SPRINGFIELD – A legislative panel heard testimony during the week from the Illinois State Police about proposed rules for the enforcement of the state’s “assault weapon” ban.
Also this week, the Illinois Attorney General’s office and several organizations came to a proposed agreement on protecting constitutional rights concerning crisis pregnancy centers.
In other news, Illinois is now offering a $500 non-refundable income tax credit to eligible volunteer emergency workers.
And the Illinois Department of Natural Resources teamed with a group of professional fishermen to harvest more than 700,000 pounds of invasive carp from the Illinois River.
Lawmakers Hear Testimony on AWB Rules
Members of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) met Dec. 12 to hear testimony from agencies on proposed rules. This meeting included testimony from the Illinois State Police (ISP) on their proposed permanent rules for enforcement of the state’s “assault weapon” ban (AWB).
For now, ISP’s temporary emergency rules remain in effect while action on the proposed permanent rules will be held until the January meeting of JCAR.
The emergency rules include requirements for registering existing weapons that are included in the AWB. Owners of banned firearms purchased before Jan. 10, 2023, must file an affidavit with ISP.
ISP held hearings earlier in the year on their proposed rules. However, critics of the bill, including State Senator Jil Tracy (R-Quincy), say there is still significant confusion on which firearms and accessories are banned or require the affidavit.
More information on the rules and process, including what weapons and attachments are covered, can be found at https://isp.illinois.gov/Home/AssaultWeapons.
Meanwhile, there are still several court cases pending over the constitutionality of the AWB. For now, the ban and the Jan. 1 deadline to register remain in place.
Tracy opposed the new law because she believes it’s an infringement on the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners and is likely unconstitutional. Tracy added that she hopes the AWB will be ruled unconstitutional in the court system.
Illinois Steps Back on Enforcing Crisis Pregnancy Center Fraud Law
Pro-life advocates reached a new milestone in their fight to keep crisis pregnancy centers operating in Illinois through a proposed agreement with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to halt enforcement of a controversial law.
Senate Bill 1909 was proposed by Raoul and passed by Illinois Democrats earlier this year. According to Raoul and his legislative allies, the law amended the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act with a goal of rooting out so-called “bad actors” in the crisis pregnancy industry.
Critics, including Tracy, said that the Attorney General already had the power to go after “bad actors,” and the bill was more of a publicity stunt and an attempt to tip the scales of justice toward one side of an ideological divide.
During testimony earlier this year, the Attorney General’s Office admitted they already had the power to go after the “deceptive practices” but could not name a single instance where they took action.
The new agreement was reached following a federal judge’s action in August that temporarily blocked the law from being enforced in a scathing opinion that called it “both stupid and very likely unconstitutional.”
Volunteer Emergency Worker Income Tax Credit
Volunteer firefighters and EMTs are getting financial help from the state to help them cover the costs of training and equipment.
Eligible Illinois emergency volunteers may now receive a $500 non-refundable income tax credit starting next year. A volunteer emergency worker is defined as a person who serves as a member, other than on a full-time career basis, of a fire department, fire protection district, or fire protection association that has a State Fire Marshal Identification Number issued by the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and who does not serve as a member on a full-time career basis for another fire department, fire protection district, fire protection association, or government entity.
To qualify, an individual must meet the following criteria:
- Has served as a volunteer emergency worker for at least nine months during the taxable year.
- Has not received compensation for services as a volunteer emergency worker of more than $5,000 for the taxable year.
- Be included on the list provided by a local fire department, district, or office to the OSFM by Jan. 12, confirming the individual met the previous two qualifications.
- Submit a complete online application with Illinois Department of Revenue on the date listed above.
- Be one of the first 10,000 qualified applicants.
This application process opens in February, but volunteers must make sure their names are on the list within their organization by Jan. 12 to be able to apply. Visit the Illinois Department of Revenue’s Website to view more information and apply.
IDNR Cleans Up Invasive Carp in Illinois River
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and a group of professional fishermen teamed up to reduce the number of invasive carp populating the Illinois River. IDNR biologists, Illinois River Biological Station biologists, and commercial fishing contractors caught more than 700,000 pounds of silver carp within 10 days at the Starved Rock pool of the Illinois River. The haul is roughly double what the program removed last year, with the 2022 effort totaling 350,000 pounds of the invasive carp.
According to agency officials, the 2023 effort was the most extensive single removal operation, and possibly the most significant freshwater harvest in the United States.
This program aims to decrease the number of adult fish to control upstream migration and protect the Great Lakes from invasive species. Annually, fishermen remove more than one million pounds of invasive carp from the Upper Illinois River under the supervision of IDNR staff.