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WCAZ Radio News Archives for 2023-12

Federal judge declines to stay assault weapons ban ahead of Jan. 1 registration deadline

Federal judge declines to stay assault weapons ban ahead of Jan. 1 registration deadline

By BETH HUNDSDORFER

Capitol News Illinois

McGlynn previously issued an injunction that was overturned by appellate court

 

Federal judge declines to stay assault weapons ban ahead of Jan. 1 registration deadline

U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn issued a 34-page order on Friday that declines to stay Illinois' assault weapons ban ahead of a registration deadline. (Screenshot from McGlynn's order)

A southern Illinois federal judge officially declined to issue an injunction to delay the Jan. 1 registration requirement under the state’s assault weapons ban.

U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn issued the 34-page order on Friday.

Gun rights advocates requested an emergency injunction to halt the registration of guns and accessories covered in the legislation, known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, or PICA, as a condition of continued possession. The gun groups argued the requirements were unconstitutional under the Second and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Read more: What to know about Illinois’ assault weapons ban

Lawyers for Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois, gun rights advocates, gun dealers and three individual gun owners argued that the rules governing the registration of already-owned assault weapons are vague and the state failed to give proper notice to the owners of those weapons.

The Illinois attorney general’s office asked the court to dismiss the due process claims.

“This Court will expeditiously conduct a full review of the legal challenges to PICA on the merits. This also points toward foregoing further preliminary wrangling and going straight to an exhaustive review of PICA and the Emergency Rules on the merits,” McGlynn wrote. “Additionally, Illinois FOID cardholders’ level of compliance with the registration scheme will be discernible within mere days. This overall level of compliance will likely be highly relevant to the review of certain claims on the merits.”

At a Dec. 12 hearing, McGlynn had foreshadowed that he might decline to issue an injunction.

“I think there’s a mess here, and some problems, and I haven’t made my mind up,” McGlynn said at the hearing. “But I do think that entering an injunction today may create more problems than it’s worth.”

McGlynn also dismissed the 14th Amendment claim in Friday’s order and declined to address the Second Amendment claims.

During the Dec. 12 hearing, Sean Brady, an attorney for the plaintiffs, argued that the Illinois State Police was still seeking to modify the registration rules in mid-December, underscoring the need for an injunction to halt implementation before the Jan. 1 deadline.

Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wells countered that enacting the entire statute should not be delayed due to “the inevitable questions that will follow.”

In April, McGlynn issued a separate injunction blocking enforcement of the ban and declaring it unlikely to be found constitutional. Two previous attempts to block the law in northern Illinois courts were also unsuccessful.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago overturned McGlynn’s ruling in June.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue an injunction on PICA and the 7th Circuit declined a request for a full review of a November ruling by the three-judge panel that upheld the gun ban.

 

 

Willow Grove Childcare and Learning Center to Host a One-Year Celebration Open House

Willow Grove Childcare and Learning Center to Host a One-Year Celebration Open House

 Willow Grove Childcare and Learning Center in Carthage, Illinois, will host a One Year Celebration Open House on Tuesday, January 2, from 5:30 – 7:00 pm. The public is encouraged to stop in and explore the facility, meet the dedicated teachers, and engage with the administration. Refreshments will be available as attendees tour the classrooms and experience Willow Grove's enriching environment. Willow Grove Childcare and Learning Center is located at 641 Buchanan Street, Carthage, Illinois.

More than 300 statutes will become law in the new year

More than 300 statutes will become law in the New Year

By PETER HANCOK, 
ANDREW ADAMS 
& JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois

More than 300 new laws will take effect Jan. 1, ranging from a ban on book bans to the regulation of “deepfake porn” and prohibitions on videoconferencing while driving. 

Thanks to a law signed in 2019, workers at the lowest end of the pay scale will see a pay raise with the new year as the state minimum wage increases by one dollar, to $14 per hour. 

Gov. JB Pritzker championed and signed that law after it was approved by lawmakers within his first two months of office. The law gradually phases in a $15 per-hour minimum wage starting in 2025.

The minimum wage applies to most workers 18 years of age and older. Teens who work less than 650 hours in a calendar year will go up to $13 an hour while the minimum wage for tipped workers will increase to $9 an hour.

Also come Jan. 1, Illinoisans who own guns, ammunition and accessories prohibited under the state’s “assault weapons” ban will be in violation of the law if they don’t register them with the state. A federal judge last week chose not to temporarily halt the law’s enforcement while a broader legal challenge plays out. The U.S. Supreme Court also recently declined to stay the law. 

While permanent administrative rules regulating which guns and ammunition must be registered with the Illinois State Police remain in flux, temporary rules governing registration remain in effect. 

Read more: What to know about Illinois’ assault weapons ban

Other laws hitting the books include a measure granting paid leave to all workers, indoor vaping restrictions and a ban on youth solitary confinement in state correctional facilities, among others. 

 

Paid leave for all

Starting Jan. 1, anyone who works in Illinois will be entitled to earn up to 40 hours of paid leave during a 12-month period, time they can take off work for any reason, regardless of whether they are full-time, part-time, or seasonal employees.

The Paid Leave for All Workers Act passed during the lame duck session in January – a session that was called primarily to pass the assault weapons ban. Pritzker signed it into law March 13.

“That is a game changer for many employers, particularly those who have not previously offered any type of paid leave to their employees,” Scott Cruz, a labor attorney, said during an interview with Capitol News Illinois in November. 

In particular, he said, the law will be a major change for waiters, waitresses and other workers in the hospitality industry who have never received paid leave benefits in the past.

The Illinois Department of Labor has published a list of frequently asked questions to help guide employers and employees through the new law.

 

Banning book bans

Libraries in Illinois will lose access to grants administered by the secretary of state’s office after Jan. 1 if they ban books or other material “because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”

The so-called ban on book bans, House Bill 2789, was an initiative of Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias. The secretary of state in Illinois also serves as the state librarian, which awards millions of dollars a year in grants to public and school libraries around the state.

Under the new law, libraries must either adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights or develop a written statement prohibiting the practice of banning specific books or resources.

Giannoulias said he proposed the legislation after extremist groups targeted Illinois libraries with efforts to ban certain materials from circulation.

 “The concept of banning books contradicts the very essence of what our country stands for,” he said in a statement. “It also defies what education is all about: teaching our children to think for themselves. This landmark law is a triumph for our democracy, a win for First Amendment Rights, and a great victory for future generations.”  

 

Digital forgeries

Lawmakers this spring approved a new protection for victims of “deepfake porn.” Starting in 2024, people who are falsely depicted in sexually explicit images or videos will be able to sue the creator of that material. 

The law is an amendment to the state’s existing protections for victims of “revenge porn,” which went into effect in 2015. 

In recent years, deepfakes – images and videos that falsely depict someone – have become more sophisticated with the advent of more readily available artificial intelligence tools. Women are disproportionately the subject of deepfake porn. 

Some sponsors of the legislation, notably chief sponsor Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, have indicated interest in further regulating the use of artificial intelligence.

 

Zooming while driving

Starting on Jan. 1, it will be illegal for Illinois drivers to participate in videoconferencing or check their social media pages while behind the wheel. 

The law adds the use of any mobile videoconferencing software, explicitly referencing Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Webex, to banned actions under existed distracted driving laws. 

The law also specifically names social media sites Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and “Twitter,” which was rebranded to X a few months after the law’s passage.  

Illinois law currently bans cell phone use generally while driving, although it does allow drivers to use phones through hands-free or voice-activated means. In 2022, more than 24,000 drivers were cited for distracted driving in Illinois, according to the secretary of state’s office. 

Illinois drivers continue to be able to use cell phones in handheld mode if they are reporting an emergency, are parked on a road’s shoulder or if they are stopped due to a traffic obstruction and the vehicle is in neutral or park.

 

Vaping indoors

People who use electronic cigarettes or vaping devices will now face the same restrictions as cigarette smokers. 

It’s an update to the state’s Smoke-Free Illinois Act, which banned smoking in most indoor public spaces and within 15 feet of building entrances in 2008. “Public places” include restaurants, theaters, offices, stores, libraries, schools, polling places, all government-owned buildings and banks among others. 

Tobacco stores and vape shops are exempt from the law, as well as some other facilities, such as smoking rooms at nursing homes, some hotel rooms and tobacco conventions. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this summer that in 2021, nearly 5 percent of adults were e-cigarette users, although that figure was 11 percent among people 18 to 24. 

 

Other new laws

Youth solitary confinementHouse Bill 3140 prohibits solitary confinement in youth detention facilities for any purpose other than temporarily preventing serious and immediate risk of physical harm. 

Grocery initiative: Senate Bill 850 created a Grocery Initiative program which will receive $20 million to fund grants and financial aid to grocery stores opening or operating in “food deserts.” It also requires the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to study food deserts. 

Underground Railroad task forceSenate Bill 1623 creates the Underground Railroad Task Force to develop a statewide plan for creating a “cohesive statewide history” of the Underground Railroad and developing new educational and tourism opportunities.

Utility shutoffsHouse Bill 1541 prohibits utilities from shutting off gas or electric services due to nonpayment of bills when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees or there is a heat advisory in effect.

Rearview mirrors: It’s long been illegal in Illinois to hang an object that obstructs a driver’s view from a rearview mirror. House Bill 2389 maintains that driving with such an obstruction is prohibited, but it also prevents law enforcement from stopping and searching a vehicle solely because the driver is violating that law.  

Civil rights violation: Under Senate Bill 1817, anyone who considers immigration status during a real estate transaction, including purchase and rental transactions, could be guilty of a civil rights violation.

Dangers of fentanyl: House Bill 3924 requires high schools to teach students about the dangers of fentanyl in state-required health courses. The coursework would include differentiating legal and illegal uses of the drug, details about “the process of lacing fentanyl in other drugs and why drugs get laced with fentanyl,” as well as information on how to detect fentanyl in drugs and how to save someone from an overdose.

Fentanyl test stripsHouse Bill 3203 allows pharmacists and retailers to sell fentanyl test strips over the counter. 

Bears and primates: Senate Bill 1883 prohibits keepers of bears and nonhuman primates from allowing members of the general public to come into contact with them. Violators of the law would be subject to a Class B misdemeanor. “General public” does not include employees at the facility where the animal is kept, veterinarians or professional film crews.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

Peter Hancock

Federal judge declines to stay assault weapons ban ahead of Jan. 1 registration deadline

 

Memorial Hospital Staff Present at Integrative Medicine for Underserved Conference in Austin, Texas

 

Memorial Hospital Staff Present at Integrative Medicine for

Underserved Conference in Austin, Texas

Dr. Yoon Hang Kim; Ada Bair, Memorial Hospital CEO; and Ashlyn Housewright, Executive Director of Community Health and Wellness, presented an initiative titled “A Rural Health Care Organization’s Journey to Food as Medicine” at the Integrative Medicine for Underserved (IM4US) conference held in Austin, Texas. The presentation highlighted Memorial Hospital’s commitment to innovative healthcare solutions and its dedication to serving underserved communities. Dr. Yoon Hang Kim was also part of a pre- recorded session at the conference with colleague Kacey Quimby, RN, about “Creating Integrative Medicine Services at Memorial Hospital – a Rural Critical Access Hospital” at the IM4US Conference.

The IM4US conference brought together healthcare professionals, experts, and advocates  nationwide who are passionate about enhancing access to holistic healthcare for underserved populations. The presentation, “A Rural Health Care Organization’s Journey to Food as Medicine,” showcased Memorial Hospital’s transformative program, emphasizing the importance of nutrition in overall wellness. Dr. Yoon Hang Kim, Ada Bair, and Ashlyn Housewright discussed various strategies and success stories that showcased the positive impact of incorporating food as medicine within their healthcare practices. Topics included an overview of Memorial Hospital’s Food and Nutrition Services and the Teaching Kitchen located in Memorial Hospital Health & Wellness Center and Memorial Insitute of Health & Healing.

The pre-recorded presentation “Creating Integrative Medicine Services at Memorial Hospital – a Rural Critical Access Hospital” with Dr. Yoon Hang Kim and Kacey Quimby, RN, discussed the background of a rural health clinic, clinical services including integrative oncology, integrative approach to pain, lifestyle medicine to reverse type II diabetes, and integrative & functional medicine consultations.

To learn more about the Memorial Institute of Health & Healing, visit mhtlc.org or call 217-357-6815.
Pictured left to right: Dr. Yoon Hang Kim, Ada Bair, CEO, and Ashlyn Housewright, Executive
Director of Community Health and Wellness.

 

Memorial Institute of Health & Healing to Relocate Services

Memorial Institute of Health & Healing to Relocate Services

Carthage, IL – Memorial Institute of Health & Healing, led by physician Yoon Hang Kim, MD, is excited to announce the relocation of integrative and functional medicine services to the Memorial Medical Building located on the Memorial Hospital campus at 1450 N. County Rd. 2050, Carthage, Illinois. This relocation will take effect on January 2, 2024.
Patients with scheduled appointments are encouraged to take note of this relocation and plan their travel accordingly to ensure a seamless transition to the new location. For appointment scheduling, the contact number for Memorial Institute of Health & Healing will be updated to 217-357-6815 on January 2. Memorial Institute of Health & Healing kindly requests all patients to use this new contact information for any appointment-related inquiries or bookings.

 

Public health officials urge caution around respiratory illnesses

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The Illinois Department of Public Health is advising Illinoisans to take precautions to avoid spreading respiratory illnesses as cases around the state and country are on the rise.

IDPH issued a health alert last week to hospitals, long-term care facilities and local health departments advising the use of masks and using screening techniques to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, particularly in areas of the state with elevated levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 were up 22 percent statewide last week compared to the week before.

Eight west-central Illinois counties are now at “high” levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that there were more than 20 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in those counties during the most recent week for which data is available.  Iroquois and Kankakee counties in northern Illinois also face high hospitalizations.

Hospital admissions related to COVID-19 have made up around 3 to 4 percent of all admissions in the past month, according to data on respiratory illnesses from IDPH, the highest they have been since this time last year. Hospitalizations for other respiratory illnesses have also spiked in recent weeks.

These figures are still far below the peaks seen in late 2020 and early 2022, when COVID-19 accounted for roughly 18 percent and 25 percent of hospital admissions respectively.

While statewide hospitalization rates remain at “low” levels according to the CDC, neighboring states Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa all face elevated levels, which has caused some concern for officials at IDPH.

“With the alarming rise in respiratory viruses we are seeing across the state and the country, IDPH is recommending healthcare facilities take precautions to reduce the spread of these viruses and protect their patients, staffs and visitors,” IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a statement last week.

In addition to the coronavirus, IDPH also tracks hospital admissions stemming from influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, a common respiratory virus often referred to as RSV that can be dangerous for certain high-risk individuals, like those with asthma or COPD.

For all Illinoisans, IDPH recommended taking precautions for holiday gatherings, particularly for those at high risk of complications from a respiratory infection like older or very young individuals.

This includes practicing good hand hygiene and proper indoor ventilation for any gatherings. For someone experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness, like coughing, sneezing, sore throat, runny nose or a fever, IDPH encourages testing and staying home if possible.

Vaccinations for COVID-19 and the flu are available at most pharmacies. A vaccination for RSV is available for those age 60 and older and for some pregnant people.

In some state-run facilities, COVID-19 infections have already interrupted daily life. Earlier this month, the state Department of Human Services announced that several COVID-19 outbreaks had occurred at state-operated developmental centers in Waukegan, Park Forest, Centralia, Anna and Kankakee. 

In response, IDHS reduced communal dining, group activities and some planned outings, and introduced social distancing and quarantine measures for those served at the centers.

The number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in these state-run centers has fallen since the beginning of the month, with 12 residents and 22 staff members testing positive as of Dec. 18, down from 58 residents and 35 staff members on Dec. 6.

“IDPH has been working closely with our counterparts at IDHS facilities to monitor conditions, to offer strategies to contain any outbreaks, and to provide resources, direct consultations and assessments,” Hilary Spencer, head of the IDPH infection prevention team, said in an early December news release.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

 

ANALYSIS: Pritzker urges 'careful' approach as current-year surplus could be followed by deficit

Five-year forecast from gov’s budget office indicates Illinois still facing structural budget hole

 

With Illinois lawmakers scheduled to return to legislative session in less than a month, a recent government fiscal forecast provides an overview of the budgeting landscape that awaits them. 

The bottom line from the five-year forecast from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget: The current fiscal year is now projected to end with a $1.4 billion surplus, while the upcoming fiscal year 2025 is projected to face an $891 million deficit. 

Read the report: 2023 Illinois Economic and Fiscal Policy Report

“So that five-year forecast, you know, we look at it as a guide for how careful do we need to be as we move forward in the in the budget year thinking about FY ’25,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at a recent event in Springfield. 

“I think it's a signal that everybody, we need to be careful in Illinois, we have to balance our budget…” Pritzker added. “And so, if that requires us to reduce the increases that may occur in certain programs, maybe that will be necessary.” 


 

Capitol News Illinois · Pritzker discusses the budget


The mandatory GOMB report is published each November. It takes stock of the state’s general revenue fund, which is the main discretionary spending account that’s subject to budget negotiations each spring. This year’s five-year forecast projected deficits of over $1 billion from FY 2026 through FY 2029. 

But, as Pritzker noted in his interview with the news media outside of the Governor’s Mansion Thursday, future-year budgets can be “very hard to project” due to state, national and global economic factors. 

It’s noteworthy that actual revenue performances have routinely exceeded prior-year estimates during Pritzker’s tenure – his GOMB has proven a conservative prognosticator. And the governor noted he expects some fluctuation in the anticipated FY 2025 revenue total as the state gets closer to the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Read more: Amid ‘unprecedented’ prolonged revenue boom, state finds budget breathing room

“I think you're going to see different projections as we go forward just because the economy is changing,” Pritzker said, alluding to strong Thursday stock market gains after the Federal Reserve indicated interest rates would remain flat for the time being and decrease in the coming months. 

While budget surpluses have routinely yielded supplemental spending plans in Pritzker’s tenure amid sustained revenue booms, the governor and lawmakers have been noncommittal when asked about such a plan passing in the upcoming session.  

Read more: Lawmakers announce bipartisan plan to pay down remaining unemployment debt

But Pritzker on Thursday noted at least one area of supplemental spending need. 

In November, he announced $160 million in state support to aid and house migrants being bussed to Chicago from U.S. border states, particularly Texas. That plan shifted money from elsewhere in the Department of Human Services’ budget, including block grant funding and $40 million that was backing a pending application for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding. 

Read more: Pritzker designates additional $160M for migrant response as winter approaches

Pritzker said it “is going to be a requirement” that the state reexamines “whatever buckets that we've had to pull from” to provide aid to migrants as winter approaches.  

The five-year report from GOMB identified another $969 million in added “spending pressures” that could also require supplemental appropriations. Those include potential state assistance for asylum seekers, increased caseloads at the Department on Aging and the Department of Human Services, delays in other federal reimbursements, increased group insurance costs, and outstanding technology bills.

While the report didn’t break down the costs in each area, it noted that the “spending pressures” serve to offset much of the anticipated surplus. 

“After accounting for the supplemental budget pressures, the revised fiscal year 2024 surplus is projected to total $422 million,” GOMB noted in the report. 

All told, GOMB now expects FY 2024 to see just over $52 billion in revenues, up from the $50.6 billion when lawmakers approved the budget in May. 

GOMB’s report noted the main drivers of the increase – including the state receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in reimbursement for federal matching funds not properly claimed in a previous fiscal year – are likely “one-time” in nature and shouldn’t be built into annual budgets. 

Other surplus drivers include a $255 million greater-than-expected transfer from the income tax refund fund due to a strong tax filing season a year ago, good investment and interest returns, and strong corporate and sales tax performance. 

The one-time nature of much of this year’s surplus drivers plays into next year’s projected deficit, as GOMB anticipates revenues to decline to $51.5 billion, with expenditures growing to $52.3 billion. 

The main drivers of spending growth each year are the state’s public school and pension funding formulas. 

The school formula calls for an added $350 million each year. A recent report from the legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability noted Illinois’ FY 2025 general fund pension payment is also expected to grow by $350 million, to about $10.2 billion. 

Read the report: November 2023 Special Pension Briefing

All told, that adds up to the $891 million projected deficit for FY 2025, although that number drops to $721 million when accounting for the statutory contribution to the state’s “rainy day” savings fund. 

That rainy day fund has been a major beneficiary of recent surpluses and is now at its strongest-ever balance of over $2 billion. Pension funds have also benefitted, with lawmakers and the governor adding $700 million to the funds beyond statutory requirements in recent years. 

Other recent surpluses have gone to pay down interest-accruing debt and to replenish the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund amid the crush of claims brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As for the anticipated current-year surplus, we’re likely a few months away from knowing the full scope of any supplemental spending plan it will yield. 

Pritzker is scheduled to give his budget address to lawmakers on Wednesday, Feb. 21. After that, budget negotiations normally continue until the legislature adjourns and approves a budget in May. 

Jerry Nowicki is the editor-in-chief of Capitol News Illinois, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association. 

ANALYSIS: Pritzker urges 'careful' approach as current-year surplus could be followed by deficit

Five-year forecast from gov’s budget office indicates Illinois still facing structural budget hole

 

With Illinois lawmakers scheduled to return to legislative session in less than a month, a recent government fiscal forecast provides an overview of the budgeting landscape that awaits them. 

The bottom line from the five-year forecast from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget: The current fiscal year is now projected to end with a $1.4 billion surplus, while the upcoming fiscal year 2025 is projected to face an $891 million deficit. 

Read the report: 2023 Illinois Economic and Fiscal Policy Report

“So that five-year forecast, you know, we look at it as a guide for how careful do we need to be as we move forward in the in the budget year thinking about FY ’25,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at a recent event in Springfield. 

“I think it's a signal that everybody, we need to be careful in Illinois, we have to balance our budget…” Pritzker added. “And so, if that requires us to reduce the increases that may occur in certain programs, maybe that will be necessary.” 


 

Capitol News Illinois · Pritzker discusses the budget


The mandatory GOMB report is published each November. It takes stock of the state’s general revenue fund, which is the main discretionary spending account that’s subject to budget negotiations each spring. This year’s five-year forecast projected deficits of over $1 billion from FY 2026 through FY 2029. 

But, as Pritzker noted in his interview with the news media outside of the Governor’s Mansion Thursday, future-year budgets can be “very hard to project” due to state, national and global economic factors. 

It’s noteworthy that actual revenue performances have routinely exceeded prior-year estimates during Pritzker’s tenure – his GOMB has proven a conservative prognosticator. And the governor noted he expects some fluctuation in the anticipated FY 2025 revenue total as the state gets closer to the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Read more: Amid ‘unprecedented’ prolonged revenue boom, state finds budget breathing room

“I think you're going to see different projections as we go forward just because the economy is changing,” Pritzker said, alluding to strong Thursday stock market gains after the Federal Reserve indicated interest rates would remain flat for the time being and decrease in the coming months. 

While budget surpluses have routinely yielded supplemental spending plans in Pritzker’s tenure amid sustained revenue booms, the governor and lawmakers have been noncommittal when asked about such a plan passing in the upcoming session.  

Read more: Lawmakers announce bipartisan plan to pay down remaining unemployment debt

But Pritzker on Thursday noted at least one area of supplemental spending need. 

In November, he announced $160 million in state support to aid and house migrants being bussed to Chicago from U.S. border states, particularly Texas. That plan shifted money from elsewhere in the Department of Human Services’ budget, including block grant funding and $40 million that was backing a pending application for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding. 

Read more: Pritzker designates additional $160M for migrant response as winter approaches

Pritzker said it “is going to be a requirement” that the state reexamines “whatever buckets that we've had to pull from” to provide aid to migrants as winter approaches.  

The five-year report from GOMB identified another $969 million in added “spending pressures” that could also require supplemental appropriations. Those include potential state assistance for asylum seekers, increased caseloads at the Department on Aging and the Department of Human Services, delays in other federal reimbursements, increased group insurance costs, and outstanding technology bills.

While the report didn’t break down the costs in each area, it noted that the “spending pressures” serve to offset much of the anticipated surplus. 

“After accounting for the supplemental budget pressures, the revised fiscal year 2024 surplus is projected to total $422 million,” GOMB noted in the report. 

All told, GOMB now expects FY 2024 to see just over $52 billion in revenues, up from the $50.6 billion when lawmakers approved the budget in May. 

GOMB’s report noted the main drivers of the increase – including the state receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in reimbursement for federal matching funds not properly claimed in a previous fiscal year – are likely “one-time” in nature and shouldn’t be built into annual budgets. 

Other surplus drivers include a $255 million greater-than-expected transfer from the income tax refund fund due to a strong tax filing season a year ago, good investment and interest returns, and strong corporate and sales tax performance. 

The one-time nature of much of this year’s surplus drivers plays into next year’s projected deficit, as GOMB anticipates revenues to decline to $51.5 billion, with expenditures growing to $52.3 billion. 

The main drivers of spending growth each year are the state’s public school and pension funding formulas. 

The school formula calls for an added $350 million each year. A recent report from the legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability noted Illinois’ FY 2025 general fund pension payment is also expected to grow by $350 million, to about $10.2 billion. 

Read the report: November 2023 Special Pension Briefing

All told, that adds up to the $891 million projected deficit for FY 2025, although that number drops to $721 million when accounting for the statutory contribution to the state’s “rainy day” savings fund. 

That rainy day fund has been a major beneficiary of recent surpluses and is now at its strongest-ever balance of over $2 billion. Pension funds have also benefitted, with lawmakers and the governor adding $700 million to the funds beyond statutory requirements in recent years. 

Other recent surpluses have gone to pay down interest-accruing debt and to replenish the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund amid the crush of claims brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As for the anticipated current-year surplus, we’re likely a few months away from knowing the full scope of any supplemental spending plan it will yield. 

Pritzker is scheduled to give his budget address to lawmakers on Wednesday, Feb. 21. After that, budget negotiations normally continue until the legislature adjourns and approves a budget in May. 

Jerry Nowicki is the editor-in-chief of Capitol News Illinois, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association. 

Illini West Athletic Events 12/25 to 12/30

Illini West Athletic Events 12/25 to 12/30

Monday, December 25

Depart

No events scheduled
Tuesday, December 26

Depart

TBA Girls Varsity Basketball Lady Tiger Classic (Dec.26-29) TBA Away
Wednesday, December 27

Depart

No events scheduled
Thursday, December 28

Depart

TBA Boys Varsity Basketball Macomb Holiday Tournament

28-30

TBA Away

Friday, December 29

Depart

No events scheduled
Saturday, December 30

Depart

Illini West Athletic Events 12/25 to 12/30

Illini West Athletic Events 12/25 to 12/30

Monday, December 25

Depart

No events scheduled
Tuesday, December 26

Depart

TBA Girls Varsity Basketball Lady Tiger Classic (Dec.26-29) TBA Away
Wednesday, December 27

Depart

No events scheduled
Thursday, December 28

Depart

TBA Boys Varsity Basketball Macomb Holiday Tournament

28-30

TBA Away

Friday, December 29

Depart

No events scheduled
Saturday, December 30

Depart

Carl Sandburg College Foundation Raises $36K on Giving Tuesday, Up 65% From 2022

Carl Sandburg College Foundation Raises $36K on Giving Tuesday, Up 65% From 2022

The Carl Sandburg College Foundation is thrilled to announce that its Giving Tuesday campaign for 2023 saw an increase of 65 percent from the previous year.

 

The foundation totaled $36,276 during this year’s Giving Tuesday, a global day of generosity that takes place annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, compared to $22,000 last year. The Sandburg Foundation supports student success by distributing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to Sandburg students through scholarships, assistance grants and more as well as supplying innovation grants to support faculty and staff initiatives.

 

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude as we reflect on the incredible support we received on Giving Tuesday,” said Eric Johnson, chief advancement officer. “These donations will make a positive, long-lasting impact on the Sandburg community. The commitment to fostering student success aligns seamlessly with our foundation's mission, and we’re grateful for the positive change that alumni, employees and friends are helping to create.”

 

The Sandburg Foundation’s Giving Tuesday total included contributions from 102 donors, exceeding its goal of 100. Donations were received from seven states: Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Texas and Utah.

 

Donors were given the option of selecting a primary area of passion for their contribution to go toward. Primary designations that received contributions on Giving Tuesday included: scholarships and financial aid; student success grants; Galesburg campus and Carthage campus Resource Room Food Pantries; athletics; the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; faculty and staff innovations; and student organizations.

 

“This kindness shown by the Sandburg community — both in our immediate area and throughout the country — is an investment in current and future students' dreams and aspirations,” Johnson said. “It makes an immediate and lasting difference.”

 

Make your donation to the Sandburg Foundation at any time at sandburg.edu/givenow or by contacting the foundation at 309.341.5349 or foundation@sandburg.edu.

MEMORIAL HOSPITAL FOUNDATION UNVEILS EXCITING MATCHING GIFT OPPORTUNITY

MEMORIAL HOSPITAL FOUNDATION UNVEILS EXCITING MATCHING

GIFT OPPORTUNITY

–Friday, December 15, 2023 – Memorial Hospital Foundation is delighted to share
the exciting news that an anonymous benefactor has committed to match all donations, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000, during the period of October 2023 through February 2024.


This remarkable pledge comes at a crucial juncture as the Foundation inches closer to its
ambitious fundraising goal of $2 million total raised. Since its establishment in 2015, the
Foundation has successfully raised over $1.93 million, channeling 100% of these funds toward initiatives that enhance the well-being of our communities and quality local healthcare. All fundrs raised directly support and fulfill the Foundation’s mission: Enhancing the health and wellness of our communities through charitable giving."
Presently, the Foundation is actively fundraising for its Grow Our Own Scholarship Campaign and Memorial Hospital’s Endowment Fund. The Grow Our Own Fund empowers staff members to achieve their personal and professional aspirations through scholarship opportunities, while the Endowment Fund serves as a financial reservoir ensuring the longevity of quality local healthcare for future generations.


Donors participating in this ongoing holiday match drive have the option to direct their
contributions to either the Endowment Fund or the Scholarship Fund, aligning with their
preferences. The Foundation expresses profound gratitude for the unwavering support and benevolence demonstrated by our local communities. 


For further information about the Foundation, kindly reach out to Greta Wetzel, Executive
Director of the Memorial Hospital Foundation, at gwetzel@mhtlc.org. To contribute to the
current holiday match opportunity, donations can be sent to Memorial Hospital Foundation, P.O.
Box 160, Carthage, IL 62321

Pictured left to right: Terri Twaddle, Foundation/Marketing Assistant; Colleen Wildrick,
Foundation Director of Development; Katelyn Murphy, Foundation Communications
Coordinator; Greta Wetzel, Foundation Executive Director

As deadline looms, assault weapons registration rules still unresolved

As deadline looms, assault weapons registration rules still unresolved

 

Lawmakers continue questioning rules as case appears headed to U.S. Supreme Court

By PETER HANCOCK

Firearm owners in Illinois will have to wait at least another month before knowing exactly what items they must register with the Illinois State Police under the state’s assault weapons ban, even as the deadline for submitting those registrations is less than three weeks away.

The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR – a bipartisan group that has oversight authority of state agency rulemaking – declined again Tuesday to take action on a proposed set of final rules, saying instead it will consider the matter again at its next meeting Jan. 16 in Springfield.

“Obviously, there've been a lot of questions placed on the record today. Some have been answered; some will require some further research and reporting back to the committee,” JCAR co-chair Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said at the end of a lengthy discussion over the proposed rules.

Also on Tuesday, however, a federal judge in East St. Louis was asked to block the registration process entirely. And one of the plaintiffs in a series of lawsuits challenging the assault weapons ban said it is preparing to take its case the U.S. Supreme Court to review the law.

 

Federal Hearing | East St. Louis

On Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Steven McGlynn declined to issue an injunction to delay the Jan. 1 registration requirement under the state’s assault weapons ban.

Lawyers for federal firearms licensees, gun rights advocates, gun dealers and three individual gun owners argued that the rules governing the registration of already-owned assault weapons are vague and the state failed to give proper notice to the owners of those weapons.

Sean Brady, an attorney for the plaintiffs, argued that the Illinois State Police was still seeking to modify the rules on Tuesday, underscoring the need for an injunction to halt implementation before the Jan. 1, 2024 deadline.

Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wells argued enacting the entire statute should not be delayed due to “the inevitable questions that will follow.”

McGlynn said the process should go forward, adding that entering an injunction would create additional obstacles.

In April, McGlynn issued an injunction, blocking the enforcement of the Illinois’ assault weapons ban, known as Protect Illinois Communities Act, or PICA, and found it was likely to be found unconstitutional. Two previous attempts to block the law in northern Illinois courts were unsuccessful.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago overturned McGlynn’s injunction in May.

 

At issue is a provision of the state’s assault weapons ban, formally known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, which lawmakers passed, and Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law in January.

That law bans the purchase, sale, possession or manufacture of a long list of firearms that it defines as “assault weapons,” along with large-capacity magazines, certain kinds of firearm attachments and certain types of ammunition.

Lawmakers passed the ban in January in response to a long series of mass shootings around the country, most notably one at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park in 2022 that left seven people dead and scores more injured or traumatized.

One provision of that law, however, allows people who already owned banned items before the law took effect to keep them, provided they file affidavits with the Illinois State Police to disclose that they own those items and receive an endorsement on their Firearm Owners Identification card.

The law directed ISP to adopt administrative rules for the registration process. Although ISP has not yet implemented permanent rules, it did publish temporary emergency rules that have been in place since Oct. 1.

One reason for the delay, ISP’s acting chief legal counsel Suzanne Bond told lawmakers Tuesday, was the flurry of lawsuits in both state and federal courts that have been filed challenging the law. In one of those lawsuits, a federal judge in East St. Louis issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the law, an order that was later overturned by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

“That also meant that we were not in a position to file emergency rules until those issues had been resolved,” Bond said Tuesday. “And so by the time that those issues were resolved, we needed to exercise the authority the legislature had given us to file both emergency rules and proposed rules.”

Under Illinois law, state agencies can act unilaterally under certain circumstances to adopt emergency rules, but those rules can only remain in effect for 150 days. After that, they must either be replaced by permanent rules or allowed to expire.

But the emergency rules on weapons registration prompted strong resistance from gun rights advocates as well as confusion over the fine details about which items are covered by the requirement and what items are exempt.

After an initial review of the proposed rules by JCAR in October, ISP agreed to hold a series of additional public hearings to get feedback. Those hearings, Bond said, resulted in numerous changes to the proposed rules.

“We received hundreds of comments, as you might imagine, in response to the three public hearings that we held,” she said. “Predominantly many of the changes that we made were to flesh out additional definitions with respect to some of the exemptions to further explain our understanding of those exemptions and how they were to be applied within our statutory authority.”

But at Tuesday’s JCAR hearing, Republican lawmakers continued asking questions about how the rules would be implemented, including about what ISP would do with the data it collects from people who register their weapons if the law is eventually declared unconstitutional.

“I believe we will be looking to the court to guide us on what they want us to do with that information,” Bond said. “I would hope that that wouldn't have to come from the legislature. We would hope that in in deciding this litigation, the courts would direct the state police on what to do with that data.”

Although a judge in the Southern District of Illinois ruled in April that the assault weapons ban was likely unconstitutional under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, two different federal judges in the Northern District reached the opposite conclusion in separate challenges. That resulted in all three cases being consolidated before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a 2-1 ruling in November, the 7th Circuit upheld the law, but one of the lead plaintiffs in the challenges, the National Association for Gun Rights, requested an “en banc” review of that decision by all 14 judges on the appellate court. Meanwhile, that group also filed motions with the 7th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court asking again for a restraining order blocking enforcement of the law pending that appeal.

On Monday, the 7th Circuit denied the request for an en banc rehearing, paving the way for the gun rights group to request a final review of the law by the Supreme Court.

Hannah Hill, executive director of the association’s legal arm, the National Foundation for Gun Rights, said in an email Tuesday that the group would file what’s known as a “writ of certiorari” to request a Supreme Court review within the next 90 days.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

Burlington Civic Music presents Christmas With Jim McDonough and His Orchestra

Burlington Civic Music presents Christmas With Jim McDonough and His Orchestra

 Celebrate the holiday season in style by attending "Christmas with Jim McDonough and His Orchestra," 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, at Burlington Memorial Auditorium.

This dazzling stage production features International Steinway Artist Jim McDonough alongside his 16-piece orchestra, performing favorite Christmas music and other all-time hits. The event is a grand combination of magnificent music and the true spirit of the season.

Born in Monticello, Iowa, McDonough graduated from Wartburg College with a degree in music education. From there, he worked as the band director for Iowa school systems in Waukon and LaPorte City.

After a stint as an air traffic controller, he returned to music, playing piano on the largest cruise ship in the world. On break from the cruise line, McDonough recorded his first album, which he sold to passengers when he returned to the ship. In 2002, he moved back to Monticello to concentrate on producing and distributing his music. In fall 2003, he released his second album, a collection of holiday favorites called “Home for Christmas.” Since then, McDonough has produced more than 14 albums. In 2010, piano maker Steinway and Sons named McDonough to its worldwide artist roster, which includes Irving Berlin, Harry Connick Jr., Billy Joel, Diana Krall and Cole Porter.

To order season tickets or for more information, call 319-752-0336 or email BurlingtonCivicMusic@gmail.com

The Hancock County Historical Society in Carthage Needs Pictures!

The Hancock County Historical Society in Carthage  Needs Pictures!

FINAL CALL FOR BARN PICTURES

The Hancock County Historical Society in Carthage continues to prepare a book entitled
A History of Barns and Structures in Hancock County, Illinois from 1830-1930+. Volunteer
staff members are presently working on this project.
Barns in Hancock County are disappearing in our area from weather, no longer used
barns being torn down. Our goal is to have a book with pictures of those barns from that era.
We need to have pictures (if available), who built the barn (if known), location of the barn and description of the barn type with uses for the barn and present owner. We are also including photos of buildings used in the farming process such as cribs, silos, machine sheds or other  items used on the farm during that period of time. We want to preserve the agriculture pictures and descriptions of the early barns to have as a nice reference of the county’s farms so future generations will be able to learn about agricultural methods in the past since farms have  changed over the earlier years and many farms, machinery and methods have changed over the past 100+ years of the county existing.
Please send your write-up and photos to Hancock County Historical Society, 306 Walnut
St., Carthage, IL 62321 or e-mail info@hancockcountyhistory.com. The cutoff date will be
February 1, 2024. We are closed the month of December. Please be a part of history by
helping preserve the barns and structures of Hancock County, IL.

Advocacy groups say 'Healthy Illinois 2028' is missing key areas of focus

Advocacy groups say ‘Healthy Illinois 2028’ is missing key areas of focus

By DILPREET RAJU
Capitol News Illinois

A new state health report pinpoints racism as a public health crisis while also noting Illinois needs to improve in the areas of maternal and infant health, mental health and substance use disorders.

The broad goals are laid out in a draft of the State Health Improvement Plan, which will be finalized and presented to the Illinois General Assembly next year. The SHIP is part of Healthy Illinois 2028, a five-year plan outlining the major public health crises the state hopes to address.

After two years of assessment and planning, Healthy Illinois 2028 prioritized five major public health issues:

  • Racism as a public health crisis.
  • Maternal and infant health.
  • Mental health and substance use disorders.
  • Chronic disease.
  • COVID-19 and emerging diseases.

The report found these issues consistently overlap and are all exacerbated by a lack of access to health care and wraparound services, the infrastructure of public health systems and racial inequities.

“It is essential to emphasize that disparities in health outcomes according to race/ethnicity have nothing to do with biology and everything to do with inequitable distributions of money, power and resources,” the report stated.

Several members of the public registered concern at virtual hearings last week about what was missing from the draft plan – including care plans for migrants and concrete actions to slow a rising number of overdose deaths in Illinois.

Public health advocates asked for the inclusion of data-driven responses. Previous SHIPs have included measurable goals including reducing rates of suicide and opioid overdose deaths, both of which have increased over the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics.

But Jennifer Epstein, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Public Health Office of Policy, Planning and Statistics emphasized to Capitol News Illinois that the report is still in draft form, and that specific metrics will be added to the plan during 2024.

 

Racism’s effect on health care

The draft improvement plan for the first time makes a point of listing racism as an overarching public health crisis in Illinois.

“Racism is both a cross-cutting issue and a standalone priority because it is at the root of many, if not all health issues,” Illinois Public Health Institute senior program manager Janece Gough said at the hearings.

IPHI was one of the entities that contributed to the draft under the guidance of the Illinois Department of Public Health and the State Board of Health. The report was also co-authored by staff from the University of Illinois Chicago’s Policy, Practice and Prevention Research Center.

Gough said continued stigma and discrimination from health care providers are among the barriers to equitable health care.

The plan aims to address inequities by forming an appointed advisory committee on racism in health care and building a more diverse health care workforce. This type of racism happens when health care workers hold racial biases against patients, whether intentional or not.

IPHI director Laurie Call said public health infrastructure needs serious strengthening to be ready for emerging threats, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Climate change – and its health effects caused by air, water and land pollution – are included in those emerging threats, she said.

“We know that as climate change is expected to worsen, this will have many health consequences,” she said.

Call said eight local entities in Illinois – such as the Chicago Department of Public Health, the Peoria City/County Health Department and a Champaign school board – have already issued a formal declaration of racism as a public health crisis. According to the American Public Health Association, 19 other states have declared racism a public health crisis, including Michigan and Wisconsin.

During a hearing last week, Angela McLemore, who worked for years in hospital administration and now serves as executive assistant to state Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, said she was supportive of the plan’s goals, but she emphasized the state will need to dedicate resources to make them a reality.

“I like what I have seen,” McLemore said. “In order to make the goals and objectives happen, you have to spend a lot more time on implementation, planning and we need to attach the money, manpower and materials necessary for each plan.”

Funding was a key concern for multiple other public commenters, including Creola Hampton, president of Black Leadership Advocacy Coalition for Healthcare Equity, or BLACHE, pronounced “black.” BLACHE currently has 19 organizations in its network from the west side of Chicago down to East St. Louis.

“The unfortunate dilemma is the Illinois Department of Public Health funding is so highly racially inequitable that it perpetuates racism being a public health issue,” Hampton said.

Hampton argued that when it comes to combatting HIV and AIDS, by which Black communities have been hit the hardest, there has been little funding sent to “African American-led organizations that have the enhanced cultural competency” and “the maximum degree of effectiveness.”

Read more: On Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, advocates spotlight ongoing racial disparities

“The state is going to be leading saying that racism is a public health issue,” she said. “Then the state has to be actively involved and making sure that there is equitable funding going to African American-led organizations to do the work that needs to be done to negate the inequity of health.”

In response to media questions, IDPH spokesperson Jim Leach said the agency aims to partner with Black-led organizations around the state to reduce the “historic and present-day disparities” found with HIV.

“More than half of the HIV testing and risk reduction services delivered with IDPH grant funds were provided to clients who identified as Black/African American,” Leach told Capitol News Illinois in an email.

Healthy Illinois 2028 lists an infrastructure recommendation to “de-silo funding and eliminate inequitable funding.”

 

Requested additions

Though reducing overdose mortality was outlined as a priority goal in the previous SHIP, overdose deaths have continued to climb in Illinois.

The IDPH Opioid Data Dashboard recorded 3,261 opioid-involved overdose deaths in 2022 — a new record for the state.

The SHIP draft lists broad objectives including reducing the number of emergency department visits and increasing access to health care and wraparound services. It also sets a goal to “Increase funding to support the infrastructure development of the mental health and substance use disorder system.”

Absent from the report is any mention of licensed overdose prevention sites, something many addiction researchers and advocates for those with substance use disorders support.

“We really don’t have time to lose,” Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, co-founder of the Illinois Harm Reduction and Recovery Coalition, told the panel last week.

Overdose prevention sites, which are places where people who use drugs can get clean equipment and drug samples tested, present one major evidence-based strategy to reduce overdose deaths. Illinois has none but the issue was brought forward each of the past two legislative sessions by Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago. New York is the only state with licensed overdose prevention centers, both of which are in New York City.

In countries with overdose prevention sites, like Canada, Australia and several European countries, no deaths have been reported at any of these centers.

“We've seen how much these types of interventions save money, they reduce costs from emergency services. They provide a direct link for people to access health care services, job training, food,” Laliberte Barnes said. “I would just like to really advocate for the addition of overdose prevention sites as a strategy for the plan over the next five years.”

She said overdoses are still rising “statewide — rural, urban, suburban, you name it.”

The draft report also doesn’t contain a plan of care for recent migrant populations that have arrived in Illinois in the last 15 months largely from the southern U.S. border.

As of Dec. 6, more than 27,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Chicago, with a majority arriving via buses from Texas at the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott, according to the city’s new arrivals dashboard.

Without proper medical attention and paperwork, the number of asylum seekers places a particular strain on public schools that need to address their physical and mental health needs.

Betzua Rubio, a nurse at Eli Whitney Elementary in Chicago’s Little Village, told the panel she was concerned for migrant children who are without paperwork such as immunization records.

“We are seeing the lack of implementation for medical providers to adequately provide medical orders,” including “asthma action plans, allergy action plans,” Rubio said at the hearings.

Rubio estimated that more than 100 migrant students have been enrolled at Eli Whitney and described her work as a bilingual school nurse as “nonstop.”

“We have been bringing administration vans for those children, but this is all work that we're doing individually,” Rubio told Capitol News Illinois. “We're not getting any help.”  

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

 

 

Sandburg PN Program Ranked 4th in Illinois, Expanding to Carthage

Sandburg PN Program Ranked 4th in Illinois, Expanding to Carthage

Carl Sandburg College’s practical nursing program was recently recognized as one of the best in Illinois — and it’s getting bigger.

 

Sandburg was named by practicalnursing.org as having the fourth-ranked PN program in the state out of the 38 schools the website analyzed. The one-year certificate program prepares students for entry-level work as a licensed practical nurse (LPN).

 

Colleges were ranked using data from the previous five years of pass rates on the NCLEX-PN exam, which is used for state licensure. Sandburg had an overall score of 97.02 out of 100 in the website’s analysis.

 

“It's a great honor for Sandburg to be recognized as one of the premier practical nursing programs in Illinois,” said Dr. Emily Schaeffer, dean of nursing professions. “This ranking is a testament to the dedication our faculty have toward teaching and preparing people for this profession. It also demonstrates the level of work that our students put in during their time here and the knowledge they possess once they graduate and are ready to enter the workforce.”

 

In addition to having one of the leading practical nursing programs in the state, Sandburg is expanding its PN offering to its Carthage campus. The college conducted a feasibility study regarding the implementation of the program in Carthage, and it was approved this fall by the Illinois Board of Nursing.

 

Applications for the limited-enrollment program are open through March 1, and classes will begin with the 2024 fall semester. The Carthage campus currently offers a certified nurse assistant (CNA) course in addition to its upcoming PN classes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs in Illinois earn just over $28 per hour for an annual average salary of nearly $59,000.

 

“The addition of this program is the result of a need expressed to us by health care providers in the area,” said Jodi Pospeschil, director of the Branch Campus. “The practical nursing program gives our students additional career opportunities, and it benefits regional employers. This program is a welcome addition to our Carthage campus, and we are pleased with all of the excitement we have seen expressed about it since it was approved by the state.”

 

To begin the enrollment process or for questions about Sandburg’s practical nursing program, contact the Sandburg Welcome Center at 309.345.3500 or welcomecenter@sandburg.edu.

NAUVOO - COLUSA GIRLS BASKETBALL 7TH GRADE WIN STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!

NAUVOO - COLUSA GIRLS BASKETBALL 7TH GRADE  WIN STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!    

NAUVOO- COLUSA   39 WIN   OVER SPRINGFIELD CALVARY 14

 

School
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
17 11 5 6
1   11 2
Score
Nauvoo-Colusa 39
Springfield Calvary 14
Nauvoo-Colusa Statistical Leaders
  Contest Tournament
No Player 2FG 3FG FT-FTA Total 2FG 3FG FT-FTA Total
 1 Taylynn Denning   2      4  8      16
 12 Elizabeth Kohl                 
 13 Savannah Lamma              1-2  1
 14 Scarlett Yuskis   1  2    8  3  5    21
 2 Annabelle Orth                 
 21 Aubrey Newlan   1      2  1   2-2  4
 23 Maci Haas   7   9-10  23  19   25-29  63
 24 Taylor Priebe                 
 30 Natalee Chaknine                 
 4 Cadee Lemaire   1   0-2  2  3  1 0-2  9
 42 Ellie Fink                 
 43 Josie Scott           4   2-4  10
Team Totals 12 2 9-12 39

 

 

What to know about Illinois' assault weapons ban

What to know about Illinois’ assault weapons ban 
Which guns are banned, how to file disclosures and what happens next 
By ANDREW ADAMS 
Capitol News Illinois

Gun owners face a Jan. 1 deadline to register their assault weapons with the state under Illinois’ assault weapons law.
But between lawsuits and ongoing policymaking, the exact guns, accessories and ammunition covered under the Protect Illinois Communities Act remain unclear to many gun rights advocates, who point out that the ban includes some of the most popular models in the country.
The assault weapons ban went into effect when Gov. JB Pritzker signed it in January 2023, immediately prohibiting the sale in Illinois of a long list of weapons and attachments. But Illinoisans who own assault weapons – a term that is itself contentious among gun advocates – can keep them, so long as they purchased them before the law went into effect and register them with the Illinois State Police before the end of this year.
At the end of November, with four weeks before the deadline, nearly 4,900 individuals had filed disclosures with ISP. Owners of now-banned firearms, accessories and ammunition face criminal penalties if they fail to file that disclosure paperwork. 

Which guns and accessories are affected? 
Illinois’ assault weapons ban is wide-ranging and affects a variety of firearms and accessories, most notably weapons based on the design of the AR-15. 
The law classifies more than 170 different models of firearm as assault weapons. The statute also lists several general types of weapons under its definition of assault weapon, including AK-type and AR-15-type rifles. It also lists AK-type, AR-type, MAC-type, Thompson-type and Uzi-type pistols. The act restricts IZHMASH Saiga 12-type shotguns. Rifles that shoot .50 caliber rounds are also regulated by the act. 
List of guns 
But much of the confusion surrounding the law centers on the fact that it also restricts features that would classify an otherwise acceptable gun as an “assault weapon.” These include thumbhole, folding, telescoping and detachable stocks, pistol grips on rifles, flash suppressors, grenade launchers, barrel shrouds that allow users to hold the barrel without being burned, and the capacity to accept ammunition belts.  
Accessories that would give an otherwise unregulated firearm one or more of these features are regulated as “assault weapon attachments,” and they also require a disclosure with state police. 
Pistols are also restricted if they have a threaded barrel, a second grip, the capacity to accept magazines outside of the grip and shoulder stocks. 
Revolving cylinder shotguns are restricted as well as semiautomatic shotguns that have the capacity to accept a detachable magazine or a fixed magazine with more than five rounds. 
Importantly, any firearm that has been modified with aftermarket accessories to achieve the same effect as the state’s definition of “assault weapon” would still fall under the ban. This means that a collection of parts that could convert a firearm into an assault weapon – for example, an unregulated pistol and conversion kit – would be considered an assault weapon, even if the kit is unassembled. 
The law also bans .50 caliber BMG rounds. While common, these are not the only type of .50 caliber ammunition. Owners of this type of ammunition must file a disclosure with state police.
Ammunition feeding devices are also regulated by the act, but in a slightly less strict fashion than weapons. The law bans “large capacity” magazines, which it defines as being 15 or more rounds for pistols and 10 or more rounds for rifles. While banned, owners of large capacity magazines do not need to file a disclosure. 
View the interactive quiz below to see which weapons and accessories are banned under the act. 
Interactive quiz 
Affected gun owners must file an affidavit or face criminal penalties 
Owners of weapons regulated under the act can legally keep assault weapons, now-banned accessories and .50 caliber rifles, if they owned the weapon or accessory prior to Jan. 10, 2023, when the law went into effect, and they register them with ISP. Some people, notably law enforcement officers, are exempt from the disclosure requirement. 
People required to file this paperwork, called an “endorsement affidavit,” can do so at the state police Firearms Services Bureau website. This is the same online portal used for concealed carry licenses and Firearm Owners Identification cards. These affidavits must be submitted electronically and submitting false information would be considered perjury. 
These online disclosures require the maker, model, serial number and caliber of the gun. For accessories, a description and part number are required. A date of purchase is required if that information is available. 
If a gun owner moves to Illinois from a state where they legally owned firearms or accessories banned under Illinois’ law, they must file an endorsement affidavit with the state police within 60 days of moving to Illinois. 
This applies to owners of assault weapon attachments, even if they do not own an assault weapon. Local law enforcement agencies and the state police are responsible for enforcing the assault weapons ban in the same manner they currently enforce other regulations, such as the rules around FOID cards. 
Read more: Sheriffs say they want no role in enforcing state’s assault weapon registry
Penalties for violating the law vary. Carrying or possessing an assault weapon is a Class A misdemeanor. This is generally punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500. Manufacturing, selling, delivering and purchasing those weapons, however, is a Class 3 felony. These are generally punishable with five to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.  
A second or subsequent possession charge is considered a Class 2 felony, which is generally punishable by three to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. 
Manufacturing, possessing, selling or importing assault weapon accessories and kits is also considered a Class 2 felony. Specific cases may vary in their sentencing. 
While the law bans the sale and possession of large-capacity magazines, owners do not need to file a disclosure if they had these magazines prior to Jan. 10, 2023. 
For a brief period of six days this spring, an injunction temporarily halted enforcement of the assault weapons ban. Anyone who purchased a regulated weapon after Jan. 10, 2023, including during that window, is in violation of the law. 
“WHAT IS AN ASSAULT WEAPON” GRAPHIC 

How many banned guns are there in Illinois? 
As of Dec. 4, nearly 4,900 people had filed disclosures in accordance with the state’s assault weapons ban. They collectively filed about 9,300 weapons disclosures, about 4,800 accessory disclosures and 87 ammunition disclosures. 
GRAPH OF REGISTRATIONS (TO BE UPDATED REGULARLY): https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/15854567/
Estimating how many people own the types of guns outlined by the state’s assault weapons ban is nearly impossible, due to limited data collection requirements and inconsistent definitions of terms like “assault weapon” and “AR-15-style rifle.” 
That said, some estimates do exist. 
A survey conducted by Ipsos, a large market research firm, found that last year, one in five gun owners in the United States owned an AR-15 or similar gun. Estimates for gun ownership more broadly in Illinois vary, with research suggesting between 25 and 30 percent of the households in the state own a gun.  Older data suggests closer to 20 percent. 
Taken together, those statistics suggest that around hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans will be impacted by the state’s assault weapons ban.
Despite this uncertainty, the prevalence of these guns is one of the issues at the heart of the ongoing legal battle over the constitutionality of the law. 
Arguments in the federal cases that could invalidate or uphold the law have repeatedly turned to whether the guns are in “common use.” Under recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, guns in common use are generally protected under Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. 

State officials still settling rules, implementation 
As with many state laws, Illinois’ assault weapons ban has been the subject of administrative rulemaking, the process whereby the state agency responsible for implementing the law lays out the rules by which it will do so. 
The state police have proposed rules that are now under consideration by an oversight committee of lawmakers. The rulemaking on the subject has been closely watched and has spun off into a series of dedicated hearings hosted by ISP to gather public input on how to execute the law. 
Read more: State police still drafting assault weapons registration rules as deadline nears
One of the central issues at the heart of these hearings has been how precisely ISP will interpret some of the vaguer aspects of the law. This includes a final decision about exactly which items must be registered. 
The law is also the subject of ongoing litigation. Several federal cases challenging the constitutionality of the law could be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 2-1 opinion allowing the law to remain in effect while the cases continue. 
Read more: Federal appeals court upholds Illinois’ assault weapons ban
This story will be updated as litigation and administrative rulemaking continues. See something incorrect or have a question that wasn’t answered here? Email aadams@capitolnewsillinois.com. 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

Magical Holiday Evening at the Hancock County Outreach Center: A Festive Celebration by Memorial Hospital and Hancock County Outreach Center

Magical Holiday Evening at the Hancock County Outreach Center: A Festive
Celebration by Memorial Hospital and Hancock County Outreach Center

The spirit of the holiday season will come alive at the Hancock County Outreach Center
located at 511 Main Street, Carthage, Illinois, on December 20, 2023, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
Memorial Hospital, in collaboration with the Hancock County Outreach Center, invites the community to a magical Holiday Evening filled with joy, laughter, and festive activities.
This enchanting event is open to all, offering free entry and a complimentary meal for attendees. Doors open at 5:00 PM, kicking off an evening of heartwarming festivities suitable for the entire family. The celebration will feature a delightful array of activities, embracing a special Hispanic flair/theme to add an extra layer of excitement and cultural richness to the holiday season.
Event Highlights:
- Face Painting: Transform into holiday characters or express your creativity with festive designs.
- Winter Crafts: Engage in artistic activities to create unique holiday decorations.
- Kids Games: Enjoy a variety of entertaining games tailored for children of all ages.
- Pool Table & Ping Pong: Compete or play for fun in friendly games of pool and ping pong.
- Tours: Explore the Hancock County Outreach Center and learn more about its valuable
community services.
- Temporary Tattoos: Add a touch of flair with temporary tattoos designed for the holiday spirit.
- Teddy Bear Clinic: Bring your teddy bears for a check-up and experience the joy of caring for
others.
- A1C Diabetes Screenings: Promote health and well-being with complimentary A1C diabetes
screenings.
- Blood Pressure Screenings: Take a moment for a free blood pressure check to ensure a healthy
holiday season.
- Food with a Hispanic flair: Indulge in a delightful culinary experience featuring a menu inspired by Hispanic flavors, adding an extra layer of cultural richness to the event.


This collaborative effort between Memorial Hospital and the Hancock County Outreach Center aims to create an inclusive and memorable experience for the community. By combining festive activities with a Hispanic theme, the event promises to be a unique celebration that reflects the diverse cultural tapestry of the area.
Join us for an evening of community spirit, holiday cheer, and shared joy at the Hancock County Outreach Center on December 20, 2023. Together, lets make this holiday season truly magical.

Illinois Extension Launches Your Land, Your Legacy Landowner Workshop Series

Illinois Extension Launches Your Land, Your Legacy Landowner Workshop Series

 

 As western Illinois landowners strive for productive soil, clean water, healthy forests, and abundant wildlife, we realize it can be challenging to meet land management goals. Your Land, Your Legacy is a landowner workshop series that focuses on landowner conservation programs and techniques. According to a recent Illinois Extension survey, western Illinois landowners want to learn more about establishing pollinator plots, managing their forests properly for ecological and financial benefit, controlling invasive plants, prescribed burning, and restoring streams and ponds through skill-based, hands-on field days.

 

The first session in the Your Land, Your Legacy series is a free Conservation Assistance Programs for Landowners workshop on January 6, 2024, from 9am to 12pm at the Illinois Extension office in Quincy.  As a landowner, it can be difficult to know where to find resources and programs to assist with implementing conservation practices. During the workshop, representatives from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, Illinois Extension, and others will be speaking, sharing resources, and providing an overview of state, federal and non-profit programs that are available. Registration for this workshop is required. Visit go.illinois.edu/ConservationPrograms or call 217/223-8380 for more information.

 

The second upcoming hands-on field session in the Your Land, Your Legacy series is Forest Stand Improvement and Chainsaw Safety to be held on February 9, 2024, from 10am to 3pm at the John Wood Community College Ag Center/University of Illinois Orr Research Center near Baylis. Participants will be trained in assessing woodlands for undesirable species and in safe use of chainsaws, safety gear to use, chainsaw cleaning/maintenance, and be provided an opportunity to practice these skills with experts.  Registration for this workshop is required and the cost is $15 per participant.  For more information, visit go.illinois.edu/Chainsaw or call 217/223-8380.

 

SOURCE: Amy Lefringhouse, Natural Resources, Environment and Energy Educator, Illinois Extension

 

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.

 

Illinois Supreme Court: FOID records exempt from public disclosure 

Illinois Supreme Court: FOID records exempt from public disclosure

By PETER HANCOCK 
Capitol News Illinois 
 

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that people may obtain records about their own Firearm Owners Identification cards, but they may not use the state’s Freedom of Information Act to do so. 
In a 7-0 ruling, the court said the Illinois State Police acted properly when it denied FOIA requests from individuals who sought copies of letters explaining why their FOID cards had been denied or revoked. But the court also said those individuals could have obtained those records through other means. 
“ISP does not dispute this point but simply maintains, as we have found, that FOIA is not the proper means for obtaining the requested information,” Justice Joy Cunningham wrote for the court. 
The case revolved around a 2011 amendment to the Freedom of Information Act that exempts from public disclosure the names and information of people who have applied for or received FOID cards or concealed carry permits. 
According to briefs filed with the court, state lawmakers passed that amendment after the Associated Press filed a blanket FOIA request seeking the names of all FOID cardholders in the state, along with the expiration dates of their cards.  
Thursday’s ruling involved two unrelated cases from Madison County in which Sandra Hart and Kenneth Burgess Sr. sought copies of documents related to their FOID cards, including records explaining why their cards had been revoked. 
Thomas Maag, an attorney who argued the cases at the Supreme Court, said in an interview Thursday that both individuals claimed they had lost the original documents and that they sought copies so they could appeal the revocations. 
In both cases, ISP denied the requests, citing the exemption in the Freedom of Information Act. But in both cases, the Madison County Circuit Court sided with the applicants and ordered ISP to hand over the requested information. In 2022, the 5th District Court of Appeals upheld those decisions, saying the FOIA exemption was never intended to prevent individuals from obtaining records pertaining to themselves. 
Both the trial court and the appellate court pointed to the use of plural language in the 2011 amendment that prohibits the release of “names” and information of “people” who have applied for or received permits. They argued the use of plural words indicated lawmakers did not intend to prevent people from accessing their own information. 
But the Supreme Court rejected that analysis, saying the use of the plural words “does not, in itself, mean that a request for one’s own information” would be permissible under the 2011 amendment. 
The court’s ruling noted that the individuals could have obtained their FOID card applications and revocation letters through the Firearms Services Bureau, which is the division of ISP that processes FOID cards.  
 
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association. 
 

29th Annual Carthage Open House Winners List

 29th Annual Carthage Open House Winners List 

Window Decorating Contest:

 

2nd: Ramsey Financial

 

3rd: We had a TIE! Berry Creek Creations & Rural Bliss

 

Winners:

 

$200 Grand Prize: Alan Graff, Hamilton

 

$100 Winners:

Trish Gooding, Augusta

Allison Jacob, Carthage

 

$50 Winners:

Vern Gray, Hamilton

Brooklyn Simmons, Hamilton

Ann North, Hamilton

Donna Rhodes, Carthage

Diana Shults, Burnside

Dan Hanson, Hamilton

 

$25 Winners:

Bert Ruffcorn, Carthage

Dana Peacock, Carthage

Tammy McKnight, LaHarpe

James McClain, Hamilton

Keara Weber, Carthage

Kristina Knoche, Carthage

 

Kid’s Drawing Winners:

$25 Winners:

Ava Hall

Leighton Pollock

 

$10 Winners:

Eric Massey

Christine Massey

Savanna Martin

Jayda Hall

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