— Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Holiday Masking, Pharmacies Limiting Purchases, by NBC 5 Chicago.
— Possible winter surge looming for COVID-19, by CBS 2 Chicago.
Second, third round of hearings held for Illinois assault weapons ban bill
Members of the law enforcement community asked lawmakers to vote in support of legislation that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines during the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee’s second hearing Thursday. Law enforcement officials said police are becoming increasingly out-gunned, with data showing that Chicago has a more severe gun problem than other large U.S. cities.
The committee also heard testimony Tuesday from gun rights advocates and firearm owners’ rights organizations – including the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) and National Rifle Association (NRA) – who argued that the ban would be unconstitutional, largely unenforceable, and ineffective at reducing gun violence.
The “Protect Illinois Communities Act” (HB 5855) would raise the age limit for owning a Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card from 18 to 21, limit magazine sizes, ban the use of ‘switches’ that allow guns to be converted from semi-automatic use to automatic use, boost the state’s firearm restraining order (red flag laws) from six months to one year, and create an Illinois State Police Strike Force to prevent interstate gun trafficking.
No future committee hearings are currently scheduled, however, lawmakers are expected to take up the bill when they reconvene in early January for lame duck session, which only requires a simple majority vote to pass the bill in each chamber.
AROUND THE STATE
— Illinois wins $253.7 million in federal funding to boost internet access in underserved areas: “The Biden White House, Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth with Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday that $253.7 million in federal funds will be sent to Illinois to boost broadband infrastructure development where it is lacking throughout the state,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.
— Judge gives no hints on SAFE-T Act, says he faces ‘monumental task’ to rule on sweeping law by Dec. 28: “A Kankakee County judge offered no hints Tuesday on how he might rule on a legal challenge to Illinois’ controversial criminal justice reform law known as the SAFE-T Act, which is set to abolish cash bail across the state in less than two weeks,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.
— Gov. Pritzker Extends Illinois Cyber Security Commission Executive Order to Ensure Coordination Across All Levels of Government: “Governor JB Pritzker Tuesday extended the Illinois Cyber Security Commission’s executive order to support a strong coordination effort across all levels of government to enhance cyber security,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.
— Mayoral contests take shape in DuPage, Kane counties: “There will be contested races for mayor or village president in at least six towns in DuPage and Kane counties during the April election,” by the Daily Herald.
City Council, Cook County commissioners introduce proposals on property tax relief
Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22) introduced an ordinance last week (02022-3980) to spend $10 million in unallocated federal American Rescue Plan funds to help low-income Chicago homeowners who “have experienced significant property tax bill increases.”
A study released earlier this month from the Office of Cook County Treasurer showed that while the median property tax bill for Chicagoan homeowners rose by 8 percent in Tax Year 2021, homeowners in some Latino communities saw increases almost six times that amount.
If approved, this measure would create a loan program for city residents with an income at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines whose property taxes have doubled by more than the citywide average increase. The proposal has gained support from various city officials, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and currently has 16 total sponsors.
Last week, the Cook County Board of Commissioners proposed a similar resolution (R-23-0593) in an effort to provide relief to homeowners who saw drastic property tax increases within the last year.
The City Council has until their terms end on May 15 to pass the ordinance before the legislation introduction process is reset, and the bill would have to be reintroduced.
MORE FROM CITY HALL
— Mayor Lightfoot Announces New Climate Infrastructure Fund for Nonprofit Organizations and Small Businesses: “Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced Tuesday a new grant opportunity aimed at catalyzing climate action across Chicago by nonprofit organizations and small businesses. In partnership with the Department of Planning and Development’s Chicago Recovery Plan Initiative, the newly established Climate Infrastructure Fund will provide funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements in buildings, support the purchase of electric vehicles and installation of electric vehicle charging stations, and enable green infrastructure solutions to capture stormwater and reduce onsite flooding,” from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.
— District council slates and their opposition make cases for, against running as a slate ahead of likely precedent setting decision: “Three sets of candidates and their attorney running on separate slates for the city’s new police district councils in the Feb. 28 election argued Tuesday that nothing in the ordinance that established the district councils prohibits candidates for the newly created positions from filing petitions to get on the ballot as a slate and running for election on the slate,” by The Daily Line.
‘Tis the Season: Beltway Briefing Holiday Edition
Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, and Kaitlyn Martin wrap up this year’s Beltway Briefing podcast series as they reflect on key political and legislative battles of 2022 and – as the 118th United States Congress gets ready to convene, look ahead to events in Washington and beyond in 2023.
Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.
IN OTHER FEDERAL NEWS
— Lawmakers unveil $1.7T bill to avoid shutdown, boost Ukraine: “Congressional leaders unveiled a government-wide $1.7 trillion spending package early Tuesday that includes another large round of aid to Ukraine, a nearly 10% boost in defense spending and roughly $40 billion to assist communities across the country recovering from drought, hurricanes and other natural disasters,” by FOX 32 Chicago.
— Congress moves to ban TikTok from US government devices: “TikTok would be banned from most U.S. government devices under a government spending bill Congress unveiled early Tuesday, the latest push by American lawmakers against the Chinese-owned social media app,” the Chicago Tribune.