Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

Wilcox Takes Oath of Office for 103rd General Assembly

It’s nice to be back after a brief holiday break and the reorganization of the Senate for the 103rd General Assembly. I hope you had an enjoyable holiday season and met the new year with good health and a refreshed outlook.

On January 11, I joined the other 58 State Senators as we took our oaths of office at a ceremony held at the historic Old Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. Through redistricting, I will continue to represent the 32nd District, but the boundary lines have changed within McHenry and Lake Counties. The map below shows the new district, which is comprised by House Districts 63 (brown) and 64 (blue).

I am honored to continue serving the needs of those living in the 32nd District. I intend to carry forward the excellent services my office provides, and I look forward to meeting those who will become new constituents in the new map.

I have long maintained that our best work in Springfield occurs when both political parties are afforded a seat at the negotiation table. Sadly, in recent years, that has not been the case, and the Majority Party has oftentimes advanced their own agenda without input from Republicans. For the 103rd General Assembly, I will be pushing for more balance and Republican involvement in policy creation.

My district office remains in McHenry at 5400 W. Elm Street, Suite 103, and the district office phone number will remain (815) 455-6330.

Wilcox Launches Third Annual “Valentines for Seniors” Program

My third annual “Valentines for Seniors” card drive is underway! To brighten the days of seniors and make sure they know they are a valued part of the community, I’m asking students from public and private schools, church groups, scouting organizations and other groups to create homemade cards that will be delivered to assisted living centers, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities across the 32nd Senate District.

Over the last two years, the response to this project has been phenomenal. Last year my office collected and distributed more than 4,000 cards. The seniors were all smiles as my staff and I delivered large bags of cards. My goal this year is to collect even more cards.

Cards, poems, and other well-wishes will be collected between now and February 7 at my McHenry office. Those dropping off cards in person can place them in the valentine mailbox outside of the office between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Cards can also be mailed.

Lawsuits Filed on New Gun Ban Law

Several lawsuits have already been filed in response to Illinois’ new firearms ban, which passed the General Assembly during “lame-duck” session earlier this month and was quickly signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker.

One of the lawsuits, filed by the Illinois State Rifle Association in federal court, argues that the new Illinois law violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Likewise, another lawsuit, filed in Illinois’ 2nd Judicial District Court in Crawford County, also argues similar violations of the U.S. Constitution.

A third lawsuit was filed with the 4th Judicial Circuit Court in Effingham County, and it argues the General Assembly violated aspects of the Illinois Constitution relating to public participation in the legislative process during the swift passage of the bill. Furthermore, the lawsuit asks for a Temporary Restraining Order on the law, which if granted, would place a hold on the law from taking effect until the outcome of the case.

On Friday afternoon, the judge from the 4th Judicial Circuit ruled against Governor Pritzker and others named in that suit, and temporarily suspended the assault weapon ban for the 866 plaintiffs in that particular case. There have been no rulings issued in the other cases. You can read the 4th Circuit decision here.

Illinois Top State Soybean Producer in 2022

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) has announced that Illinois produced the most soybeans in the nation once again in 2022. This is despite the slow start to the planting season due to cool and wet weather.

The 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois together raised 677.25 million bushels in total, an average yield of 63 bushels per acre. Soybean production has been down in Illinois as well as across the nation. Overall, the yields this year show soybean production as decreased from last year, but still the largest in the nation. Illinois has maintained its place as the top state soybean producer since 2016 and has been within the top two spots on the list since 2000.

Tax Season Begins Today

On January 23, the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) both begin accepting 2022 state and federal income tax returns. Last year, IDOR received almost 6.2 million returns, approximately 90 percent of which were filed electronically.

A number of different websites and places offer resources for free filing programs, but IDOR encourages taxpayers to use MyTax Illinois, a free online account management program, to electronically file their taxes. The site has recently been updated to try to make it easier on users to file and check the status of their returns.

The site also helps individuals manage payments, respond to any department inquiries, and to check the status of returns. As always, the department encourages people to set up direct deposit to speed up delivery of the returns.

The deadline for tax filing is April 18. Additional resources and information can be found on IDOR’s website.

Enhanced SNAP Benefits to End on March 1

Since April of 2020, all Illinois SNAP households have received both regular monthly benefits and an emergency SNAP allotment due to COVID-19. Under direction from the federal government, SNAP benefits will return to pre-pandemic levels on March 1, 2023. Each SNAP household will receive benefits based on their normal eligibility determination process that considers household size, income, and other deductions. Customers will receive normal SNAP benefits through their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card on their regularly scheduled issue date.

The end of the SNAP emergency allotment will constitute a total decrease of between $95 and $255 per household per month. The amount will vary and depend on each household’s size and financial circumstances. To prepare for the change, IDHS recommends that SNAP customers visit and update their account if there is a change in address increase in housing costs, or decrease in income. IDHS has put together a resource page to help SNAP households with the transition.

While the federal government is providing guidance that encourages states to return to pre-pandemic levels of government intervention, Illinois is in the middle of Governor Pritzker’s 39th continuation of COVID executive orders that grant him expanded power.

Craig Wilcox

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