Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

Senator Wilcox Hosts “Valentines for Seniors” Card Drive

With the new year comes a new opportunity to help make seniors feel special and appreciated. Between now and February 5, my office is collecting cards, notes, and drawings that will be distributed to local nursing homes, assisted living centers, and long-term care facilities in the 32nd District through a “Valentines for Seniors” program.

Loneliness can be a real issue for the elderly, so it’s nice to bring them some joy so they know we’re thinking of them. To that end, I am asking students from public and private schools, church groups, Scouting organizations, and other groups to create homemade cards that will be delivered to seniors on or before Valentine’s Day.

Cards and other items can be dropped off or mailed between now and Feb. 5 at my Woodstock office Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:30. There will be a bag on the door for off-hours drop-offs. They can also be mailed to the office. The office is located at 209 N. Benton Street, Woodstock, IL, 60098. For additional information about this program, please call my office at 815-455-6330.

Deadline to Register Banned Firearms Passes

The crystal ball drop on 2024 has come and gone, and so has the deadline for Illinois firearm owners to register their “assault weapons” and attachments.

The implementation of the state’s assault weapon ban has been marked by controversy and confusion. While the sale and purchase of certain firearms were immediately banned when the Governor signed the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” on Jan. 10, 2023, Illinois residents who owned banned assault weapons and/or attachments that were purchased prior to the bill’s signing had until Jan. 1, 2024, to register those items with the Illinois State Police in order to keep them.

According to the Illinois State Police, 29,357 people registered their assault weapons before the state’s Jan. 1 deadline. Information about 68,992 firearms and 42,830 attachments was also submitted to the Illinois State Police. That total is roughly 1 percent of all gun owners within the state.

Meanwhile, several court cases challenging the constitutionality of the ban are ongoing, including two cases docketed with the United States Supreme Court.

Migrant Crisis Continues into the New Year

Since August 2022, over 28,000 noncitizens have been sent to Chicago from the U.S. border. Now, the public outcry over the crisis is hitting a fever pitch as the migrant problem is beginning to spill over from Chicago to its surrounding communities.

In mid-November, the Chicago City Council passed new rules stating that only two buses per hour could arrive at the City’s designated “landing zone” between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and that any bus company that ignored the new protocols could face a large fine.

These new rules have resulted in some buses dropping off their noncitizen passengers in some surrounding suburbs without notice to local officials as the migrants continue on their path to Chicago. This has prompted backlash from some local officials worried about a lack of available resources to handle the influx of noncitizens, and a push for these communities to pass their own ordinances allowing them to fine bus companies for unscheduled drop-offs.

In recent weeks, migrants have been dropped off in Fox River Grove, McHenry, and Woodstock.

With no real federal solution to the migrant crisis in sight, I am concerned about the impact the crisis may have on the state’s already fragile financial future. Since Governor Pritzker took office, Illinois has gone from spending roughly a million dollars per year to more than a billion dollars on programs dedicated to noncitizens, including more than a half-billion dollars per year on a free healthcare program for undocumented immigrants. I believe these types of programs will only continue to cost Illinois taxpayers more as more noncitizens choose Illinois as their destination.

Ed Burke Found Guilty on Corruption Charges

Former longtime Chicago Alderman Ed Burke was found guilty of all counts except one in his federal corruption case on Dec. 21, 2023. The former Chicago alderman faced 14 counts, including racketeering, bribery, and attempted extortion.

The case against the once influential Chicago City Council alderman centered around his use of his public position for personal gain. Sentencing is set for June 19, where he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Burke’s corruption charges include an attempt to extort money from the Field Museum for the benefit of a close family friend. In another scheme, Burke tried to extort the owners of a Burger King in order to steer tax appeal business to his private law firm. Finally, he was found guilty of using his public position to shake down the developers of Chicago’s Old Post Office to use his law firm.

Last week, former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan had his first court appearance since he was indicted on his own corruption charges. At that hearing, Madigan’s motion to delay his federal bribery trial was granted. His trial is now scheduled to begin October 8, 2024.

These cases are just further examples in a long list of corruption by public officials that has plagued Illinois for far too long. I have always advocated for stronger ethics laws and will continue to do so in 2024.

Community Development Block Grants Deadline is Fast Approaching

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is currently accepting applications for the 2023/2024 Public Infrastructure and Housing Rehabilitation Grant. These grant opportunities are funded by the Community Development Block Grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Public Infrastructure Grant aims to help finance water and sanitary systems and storm sewer construction projects that strive to improve public health, safety, and public welfare and help communities with substantial low-to-moderate income populations.

Meanwhile, the purpose of the Housing Rehabilitation Grant is to provide units of general local government with funds to help address the housing needs of eligible low-to-moderate income (LMI) households. The program targets projects that preserve single-family, owner-occupied housing in need of rehabilitation and encourages neighborhood revitalization.

For more information and to apply for the Public Infrastructure Grant, click here. For further information and to apply for the Housing Rehabilitation Grant, click here.

Both applications are due January 18, 2024.

Craig Wilcox

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