As always, you can reach me through the contact form at repbennett.com, or by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) or (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac). Thank you for the honor of serving as our district's representative in Springfield.
State Police developing rules for new firearm dealer licensing law
Last year, over my strong opposition and the opposition of most of the Republicans in the House, the state enacted a new law requiring onerous mandates on licensed firearms retailers in Illinois. The bill was signed in January and took effect in July. The State Police (ISP) are now in the process of making rules for how the new law will be implemented.
Part of this rule making process involves taking comments from the general public. Though the formal public comment period is now closed, ISP is still accepting them, just without a requirement that they reply to any new comments. Another comment period will be open in the future when the ISP finalizes its rules and submits them to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).
Many consider this new law and the rules which govern it to be serious infringements on our Second Amendment rights. That is the major reason why I opposed the bill when it was called for a House vote. Now that it has been signed into law, a lawsuit challenging the new law is pending.
Among the burdensome requirements of the new law is a requirement that licensed gun dealers have security systems that are roughly equal to those found in banks or casinos. The law requires firearm retailers to install video cameras which scan the business and monitor the identities of everyone in the part of the store where firearms are stored, handled or transferred.
The proposed rules can be found in volume 43, issue 34 of the Illinois Register, beginning on page 9084. A large number of comments from Second Amendment supporters have already been submitted to protest these new rules. Those wishing to submit a comment may direct it to Mr. Matthew R Rentschler, Chief Legal Counsel Illinois State Police, 810 S. 7th St., Suite 1000-S, Springfield, IL 62703.
Concerns mounting about Illinois crop yields
Last week I told you about a crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture which stated that the Illinois harvest was picking up steam after a difficult planting season. Unfortunately, that is only part of the story. While the nice weather of the past few weeks has helped Illinois farmers to catch up to the yearly average of completing harvests, many farmers and agriculture industry leaders are expressing growing concern about the crop yields that those harvests are producing.
The delays caused by the excessively wet spring led to a shorter planting season throughout the state. This in turn reduced many cornstalks' ability to set large ears. As a consequence, corn conditions in Illinois have been rated 54% fair-to-poor, with 21% considered poor or very poor. The numbers for soybeans are similar: 57% fair-to-poor, and 20% poor or very poor.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture has put together a list of state and federal resources that are available to help Illinois farmers impacted by the difficult conditions this year. Meanwhile, our local farmers will continue to be harvesting over the next few weeks. Please remember to use caution on the roadways and be on the lookout for farm equipment.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,233,732,417 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $7.9 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be approximately $133 billion.
Photo contest deadline approaching
Friday October 25 is the deadline to submit photos for the Hometown in the Heartland 106th District photography contest. Winning submissions will be displayed in my Capitol and district offices. To submit an entry, send your work to email@example.com by 6 p.m. on the 25th.
Participants must include their name, phone number and the location where the photo was taken in the 106th district. The photos must be an 8" by 10" jpg, and the higher the resolution the better. For more information, please contact my Springfield office at (217) 558-1039.
Dedication of new mural in Watseka
Last week I was honored to join many members of the Watseka community in dedicating a new mural of Watchekee, the namesake of the city of Watseka. The main speaker was Dr. George Godfrey, great, great grandson of Watchekee. Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan provided additional comments and I was glad to present a certificate on behalf of the General Assembly. Kudos to Janice Lubbin and the entire Kiwanis club for their leadership in making this all happen. It was a great day for Watseka!
Enjoying autumn in Illinois
With fall now in full swing, the University of Illinois Extension is sharing information about fall in Illinois. Their "Miracle of Fall" website features details on fall foliage, scenic fall driving and hiking trails, festivals around the state and educational information about the different kinds of trees in Illinois and how they express their fall foliage color. You can also enjoy some of these scenic views by taking a look at fall foliage cameras from around the country.
Did You Know?
Fridays in the fall are well known for football in Illinois and around the country. Friday October 18 marks another important football milestone: it is the 80th birthday of Illinois football legend Mike Ditka. Coach Ditka was born in Pennsylvania, but made his name as a star tight end for the Chicago Bears in the 1960s. When his playing days were over, Ditka became a coach and led the Bears to their only Super Bowl win, a 46-10 blowout against the New England Patriots in January 1986.