SPRINGFIELD – While Gov. JB Pritzker was chasing the national spotlight out of state earlier this week, Senate Republicans redoubled their efforts to save Illinois’ Invest in Kids Scholarship program and give low-income children access to better schools.
In other news, the Senate passed a pivotal bill paving the way for the next generation of new nuclear reactors to be used as a source of clean, reliable, and secure energy for Illinoisans.
The Senate also voted to extend an important criminal statute designed to keep repeat gun offenders behind bars, but partisan games in the General Assembly stalled the effort.
And an original edition of the Gettysburg Address will be on display for 12 days at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.
Senate Republicans Push for Extension of Invest in Kids Act
State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) says the Senate Republican Caucus proudly continued their efforts to support the nearly 10,000 children whose lives have been forever changed by the Invest in Kids Scholarship Program. Hundreds of students and their families rallied at the Capitol during the Fall Veto Session, pleading with lawmakers to keep the low-income scholarship program alive.
On Nov. 7, Senate Republicans held a press conference calling on the Governor and his legislative allies to help save the Invest in Kids Scholarship program. They noted that instead of being focused on Illinois, the Governor was in Florida trying to increase his national profile by weighing in on federal issues.
Since the inception of the Invest in Kids program in 2017, more than $308 million in private donations have been made to a tax credit scholarship fund that has provided more than 38,000 scholarships to help low-income K-12 students in struggling schools optimize their chances for academic success by attending a school of their choice.
Because Gov. Pritzker refused to address the issue and no action was taken during Veto Session, the Invest in Kids program is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2024, potentially forcing students to leave their current schools in the middle of the school year.
Tracy says it is unacceptable that Democratic leaders abandoned families across the state and refused to save the vital program. She says despite the setback, Senate Republicans will continue their fight for the program during next year’s Spring Session.
Lawmakers Pass Bill Paving Way for Next Generation of Nuclear Reactors
State lawmakers took an important step toward creating a stronger and more reliable power supply for Illinois by passing legislation end the moratorium on new nuclear reactor construction.
House Bill 2473 lifts the ban on next-generation nuclear reactors less than 300 MW beginning Jan. 1, 2026, allowing for the construction and development of next-generation Small Modular Reactors. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency Office of Homeland Security will be directed to establish rules for reactor decommissioning, environmental monitoring, and emergency preparedness by Jan. 1, 2026. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will provide consultation.
House Bill 2473 also authorizes the Governor to commission a new study to research the state’s role in guiding the development of new nuclear technology and makes conforming statutory changes, including updating references to IEMA-OHS in preexisting Illinois law.
Passed by the Senate with a 44-7 vote and by the House of Representatives with a 98-8 vote, House Bill 2473 will be sent to the Governor’s desk for consideration.
Senate Extends Law to Hold Repeat Gun Offenders; House Refuses to Take Action
Tracy voted on Nov. 8 to extend a criminal penalty enhancement designed to keep more felons convicted of gun crimes behind bars and off the streets. House Bill 1440 was passed in the Senate by a 41-12 vote, but it appears to have stalled in the House of Representatives, which means the criminal penalty enhancement will sunset at the end of this year.
The statute was originally passed at the request of law enforcement to help them keep violent repeat offenders and gang members behind bars.
Tracy says that the partisan games used to kill the statute will make the state less safe, by allowing violent gun criminals to be back on the streets sooner.
Gettysburg Address on Display in Springfield
An original edition of the Gettysburg Address will be on display from Nov. 17 through Nov. 28 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM).
President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of a national military cemetery in Gettysburg, PA, for the thousands of Union soldiers killed at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Admission to the ALPLM will be free on Nov. 19, the 160th anniversary of Lincoln delivering the speech at Gettysburg. For the full 12 days the Gettysburg Address is on display, visitors also have the option of paying just $5 to see the document without touring the rest of the ALPLM. More information is available at http://www.PresidentLincoln.Illinois.gov/gettysburgaddress.