APRIL 29, 2023
Injunction halts ban enforcement. Friday afternoon, a Federal judge issued an injunction against the recently enacted firearms and magazine ban passed by Illinois Democrats and signed into law by Governor Pritzker in January 2023.
From the beginning of House Democrats’ efforts to pass sweeping legislation seeking to ban a multitude of weapons in common use for personal protection, House Republicans argued the legislation was unconstitutional. Today, a Federal judge found that there is a likelihood of facial unconstitutionality and stopped the enforcement of this ban.
If further court action is taken on this matter, I will be sure to keep my constituents informed but will continue to argue that the Democrats’ firearms and magazine ban is flat-out unconstitutional.
Com-Ed Four verdict expected any day. The “ComEd Four” trial could provide what one state representative says is a “master class” on needed ethics reforms at the Illinois capitol.
The jury is currently deliberating in the trial where prosecutors allege a nearly decade long bribery scheme involving a utility and powerful statehouse actors.
Three lobbyists and a former ComEd official on trial the past six weeks all pleaded not guilty in the scheme allegedly involving former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Madigan, who faces more than 20 corruption-related charges, has pleaded not guilty with a trial expected next spring.
State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said some changes he sees arising out of the trial is closing lobbying loopholes, making better disclosure on the origins of legislation, bringing reforms to how bills move out of committees, and how witness slips are managed.
“We really got to take a master class in the manipulative practices of the leaders of this body of the past and the way that business is done here,” Spain told The Center Square.
The statehouse can’t avoid the issues revealed at trial, Spain said.
“And if you listen to those tapes and you serve in the Illinois General Assembly and it doesn’t compel you to take aggressive action to clean up corruption in the state of Illinois, then I don’t think you deserve to be here anymore,” Spain said.
Spring flooding cycle begins. Authorities have posted flood warnings for the Mississippi River’s banks from Illinois’ northern border, near Galena, to the junction of the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers near Alton. On the opposite bank from Illinois, Iowa’s Gov. Kim Reynolds has issued a disaster declaration covering ten riverfront counties in the Hawkeye State. Parallel flooding has begun across the river in Carroll County, Illinois, and the river town of Savanna.
As in previous years, the high water is associated with snowmelt upriver, especially from watersheds in Minnesota and Wisconsin. As these floodwaters roll south, the fresh waters will crest on various days depending on location. In Quincy, Illinois, for example, the floodwaters are expected to crest from Thursday, May 4 through Saturday, May 6.
Illinois Gaming Board approves plans by Hollywood Casinos to move their Aurora, Joliet casino locations. Hollywood Aurora and Hollywood Joliet are located on the banks of the Fox River, physically distant from a limited-access highway. Although these operations are now land-based casino complexes, they had their roots in cruising “riverboats” that moved up and down the river. Gaming industry data shows that the best location for a casino hospitality property is a space close to a major highway.
To enable the creation of new permanent casino positions and trade construction jobs, the Illinois General Assembly enacted legislation in May 2019 to allow the holders of established “riverboat” casino licenses, including Hollywood, to move away from their riverfront locations to spaces better suited to revenue maximization. The owner of the Hollywood brand, Penn Entertainment, responded to the 2019 law by putting together a detailed plan to locate more optimal Aurora and Joliet locations, to build new casino-hospitality complexes in both metro areas. Under the strict regulations imposed by Illinois law on casinos operating in-state, it was this Penn Entertainment planning structure that was approved by the Illinois Gaming Board this week. The actual construction of the new casino complexes will come before the Board in another approval application cycle at a later date.
Illinois’ unemployment rate was 4.4% in March 2023. Unemployment rates are published monthly by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). The IDES numbers indicate that in March 2023, 4.4% of the overall Illinois labor force was unemployed. This number defines unemployed people who are actively seeking employment as a percentage of the overall nonfarm workforce.
Metro areas within Illinois posted March 2023 numbers this week in line with the overall statewide average. Centers of higher education, headed by Bloomington-Normal (3.4%) and Champaign-Urbana (3.6%) have jobless numbers in line with overall national prosperity. Traditional industrial regions, headed by Decatur (6.1%) and Rockford (6.7%), continue to have recession-level unemployment numbers which are much higher than Illinois and the U.S. as a whole.
The preliminary March 2023 figure marked a slight decline from the 4.5% unemployment rate notched in February 2023. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 7,900 during this period. The number of unemployed Illinois workers remained high, at 283,800. Many states that neighbor Illinois have significantly lower unemployment rates than Illinois, such as Indiana’s rate of 3.1%. The national unemployment rate was 3.5% in March 2023.