Judge rules SAFE-T Act unconstitutional, stops implementation of cashless bail
Just before the New Year, a Kankakee County judge ruled that the controversial SAFE-T Act was unconstitutional. The law, which was opposed by most of Illinois’ law enforcement community, was scheduled to take effect on January 1. Appeals are likely, so there could still be more twists and turns ahead.
It was initially thought by some that the ruling only applied to those counties which had filed suit to stop the implementation of the SAFE-T Act, but the Illinois Supreme Court ruled on December 31 that the ruling against the part of the law ending cash bail would in fact apply statewide. This was very good news as it prevented the kind of chaos that might have resulted from dozens of counties ending cash bail while dozens more kept it in place.
I was very happy with the Court’s ruling and am now awaiting the Supreme Court’s final decision on the constitutionality of the law. The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments sometime in March.
Gun control bill passed late in lame duck session
A major gun control bill, House Bill 5855, was introduced on the last day of the fall veto session in December. The bill would add a whole series of new restrictions on firearm ownership in Illinois. At the last minute the language of the bill was switched over to Senate Bill 2226, then quickly voted on and passed Thursday night.
I voted No on this bill. Illinois already has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the entire nation. Adding even more new laws which take more rights away from law-abiding people is not the solution to our crime problem. There are 2.4 million FOID card holders in the state, a great many of whom will be impacted.
Abortion expansion bill introduced, quickly passed
A bill to expand abortion rights even further was introduced and quickly passed on Thursday night. Illinois already has the most permissive abortion laws in the country, but now they will be expanded even more.
Under this legislation, non-medical doctors – like physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners – would be able to perform surgical abortions. It would allow anyone to receive over-the-counter birth control without a doctor’s or pharmacist’s prescription, and would not hold clinics to the same standards as other medical facilities. The bill also includes language concerning gender-affirming care that will mean doctors can provide hormonal therapy or surgical gender reassignment surgery without requiring parental involvement and with no age limit.
I voted No, but it passed anyway.
We are currently in the final days of the 102nd General Assembly, which was elected in November 2020. Legislators elected last November will take office on January 11. It seems that every two years lame-duck legislatures are brought back to Springfield in the closing days of the General Assembly to pass major legislation. Two years ago it was the SAFE-T Act, back in 2011 it was a large income tax increase. These lame duck sessions in which bills are voted on by outgoing legislatures need to be abolished.
Facebook Live discussion about SAFE-T Act and gun legislation
On Monday evening at 6 p.m. I will be hosting a Facebook Live discussion about the SAFE-T Act and the gun bill. My guest will be Rep. Patrick Windhorst of Metropolis, a former state’s attorney and a member of the Judiciary-Criminal Committee and the Firearms and Firearm Safety subcommittee. I hope you will be able to join in the discussion.
New COGFA pension analysis puts Illinois’ unfunded pension obligations at $139.7 billion
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, the General Assembly’s non-partisan budget watchdog, has released its latest analysis of Illinois’ unfunded pension liability. The commission now places the unfunded liability at $139.7 billion as of the end of fiscal year 2022 on June 30.
Illinois’ state-managed pension systems had $109.1 billion in assets and assumed obligations of $248.8 billion. These obligations are the projected benefits of vested pensions as they go through their collection cycle. It is important to note that these are estimates and assumptions, but that they are based on generally accepted pension standards. A big part of the jump in this year’s projection had to do with the poor year which the stock market had in 2022 and its effect on investments made by the state’s pension funds.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,945,539,112 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $3.9 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 $139 billion.
Did You Know?
Many different materials were used in the construction of the state Capitol building. The outer walls of the building are made of limestone, while the portico pillars are granite. The grand staircase, floors and some of the interior columns are marble. In all, the Capitol includes 750,000 cubic feet of cut stone, 1.4 million pounds of wrought iron, 3.4 million pounds of cast iron and 20 million bricks.
More news from around the state