Senate Week in Review: April 15-19, 2024

Senate Republicans Voice Concerns About University Funding Plan 

SPRINGFIELD – Serious concerns about a proposed funding formula for Illinois’ higher education system were highlighted by Senate Republican Caucus members at a State Capitol press conference April 18, according to State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy).

Republican lawmakers noted that the formula would fund higher education institutions on a per-student basis, with tiers of $2,000, $4,000, $6,000, and $8,000, based on multiple factors, including race.

They noted that under the recent Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard ruling, basing funding levels on race is likely unconstitutional. Additionally, that type of plan would violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, jeopardizing federal funding for the schools. The Senators pointed to the University of Illinois, which received more than $750 million in funding in 2023, as an example of what could be at stake.

Republican lawmakers also raised concerns that the formula does not consider the cost of operating medical schools, graduate programs, or necessary deferred maintenance.

The proposed funding formula has been attributed to the Illinois Commission on Equitable Public University Funding. However, two of the Senators at the press conference who are members of the Commission noted that neither the formula or the report in which it was contained were ever voted on by the full Commission and did not represent the consensus of the members.

Tracy says it is important to draw attention to the proposed formula and ensure it is properly vetted before it can become law. She notes the need for a stable, equitable, and reasonable formula for funding higher education, but believes the process of developing a formula needs to be transparent.

Legislation Gives Law Enforcement More Authority to Evict Squatters 

Law enforcement would be given more authority to evict squatters who are illegally residing in other people’s homes under legislation heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee April 16.

The legislation targets situations where a person moves into a house while the occupants are out of town, then claims to have a lease triggering an expensive and lengthy process for the rightful owner to regain control of their home.

Senate Bill 3658 states that no person shall have a right or legal standing to occupy or remain on or in any real property, residence, or structure if the person has no written property interest under a written lease or rental agreement with the owner of the property listed in county tax records or the owner’s agent; has no documentation of payment of rent made to the owner of the property or the owner’s agent; and fails to provide any evidence of an oral or written agreement in which a property interest is claimed.

Testifying on behalf of the bill were Kenny Winslow, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, and John Millner, representing the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 8-0 to advance Senate Bill 3658 to the full Senate for further consideration.

Require Notification of Pesticides in Cities and Towns 

While many communities rely on pesticides to manage weeds and insects, residents often find themselves in the dark about when and how these chemicals are applied. The Senate is working to bring transparency to the process by passing legislation mandating notification procedures for pesticide application.

The legislation was created at the request of a central Illinois resident who discovered that pesticides were being applied near his home without warning or notification, and he was unable to find out who was spraying the chemicals and what the chemicals were. Particularly disturbing to the constituent was that he witnessed overspray hitting children playing, swimming pools, and the exterior of homes.

Senate Bill 3342 requires that an applicator provide public notice before pesticides are applied on a public right-of-way inside the borders of a municipality, to all residents within 200 feet of that right-of-way. The public notice would also include contact information for the applicators.

Passed by the Senate, the legislation now awaits action in the House of Representatives.

2024 ‘Coolest’ Thing Made in Illinois Announced 

A mining truck manufactured by Komatsu recently emerged as the winner of the 2024 Makers Madness contest, earning the title of “the coolest thing made in Illinois.”

Beating out more than 200 other entries for the coveted title, the Peoria-made truck, was crowned through the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s fifth annual contest. The truck has a hauling capacity of up to 400 tons, boasts cutting-edge features such as new innovations in suspension transmission, electric drive technology, and autonomous operation.

Three other finalists were also recognized at the ceremony, including Mullen’s Imitation French Dressing, The MQ-25 Stingray Drone Refueler, and Enviro Buildings’ Mod Box, made by Craig Industries in Quincy.

Hundreds Rally in Support of Second Amendment at Statehouse 

The streets of Springfield were filled with hundreds of supporters of the Second Amendment on April 18 as part of Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day (IGOLD) activities.

This annual event brings together gun owners, Second Amendment advocates, and lawmakers in a collective effort to uphold constitutional rights and safeguard the interests of law-abiding gun owners.

The group began their day hosting a rally at the Bank of Springfield Convention Center. IGOLD members and supporters then marched a half-mile to the Capitol, heard from various speakers, and met with their local lawmakers to discuss legislative issues related to the Second Amendment.

Jil Tracy

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