Update from Senator Bennett: Jan. 5

Deadline to Register Banned Firearms Passes

The crystal ball drop on 2023 has come and gone, and so has the deadline for Illinois firearm owners to register their “assault weapons” and attachments.

The implementation of the state’s assault weapon ban has been marked by controversy and confusion. While the sale and purchase of certain firearms were immediately banned when the Governor signed the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” on Jan. 10, 2023, Illinois residents who owned banned assault weapons and/or attachments that were purchased prior to the bill’s signing had until Jan. 1, 2024, to register those items with the Illinois State Police in order to keep them.

According to the Illinois State Police, 29,357 people registered their assault weapons before the state’s Jan. 1 deadline. Information about 68,992 firearms and 42,830 attachments was also submitted to the Illinois State Police. That total is roughly 1 percent of all gun owners within the state.

Meanwhile, several court cases challenging the constitutionality of the ban are ongoing, including two cases docketed with the United States Supreme Court.

Migrant Crisis Continues into the New Year

Since August 2022, over 28,000 noncitizens have been sent to Chicago from the U.S. border. Now, the public outcry over the crisis is hitting a fever pitch as the migrant problem is beginning to spill over from Chicago to its surrounding communities.

In mid-November, the Chicago City Council passed new rules stating that only two buses per hour could arrive at the City’s designated “landing zone” between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and that any bus company that ignored the new protocols could face a fine.

These new rules have resulted in some buses dropping off their noncitizen passengers in some surrounding suburbs without notice to local officials as the migrants continue on their path to Chicago. This has prompted backlash from some local officials worried about a lack of available resources to handle the influx of noncitizens, and a push for these communities to pass their own ordinances allowing them to fine bus companies for unscheduled drop-offs.

With no real federal solution to the migrant crisis in sight, State Senator Bennett is concerned about the impact the crisis may have on the state’s already fragile financial future. Since Gov. Pritzker took office, Illinois has gone from spending roughly a million dollars per year to more than a billion dollars on programs dedicated to noncitizens, including more than a half-billion dollars per year on a free healthcare program for undocumented immigrants. Senator Bennett fears that these types of programs will only continue to cost Illinois taxpayers more as more noncitizens choose the state as their destination.

Ed Burke Found Guilty on Corruption Charges

Former longtime Chicago Alderman Ed Burke was found guilty of all counts except one in his federal corruption case on Dec. 21, 2023. The former Chicago alderman faced 14 counts, including racketeering, bribery, and attempted extortion.

The case against the once influential Chicago City Council alderman centered around his use of his public position for personal gain. His sentencing will be June 19, where he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Burke’s corruption charges include an attempt to extort money from the Field Museum for the benefit of a close family friend. In another scheme, Burke tried to extort the owners of a Burger King in order to steer tax appeal business to his private law firm. Finally, he was found guilty of using his public position to shake down the developers of Chicago’s Old Post Office to use his law firm.

This week, former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan had his first court appearance since he was indicted on his own corruption charges. At that hearing, Madigan’s motion to delay his federal bribery trial was granted and is now scheduled to begin October 8, 2024.

State Senator Bennett says that these cases are just further examples in a long list of corruption by public officials that has plagued Illinois for far too long. He has long advocated for stronger ethics laws.

Community Development Block Grants Deadline is Fast Approaching

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is currently accepting applications for the 2023/2024 Public Infrastructure and Housing Rehabilitation Grant. These grant opportunities are funded by the Community Development Block Grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Public Infrastructure Grant aims to help finance water and sanitary systems and storm sewer construction projects that strive to improve public health, safety, and public welfare and help communities with substantial low-to-moderate income populations.

Meanwhile, the purpose of the Housing Rehabilitation Grant is to provide units of general local government with funds to help address housing needs of eligible low-to-moderate income (LMI) households. The program targets projects that preserve single family, owner-occupied housing in need of rehabilitation and encourages neighborhood revitalization.

For more information and to apply for the Public Infrastructure Grant, click here. For further information and to apply for the Housing Rehabilitation Grant, click here.

Both applications are due January 18, 2024.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,929,297,326.44 to  state vendors, including 16,328 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?

A new year means new resolutions! Here are some tips from Cleveland Clinic on how to stay true to your 2024 goals!

  1. Focus on starting a new habit, rather than quitting an old one.
  2. Choose realistic goals that are sustainable for the long term.
  3. Make sure your goals are specific and measurable, not vague.
  4. Be flexible and open to changing them along with way, if you need to.
  5. Identify obstacles that might get in the way of your success.
  6. Partner up with an accountability buddy.
  7. Set up reminders to help you stay motivated.
  8. Track your progress.

This Week in the 53rd District

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

Tom Bennett

Want to stay up to date with your Senator?

Sign up for the District E-Newsletter below: