Gun Ban Ruling, Edgar Fellows, Drought Over? and More

Learning From the Best

I was both excited and grateful to have been selected to participate this week in former Governor Jim Edgar’s ‘Edgar Fellows’ program. It was a great experience that I know will help me best serve you as your Representative.

The Edgar Fellows Program emphasizes the need to always work to address major state issues and needs without permitting partisan, ethnic, or regional rivalries to get in the way of what’s best for the people of Illinois.  In a nutshell, it’s a pretty intensive five-day leadership training program on the campus of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. As many as 40 legislative and community officials are selected annually to learn from the best: Governor Edgar and others who have excelled in the public arena. As a freshman Representative I was certainly honored to be chosen to participate; but I’m more excited about working with others on the strategies we have learned to cooperate across party and geographic lines to ensure we stay focused on what is truly best for the families in our districts and across the state.  

A Blow to Constitutional Rights

Today the Illinois Supreme Court ruled 4-3 to uphold legislation enforcing a gun ban in the state. Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality were filed following the passage of the gun ban under HB 5471 from the lame-duck session on January 10, 2023. The Supreme Court Opinion Caulkins v. Pritzker can be found here.

Living my entire life from about the age of 12 as a gun owner and defending these freedoms daily I understand our great nation was built on the ability of law-abiding citizens to purchase and possess firearms. This was granted without question of what you would use them for; be it self-defense of your family or home, recreational shooting, or in the worst- case scenario, in defense of the security of our free state. And all the while it was understood that this right must not be infringed.

I truly believe all sides of this issue want safe neighborhoods and streets, but his law is only looking at one side of a very complex issue. The direction of our state legislature and Governor as of late is to take away accountability from those who break laws, in particular break gun laws. I see it every day in my law enforcement career, when I or a fellow Deputy arrest someone on a gun crime they are oftentimes a repeat gun offender. Until we decide to get serious about penalty enhancements on gun violations this cycle will continue, and all the while our families are less safe and our constitutional rights are diminished in the name of “safety”. 

We are focusing this attention on the wrong group of gun owners. The overwhelming majority of gun owners in this state are law abiding citizens who will NEVER pose a threat to anyone. We must get serious about how we deal with those who commit a crime using a firearm. Until we agree on how to handle those who actually have committed gun crimes, we won’t be able to prevent them. 

Current Crop Report Indicates Drought Worries Lessening

 Heavy rains have fallen over much of Illinois in recent weeks.  The summer rains have saved some Illinois farm fields that had become dry and dusty. As of Sunday, August 6, 58% of Illinois’ 2023 corn was rated good-to-excellent, up from 49% one week earlier.  In the same weekly report, 58% of Illinois’s 2023 soybeans were rated good to excellent, up from 46% from one week earlier. 

The heavy summer rains have altered the current crop forecast. Illinois topsoil moisture supply had previously been measured as short. On August 6, however, moisture was measured as 59% “adequate,” while 11% of the fields reported “surplus” moisture with water standing in fields. The skies were generous over Central Illinois, while some parts of Northern Illinois continued to report drought conditions. The Illinois crop progress report, which is based on reports from participating farmers, is revised weekly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Major Illinois House-related corruption trial Underway

Tim Mapes, the chief of staff of former Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, went on trial this week in federal court.  Madigan delegated many significant powers to his aide Mapes, including the choice of committee to which many bills would be assigned and whether bills that got out of committee would be called for a vote.  As a close aide of Madigan, Mapes is accused of being an integral part of the alleged pattern of corruption in Madigan’s office prior to the former Speaker’s resignation in 2021. These allegations include, but are not limited to, exchanges of power, favors, and jobs between Commonwealth Edison, Speaker Madigan, and key elements of the Illinois Democratic Party of which Madigan was the chairman.

The Mapes trial testimony could provide advance hints into the separate federal case against former Speaker Madigan. Charged with racketeering, bribery, and conspiracy, Madigan is currently scheduled to go on trial in 2024. This trial date could be pushed back as the case develops, including the appearance of possible additional witnesses against the former Speaker.

Federal Court Stays new Illinois Crisis Pregnancy Center Legislation

The bill, which has been signed into law as P.A. 103-270, is stayed by a statewide injunction and cannot be enforced.  

The bill would have imposed numerous silences, and mandated warnings, upon Illinois crisis pregnancy centers. Parts of the law would have ordered these centers to say certain things to their visitors and to prospective recipients of crisis center counseling, and other parts would have told them there were other things they could not say. Violations of these orders would have been punishable as violations of the Consumer Fraud and Business Practices Act. 

In the issuance of the preliminary injunction, the court found that the Illinois bill regulates speech in Illinois, and the restriction on the speech is based on the content of the speech being regulated. The court determined that the Illinois bill is unlikely to survive the constitutional challenge that has been filed against it and must therefore be stayed in its entirety. The lawsuit to strike down the Illinois bill is National Institute of Family and Life Advocates vs. Raoul.  

It’s State Fair Time!

The week-and-a-half-long Illinois State Fair began its 2023 run in Springfield yesterday. Featuring music, races, exhibits, carnival rides, and animal showings, the eleven-day gathering brings hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans together annually. A newly-carved 2023 butter cow will be an iconic symbol of the Fair.

Special tribute days include Veterans Day on Sunday, August 13; Senior Day on Monday, August 14; and First Responder/Health Care Worker Day on Friday, August 18. Free admissions are provided to all properly identified members of these groups on these days. The fair will continue until Sunday, August 20.

More than 100 licensed vendors are serving Illinois-based and exotic foods and drinks. Entertainment tents feature around-the-clock recorded and live music. Stage shows and installations feature circus-oriented and spine-chilling entertainment experiences for persons of all ages. A new State Fairgrounds feature, the “Route 66 Experience,” is a walk-through re-creation of America’s Mother Road as it was in the 20 years following World War II. The historic highway was authorized in 1926, and Illinoisans are getting ready to celebrate the Route 66 Centennial in 2026. Enjoy!

90 Years of Great Food!

Congratulations to Mona & Capponi’s in Toluca for 90 years of great food and service! Here’s to many more!