Update from Senator Plummer: April 22

Piggy Bank
Senate Republicans Highlight Major Issues with Likely-Unconstitutional University Funding Plan   Members of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus are calling attention to serious issues with a proposed funding formula for the state’s higher education system. The Senators held a press conference on April 18 to inform the public about the changes that could be coming to university funding.  During the press conference, Republican lawmakers pointed to elements of the formula that base the amount of funding to state universities on a student’s race. The formula would fund higher education institutions on a per-student basis, with tiers of $2,000, $4,000, $6,000, and $8,000, based on multiple factors, including race.   They noted that under the recent Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard ruling, basing funding levels on race is likely unconstitutional. Additionally, that type of plan would violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, jeopardizing any and all federal funding for the schools. The Senators pointed to the University of Illinois, which received more than $750 million in funding in 2023, as an example of what could be at stake. Republican lawmakers also raised concerns that the formula does not consider the cost of operating medical schools, graduate programs or necessary deferred maintenance. The proposed funding formula has been attributed to the Illinois Commission on Equitable Public University Funding. However, two of the Senators at the press conference who are members of the Commission noted that neither the formula or the report in which it was contained were ever voted on by the full Commission and did not represent the consensus of the members.  Senate Republicans are hoping to draw attention to the proposed formula and ensure proper vetting before it can become law. They all noted the need for a stable, equitable, and reasonable formula for funding higher education, but believe the process of developing a formula needs to be transparent. 
Senate Chamber
New Legislation Gives Law Enforcement More Authority to Evict Squatters  Law enforcement would be given more authority to evict squatters who are illegally residing in other people’s homes under legislation heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee during the week. The legislation targets situations where a person moves into a house while the occupants are out of town, then claims to have a lease triggering an expensive and lengthy process for the rightful owner to regain control of their home. Senate Bill 3658 states that no person shall have a right or legal standing to occupy or remain on or in any real property, residence, or structure if the person has no written property interest under a written lease or rental agreement with the owner of the property listed in county tax records or the owner’s agent; has no documentation of payment of rent made to the owner of the property or the owner’s agent; and fails to provide any evidence of an oral or written agreement in which a property interest is claimed.  The legislation, sponsored by State Senator Dave Syverson, was heard during an April 16 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Kenny Winslow, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, and John Millner, representing the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, testified on behalf of the proposal when it came before lawmakers.  The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 8-0 to advance Senate Bill 3658 to the full Senate for further consideration. 
Legislation Moves to Require Notification of Pesticides in Cities and Towns  While many communities rely on pesticides to manage weeds and insects, residents often find themselves in the dark about when and how these chemicals are applied. The Illinois Senate is working to bring transparency to the process by passing legislation mandating notification procedures for pesticide application.  The legislation was created at the request of a constituent in Senator McClure’s district, who discovered that pesticides were being applied near his home without warning or notification, and he was unable to find out who was spraying the chemicals and what the chemicals were. Particularly disturbing to the constituent was that he witnessed overspray hitting children playing, swimming pools, and the exterior of homes.  Senate Bill 3342 passed the Senate and now awaits action in the Illinois House.  Senate Bill 3342, filed by Senator Steve McClure, requires that an applicator provide public notice before pesticides are applied on a public right-of-way inside the borders of a municipality, to all residents within 200 feet of that right-of-way. The public notice would also include contact information for the applicators. 
2024 ‘Coolest’ Thing Made in Illinois Announced  A mining truck manufactured by Komatsu recently emerged as the winner of the 2024 Makers Madness contest, earning the title of “the coolest thing made in Illinois.”  Beating out more than 200 other entries for the coveted title, the Peoria-made truck, was crowned through the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s fifth annual contest. The truck has a hauling capacity of up to 400 tons, boasts cutting-edge features such as new innovations in suspension transmission, electric drive technology, and autonomous operation.  Three other finalists were also recognized at the ceremony, including Mullen’s Imitation French Dressing, The MQ-25 Stingray Drone Refueler, and Enviro Buildings’ Mod Box. 
Hundreds rally in support of Second Amendment at Statehouse  The streets of Springfield were filled with hundreds of supporters of the Second Amendment on April 18 as Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day (IGOLD) took center stage.  This annual event brings together gun owners, Second Amendment advocates, and lawmakers in a collective effort to uphold constitutional rights and safeguard the interests of law-abiding gun owners.  The group began their day in downtown Springfield, hosting a rally at the Bank of Springfield Convention Center. They then marched a half-mile to the Capitol, heard from various speakers, and met with their local lawmakers to discuss legislative issues related to the Second Amendment.  Senator Plummer said that this event is more important than ever considering the recent years of attempts to erode law-abiding constitutional rights by the majority party. 
Jason Plummer

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