500-2,000 grams: Class 1 felony and a fine not to exceed $200,000

“I have dedicated my life to advocating and championing the advancement of children,” Belt said. “I have written a children’s book that espouses safety and character education. I have created mentor programs to give back to the youth. I spent 18 years in law enforcement, the vast majority of which were dedicated in Juvenile Probation and Aftercare. As a lawmaker, I will always prioritize the safety of children.”

House Bill 160 passed both the Senate and the House and now awaits the governor’s signature.

Category: Press Releases

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