Senate Week in Review: August 7-11, 2023

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the state’s recently enacted gun ban, but the legal battle over the new law is far from over, according to State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy).

Meanwhile, a federal judge has stopped enforcement of a new law that targets pregnancy centers, saying it potentially violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In other news, Senate Republicans are calling for more information from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) after a recent audit showed the agency lost $5.2 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawmakers want answers on what the agency has done to recover more of the lost cash.

Additionally, Illinois has some new laws on the books, including two that cap prices of potentially life-saving medicine, along with a third that protects the rights of parents.

And the Illinois State Fair is now under way in Springfield, offering food, fun, and entertainment, along with a big, buttery bovine.

Illinois Supreme Court upholds gun ban

Tracy says the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Aug. 11 against plaintiffs in a case challenging the constitutionality of the state’s recently enacted “assault weapon” ban. The justices voted 4-3 in favor of the gun ban, with one Democrat judge joining two Republican judges in dissent.

Notably, the ruling focused only on the constitutionality of whether individuals who own banned weapons (before the ban was passed) would be treated differently than those who wish to purchase weapons after the ban.

The court did not rule on whether the ban violates the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.

This ruling is not the final word on whether the ban will be overturned. Multiple federal lawsuits are ongoing with many legal experts saying that the federal court system is more likely to result in a ruling against the new law.

Federal judge halts Illinois law targeting Crisis Pregnancy Centers

On Aug. 3, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of Illinois’ newly signed Deceptive Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers Act (Senate Bill 1909).

The lawsuit brought by the National Institute of Family Life Advocates asserts that this law was designed to target pregnancy help ministries solely because of their pro-life message.

When issuing the injunction, the judge stated that “the bill is painfully and blatantly a violation of the First Amendment,” and “there’s no doubt who the Attorney General wants to win or lose in the market place of ideas, but the government doesn’t get to decide that. The people do.”

Tracy opposed Senate Bill 1909, believing that it was an attempt to silence the voices of people on one side of an issue, while empowering the opposite viewpoint. She says the new law goes against the foundations of free speech on which the United States was founded.

The next court date is scheduled for Aug. 21.

The injunction will remain in place until the federal judge lifts the injunction order, makes their final ruling, or the injunctions is appealed and overturned by a higher court.

Senate Republicans want answers about $5.2 billion lost by IDES

Members of the Senate Republican Caucus are calling for answers after a recent audit showed that Gov. JB Pritzker’s IDES lost $5.2 billion through illegitimate unemployment payments during the pandemic, due primarily to fraud and identity theft.

Noting the audit showed that the Administration has only been able to recover roughly $500 million, about a tenth of the money lost, Senate Republicans sent a request for more information from the agency.

The legislators are specifically requesting information on what has been done so far to recover money from the illicit payments, as well as what efforts are currently underway to claw back more of the taxpayers’ money.

New laws cap costs for life-saving drugs

Illinois has two new laws on the books designed to lower costs for two potentially life-saving medicines, insulin, and EpiPens, offering a lifeline to people across Illinois with diabetes or serious allergies.

House Bill 2189 lowers the current cap on a 30-day supply of insulin from $100 to $35. Insulin is a vital hormone used by the body to regulate blood sugar. For individuals diagnosed with diabetes, access to insulin treatment can be a matter of life and death. House Bill 3639 caps the cost of two-packs of epinephrine, often referred to as EpiPens, to $60. Epinephrine Auto-Injectors are typically used to stave off anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal.

Both bills were signed into law Aug. 4.

Legislation to enhance parental rights signed into law

If a parent has to consent for their child to receive a medical procedure or test, then they should be able to access the resulting records and results. That’s the idea behind a new law signed by the Governor Aug. 4.

Under prior Illinois law, parents have access to medical records for children younger than age 12; however, they may be denied access to records and test results for children ages 12-17, even if the records are from tests and/or procedures that required parental consent to be performed. Once the child turns age 18, if they are declared a developmentally disabled adult, parents can once again get access.

Senate Bill 188 closes the glaring loophole for special-needs children ages 12-17 and allows parents access to these important records of their child, who often aren’t physically able to provide consent.

Illinois State Fair officially open

The 2023 edition of the Illinois State Fair officially opened Aug. 10, with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony in the morning, followed by the annual Twilight Parade in the evening.

One of the event’s longstanding traditions is the construction and unveiling of the butter cow, a full-size sculpture made of roughly 500 pounds of unsalted butter that is on display in the Dairy Building.

Fair organizers have switched up the themed days for 2023, with Agriculture Day being moved to the first Friday, followed by Kids Day on Saturday, then Veterans and Gold Star Families Day, Senior & Scout Day, “Twosday,” Governor’s Day, Republican Day, First Responder & Healthcare Heroes Day, and then finally wrapping up the closing weekend with Park District Conservation Day followed by Family Day. Grandstand concerts include Old Dominion on the first Friday evening, followed by The Doobie Brothers on Saturday, Alanis Morissette on Sunday, REO Speedwagon on Tuesday, Alter Bridge on Wednesday, Tim McGraw on Thursday, Chevelle on Friday, Maren Morris on Saturday, and Nelly on the final Sunday of the Fair.

There will also be USAC and ARCA racing at the Grandstand during the final weekend.

For more information, visit

And don’t forget, the DuQuoin State Fair runs in Southern Illinois from Aug. 25 to Sept. 4. More information on that event is available at


Jil Tracy

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