Senate Week in Review: January 7-11
Springfield, Ill. – The January “lame-duck” session ended, leaving most major issues pending for 98th General Assembly lawmakers to take up during the spring session, according to State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris).
The Senate Republican Caucus welcomed five new members on Jan. 9, all of whom joined seasoned GOP Caucus members in saying Illinois legislators have their work cut out for them during the 2013 session.
Illinois’ inauguration of the 98th General Assembly marks Sen. Rezin’s second term in the Illinois Senate.
Sen. Rezin agreed that this General Assembly will be full of challenges, and inaction on several major issues would be detrimental for the state. She feels confident that bipartisan reforms will take place in order to put Illinois back on the road to a gradual recovery.
“It’s not going to be easy, but it absolutely must be done,” she said.
As a part of the inauguration ceremonies, Sen. Rezin was asked to give a speech on the Senate floor to nominate Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) for a third term as Leader. Sen. Rezin said she was honored to second Sen. Radogno’s nomination to lead the Senate Republican Caucus for the 98th General Assembly.
Sen. Rezin acknowledged her family, staff and others who have supported her during time in the legislature.
“I appreciate the support I have received from my family and others,” Sen. Rezin said. “I could not have gotten here without them, and their continual support is much appreciated. It is an honor to represent the 38th District in Illinois again. I feel that we have accomplished a lot for the district, but I look forward to accomplishing even more during this new General Assembly.”
Challenges ahead for the 98th General Assembly
Sen. Rezin mentioned that while there are several challenges facing the state, she feels confident that bipartisan reforms will take place, citing accomplishments from the last legislative session. Among those accomplishments were bipartisan education reform, Medicaid reform, workers’ compensation reform, elimination of legislative scholarships, and jobs and infrastructure legislation.
The bipartisan Medicaid reform reduced Medicaid liabilities by $1.6 billion and saved another $350 million by having a private entity verify continued eligibility for those in the program; the legislature authorized $1.6 billion in bonds to support infrastructure improvements and repairs, creating approximately 27,000 jobs; and Enterprise Zones were extended, which have created nearly 300,000 new jobs since its creation, retained nearly 458,000 jobs, and spurred $33.4 billion in business investment. Sen. Rezin notes that the passage of these reforms and more indicates the ability of the legislature to work together and find solutions that improve areas in the state.
“These accomplishments from the last legislative session are a good sign of things to hopefully come,” Sen. Rezin said. “We have had our share of meaningful accomplishments, which have helped our state, but we still have many challenges ahead. I look forward to working with all my colleagues in the new General Assembly to make Illinois work for us all again.”
Attorney General appeals court ruling on right-to-carry
A decision by Attorney General Lisa Madigan to ask for a federal court rehearing on a major gun rights could delay the quick adoption of right-to-carry legislation in Illinois. The appeal by the Attorney General could potentially set back efforts to construct concealed-carry legislation to meet a federal court directive.
On January 8, Attorney General Madigan sought an appeal to that decision asking for the full U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decision and make a ruling. The smaller panel decided that state lawmakers had 180 days to pass a concealed-carry statute to enable gun owners to join citizens in 49 other states with similar laws.
The Attorney General's appeal has had little effect in slowing efforts by pro-Second Amendment legislators to begin drafting new concealed-carry bills to meet the three-member panel’s 180-day deadline. Conversely, recent gun tragedies and the nation’s-highest homicide rate have prompted Chicago-area lawmakers to draft counter assault-weapons bans and other purchasing restrictions.
Specific proposals have not emerged yet, but expect several proposals to be formally introduced because gun issues were a major topic of the recent “lame duck” legislative session.
If lawmakers fail to meet the deadline, many of the state’s current statutes on firearms could be ruled null and void. Despite the rules on right-to-carry, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has said he intends to push new restrictions on firearms in the city, after gun control measures died during the lame-duck legislative session. Traditionally, the Chicago Mayor’s plan has taken a very restrictive view on concealed-carry and firearm ownership.