Update from Senator Bennet: Dec. 15

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 fill an affidavit with ISP.

ISP held hearings earlier in the year on their proposed rules. However, critics of the bill (including Sen Bennett), 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.

Senator Bennett opposed the new law because he believes its an infringement on the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners and is likely unconstitutional. Senator Bennett added that he 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 Senator Bennett, 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 ninemonths 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 several hundred thousand pounds of 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. 

Illinois Firearm Deer Season Concluded with Over 76,000 Deer Harvested

Illinois deer hunters have wrapped up the primary firearm season, with the total harvest falling just a bit short of their total quarry last year.

According to data from IDNR, 76,232 deer were harvested during the seven-day 2023 Illinois firearm deer season. This was a slight decrease from the 76,854 deer taken during the 2022 season. 

The remaining 2023-2024 deer hunting opportunities in Illinois include:

View a table of preliminary 2023 firearm deer season totals by county and comparable totals for 2022.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,851,991,218.52 to  state vendors, including 31,241 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?

The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshall offers the following tips to stay fire-safe with holiday decorations:

• Make sure holiday decorations are either flame-retardant or flame-resistant.

• Keep lit candles at least 12 inches away from decorations or anything that can catch fire.

• Keep children and pets away from lit candles.

• Extinguish all lit candles before going to bed or leaving the house.

• Check to ensure your lights are rated for indoor or outdoor use,or both.

• Replace any worn light strands or broken cords. Read the recommendation for several light strings you can string together.

• Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.

• For a real Christmas tree, check water levels daily! It is not unusual for a tree to drink two gallons of water the first day it is in the stand.

• Keep real Christmas trees away from a heat source. It can dry out the tree quickly.

Before hosting holiday gatherings, ensure your family and friends know your fire escape plan.

Stay safe! Learn more at https://www.illinois.gov/news/press-release.20914.html

This Week in the 53rd District

State Senator Tom Bennett – Working full-time to represent you

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