In this issue:
- Spring session now underway
- Challenge to gun ban still pending in federal court
- Illinois continuing to lose population
- Traveling office hours coming up
House’s spring session is now underway
The House of Representatives gathered in Springfield on Tuesday to begin the 2024 spring session. Members have already begun introducing bills for the upcoming session, and many more are expected before the bill-filing deadline of February 9. Right now most legislation is still in the drafting phase, so it will be some time before much begins moving forward in Springfield. I have already introduced two bills: HB 4422 to re-establish some local control over wind and solar energy developments, and HB 4423 to help with recruiting and training police officers. It is likely that there will be more than 6000 bills introduced before the deadline.
Some key dates to mark include February 21, when Governor Pritzker will deliver his annual State of the State and budget address. The deadline for us to have bills passed out of committee is April 5, and we will then have two weeks to get them passed by the full House by April 19. Any House bill not passed by then is almost always considered to be dead for the year. We will then consider bills which have come over from the Senate, before our scheduled adjournment date of May 24.
Please check back to RepBunting.com or the General Assembly’s website for more details as session progresses.
Gun ban law appeal still pending with the U.S. Supreme Court
The wide-ranging gun ban which was rushed into law in Illinois last year is still the subject of a court challenge which continues to work its way toward the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court declined to hear one of the challenges earlier this month, but we are still awaiting word on the status of a different challenge.
One controversial part of the law requires owners of firearms which fall under the law to register them with the State Police. A previous Illinois law, which created the Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card, required gun owners to register as named individuals, but it did not include any requirement by the cardholder to list which weapons they owned.
It has been reported that as of the December 31, 2023, deadline to register the weapons covered by the new law, only about 29,000 Illinoisans had done so. It is possible that some owners of these firearms are awaiting the outcome of the court challenges before deciding whether to register or not. It is not known when the Court will make a decision. In the event that the law is overturned, I am co-sponsoring a bill which would require the State Police to “immediately and permanently destroy” the registrations of firearms which they have already collected.
Illinois continuing to lose population
United Van Lines is out with the results of a survey which found that Illinois was second in the nation among the worst states for population loss.
Figures for the last ten years from the Census Bureau have also shown this pattern, with Illinois losing tens of thousands more people than are moving in. Weather is likely a factor, as more Illinoisans departed for Florida than any other state, but the second most-popular destination was Indiana, with its lower taxes and better jobs-creation climate.
High taxes, overregulation, crime and many other factors are spurring Illinoisans to seek better opportunities elsewhere. These are all subjects we can begin to address in Springfield. We should do so this session.
Traveling Office Hours on Monday in Odell and Minooka
On Monday I will be hosting traveling office hours in Odell and Minooka.
From 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. I will be at Café 110 West, at 110 W. Tremont Street in Odell. Then I will be at Minooka Village Hall, 121 E. McEvilly Road, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. These traveling office hours bring the services of my office to your hometown for anyone who wants to come by and talk about state government, ask a question or get help with state services. If you are in the area, I hope you will stop by.
Our current bill backlog
When a vendor provides the state with goods and services, they submit the bill to the Illinois Comptroller for payment. The Comptroller processes the paperwork and pays the bill when funds are available in the state’s checking account. Currently the total amount of unpaid bills is $1,537,332,335. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $2.3 billion in bills awaiting payment. This only includes bills submitted to the Comptroller for payment, not unfunded debts like the state’s pension liability, which is well over $100 billion.