Rep. Welter: Domestic Violence Task Force signed into law

Click the PLAY button below to watch the video of Rep. Welter’s remarks at Friday’s bill signing ceremony in Chicago for House Bill 3317, which creates a Domestic Violence Task Force to establish a consistent, uniform statewide system to protect victims and survivors of domestic violence, while holding offenders accountable.

Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation into law on Friday introduced and passed by State Representative David Allen Welter, R-Morris, this spring establishing “Colton’s Task Force” to conduct a comprehensive review of the state’s domestic violence laws and improve prevention and treatment services for victims, survivors and their families. The legislation is House Bill 3317.

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.

“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 will seek to accomplish five objectives: 1)  conduct a comprehensive review of the process, operation, and enforcement of current domestic violence laws across the State; 2) identify gaps in the process, operation, and enforcement of those laws; 3) develop recommendations to address those gaps; 4) establish a framework for specialized protective networks for victims, treatment options for victims and offenders, and specialty courts for the accumulation of specialized domestic violence skills for courts; and (5) review the need for special consideration for conditions of bail in cases involving domestic violence within the ongoing changes brought on by bail reform.

38 members of the House of Representatives co-sponsored House Bill 3317, including both Democrats and Republicans from every region of Illinois. The law requires 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 Illinois Supreme Court, at least one of whom shall have experience with domestic violence cases; the Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts or the Director’s designee; one probation officer appointed by the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court who has significant experience with domestic violence cases; the Attorney General, or the Attorney General’s designee; the Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, or the Director’s designee;  the following public members appointed by the Governor:  (A) two members representing victims’ rights organizations;  (B) 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; (C) two members representing law enforcement, both of which shall have experience with domestic violence cases; and (D) one member representing family law lawyers who shall have experience with domestic violence cases based on a recommendation from a statewide bar association; and the Director of the Illinois State Police, or the Director’s designee; the Secretary of Human Services or the Secretary’s designee; one Representative appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; one Representative appointed by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives; one Senator appointed by the President of the Senate;  one Senator appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate; four members who are survivors of domestic violence, one appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, one appointed by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, one appointed by the President of the Senate, and one appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate; and  one member who is a survivor of domestic violence, appointed by the Governor.