Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

Wilcox hosts/participates in three successful events tailored for seniors

Last week I was glad to host or participate in three different events tailored to the needs of seniors in our area. On Monday, October 16, I co-hosted a “Medicare 101” informational session with Senator Dan McConchie and in partnership with the Illinois Department on Aging. We had a full room at Cary Village Hall, as representatives from the DoA provided an overview of the Medicare program, including eligibility, enrollment, benefits, and other helpful information. A question and answer period was also included.

Then on Tuesday, I partnered with Senator Don DeWitte for a comprehensive Senior Fair in Crystal Lake. We brought more than 30 vendors under one roof who all cater to the needs of seniors. We had a great turnout, as seniors, their loved ones and caretakers visited the booths and gathered all kinds of useful information.

Lastly, on Thursday, my office had a table at the Fox Lake Senior Resource Fair at the Lakefront Park Building in Fox Lake. The turnout for this event was tremendous, as people came to learn about community programs and resources for senior adults. This event also included a “Medicare 101” presentation.

DCFS under fire from bipartisan group of lawmakers

DCFS continued to receive negative headlines last week. In just the past month, the Agency received a scathing audit highlighting its failures and mismanagement in protecting Illinois children, its troubled Director announced his resignation and a conviction was handed down to a former DCFS employee over the death of a young boy.

Now, most recently, the Department is under scrutiny by a bipartisan group of legislators on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) regarding a proposed rule regulating daycare operations.

The contentious rule, similar to the one that was partially suspended over the summer by JCAR, limited how long daycare assistants could monitor rooms of children younger than age two. Citing childcare shortages, members of the committee have been displeased with the rule and were anticipating DCFS to present a new rule that was agreed upon by childcare stakeholders. Instead, DCFS filed a rule that members say was not approved by childcare providers.

Members of the Committee were once again left frustrated, exchanging concerns about DCFS’ lack of transparency and honesty throughout the rulemaking process. Ultimately, JCAR approved the controversial rule, saying that they were left with no choice because given the timeline, the rule either needed to be accepted or there would be no rule at all, which would have left daycares with even more confusion on how to run their facilities.

Senate Republicans have continuously called for structural changes within the Department and say that this latest incident is just another example of the dysfunction at the Agency.

“Assault Weapons” registration rule needs more clarity, ISP to hold public hearings

Confusion over the state’s “assault weapons” ban registration process has prompted the Illinois State Police to hold a series of public hearings.

Following this week’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) meeting, where members expressed concern over the lack of clarity found in the rules, including what specific firearms are subject to registration, the Illinois State Police agreed to hold three hearings to answer the public’s questions and comments.

Complicating matters further are pending lawsuits at the federal level over the constitutionality of the new law, worrying law-abiding gun owners about what happens to their information if the law is eventually overturned.

The law, enacted earlier this year, requires those who owned the now-banned firearms prior to January 10, 2023, to register them by January 1, 2024, in order to possess them legally without facing criminal penalties. Registration of those firearms began October 1.

The Illinois State Police announced its first hearing scheduled for Thursday, November 2 at 9:30 a.m. in Room D1 of the Stratton Building in Springfield. The other two dates and locations have not yet been set. I am pushing for one of the three hearings to be held in the McHenry-Lake County region so that gun owners from this region have nearby access to a hearing where they can hear from ISP and ask questions.

Illinois benefits from federal grant for regional clean hydrogen hub

Illinois is set to benefit from the recent announcement that the Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen’s (MachH2) bid to create a regional hydrogen hub has been awarded a billion-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The MachH2’s Midwest Hydrogen Hub will be located throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, and will be utilized for decarbonization purposes through strategic hydrogen uses including steel and glass production, power generation, refining, heavy-duty transportation, and sustainable aviation fuel. The Midwest Hydrogen Hub plans to produce hydrogen by leveraging the region’s diverse energy sources, including low-cost nuclear, natural gas, and renewable energy. Given Illinois’ vast and diverse energy portfolio, including being a national leader in nuclear energy production, Illinois will likely play a vital role in the hub’s hydrogen production.  

The hub is also expected to create more than 12,000 good-paying jobs throughout its construction and roughly 1,500 permanent skilled jobs.

The Midwest Hydrogen Hub is one of seven regional clean hydrogen hubs that were selected to receive a total of $7 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to accelerate the domestic market for low-cost, clean hydrogen.

Craig Wilcox

Want to stay up to date with Senator Wilcox?

Sign up for his E-Newsletter below: