Monday, November 6th, 2023 | 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Coffee and Conversations with Senator Tom Bennett
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DCFS under fire from bipartisan group of lawmakers
DCFS continued to receive negative headlines this week. In just the past month, the Agency received a scathing audit highlighting its failures and mismanagement in protecting Illinois children, its troubled Director announced his resignation, and a conviction was handed down to a DCFS employee over the death of a young boy.
Now, most recently, the Department is under scrutiny by a bipartisan group of legislators on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) regarding a proposed rule regulating daycare operations.
The contentious rule, similar to the one that was partially suspended over the summer by JCAR, limited how long daycare assistants could monitor rooms of children younger than age two. Citing childcare shortages, members of the committee have been displeased with the rule and were anticipating DCFS to present a new rule that was agreed upon by childcare stakeholders. Instead, DCFS filed a rule that members say was not approved by childcare providers.
Members of the Committee were once again left frustrated, exchanging concerns about DCFS’ lack of transparency and honesty throughout the rulemaking process. Ultimately, JCAR approved the controversial rule, saying that they were left with no choice because given the timeline, the rule either needed to be accepted or there would be no rule at all, which would have left daycares with even more confusion on how to run their facilities.
Senate Republicans have continuously called for structural changes within the Department and say that this latest incident is just another example of the dysfunction at the Agency.
“Assault Weapons” registration rule needs more clarity, ISP to hold public hearings
Confusion over the state’s “assault weapons” ban registration process has prompted the Illinois StatePolice to hold a series of public hearings.
Following this week’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) meeting, where members expressed concern over the lack of clarity found in the rules, including what specific firearms are subject to registration, the Illinois State Police agreed to hold three hearings to answer the public’s questions and comments.
Complicating matters further are pending lawsuits at the federal level over the constitutionality of the new law, worrying law-abiding gun owners about what happens to their information if the law is eventually overturned.
The law, enacted earlier this year, requires those who owned the now-banned firearms prior to January 10, 2023, must register them by January 1, 2024, in order to possess them legally without facing criminal penalties. Registration of those firearms began October 1.
The Illinois State Police announced its first hearing scheduled for Thursday, November 2 at 9:30 a.m. in Room D1 of the Stratton Building in Springfield. The other two dates and locations have not yet been set.
Illinois benefits from federal grant for regional clean hydrogen hub
Illinois is set to benefit from the recent announcement that the Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen’s (MachH2) bid to create a regional hydrogen hub has been awarded a billion-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The MachH2’s Midwest Hydrogen Hub will be located throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, and will be utilized for decarbonization purposes through strategic hydrogen uses including steel and glass production, power generation, refining, heavy-duty transportation, and sustainable aviation fuel. The Midwest Hydrogen Hub plans to produce hydrogen by leveraging the region’s diverse energy sources, including low-cost nuclear, natural gas, and renewable energy. Given Illinois’ vast and diverse energy portfolio, including being a national leader in nuclear energy production, Illinois will likely play a vital role in the hub’s hydrogen production.
The hub is also expected to create more than 12,000 good-paying jobs throughout its construction and roughly 1,500 permanent skilled jobs.
The Midwest Hydrogen Hub is one of seven regional clean hydrogen hubs that were selected to receive a total of $7 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to accelerate the domestic market for low-cost, clean hydrogen.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,901,903,066.09 to state vendors, including 14,826 pending vouchers. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $139 billion. At the same time last year, the state’s accounts payable stood at a little less than $2 billion.
Did You Know?
Members of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus are once again working to honor the sacrifices of veterans with a memorial at the Illinois State Capitol.
The caucus’ memorial will be on display in the Capitol rotunda from November 7th to November 20th. It will feature a large electronic display of veterans and their stories, along with a wall where visitors can write notes of thanks to those who served.
However, they need YOUR help to make sure that as many veterans are recognized as possible!
I am encouraging friends and family to submit a photo and short story (less than 250 words) of their veteran by November 6th, so that it can be a part of the memorial display. Entries can be emailed to VeteransDay@sgop.ilga.gov.
This Week in the 53rd District
State Senator Tom Bennett – Working full-time to represent you