Rep. Bunting’s Springfield news update for May 24

In this issue:

  • Session nearing adjournment, much unresolved
  • Opposing a ban on wildlife competitions
  • State licensing delays continue
  • Illinois headlines

Session nearing adjournment, much unresolved

Today was to be the final scheduled day of the 2024 spring session of the General Assembly. It now looks like we will be in session for a couple more days as the budget gets finalized. We are expecting to be in session very late into the night as members try to get their bills passed before the final gavel.

Right now many issues are still up in the air in a quickly-changing environment. I will have a more complete update for you next week. In the meantime, keep reading for more state government news from recent days.

Opposing ban on wildlife competitions

Ask any farmer in our area about the biggest dangers to their crops and livestock and they will probably give you one of two answers: weather and predators. There isn’t much we can do about the weather, but for years we have been taking action to protect our farms and livestock from predators. One way we control the population of predators like coyotes is through wildlife competitions. Unfortunately, a misguided piece of legislation has passed the House which would ban these contests.

House Bill 2900 bans fundraisers and other wildlife competitions which involve hunts for fur-bearing mammals like coyotes, squirrels and raccoons. During the floor debate, House members from agricultural districts tried to get the sponsor and the bill’s supporters to understand that these competitions help control the population of animals which damage equipment, spread disease and kill livestock. I shared the story of an attack on a calf by coyotes on my farm, and other members had similar stories to tell.

However we could not get enough other members to listen, and the bill passed.

State licensing delays continue

Many of our friends and neighbors need some kind of a state-issued license to legally perform their jobs. Health care workers, athletic trainers, barbers, locksmiths and many others are among those who have to apply to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) for a professional license. But lately those license applications and renewals have been taking an extremely long time to get processed and approved, putting many of these Illinoisans in jeopardy of losing their ability to legally do their jobs.

The problem is not due to anything the applicant has done wrong, it is because of an outdated system in place at IDFPR. Legislators have been trying to get to the bottom of this mess for a couple of years now, and IDFPR has been promising improvement, but so far they have not delivered. Now the agency has asked for another extension, to June 8, to upgrade to new software and improve its processes.

House Republicans have introduced legislation to improve this situation. House Bill 1572 would expedite licenses for health care workers, while House Bill 4855 would require IDFPR to accept electronic payments for licenses and fees. Both of these bills have been prevented from moving forward in the House, in spite of a clear need and bipartisan support.

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 $841,894,223. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $1.1 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.

Illinois headlines

Police departments across Illinois strive to recover from pandemic-induced staffing crisis

Illinois bill would allow teachers who abuse students over 18 to be criminally charged

Latest Census data shows Illinois’ largest cities continuing to lose population

A ‘striking’ creature with large spiky legs roamed what’s now Illinois 300 million years ago

Illinois wants your cicada-themed art for a State Fair exhibit

Harvest Moon named #2 drive-in in the country