|Senator Plummer wishes you and your family a Merry Christmas. He looks forward to continuing to represent you in the new year.
|As we prepare to bid 2023 a fond farewell and ring in the New Year, more than 300 new laws are set to take effect in Illinois on January 1, 2024. New laws for 2024 range from limiting 2nd Amendment Rights to more positive legislation supported by Senate Republicans that increases protections and support for children, veterans and first responders. A full list can be downloaded at: https://senatorjasonplummer.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Jan1NewLaws24FINAL.pdf
|New “Assault Weapon” Ban Requirements While sales and purchases of certain firearms had already been made illegal by Illinois’ controversial “assault weapon” ban (AWB), Illinois residents who already owned guns covered by the ban are allowed to keep them if they file required paperwork before January 1, 2024. The ban was the central component of the “Protect Illinois Communities Act,” which Senator Plummer strongly opposed in the General Assembly. The law requires owners of now-banned weapons and/or accessories to file an affidavit with the Illinois State Police (ISP) stating that they owned the firearms and/or accessories before the ban came into effect on January 10, 2023. ISP submitted rules for the process, including what firearms and accessories are banned, to the Legislature’s bicameral and bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). After pushback from lawmakers on the panel, ISP held a series of hearings this fall discussing the rules and soliciting questions and feedback. Much of the feedback involved confusion over exactly which firearms and accessories are included in the extremely vaguely worded ban and rules. Additional concerns involve firearms purchased during a window created by conflicting court rulings. Between April 28 and May 4, 2023, a federal injunction blocked the implementation of the ban, allowing Illinois residents to make purchases during that window of firearms that would have been illegal if the AWB were in effect. Senator Plummer filed legislation to modify the affidavit process to allow residents to keep those guns, but Democratic leadership refused to allow the bill to be called for a vote. According to the ISP rules, those firearms will become illegal on January 1, 2024. For more information on what firearms and accessories are included, ISP created a document which can be found at: https://isp.illinois.gov/StaticFiles/docs/Home/AssaultWeapons/PICA%20Emergency%20Rule%20Register.pdf For further information, including setting up an online account to file an affidavit, visit: https://isp.illinois.gov/Home/AssaultWeapons Meanwhile, several court cases challenging the constitutionality of the ban are ongoing, including two cases docketed with the United States Supreme Court. As an advocate for the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, Senator Plummer remains optimistic that courts will overturn the ban.
|Human Trafficking Victims Get Opportunity to Move Past Trauma Victims of human trafficking will have more tools to overcome their trauma and pursue a better life under a new law sponsored by Senator Erica Harriss. The new law creates a pathway for victims, who are often forced to participate in unlawful activity by their traffickers, to expunge their criminal records. House Bill 2418/P.A. 103-0035 allows victims of human trafficking to petition for vacation, expungement or immediate sealing of their sentence. It also allows the victim making the petition to attend hearings remotely to avoid undue hardship or create a risk of harm. The law also allows the petition to be filed under seal if a public filing may expose the victim to future harm. These steps help ensure a victim is able to avoid future victimization from their former abuser or abusers.
|Conflicting Priorities on Crime as the Year Ends Among the issues that made headlines during the fall veto session is the Democrats’ refusal to extend bipartisan legislation that passed in 2017, and is set to expire at the end of the year, that established higher minimum prison terms for people convicted for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon if they’d previously been convicted of certain crimes. The legislation also increased penalties for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. Unfortunately, Democrat lawmakers blocked legislation that would have extended this law from being heard in the Illinois House of Representatives, which means it will expire at the end of the year. At the same time, Democrats prioritized passing legislation that created laws that allow non-citizens to work as police officers and felons to work at casinos, which take effect January 1.
|Changes for Sportsmen in 2024 Hunters, fishermen and trappers will be able to obtain a three-year license under a new law supported by Senator Plummer. Under House Bill 3677/P.A. 103-0456, for residents aged 65 or older, the fee is one half of the fee charged for a three-year fishing/hunting license. For resident veterans of the United States Armed Forces after returning from service abroad or mobilization by the President of the United States, the fee is one-half of the fee charged for a three-year fishing license. Veterans must provide to the Department, per administrative rule, verification of their service. The Department shall establish what constitutes suitable verification of service for the purpose of issuing three-year fishing licenses to resident veterans at a reduced fee. Additionally, under House Bill 2317/P.A. 103-0528, for sport fishing devices or spearing devices, any resident of Illinois who is age 26 or older who has not purchased a resident fishing license in the past 10 years shall be eligible to receive a one-time annual resident fishing license for a fee of $5. Provides that any nonresident who has not purchased a nonresident fishing license in the past 10 years shall be eligible to receive a one-time annual sport fishing license for a fee of $10.
|New Laws Support and Recognize Veterans and Military Families According to the Illinois Department of Human Services, more than 700 Illinoisans were identified as homeless veterans in 2022. Two new laws set to take effect on January 1 seek to reduce homelessness among veterans and extend other assistance to military families. Senate Bill 2005/P.A. 103-0247, sponsored by Senator Craig Wilcox, requires housing authorities to develop and implement policies granting housing preferences to veterans who are homeless. Similar benefits are already provided to other groups of Illinoisans, and Wilcox’s law would extend these to veterans. (Note: Some housing authorities were already doing this, so it ensures that this benefit is available to all Illinois veterans/standardizes the practice.) State agencies must now also consider the military status of any homeless family member when determining the eligibility for state or federal benefits such as housing or rental assistance, job training and employment opportunities under Senate Bill 1376/P.A. 103-0086, sponsored by Senator Sally Turner. Sponsored by Senator Sue Rezin, Senate Bill 1072/P.A. 103-0409 designates the Honor and Remember Flag as the symbol of the State’s concern for and commitment to honoring and remembering the lives of all members of the United States Armed Forces who have lost their lives while serving. Owning a pet can lift a person’s mood, and help veterans feel less stressed and provide comfort to those with post-traumatic stress disorder. House Bill 2500/P.A. 103-0434, a law set to take effect in 2024, will require animal shelters to waive adoption fees for a dog or cat if the person adopting is a veteran.
|Help for Parents of Children with Special Needs A new law aims to empower parents of children with special needs as they make important medical decisions. Under prior Illinois law, parents had access to medical records for children under the age of 12. However, they could be denied access to certain records and test results for children 12 -17 years of age, even if the records are from tests and/or procedures that required parental consent to be performed. Once the child turns 18, if they are declared a developmentally disabled adult, parents could once again get access. Senate Bill 188 closes the loophole for special needs children aged 12 – 17, allowing parents to access certain medical records.
|School Safety, Staffing and Work-Based Learning Focus of New Education Laws for 2024 New laws that focus on school safety, incentives for teachers to work in hard-to-staff schools and work-based learning are all on deck for 2024. Schools will be required to include in their emergency and crisis response plan a rapid entry strategy for law enforcement under House Bill 3559/P.A. 103-0194, co-sponsored by Senator Jason Plummer. Under HB 3680/P.A. 103-0197, if a student needs extra accommodation during emergencies, including natural disasters or an active shooter situation, then that accommodation will be considered during the development of that student’s individualized education program (IEP). Hard-to-staff schools will get a boost in the new year thanks to HB 3801/P.A. 103-0207, which provides $4,000 retention bonuses to National Board-Certified Teachers for two consecutive years. Students seeking to enrich themselves with work-based learning experiences, including scheduled events of the FFA and 4-H programs, will be considered “in attendance” under House Bill 3814/P.A. 103-0560.