Beardstown Town Hall, Gun Ban, State Fair, and more

Great Evening in Beardstown

I want to thank everyone who joined me in Beardstown for a great discussion last week.

 I was pleased to meet and greet several dozen Cass County residents at the Beardstown Elks Club Tuesday night to discuss state issues that impact our families, and to hear your concerns about recently enacted laws and policies. Among hot topics we discussed were the Democrats’ elimination of cash bail, and upcoming changes to days of operation and the appointment policy at many Illinois Drivers’ License Facilities (more details on what’s happening at our area DMV locations coming next week!).

I always appreciate talking face to face with as many local families as possible; and your input is invaluable. I also want to give a big thank you to the Beardstown Elks for hosting us. It was truly a great evening and I look forward to doing it again soon!

A Blow to Constitutional Rights

On Friday, 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.

We all want safe streets and communities, but this law won’t accomplish that. Banning common firearms and ammunition is a blow to hunters, collectors, and all responsible, law-abiding gun owners throughout Illinois, and it’s a blow to our constitutional rights, which should alarm everyone. What’s more, it will do nothing to reduce violent crime. Those bent on violence don’t care what laws we pass…they aren’t going to follow them. 

The Governor and the majority party in the legislature need to focus on penalizing those who commit crimes with guns…not hunters, recreational shooters and others who would never pose a threat to anyone. 

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, is now on trial 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 the 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 late last week. 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 this week include First Responder/Health Care Worker Day on Friday, August 18. 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!