SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers returned to the Capitol during the week to start the 2024 regular legislative session.
During the first of week of session, Senate Republicans called on the Governor to reverse his proposed budget cuts to programs that help Illinoisans with developmental disabilities.
In other news, lawmakers took up proposed rules for the state’s “assault weapon” ban.
Also, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is looking for instructors for fishing clinics.
Illinois legislative session begins
The Illinois General Assembly kicked off its 2024 regular session on Jan. 15. Lawmakers spent much of the week meeting with constituents and other lawmakers, and drafting legislation they plan to file.
The General Assembly is expected to take up several serious issues during the session, including the ongoing immigration crisis and its associated costs. So far, Gov. JB Pritzker has chosen to deal with the crisis through executive action, bypassing the General Assembly while spending hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.
State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) says Gov. Pritzker needs to be more transparent about how much is being spent on immigration services, and how much money is being taken away from programs designed to help Illinois citizens.
The regular legislative session resumes at the Capitol on Feb. 6.
Lawmakers discuss assault weapons ban rules
On the same day lawmakers returned to Springfield, the bipartisan and bicameral Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) met to discuss new permanent rules for the state’s “assault weapons” ban (AWB) proposed by the Illinois State Police (ISP).
Currently, Illinois is operating under emergency rules that ISP promulgated last year. These new permanent rules will replace those emergency rules and contain changes, additions, and clarifications that ISP has worked on since the emergency rules were first published.
Numerous concerns have been raised about the potential for confusion caused by both the emergency and permanent rules. Critics have said the rules are too vague and could leave gun owners struggling to understand exactly which firearms, parts, and attachments are illegal or need to be registered.
Republican members of JCAR filed a motion to prohibit the new permanent rules from being put into place, citing many of the same concerns, but the motion failed on a party-line vote.
However, the Republican JCAR members were successful in filing a motion to object to the rules on the same grounds. ISP must respond in writing to the Committee’s objection before it can file the regulations with the Secretary of State’s Office to be adopted.
Governor must reverse proposed budget cuts to programs for persons with disabilities
Recently, the Pritzker Administration announced plans to make significant cuts to funding for programs that help Illinoisans with developmental disabilities. The specific cuts would amount to 2.5 million fewer hours that Direct Support Professionals could provide services in group homes, where approximately 10,000 adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities reside. The reduction would total around $87.7 million dollars, affecting 90% of all group home residents.
In response, every member of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus signed a letter calling on the Governor to rescind these cuts to one of the state’s most vulnerable populations. They also noted that these cuts come at the same time spending for immigrant services has skyrocketed into the billions.
Tracy says that Gov. Pritzker needs to immediately rescind this proposal that would be devastating to people who are already some of the most underserved. She says that the Governor has already shorted programs that help persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities by half a billion dollars over the last five years by not implementing recommendations from a report by the independent Guidehouse Company.
IDNR seeking summer instructors for Urban Fishing Program clinics
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is accepting applications now for instructors for 2024 summer fishing clinics through the department’s Urban Fishing Program.
The Urban Fishing Program was established in 1985 to teach people of all ages to fish, to provide better local fishing opportunities, and to offer participants an understanding of and a greater appreciation for natural resources.
Fishing instructors are the department’s boots on the ground at free clinics hosted in communities throughout Illinois. These temporary positions are not to exceed six months, making them perfect for teachers, retirees, students, and others eager to help people learn about fishing skills and ecology. The deadline to apply is approaching quickly. To learn more about the positions, qualifications, and how to apply, visit https://bit.ly/IDNRjobs. Look for positions titled “conservation education representative.”