Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HJR0069
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Full Text of HJR0069  102nd General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, Heirs' property is defined by the United States
3Department of Agriculture as land that has been passed down
4informally from generation to generation without clear title
5or documented legal ownership; every heir has rights to the
6property, but the lack of a clear title creates confusion
7regarding taxes, the use of the land, and the ability to sell
8the land; and
9    WHEREAS, Without much trust in the legal system, many of
10the African American farmers who purchased or were deeded land
11after the Civil War died without a will, and the property was
12passed down informally; each successive generation of heirs
13further divided the title to the property and complicated the
14heirs' ability to determine the legal owners of the property;
16    WHEREAS, Some of the consequences that the heirs' property
17owners face are disagreements over which heirs have the right
18to occupy the land and how the land may be used, difficulty
19selling the property due to a lack of a clear title, the
20exclusion from some governmental support programs, including
21disaster relief funds, the inability to claim the land as an
22asset to obtain a mortgage or other loan, and the loss of land
23due to disagreements over responsibility for the payment of



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1taxes; and
2    WHEREAS, Heirs' property is the leading cause of
3involuntary land loss among African Americans, and the United
4States Department of Agriculture reported the loss of 80
5percent of the land owned by African American farm owners
6since 1910; the rate of African American land loss has been far
7greater than for other racial and ethnic groups in the same
8time period; it remains a continuing and systemic problem, as
9it is a significant factor in the wealth gap between white and
10African American populations, with African Americans having
11ten percent of the wealth of white Americans; and
12    WHEREAS, There is no national data regarding the amount of
13land held as heirs' property; some organizations have
14attempted to develop models to estimate the information; it is
15challenging to obtain specific data because every state and
16each county within each state compiles real estate ownership
17data differently; and
18    WHEREAS, Owning land is significant, especially for
19African Americans; it allows for increased personal and
20economic freedom; many Americans, including African Americans,
21believed that real economic and political independence could
22only be achieved by owning land; landowners provide economic
23stability within their communities through payment of property



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1taxes and support for local business; in addition, they are
2more likely to be civically engaged, having greater political
3influence; therefore, be it
6SENATE CONCURRING HEREIN, that there is created the Heirs'
7Property Study Task Force to examine current and prospective
8methods to address heirs' property issues in Illinois; and be
9it further
10    RESOLVED, That the Task Force shall:
11        (1) determine the amount of land in Illinois that is
12    subject to the heirs' property system;
13        (2) study the impacts of federal and State legislation
14    on the partition of the land subject to heirs' property;
15        (3) analyze approaches and methods undertaken by other
16    states to address heirs' property and study if those
17    methods could be applied to Illinois; and
18        (4) determine the costs heirs' property presents to
19    the economic well-being of Illinois and estimate the
20    benefits of proactive measures taken to address heirs'
21    property; and be it further
22    RESOLVED, That Task Force shall be comprised of the
23following members, who shall serve without compensation:



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1        (1) 3 members of the House of Representatives
2    appointed by the Speaker of the House, one who shall serve
3    as co-chair;
4        (2) 3 members of the Senate appointed by the Senate
5    President, one who shall serve as co-chair;
6        (3) The Director of the Department of Agriculture or
7    his or her designee;
8        (4) The Director of the Housing Development Authority
9    or his or her designee;
10        (5) The Director of the Department of Natural
11    Resources or his or her designee; and
12        (6) The Director of the Illinois Municipal League or
13    his or her designee appointed by the Governor; and be it
14    further
15    RESOLVED, The Department of Agriculture shall provide
16administrative support for the Task Force; and be it further
17    RESOLVED, That Task Force shall submit its final report to
18the General Assembly no later than December 31, 2022, and upon
19the filing of its final report, is dissolved.