First Week of Veto, Sanctuary State, Harvest Progress, and More

First week of Veto Session left many issues unaddressed

After the first week of veto session in the Illinois House concluded Wednesday afternoon, there are still a number of priorities that House Republicans are looking ahead to solve in the coming weeks. One of those is addressing Senate Bill 76, which was vetoed by the Governor this summer. The bill would lift the 36-year ban on new nuclear energy construction permits.

Since 1987, Illinois has prohibited new nuclear construction. However, Illinois remains a nuclear power with 11 current operating reactors, the most of any state. Illinois is in the top three states with 54 percent of its energy generation being nuclear, while also having the most generating capacity (11.6 gigawatts) of any state.

My Republican colleagues and I are also demanding action on the Invest in Kids program, the State-backed scholarship program that incentivizes private doners to give money to scholarship funds that help students attend private schools across Illinois. The Invest in Kids program will sunset on December 31 of this year if it is not extended by the General Assembly. Invest in Kids has helped thousands of Illinois students attend schools where they are challenged and encouraged to reach their maximum potential. I am co-sponsoring legislation which would eliminate the program’s sunset clause.

House Democrats approve bill that could lead to unionization of legislative staff

The Illinois House and Senate have legislative staff members that are supervised by the four legislative leaders, by the Clerk of the House, and by the executive directors of certain nonpartisan committees and bureaus who answer to the four legislative leaders. Up until now, these staff members have worked outside the confines of the laws and structures that govern organized labor.

The Legislative Employee Labor Relations Act, if it is approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Pritzker, would take steps to bring Illinois legislative staff under these laws and structures.  These employees could sign union cards, choose representatives for collective bargaining, pay union dues, and potentially go out on strike. Workers covered by this Act could include district office staff hired by legislators. HB 4148 was approved by the House last week.  Most House Republicans voted against HB 4148 for several reasons, the first being that the legislation and unionization effort is being led by a small group of House Democratic staff. Additionally, passage of this legislation could create problems with General Assembly operations during legislative sessions. Many questions about this proposal remain unanswered.

Illinois as a Sanctuary State has created a humanitarian crisis

Due to the TRUST Act, which was enacted in 2017, Illinois has become a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants. Law enforcement agencies are prohibited from cooperating with federal immigration authorities to detain or deport these individuals. 

The crisis at the southern border can no longer be ignored. In September alone, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended more than 200,000 migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully. 

There are approximately 628,000 undocumented immigrants in Illinois, costing taxpayers nearly $3 billion annually. The situation is so dire that Democratic leaders in Illinois have reached out to the White House for financial help while also asking for a federal coordinated effort to control the massive influx of undocumented immigrants at the southern border. 

As a sanctuary state, Illinois is giving undocumented immigrants access to free health care benefits, driver’s licenses, housing assistance and other benefits. Earlier this year, it was reported that the estimated cost of the health care benefits program for undocumented immigrants had ballooned to $1.1 billion. House Republicans have called for a moratorium on enrollment and expansion of this benefits program, as well as an audit of program costs, and we have filed  House Bill 4187 that would end our status as a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants. It would allow our local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. This legislation is necessary to change the narrative away from Illinois as a land of bountiful government benefits for migrants.

2023 harvest moves toward close

The “Illinois Crop Progress” report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows rapid progress at finishing up the 2023 harvests of corn and soybeans. Relatively dry weather has enabled heavy machinery to keep moving in the fields. For the week ended Sunday, October 22, 70% of Illinois corn was harvested (up from 52% one week earlier) and 80% of the beans were harvested (up from 61% one week earlier). 

Dry conditions continue to affect Illinois fields, including pastures and winter wheatfields where growth will continue until freezing temperatures hit. Operators of pastureland reported not-so-good grass conditions to the USDOA, with 45% of Illinois pastureland reported to be in “very poor” (21%) or “poor” (24%) condition. Recent precipitation has been below-normal in every sector of Illinois, with particularly challenging dry conditions in sectors of southern Illinois.

Around the district

Touring the beautiful Evenglow Senior Living facilities in Pontiac, IL with its incredible staff, gives me great hope for the future of our loved ones. But, visiting with residents lifted my spirit even more. We even got to celebrate Leo’s 105th Birthday! Thanks to all of you who asked great questions and gave me such a warm welcome! Happy 105th Leo!!!

Thank You to the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council (GLCEDC) and Adam Dontz, CEO for inviting me to speak and give a Springfield legislative update to its Board of Directors. This group is doing great things in Livingston County!

Dennis Tipsword