02202018CM0491RSPRINGFIELD – Illinois farmers will now have the ability to cultivate industrial hemp under a proposal by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) that was signed into law over the weekend.

“Illinois has some of the best farmland in the Midwest, with fertile agricultural land across all regions of our state,” Hutchinson said. “This new law ensures our farmers have the ability to produce a product that is already available in our stores.”

Hutchinson’s new law, contained in Senate Bill 2298, creates the Industrial Hemp Act and allows farmers to apply to the Illinois Department of Agriculture for a license to cultivate and process industrial hemp.

In 2014, the federal farm bill for the first time allowed universities and state departments of agriculture to develop pilot programs to study the cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp. Illinois passed legislation in 2015 allowing state universities with four-year agriculture degrees to research hemp.

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05242018CM0474RSPRINGFIELD – Two proposals sponsored by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) to increase stability for the thousands of Illinois families who rely on the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) were signed into law on Friday.

The first, House Bill 4965, would bring Illinois in line with federal law by moving to a 12-month redetermination process for CCAP families instead of the current system, which redetermines eligibility every six months.

“Working families must have certainty that child care access will be available past an arbitrary six-month deadline,” Hutchinson said. “Increasing the eligibility period to 12 months brings that certainty to families who are doing exactly what we tell them they are supposed to be doing, which is waking up every morning and going to work or school.”

Illinois Action for Children estimates the state will receive an additional $82.8 million in federal child care funding in moving to a 12-month redetermination process.

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CourtroomSMSPRINGFIELD – Victims of human trafficking will now have the ability to seal their criminal records under a new law passed by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and signed today.

“We know most victims of trafficking are being forced to commit crimes by their trafficker,” Hutchinson said. “Allowing the sealing of criminal records gives survivors more ability to move past their abuse and exploitation and towards recovery and a chance at a normal life.”

The new law, contained in House Bill 5494, creates a petition process that will allow trafficking victims to petition for the immediate sealing of criminal records upon completion of their sentence. Previously, only charges that result in an acquittal or dismissal are eligible for immediate sealing.

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04242018CM0832RSPRINGFIELD – Law enforcement officers who sexually abuse or rape individuals in custody could face charges under a new law passed by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights).

“The general public should have complete faith that law enforcement officers are held to the same standards as everyone else in our society,” Hutchinson said. “No one person should be immune to consequences for their actions, and our laws should reflect that reality.”

The new law, contained in House Bill 5597, would expand the definition of custodial sexual misconduct to include law enforcement officers who engage in sexual conduct with an individual in police custody. Illinois is one of 34 states that allow police officers to evade sexual assault or rape charges by claiming that sexual activity with someone detained or in custody is consensual.

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