A few Bennett bills make it through both houses
I was proud to have nine bills I sponsored pass the House earlier this spring. Unfortunately not all of them made it through the Senate. Among those which did, House Bill 656 would enhance the safety of motorcycle passengers. House Bills 263 and 266 better regulate the ways in which guardians must honor the wishes of an adult who is a ward of the state. House Bill 3928 was an initiative of students at Pontiac Township High School and would create a 30-by-30 conservation task force to protect 30% of Illinois’ land and water resources by 2030. These bills have passed both houses and are now on their way to the Governor.
A bill which I co-sponsored rolled back most of the fee increase put in place for trailers in Illinois a couple of years ago. While I would have preferred to pass a bill which eliminated the entire increase, I was glad to see that a large amount of the fee is going to be repealed.
A pair of Senate bills which I sponsored in the House also passed. Senate Bill 500 prevents discrimination against those with disabilities when they need organ transplants. Senate Bill 595 deals with notifications in mortgage foreclosure proceedings.
Illinois moves into Phase 5 of re-opening
Today is the long-awaited day for Illinois to move into the fifth and final step of the re-opening from the pandemic shutdowns. Today Illinois enters Phase 5, the full reopening of businesses and gatherings throughout the state.
This means that public places will now be able to operate at full capacity and requirements for health screenings and social distancing are no longer in place. Some mask requirements remain in place for unvaccinated persons and in locations like health care settings. People should continue common sense actions like washing your hands and staying home if you feel sick.
Click here to see the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health as we enter Phase 5.
Lawsuit filed to overturn gerrymandered district map
On Wednesday House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie filed a lawsuit in federal court to throw out the gerrymandered legislative district map which Governor Pritzker signed into law last week. The suit argues that the use of inaccurate and incomplete population data instead of correct Census figures is in violation of federal law and the “one person, one vote” principle of the Constitution. Those figures are expected by August.
In case the legislature is not able to produce a map by June 30, the Illinois Constitution requires an evenly-divided commission be appointed to draw the maps in a transparent, bipartisan and independent process. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to require the House Speaker and Senate President to make their appointments to the commission, something which the two Republican leaders have already pledged to do.
I will keep you posted on the progress of this suit as news develops.
Session ends without action to relieve FOID/CCL backlog
For the past year many Illinois gun owners have been subjected to unacceptably long delays in processing of their Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card or Concealed Carry License (CCL) applications. This spring I introduced three bills (HB 2532, HB 2535, and HB 3006) to help bring down the backlog, but they were not allowed to be brought up for a vote.
Instead, the House narrowly passed HB 1091 which would have banned private transfers of firearms, required fingerprinting for FOID cards, doubled the application fee and generally made it more difficult and expensive for Illinoisans to exercise their Second Amendment rights. Obviously, I voted No. So far the Senate has not taken action on this bill.
A compromise bill was being worked on when session adjourned. House Bill 562 incorporated some pro-Second Amendment ideas like automatic renewal of FOID cards and combining the FOID and CCL into a single card, but it also contained some troublesome proposals as well, including fingerprinting, though it would be voluntary under this bill. The bill did not get called for a vote before we adjourned. I remain hopeful that we can get legislation passed to help bring down the backlog of FOID and CCL applications without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
House back in session next week
Reforming the FOID card application process is just one of the issues which was left unresolved at the end of the spring session last week, but it is an issue which the House will have the chance to settle next Wednesday when we return to Springfield. There have not yet been a lot of specifics announced, but the Senate will be in session on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday. Energy legislation could be on the agenda as well as several other topics.
Last weekend I was honored to speak at a ceremony at Eureka College honoring the only President born, raised and educated in Illinois, Ronald “Dutch” Reagan, Eureka Class of 1932. On the 50th anniversary of his graduation, while speaking to the graduating class of 1982 at Eureka, President Reagan said, “everything that has been good in my life began here.”
My thanks to President of Eureka College Dr. Jamel Santa Cruze Wright, the Vice President of Institutional Advancement Josem Diaz, the former director of Eureka’s Ronald W. Reagan Society John Morris, Director of Development Beverly Bourazak, and all those who put this event together and who preserve the memory of President Reagan at his alma mater.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $3,346,581,613 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $5.0 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $141 billion.
More news from around the state
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