Senate Week in Review: Jan. 8-12, 2024

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois continues to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis as the costs continue to increase. Meanwhile, several Sheriffs are refusing to enforce the state’s “assault weapon” ban.

In other news, the corruption trial of former House Speaker Michael Madigan won’t get under way until next October. Also, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will soon have a new director as scathing reports continue to pile up regarding the embattled agency.

And State Sen. Jil Tracy (Quincy) is asking for help to make Valentine’s Day brighter for senior citizens living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Governor Issues Another Proclamation for Intake Center for Migrants in Chicago

Illinois has been under some form of a gubernatorial disaster proclamation for most of the past four years, giving Gov. JB Pritzker sweeping emergency powers to spend taxpayer dollars with little to no transparency or input from the legislature. On Jan. 5, he issued a disaster proclamation on the migrant crisis allowing him greater spending authority and aggressive powers to bypass Illinois’ procurement processes.

Chicago has received nearly 30,000 individuals and families seeking asylum since August 2022. Over the last month, Pritzker’s office announced they will be spending more taxpayer dollars to support the influx of new migrants. Funds will support supplies, hotel rooms and eventually a shelter at a former CVS in Little Village.

Tracy says that the Governor spent years encouraging non-citizens to come to Illinois and is now trying to avoid responsibility for the problem he created.

Illinois Sheriffs Decline to Enforce Protect Illinois Communities Act

Several Illinois sheriffs have stated that their offices will not enforce the state’s new gun restriction. The Protect Illinois Communities Act immediately banned the sale of certain firearms, as well as some pistols, large-capacity magazines, and certain gun parts, such as folding stocks. Anyone who possessed those items before the law was signed could keep them if they registered them before Jan 1, 2024. Illinois State Police opened the registration portal in October for gun owners to comply with the new law.

Tracy says she opposed the new law because she believed it is unconstitutional and turns otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.

The Illinois State Police have reported that of the state’s 2.4 million FOID cardholders, nearly 30,000 registered a banned weapon.

Under the new law, failing to register a banned weapon will lead to a misdemeanor charge on the first offense and a felony charge on the second offense. Illinois law states that a felony charge for an unregistered weapon isn’t a jailable offense. For each case, local State’s Attorneys have authority to decide whether to charge anyone violating the Protect Illinois Communities Act.

Ex-House Speaker’s Trial Postponed Pending Supreme Court Decision in Bribery Case

In March 2022, former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) was indicted on 23 counts of racketeering, bribery, and official misconduct. Madigan resigned after losing the House speakership in January 2021. Madigan’s trial has been postponed from April until Oct. 8 after a recent court hearing. The charges stem from the alleged improper dealings with the state’s largest utility, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd). So far, Madigan has used millions of dollars in campaign funds to pay for his criminal defense.

In prior court cases involving the scandal, prosecutors presented secretly recorded videos, wiretapped phone calls, and hundreds of emails to show how the four former ComEd executives and lobbyists were “the grandmasters of corruption.” Prosecutors said that the utility paid out $1.3 million in jobs, contracts, and payments to associates of Madigan over eight years in exchange for favorable treatment on legislation in Springfield that would affect the finances of the utility company.

Madigan served in the Illinois House from 1971 to 2021. He served as Speaker of the Illinois House from 1983 to 1995 and then again from 1997 to 2021. He wielded additional power as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

New Director for DCFS

A report on the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for 2023 shows a year’s worth of issues within the troubled agency. A January 2024 report released by the Illinois Inspector General revealed that in 2022, nearly 50 more children died while on the radar of DCFS than in 2021.

Following a national search, Governor JB Pritzker appointed youth justice and child welfare expert Heidi Mueller as the next Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Mueller currently serves as Director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Mueller has served as Director of DJJ since 2016.

Marc D. Smith, the outgoing Director of DCFS, will continue to serve through January with Mueller assuming the Director role on February 1. Smith has been in the position since 2019 and has been held in contempt of court repeatedly for issues regarding the late placement of children.

Tracy says the state has a responsibility to ensure the safety, security, and success of children under state care, which has been neglected by the Pritzker administration for far too long.

Senator Tracy Asks Community to Help with Valentines for Seniors Card Drive

Senator Tracy’s legislative offices are hosting their annual Valentines for Seniors Card Drive and are asking students, scout groups, churches, and other groups to create homemade cards that will be delivered to residents of assisted living and long-term care facilities throughout the 50th Senate District.

Please drop off or mail Valentines by Feb. 5 to Tracy’s legislative offices at 3601 East Lake Centre Drive, Suite 200, Quincy, IL 62305; or 325 W. State St., Suite 102, Jacksonville, IL 62650. Those cards will be personally delivered on the communities’ behalf to senior citizens living in local facilities before Valentine’s Day.

In 2023, members of the Senate Republican Caucus collected and delivered more than 45,000 Valentines through the program.

Jil Tracy

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