SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura led a measure through the Senate which would codify into law that the odor of raw or burnt cannabis would not alone constitute probable cause for search of a motor vehicle. Senate Bill 125 would be protecting every Illinoisans’ 4th Amendment rights.

“People – especially people of color – are unnecessarily pulled over far too often,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “The odor of cannabis alone shouldn’t be one of those reasons. Cannabis is legal in Illinois and it’s a pungent scent that can stick to clothes for extended periods of time.”

Under Ventura’s measure, cannabis odor would not constitute as probable cause for searching a driver or passengers of a vehicle. Additionally, the legislation would remove the requirements that a driver or passenger in a vehicle must store cannabis in an odor proof container.

This bill was modeled after a judge ruling in Will County on a criminal court case. The defendant was pulled over and opened his window when the arresting officer detected a "strong odor of burnt cannabis emitting from the vehicle." The defendant had admitted someone had smoked cannabis in the car "a long time ago."

Currently, there are two states that have similar court cases, Vermont and Colorado. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded in 2019 that the faint odor of burnt cannabis did not establish probable cause.

Additionally, in 2016, the Colorado Court ruled that neither an officer nor canine could smell the difference between a legal quantity of cannabis or an illegal quantity of cannabis and therefore was not enough for probable cause to search.

Senate Bill 125 passed the Senate and heads to the House for further consideration.

Stateville Internship

CREST HILL State Senator Rachel Ventura partnered with DePaul University to create a new legislative internship uniquely catered to incarcerated individuals at the Stateville Correctional Center.

The new program will allow either a Senator or Representative to interview a select few individuals at the Stateville prison to be a legislative intern for a semester. At the end of the program, the legislator will provide them with a grade and they would receive college credits for their participation. Ventura spearheaded this new program and has interviewed three potential candidates.

“As I interviewed the candidates and heard their stories and aspirations, I knew this program would be beneficial for not only the student but also the communities they will return to,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “Giving a voice to the voiceless ensures we have balanced and fair legislation that has a positive impact for all.”

Stateville has a number of other programs within its facility including education, job training and restorative justice programs - however this program would be the first of its kind.

“As a society we are coming to better understand the difficulties that formerly incarcerated people often experience when reentering society,” said Dr. Susan Burgess, the Internship Coordinator for the Department of Political Science at DePaul University. “The opportunities that Senator Ventura is providing by opening up internship placements in partnership with DePaul University’s Department of Political Science will give men from Stateville much needed experience and the beginnings of a professional network as they prepare to reenter.”

Ventura has helped spearhead this program alongside DePaul University and other Illinois legislators.

"Many of the men incarcerated at Stateville have spent years improving themselves, pursuing higher education, and cultivating expertise in law and public policy," said Representative Will Guzzardi. "Their lived experience with our criminal legal system and their extensive knowledge of policy-making will provide invaluable contributions to our office."

Ventura will pick her candidate of choice in the upcoming week and the new internship will begin thereafter. The student will be researching legislation and providing a unique perspective.

“Stateville Correctional Center is proud to partner with State Senator Ventura and DePaul University on this new offering. The Department and Stateville will continue to provide all available resources to ensure individuals in our custody have educational opportunities at every level. This program will uplift the voices of each participant and enhance their sense of hope, self-worth, and confidence in preparation for community reentry,” said Warden Charles Truitt.

Within this program, they will submit weekly summaries to DePaul and suggested legislation changes to the Senator or Representative. Stateville houses a full law library for their usage as the individual will not have access to constituent records nor the internet.

 *photo by Ben Baez


SPRINGFIELD – To end the misleading practice of fake “final notices,” State Senator Rachel Ventura advanced legislation that requires senders to clearly post the intention of their mailing.

“Far too often new home owners and seniors are the victims of fake final notices,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “We must end this dishonest business practice so that no one is tricked into purchasing goods or services they don’t need. People shouldn’t have to deal with anxiety-inducing scam letters like these.”

When someone buys a car or home in Illinois, “final notice” letters regarding warranties, protection plans and insurance are often mailed out by third parties to scam recipients into providing information or buying products under the guise of maintaining their home or vehicle.

Ventura’s legislation amends the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act to require that senders clearly state that their mailing is not a bill but rather a solicitation of services.

Senate Bill 1440 passed the Senate Thursday and heads to the House for further consideration.



SPRINGFIELD – With support from State Senator Rachel Ventura, The Village of Romeoville is set to receive a total of $158,155 in state funding designed to support communities impacted by plant or mine retirements established under the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act.

“Job loss is an unfortunate side effect of transitioning away from unsustainable energy sources. The loss of livelihoods should not go unnoticed,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “That is why this funding is vital to supporting communities impacted so we can help individuals as they transition into new career paths.”

The $40 million program was designed to meet the needs of individual localities by addressing the economic and social impacts of plant closures. The $158,155 coming to Romeoville can be used on a variety of initiatives and investments, including workforce initiatives, housing support, business attraction efforts and more.

“As we invest in renewable energy, more jobs will come about from these industries. This funding will play a role in that transition whilst helping our planet,” said Ventura.

As part of the program, Romeoville will develop detailed plans for the grant funding – which includes stakeholder engagement, a detailed project design and budget which outlines specific intended uses for the funds. The community stakeholder engagement process is a critical element designed to ensure grantees solicit community input and consult with a diverse set of stakeholders to best support those most impacted by energy transitions.

To learn more about the Energy Transition Community Grant Program, click here.

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