Update from Senator Bennett: Jan. 12

Illinois to Launch New Intake Center, Shelter Site for Migrants Arriving in Chicago

Illinois has been under some form of a gubernatorial disaster proclamation for most of the past four years, giving Gov. Pritzker sweeping emergency powers to spend taxpayer dollars with little to no transparency or input from the legislature. Last Friday, he issued his 18th disaster proclamation on the migrant crisis allowing him greater spending authority and aggressive powers to bypass Illinois’ procurement processes.

Chicago has received nearly 30,000 individuals and families seeking asylum since August 2022. Over the last month, Pritzker’s office announced they will be spending more taxpayer dollars to support the influx of new migrants.  Funds will support supplies, hotel rooms and eventually a shelter at a former CVS in Little Village.

Senator Bennett says that the Governor spent years encouraging non-citizens to come to Illinois and is now trying to avoid responsibility for the problem he created.

Illinois Sheriffs Decline to Enforce Protect Illinois Communities Act

Several Illinois sheriffs have stated that their offices will not enforce the state’s new gun restriction. The “Protect Illinois Communities Act,” which immediately banned the sale of certain firearms, as well as some pistols, large-capacity magazines, and certain gun parts, such as folding stocks. Anyone who possessed those items before the law was signed could keep them if they registered them before Jan 1, 2024. Illinois State Police opened the registration portal in October for gun owners to comply with the new law.

Senator Bennett opposed the new law because he believed that it was unconstitutional and turns otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.

The Illinois State Police have reported that of the state’s 2.4 million FOID cardholders, nearly 30,000 registered a banned weapon.

Under the new law, failing to register a banned weapon will lead to a misdemeanor charge on the first offense and a felony charge on the second offense. Illinois law states that a felony charge for an unregistered weapon isn’t a jailable offense. For each case, local State Attorneys have authority to decide whether or not to charge anyone violating the Protect Illinois Communities Act.

Ex-House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Racketeering Trial Postponed 6 Months Pending Supreme Court Decision in Bribery Case

In March 2022, former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) was indicted on 23 counts of racketeering, bribery, and official misconduct. Madigan resigned after losing the House speakership in January 2021. Madigan’s trial has been postponed from April until Oct. 8 after a recent court hearing. The charges stem from the alleged improper dealings with the state’s largest utility, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd). So far, Madigan has used millions of dollars in campaign funds to pay for his criminal defense. 

In prior court cases involving the scandal, prosecutors presented secretly recorded videos, wiretapped phone calls, and hundreds of emails to show how the four former ComEd executives and lobbyists were “the grandmasters of corruption.” Prosecutors said that the utility paid out $1.3 million in jobs, contracts, and payments to associates of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan over eight years in exchange for favorable treatment on legislation in Springfield that would affect the finances of the utility company.

Madigan served in the Illinois House from 1971 to 2021. He served as Speaker of the Illinois House from 1983 to 1995 and then again from 1997 to 2021. He wielded additional power as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Illinois State Police Targeting Road Rage in New Campaign

Illinois State Police are encouraging drivers in the new year to avoid letting their anger get the best of them while out on the roads.

The “Road Rage. Don’t Engage” campaign is designed to educate the public on the signs of road rage and tips on how to prevent it. The campaign will include social media, billboards, and radio ads in strategic markets. According to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Study, nearly 80% of drivers reported aggressive driving behaviors.

State Police note that some common signs of road rage include following too closely or tailgating, improper or erratic lane changing, illegally driving on the shoulder of the road, not signaling for turns and speeding. State Police also encourage parents, guardians, and older siblings to watch their behavior when driving with young children.

New Director for DCFS

A report on the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for 2023 shows a year’s worth of issues within the troubled agency. A January 2024 report released by the Illinois Inspector General revealed that in 2022, nearly 50 more children died while on the radar of DCFS than in 2021.

Following a national search, Governor JB Pritzker appointed youth justice and child welfare expert Heidi Mueller as the next Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Mueller currently serves as Director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Mueller has served as Director of DJJ since 2016.

Marc D. Smith, the outgoing Director of DCFS, will continue to serve through January with Mueller assuming the Director role on February 1. Smith has been in the position since 2019 and has been held in contempt of court repeatedly for issues regarding the late placement of children.

Senator Bennett says the state has a responsibility to ensure the safety, security, and success of children under state care, which has been neglected by the Pritzker administration for far too long.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $985,410,896.49 to  state vendors, including 13,136 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?

In 2023, members of the Senate Republican Caucus collected and delivered more than 45,000 Valentines through the program.

Senator Bennett Wants Your Assistance to show our love for Senior Citizens this Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day is all about showing our appreciation and care for each other, according to State Senator Bennett. This is why he is once more working to collect Valentine’s cards for seniors living in retirement homes, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities throughout the 53rd District.

To reach as many seniors as possible, Senator Bennett is asking students, scout groups, churches, and other groups to create homemade cards that will be delivered to the senior living facilities throughout the 53rd Senate District.

Cards can be dropped off from now until February 5th at 1715 N. Division St. Suite E Morris, IL 60450

This Week in the 53rd District

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

Tom Bennett

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