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Senator Barickman Calls For Civility In Political Rhetoric

Barickman on the Senate floor

State Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington said the problem of violent rhetoric in American politics spans both parties.

The shooter in the recent mass killing in El Paso, Texas, used terms similar to President Trump’s anti-immigration and nativist positions in a manifesto published moments before the shooting.

Barickman urged citizens to be civil.

“Well, look, a president should not call on people to incite any levels of violence, right? I mean, I agree. I'm simply saying that we are living in a political environment where there is a very high level of political rhetoric, lack of civility, and I do not believe that the responsibility for the negativity that comes from that is limited to one side, or one person, rather than many people who have contributed to this,” said Barickman.

Barickman said some Democratic candidates and public officials have called for violence against the president, and that is also unacceptable.

He said he wants citizens to “step back collectively” and be civil. Barickman said the internet has contributed to extremist positions that do not promote getting along. 

“And what do you do locally? Well you knock on your neighbor's door and you talk to them, you try to convince them to go your way versus the other way. People don't want to do that today. What they want to do is they want to get on Facebook, they want to identify someone who's posted something which they disagree with, and they want to attack them, and there's this back and forth, you know. Well, when one side’s attacking the other, not changing anyone's minds, you're just escalating,” said Barickman.

Barickman Legislation Signed

This summer Gov. JB Pritzker has signed into law several measures Barickman has worked on.

One allows school districts more room to deal with old school records. Previously districts were required to maintain 60 years of student records. And the mechanism to purge them required reaching out to the students themselvesd and asking whether they objected to disposal. Barickman said Unit 5 brought the statewide issue to him.

The new rule allows more than one way to contacting the student or parent, including advertising in a public forum.

Another measure approved and signed is HB 2489. It requires the Secretary of State to give county property tax collectors quarterly statements for title transfers of mobile homes. Barickman said mobile homes are classified as personal property as opposed to real property. Tax collection and tax documents for mobile homes go through different procedures, making documents less accessible than ordinary realty transactions and presenting a problem of under-collection for taxing authorities.

A third bill singned into law, HB 92, allows police officers to waive arresting sexual assault victims for outstanding warrants, as long as the warrants are not for a violent offense or parole violation. Barickman said police officers do not have any discretion in enforcing warrants and the YWCA told him several women in McLean County ended up getting arrested while they were at a hospital reporting their sexual assault. He said it's important to avoid further traumatizing sexual assault victims. The law allows police to call prosecutors to ask a judge on call to decide whether to grant an emergency stay of the arrest warrant for some period.

Barickman acknowledged this does not address the larger issue of women potentially avoiding sexual assault reports if they have an arrest warrant outstanding. He said that issue may need more attention from the legislature going forward.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
Katie Seelinger is an intern in the GLT newsroom.