From State Rep. Steve Reick:
WHAT WE DO UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS
One of the enduring traditions of the Illinois General Assembly is the practice of waiting until most people are in bed before passing egregious legislation during the final days of session known as “Lame Duck.”
The thinking is that bills that may not have passed in regular session will be voted for in Lame Duck by people who have nothing to lose because they’re not coming back into the next General Assembly for one reason or another.
This year was no different, as a number of bills that most people would have objected to had they been awake and watching the debate (such as it was) were passed under cover of darkness.
Assault Weapon Ban (HB5471/P.A. 102-1116): This bill immediately bans the sale and possession of “assault weapons,” high-capacity magazines, and rapid-fire devices. The bill was immediately signed by the Governor.
The term “assault weapon” was coined in the 1980s and was generally meant to describe weapons that had certain cosmetic characteristics such as a pistol grip, folding stock, flash suppressor and other things that made it no more dangerous than a straight semi-automatic rifle without those characteristics. Since then it’s been used by gun control advocates to describe any type of weapon that they deem to be too scary for public consumption. The sponsors of the bill went further by calling these firearms “weapons of war.” Hyperbole aside, these are not the types of weapons the Marines use when they storm a beachhead.
While the purchase and possession of these firearms is proscribed going forward, anyone who owns one of the described weapons on the date the bill was passed is grandfathered. However, where those weapons can be used and possessed is strictly limited, primarily property owned by the gun owner or at shooting competitions. Any transfer of such a weapon can only be to an heir, to someone living outside the state who will possess it outside the state or through a holder of a Federal Firearms License. Anyone possessing such a weapon on January 10th, 2023 must file with the Illinois State Police an “endorsement affidavit”, which is a sanitized way of saying “gun registry.”
While we were all horrified by the events that took place in Highland Park on July 4th, this bill illustrates the old adage that “bad facts make bad law.” Statistics show that fewer than 1% of all killings in this country are committed using the weapons described in this bill. This bill is not about curbing random gun violence so much as it is an attempt, among the many that have come before it, to curb our liberties.
The law is now subject to federal litigation, and I would expect that any judge who gets the case will immediately enjoin its enforcement until the courts have had an opportunity to rule. I voted against this bill because I believe that it is fundamentally unconstitutional.
Reproductive Health and Gender Affirming Care (HB4664): There was a lot of stuff packed into this bill, the most relevant parts are:
Democrats finally discovered an economic development tool that they could support when they included a provision designed to grow Illinois’ abortion mills by allowing physician assistants and nurse practitioners to perform vacuum aspiration abortions – the most common type of in-clinic abortions for pregnancies up to around 14 weeks – which do not require general anesthesia. They justified this by saying that such abortions are not surgery. Of course, there are plenty of procedures that are described as surgery but are done without general anesthesia. I’ll leave that for you to decide.
The sponsors covered their bases by prohibiting a cause of action against a health care professional, medical institution, or pregnant person (rather than a physician) for the wrongful death of a fetus caused by an abortion where the abortion was permitted by law and the requisite consent was lawfully given. (Query: How does one distinguish between a “wrongful death” and a “rightful death” of a fetus when the whole idea of the procedure is to cause the death of a fetus?) It does seem however that this is a backhanded admission by the pro-abortion crowd that a fetus actually is a living human being. I guess that’s something.
The bill also provided consequence-free protections to health care professionals who flee to Illinois when they’ve been found to have violated their former states’ prohibition against performing an abortion and put insurance companies on the hook to provide coverage for all contraceptive and abortion coverage, to include abortifacients, hormonal therapy medication, human immunodeficiency virus pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis drugs, with no co-pays, and must include medications that are obtained through a prescription and used to terminate a pregnancy, regardless of whether there is proof of pregnancy. Think of the marketing opportunities that last part provides.
Similar provisions are built into the bill to facilitate “gender affirming care”, without defining what “gender affirming care” means. This flies in the face of research coming out of Europe which has resulted in Sweden severely cutting back on the ability to provide puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, and a finding by Britain’s NHS that gender dysphoria is very likely a “transient phase”. Maybe while the Governor is swanning around Switzerland, he can take a side trip to Stockholm and boost Illinois as a gender affirming tourist destination.
At least they didn’t do away with parental notification of such treatment. I guess they had to leave something for the next session.
Other measures that slithered through the legislative pipeline were:
Paid Leave for All (SB208): Beginning January 1, 2024, all employers (regardless of size) will be required to give employees 5 days/40 hours of paid leave in a 12-month period to be used for any purpose. Employers can be fined and employees can file civil actions for violations of the law. The language is based on an agreement between labor and business groups.
Don’t let the “agreement between labor and business groups” language fool you; business groups were bludgeoned into neutrality by threats of even more draconian treatment, which will no doubt arise in the 103rd G.A. Several years ago a bill was passed that provided for expanded paid leave at a cost of preempting home rule communities such as Chicago from instituting their own paid leave policies. Under SB208, the preemption provision has been eliminated, with a watered-down guarantee that Chicago won’t come back asking for more.
FY23 Supplemental Appropriation (HB969): HB 969 appropriates approximately $4.8 billion in funds. The appropriations include $10M to IDFPR for a new licensing system, $500M to DCEO for the Invest in Illinois program, $43M for safety net hospitals, $850M to the Rainy-Day Fund, $100M to DoIT for technology management, $30M for various expenses related to pretrial release, and $3.1B for healthcare and managed care costs.
Back in November, COGFA updated its revenue estimate (Page 20) for the current year by $4.6 billion, most of which came from one time federal money. While I voted against this bill, I can almost understand why it was done. Most of the expenditures described above are one time expenditures, and by making them one time expenditures the money will not go into the budget baseline where those members of the General Assembly who don’t know where money comes from won’t be able to get their grubby and grasping little hands on it.
Budget Implementation Bill (SB1720): The most talked about portion of the BIMP increases the salary for constitutional officers, members of the General Assembly, and agency directors. The bill also authorizes $460M in payments for hospitals to cover staffing and operational costs, creates the Hate Crimes and Bias Incident Prevention and Response Fund to support the eradication of hate crimes and bias incidents, and creates the Warehouse Safety Standards Task Force Act to study warehouse safety standards.
Nothing solves our fiscal problems more quickly than by throwing money we don’t have at them. I voted “no”.
Economic Development Omnibus (SB2951): At the request of the Governor, the bill establishes a $1 billion fund to be used to attract large employers. The bill also prohibits the State from providing economic incentives to the Bears if they move to Arlington Heights.
The fund may have $1 billion in authorization, but it’s only been funded with $400 million in real dollars. The remaining $600 million consists of pixie dust.
Clean Energy Siting Bill (HB4412): The bill reforms siting and permitting requirements for wind and solar projections and provides some financial relief for rate payers in the MISO region.
In their mad rush to lead us to their environmental utopia (see: pixie dust, supra.), the other side took away the ability of counties to control where renewable energy companies can install their windmills and solar panels. Nothing must stand in the way of having us all live in a world where everything is powered by electricity that in a few years we won’t have the capacity to generate. But it is nice to know that ratepayers in the MISO region who are already feeling the crunch of their misguided policies will become ever more dependent upon a government that doesn’t know where its next dollar is going to come from.
For those who think this crowd can’t come up with anything else, as Dow Finsterwald used to say: “Come back, you will.”