Belt08501SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Christopher Belt advanced a measure through the Senate Thursday to tackle the increasing number of food deserts in Illinois.

“People should be able to have easy access to healthy and affordable food at all times,” said Belt (D-Swansea). “By providing financial assistance to grocery stores, we can incentivize the establishment and expansion of stores in areas that are considered food deserts.”

Under this legislation, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity would be required to provide grants and other forms of financial assistance to privately-owned grocery stores and grocery stores owned by a unit of local government, school district or community college district, located in or to be located in a food desert.

This measure aims to help mitigate the issue of food deserts across the state. In 2021, the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a study that found that 807 census tracts are considered food deserts, meaning urban residents have to travel more than a half mile and rural residents must travel more than 10 miles to get to the nearest grocery store.

“This is an important step forward in addressing the issues of food deserts in Illinois,” said Belt. “Not only would this measure support grocery stores in communities that need the most help, but it could improve economic development as well.”

Senate Bill 850 cleared the Senate Thursday and now heads to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

BeltSb17541SPRINGFIELD – To take excess burden off prior law enforcement and county corrections officers from other states when seeking employment in Illinois, State Senator Christopher Belt advanced a measure through the Senate Wednesday.

“Streamlining the process for these qualified and experienced officers will ensure that they can continue to serve their communities without unnecessary delay,” said Belt (D-Swansea). “When these already qualified individuals come to Illinois, it only makes sense for them to not have to undergo the same training processes again.”

Senate Bill 1754 would require The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to create an employment waiver process for a person previously employed and qualified as a law enforcement or county corrections officer under federal law or the laws of any other state.

Under current law, all law enforcement and county corrections officers in Illinois are required to meet specific training standards set by LETSB before they can be employed in the state. Belt’s measure streamlines the process in an effort to recruit qualified candidates to fill law enforcement roles.

“It can be time consuming and costly to make already qualified people go through additional hurdles. It also can deter people from seeking employment in Illinois,” said Belt. “This measure will save time and resources, while maintaining public safety.”

Senate Bill 1754 passed the Senate Wednesday and now heads to the House for further action.

Category: Press Releases

BeltSB13671SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Christopher Belt that would increase transparency and accountability in the operation of housing authorities in the state passed the Senate Wednesday.

“Access to safe and affordable housing is a fundamental human right, and this is something that shouldn’t have to be a guessing game for people,” said Belt (D-Swansea). “By requiring housing authorities to collect and report data on vacancies and wait lists, we can better understand the housing needs of our communities and ensure that resources are being allocated effectively.”

This measure would change the Housing Authorities Act, requiring that every housing authority under the act collect data on the number of vacant rental units within each housing project as well as information on whether each wait list maintained by the authority is open or closed.

A housing authority is the local administrative agency for housing assistance programs funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Programs include housing choice voucher programs and public housing.

“In my district, there are many disadvantaged communities where this kind of information is crucial for people to know,” said Belt. “This is the kind of transparency and accountability we need in our public housing system. Not only would this help people have a better idea of their housing position, but it would identify specific areas of need when it comes to housing shortages.”

Senate Bill 1367 passed the Senate and now heads to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

CarjackingEAST ST. LOUIS – State Senator Christopher Belt announced that the Illinois Secretary of State has awarded nearly $2.5 million to the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force to combat carjacking and vehicle thefts in the area.

“Carjacking and vehicle thefts are serious crimes that threaten the safety and well-being of our community,” said Belt (D-Swansea). “I am grateful to the Secretary of State’s office for recognizing the importance of this issue and for providing crucial support to help prevent this issue.”

The funding originates from the Illinois Vehicle Hijacking and Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention and Insurance Verification Council, which is overseen by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s office convenes regular meetings of council members and awards funding to assist law enforcement entities to combat carjacking and prevent motor vehicle thefts.

The Metro East Auto Theft Task Force is a collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies in the Metro East region and is designed to investigate and prevent auto thefts, carjacking and related crimes. In the comings weeks, the task force will see a total of $2,456,527 to help with their efforts.

“There is no single solution, but these grants give law enforcement needed financial resources, which will provide a greater sense of focus and effort to recover stolen vehicles and prevent carjackings that have been occurring all too frequently throughout our state,” said Illinois Secretary of State, Alexi Giannoulias. “People doing something so routine as getting in their car and driving shouldn’t have to fear that they’ll be robbed of their vehicle at gunpoint. Working together, we will continue to not only make our roads safer but also our communities, neighborhoods and business districts.”

To learn more about carjacking and auto thefts in the state and for more information about the grant, click here.

Category: Press Releases

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