Rep. Welter’s “Colton’s Task Force” on domestic violence unanimously approved by House Committee

The House Human Services Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation introduced and sponsored by State Representative David Allen Welter, R-Morris, to establish “Colton’s Task Force” to combat domestic violence in the State of Illinois. The legislation is House Bill 4262.

Representative Welter was inspired to file legislation to create the task force in memory of 18-month old Colton Miller of Joliet, who was tragically murdered in an act of domestic violence in September 2019. Colton’s mother, Cassandra Tanner-Miller, herself a survivor of domestic violence, has been working with Representative Welter to raise awareness among the public, law enforcement agencies and the media about the need to improve Illinois’ domestic violence laws.

Today, February 26, would have been Colton Miller’s second birthday.

“By working together to identify and correct the lapses in our laws that heighten the risk for more women and children to be abused or killed, we can honor the life of every victim of domestic violence in the State of Illinois and save others from suffering a similar fate,” Welter said. “This is our moment to make clear that the people of Illinois will no longer tolerate domestic violence to take innocent lives, devastate families, and harm communities in every corner of our state.”

Specifically, the task force would seek to accomplish four objectives: 1) conduct a comprehensive review of Illinois’ domestic violence laws; 2) make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding those laws; 3) establish a framework for specialized protective networks for victims, treatment options for victims and offenders; and 4) review the need for special consideration for conditions of bail in cases involving domestic violence within the ongoing changes brought on by bail reform.

83 members of the House of Representatives are co-sponsoring Representative Welter’s bill, including both Democrats and Republicans from every region of Illinois. If passed and signed into law, HB 4262 would require the task force to submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor on or before September 1, 2022.

“Colton’s Task Force” will be comprised of two judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, at least one of which shall have experience with domestic violence cases; the Executive Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts or their designee; one probation officer appointed by the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court who has significant experience with domestic violence cases; the Illinois Attorney General, or his designee, who shall serve as chair of the Task Force; the Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, or the Director’s designee; the Director of the Illinois State Police, or the Director’s designee; the Secretary of Human Services or the Secretary’s designee; two members of the Illinois House of Representatives and two members of the State Senate; and the following public members appointed by the Governor: two members representing victims’ rights organizations; two members representing State’s Attorneys based on recommendations from the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, both of which shall have experience with domestic violence cases; two members representing law enforcement, both of which shall have experience with domestic violence cases; and two members representing victims of domestic violence. Five survivors of domestic violence will also be appointed to serve on the task force.