Don Harmon Elected New Illinois State Senate President

Chicago News USA

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) was elected the new Senate President on Sunday.

Harmon was selected at a closed-door meeting on Sunday, winning the necessary 30 votes. He was up against Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood).

Harmon will replace Senate President John Cullerton, who announced he was retiring this month.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who was celebrating his birthday on Sunday, presided over the proceedings.

Harmon was the Illinois Senate President Pro Tempore from 2011 until Cullerton retired that position last year. Since last year, he’s been one of five assistant majority leaders in the Senate.

Harmon sponsored the measure that will allow voters to decide if the Illinois Constitution should be changed to allow for a graduated income tax. The constitution currently allows only for a flat income tax.

Pritzker has made approval of a graduated income tax one of his highest priorities as governor, so that the state can charge higher rates on wealthier taxpayers.

Harmon also sponsored 2019 legislation requiring gun dealers to obtain licenses in Illinois, a law 16 years in the making.

The law requires gun dealers to register with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as with state police. Gun dealers are also required to maintain an electronic inventory, provide video surveillance and staff training.

The senator also sponsored 2017 legislation that would guarantee abortion remains legal in Illinois, even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision. The law also lifted a ban on abortion coverage by the state’s Medicaid program and state employee insurance plans.

Gov. Pritzker issued the following statement:

“On behalf of the people of Illinois, I congratulate Senator Don Harmon on being elected to serve as the next President of the Illinois State Senate. With 17 years of experience in the upper chamber, I am confident that Don will ably serve and lead the Senate with a steady hand and hold integrity above all else. A staunch advocate for working families, Don was instrumental in shepherding the most sweeping and consequential legislative agenda through the state senate this past year. Because of Senator Harmon’s leadership, we advanced the historic Fair Tax amendment which will change the trajectory of our state’s finances forever, and I was proud to sign his legislation requiring gun dealers to be state-licensed and creating a new parole system for youth facing long sentences. I look forward to working with Senate President Harmon to build on the progress we made last year and continue to move our state in the right direction.”

Cullerton, 71, announced in November that he would retire this month after 41 years of service in the state Legislature.

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