Senate Week in Review: July 1-5, 2024

Supreme Court Declines to Take Up Gun Ban – For Now

SPRINGFIELD – In an order released July 2, the United States Supreme Court declined to take up a legal challenge to the state’s “assault weapon” ban but left the door open to hearing the case in the future.

Petitioners had requested that the nation’s highest court issue an injunction against the enforcement of the ban. The request followed conflicting rulings on multiple challenges to the law, including a temporary injunction issued by a judge in the Southern District of Illinois that was later thrown out by the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, where a challenge is still pending.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the case while that challenge is ongoing but reserved the right to take it up at a later date, with a Justice noting, “…if the Seventh Circuit ultimately allows Illinois to ban America’s most common civilian rifle, we can – and should – review that decision once the cases reach a final judgment.” He added that, “The Court must not permit ‘the Seventh Circuit [to] relegat[e] the Second Amendment to a second-class right.”

State Sen. Craig Wilcox (R-Woodstock) stated that he remains optimistic that the state’s ban will ultimately be found unconstitutional once the legal process has concluded. He opposed the ban in the Senate, viewing it as an unconstitutional overreach and an attack on the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.

New Law Assists Disabled Veterans

Legislation that aims to alleviate some of the financial burdens placed on disabled veterans in Illinois was signed into law on July 1. Cosponsored by Sen. Wilcox, this new law waives permit fees for disabled veterans who need to modify their homes for accessibility.

Previously, disabled veterans returning from service who needed to adapt their homes were required to pay permit fees to their local government in addition to covering the cost of their renovation. This added financial strain often made essential home modifications even more challenging.

Senate Bill 2751 specifically addresses the issue by waiving permit fees for disabled veterans making necessary home modifications.

The bill passed both chambers unanimously and was signed into law on July 1, 2024, and will take effect Jan. 1, 2025.

Cardiac Response Plan Bill Signed into Law

Schools across the state will be better prepared for cardiac emergencies, under a new law that mandates the implementation of cardiac response plans.

According to the American Heart Association, thousands of students younger than 18 have experienced cardiac arrest. Statistics show that without prompt response or training, nearly 90 percent of these incidents can be fatal. This newly signed law seeks to have a plan in place and individuals trained to perform life-saving measures.

House Bill 5394 requires Illinois schools to implement cardiac response plans and provide school personnel with information and hands-on cardiac emergency response training. This training includes hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and using the school’s automated external defibrillator (AED).

Under the new law, school boards must review procedures and emergency plans annually. School districts will also be eligible for a matching grant covering 50 percent of the costs for First Aid certification.

The bill passed both chambers unanimously, was signed into law on July 1, 2024, and will take effect Jan. 1, 2025.

OSLAD Grant Applications Now Being Accepted

Applications are now being accepted for the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Program. The OSLAD Program, offered through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is a state-financed grant program that provides funding assistance to local government agencies for the acquisition and/or development of land for public parks and open space.

All local governments must be authorized by Illinois law to spend public funds for those purposes. School districts are not eligible. These projects can range from smaller neighborhood parks to larger county nature areas.

Under this program, grants can cover up to 50 percent of approved project costs, or up to 90 percent of costs for economically distressed communities. Grants for acquisition projects can be awarded up to $1.725 million, while development or renovation projects are limited to a maximum of $600,000. All applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2024.

Click here to read more about the application process.

IDFPR Launches Pilot Program for Online Payment of Application Fees

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has launched a new pilot program allowing professionals in select fields to pay application fees online through the ePay Portal. This initiative aims to streamline the application process, making it more convenient and efficient for professionals statewide.

ePay is a full-service electronic payment system that allows for the fast and secure processing of payments, offering users the flexibility to pay fees 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Starting June 4, this new feature will benefit professionals in the Division of Professional Regulation (DPR) and the Division of Real Estate (DRE).

Visit the IDFPR website for more information about the pilot program and to see what professions are eligible.

Craig Wilcox

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