Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

New Director for DCFS

A report on the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for 2023 shows a year’s worth of issues within the troubled agency. A January 2024 report released by the Illinois Inspector General revealed that in 2022, nearly 50 more children died while on the radar of DCFS than in 2021.

Following a national search, Governor JB Pritzker appointed youth justice and child welfare expert Heidi Mueller as the next Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Mueller currently serves as Director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Mueller has served as Director of DJJ since 2016.

Marc D. Smith, the outgoing Director of DCFS, will continue to serve through January with Mueller assuming the Director role on February 1. Smith has been in the position since 2019 and has been held in contempt of court repeatedly for issues regarding the late placement of children.

The state has a responsibility to ensure the safety, security, and success of children under state care, which has been neglected by the Pritzker administration for far too long.

Senator Wilcox Hosts “Valentines for Seniors” Card Drive

Valentines are starting to trickle into my Woodstock office, but there is still time to drop off valentines, poems, drawings, and other well-wishes for this year’s Valentines for Seniors program. Between now and February 5, my office is collecting items that will be distributed to local nursing homes, assisted living centers, and long-term care facilities in the 32nd District.

Cards and other items can be dropped off 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.

Ex-House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Racketeering Trial Postponed 6 Months Pending Supreme Court Decision in Bribery Case

In March 2022, former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) was indicted on 23 counts of racketeering, bribery, and official misconduct. Madigan resigned after losing the House speakership in January 2021. Madigan’s trial has been postponed from April until Oct. 8 after a recent court hearing. The charges stem from the alleged improper dealings with the state’s largest utility, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd). So far, Madigan has used millions of dollars in campaign funds to pay for his criminal defense. 

In prior court cases involving the scandal, prosecutors presented secretly recorded videos, wiretapped phone calls, and hundreds of emails to show how the four former ComEd executives and lobbyists were “the grandmasters of corruption.” Prosecutors said that the utility paid out $1.3 million in jobs, contracts, and payments to associates of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan over eight years in exchange for favorable treatment on legislation in Springfield that would affect the finances of the utility company.

Madigan served in the Illinois House from 1971 to 2021. He served as Speaker of the Illinois House from 1983 to 1995 and then again from 1997 to 2021. He wielded additional power as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Illinois Sheriffs Decline to Enforce Protect Illinois Communities Act

Several Illinois sheriffs have stated that their offices will not enforce the state’s new gun restriction. The “Protect Illinois Communities Act,” which immediately banned the sale of certain firearms, as well as some pistols, large-capacity magazines, and certain gun parts, such as folding stocks. Anyone who possessed those items before the law was signed could keep them if they registered them before Jan 1, 2024. Illinois State Police opened the registration portal in October for gun owners to comply with the new law.

I opposed the new law because I believe it is unconstitutional and turns otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals. The Illinois State Police have reported that of the state’s 2.4 million FOID cardholders, nearly 30,000 registered a banned weapon.

Under the new law, failing to register a banned weapon will lead to a misdemeanor charge on the first offense and a felony charge on the second offense. Illinois law states that a felony charge for an unregistered weapon isn’t a jailable offense. For each case, local State Attorneys have the authority to decide whether or not to charge anyone violating the Protect Illinois Communities Act.

Illinois to Launch New Intake Center, Shelter Site for Asylum Seekers and Illegal Aliens Arriving in Chicago

Illinois has been under some form of a gubernatorial disaster proclamation for most of the past four years, giving Governor Pritzker sweeping emergency powers to spend taxpayer dollars with little to no transparency or input from the legislature. Earlier this month the Governor issued his 18th consecutive disaster proclamation on the asylum seeker/illegal alien crisis allowing him greater spending authority and aggressive powers to bypass Illinois’ procurement processes.

Chicago has received nearly 30,000 individuals and families seeking asylum since August 2022. During the last month, buses of asylum seekers/illegal aliens were also delivered to communities in the 32nd District. Those individuals were put on buses and sent to Chicago. Governor Pritzker has now announced he will be spending more taxpayer dollars to support the influx of new asylum seekers/illegal immigrants. Funds will support supplies, hotel rooms and eventually a shelter at a former CVS in Little Village.

The Governor should not be surprised at the number of non-citizens being sent to Illinois. He spent years encouraging them to come to Illinois and is now trying to avoid responsibility for the problem he created.

Craig Wilcox

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