Weekly News from Leader McCombie

Lawmakers concluded veto session last week, which marks the end of the legislative calendar for the Illinois General Assembly. I am back in the 89th District and ready to make my way across our communities to the various meetings we have been invited to and the events we have planned. I hope to see you and your families over the next few weeks as we gear up for the holiday season!

Winter Clothing Drive

I recently launched a winter clothing drive to help gather warm items for those in need this winter. The drive will run until December 8th.

Winter coats will be accepted as well as winter gear like boots, hats, gloves, or scarves. All sizes will also be accepted from infant to adult.

 As we approach the colder months, I encourage you consider donating any gently used winter items that you may not use or need anymore…I am hosting this drive to help those in need stay warm this winter, and I know our community will come together to get the job done!

My office has facilitated several drop off locations including my district office in Savanna, Savanna, 9317B IL Rt 84, as well as the Jo Daviess, Ogle, and Stephenson County Farm Bureaus, which will accept drop-offs Monday-Friday 10:00 am-3:00 pm. The Carroll County Farm Bureau will accept drop-offs Monday through Thursday from 10:00 am- 2:00 pm.

On-site donations in Savanna will only be accepted on Wednesdays.

I also launched an online Winter Gift Drive Registry so residents can contribute directly; it can be accessed online through my website, RepMcCombie.com.

Fall Veto Session

Week two of the Fall Veto Session concluded last week in the legislature.

A bipartisan nuclear energy deal was passed to allow for future permitting and construction of small modular reactors (SMRs), helping to pre-plan for the energy crisis looming because Democrats have killed baseload energy production in Illinois.

For months now, House Republicans have been demanding changes to the way professional licenses are issued to help address crushing workforce shortages. Another successful development from last week included the temporary assistance given to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to accommodate a portion of professional licenses terribly delayed. While not a permanent fix, any forward progress gets more Illinoisans to work more quickly and is a positive step forward.

A critical fix was delivered for farm mutual insurance policyholders. Rural farm mutual policyholders (those insuring large agricultural equipment like tractors and combines) were successful in advocating for one of the few bipartisan fixes delivered during the Fall Veto Session. If this fix had not gone through, over 51,000 policyholders would have been affected.

There were a few disappointments, including the Invest in Kids scholarship program. Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch refused to call the Invest in Kids renewal legislation for a vote, essentially killing the popular program that helps underprivileged students throughout Illinois.

The Illinois House, under Welch’s leadership, failed to take a stand affirming the State of Illinois stands with Israel and, tragically, remained silent on the terrorism perpetrated by Hamas. In the first week of veto session, I spoke in support of Israel in a speech on the House Floor. I talked about a resolution I filed,  House Resolution 446, which I asked all members of the chamber to support in order to strongly condemn the violence in the Middle East and stand with Israel as it defends itself against the heinous acts of violence carried out by Hamas terrorists.

And finally, not a peep was made by the politicians controlling the legislature in Springfield about corruption. In the middle of the Burke Trial and in a week that saw a top Pritzker-appointee plead guilty to charges related to mismanaging taxpayer dollars, Supermajority Democrats didn’t feel the need to even pretend they care about ethics reform anymore.

Republicans will not stop putting ideas forward and working toward improvements for Illinois. This includes continuing to work on our priorities, which are reflected in the five working groups I launched at the beginning of the year on the following topics:

  • Reading Literacy
  • Public Safety
  • Reigniting our Economy
  • Child Protection/DCFS
  • Women and Families

General Assembly Approves Nuclear Energy Bill

Since the 1980s, the startup construction of new nuclear power plants has been banned in Illinois. The ban was originally meant to be temporary, based upon the failure of the U.S. government to open a permanent facility for the disposal of high-level waste products generated by the operations of a nuclear reactor. Nothing in this ban has prevented the continued operation of full-sized (1,000 MW and up) nuclear power reactors and plants, such as those operating at locations such as Dresden and the Quad Cities, for which construction began before this ban went into effect.

With growing support for both nuclear power and other forms of so-called ‘green” energy, structures that generate electricity without releasing carbon dioxide, this ban or moratorium has come to be seen by some as obsolescent. Advocates point to the recent moves in research and development toward the operation of smaller, so-called “modular” nuclear-power plants. These are plants, designed under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that can generate up to 300 megawatts of power. This is less than one-third of the size of the current operating nuclear reactors of Central and Northern Illinois, which generate electric power and operate in locations such as Braidwood, Byron and Cordova. 

These small modular reactor (SMR) plants can be designed so they do not get hot enough to create a major nuclear meltdown, such as the events familiar worldwide at Chernobyl and Fukushima. In addition, a modular nuclear power plant is said to generate less radioactive waste, and in particular, they are said to generate much less high-level waste, than is generated by the same level of electricity produced by a traditional nuclear power plant. New legislation, HB 2473, authorizes the construction of new modular reactors in Illinois, with power outputs up to 300 MW, starting in calendar year 2026. The owners of the proposed new modular reactors that are authorized by this bill will have to have plans in place for reactor decommissioning, environmental monitoring, and emergency preparedness. The bill does not contain language authorizing the construction of full-size nuclear reactors in Illinois.

State Police Drafting Permanent on Firearms

The objects under the ban include not only certain types and definitions of firearms, so-called “assault weapons” by pro-ban advocates, but also many objects associated with these types of firearms. The statewide ban on these firearms and associated objects was enacted by the Illinois General Assembly meeting in lame-duck session in January 2023.

Under State law, the Illinois State Police has the responsibility to move administrative rules forward to implement this new statute. Even though the law has faced a series of court challenges, the State Police has drafted and published a series of temporary “emergency” rules, and proposed permanent rules, as guides to implementation. Second Amendment advocates have pointed out many flaws in these new and proposed rules. These flaws have created an atmosphere of confusion as to what firearms and other objects are banned under the new law. 

The State Police has created a webpage that tries to answer some of these questions, but many critics are not satisfied with the explanations and definitions provided by the enforcement State agency. A focus of discontent are the rules used to create the registration process that can be used by Illinois residents to register certain weapons and objects, and to affirm that they were legally owned prior to January 2023, the effective date of the new law. Concerned Illinois residents, including gun owners, can submit comments to the State Police on the new rules. However, the State Police is not legally required to respond to comments submitted after a deadline date of Monday, November 13, 2023.

A bipartisan General Assembly panel, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, met on Tuesday, November 7, and won a commitment from the State Police that they would listen to and respond to concerns submitted by concerned Illinoisans. This pledge included informal language in which the State Police promised to listen to concerns submitted after the legal comment deadline of November 13. However, in addition to submitting comments and focusing on these rules, many supporters of firearm rights are continuing their legal fight to strike the Illinois law down altogether. This legal fight may include an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Veterans Day

The Veterans Day holiday was November 10, and November 11 is the historic “Armistice Day” to remember the services provided by American armed forces in World War I, World War II, and other major conflicts. The armistice of November 11, 1918, was the first time in global history when a world war came to an end. In 1918 our country already had a nationwide Memorial Day, in late May, to remember our soldiers who had fallen in service to our country. The return of hundreds of thousands of soldiers to civilian life after November 11, 1918, was a powerful reminder to America to add an additional remembrance day for the men and women in service, then and now, who were able to come home. 

From Veterans Day and beyond, I want to thank all veterans in the United States armed forces who have served America with honor! I also want to encourage Illinois veterans to participate in a program launched by the Secretary of State to share their stories, photos, and mementos for future generations.

This initiative is part of the Illinois History Project, which the Secretary of State’s office oversees and administers in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Spread the word and help our veterans be seen for future generations!

Legislative Calendar Released

Lawmakers received the legislative calendar for next year; now, we will return to the Illinois House to begin the new year on January 16th! As always, you can view the action online at ilga.gov