As we inch closer to Christmas, I want to wish you all a very merry holiday season! I have spent time in and around our 89th District and have loved attending the festive events our community hosts–like Forreston’s Christmas in the Country! As always, please reach out to my office if you need any assistance with state issues or legislative questions.
Winter Clothing Drive Concludes
I want to thank everyone who helped contribute to our winter clothing drive. We were together able to collect a significant number of coats and winter gear to donate to those in need this winter season. Now, I will be bringing the donated items over to the Regional Office of Education for distribution to area families.
Mayra Flores Visits Illinois
I recently met with former Congresswoman Mayra Flores to discuss the ongoing migrant crisis affecting Illinois, which includes a potential supplemental budget. Congresswoman Flores won the special election for Texas’ 34th Congressional District and became the first Mexican-born woman to serve in Congress — and one of a few Republicans to ever represent the Rio Grande Valley in Washington, D.C. She discussed her experience living in and representing a border district, and reflected on the failed federal border policies of the current administration.
Earlier this year, I traveled to McAllen, Texas, which is located in Flores’ district, to witness the border crisis firsthand. Immigration is no longer just a federal issue, but is affecting all of us at the national, state, and even local levels. In Texas, I met the folks who protect, process, and assist migrants, including law enforcement, border patrol agents, and humanitarian aid workers. My experience in Texas made me realize just how massive and complicated this issue is. Texas, Florida, Arizona, and other states should not be left to deal with this issue alone. However, the current situation is not working for Illinois, and poor policymaking and a lack of transparency from Democrats has made it much worse.
Over the last six months Illinois has felt the impact of this crisis: from healthcare coverage for the undocumented exceeding the appropriated amount within one single month, to $160 million of state funds shifted – without legislative oversight – in just the last six weeks.
Alongside Congresswoman Flores, I had the opportunity to visit some of the migrant shelters in Chicago, and I witnessed first-hand the chaos these migrants are experiencing–living outside in terrible conditions, or on the floors of police stations. The City of Chicago’s disastrous response to this crisis has only further exacerbated the problem, leading Governor Pritzker to come in with his own plan without any discussion from Republicans.
The General Assembly will now consider a supplemental budget bill to cover costs for both asylum seekers as well as undocumented immigrants and I am pushing for House Republicans to be included in those discussions. House Republicans represent parts of all 102 counties; we want and need to be part of the discussion to ensure a transparent process for working families. That is something that I will continue to fight for: Illinoisans cannot afford more taxes to pay for unfunded programs that are spiraling out of control. We must be disciplined now so we can continue to fund our priorities – education, job growth, public safety, and caring for our most vulnerable citizens.
Two area businesses were recently inducted into the Illinois Made program, joining the ranks of local businesses across the state that exemplify the authentic experiences and innovative products that make Illinois an incredible destination to explore.
Each year, the Illinois Office of Tourism selects a group of local businesses that they deem the best in Illinois to be inducted into the Illinois Made program. This year, that list includes two businesses within the 89th District: Prairie State Winery in Genoa and Trolley Depot Coffee & Tea Co. in Galena. 48 small businesses or ‘Makers’ were inducted into the program this year, the largest class of businesses since the program’s inception in 2016, and overall reflects a wide range of businesses.
This time of year, it is especially important we think of our small businesses, which are the backbone of our community. I am proud to have two within our community and congratulate them on this special recognition.
The Illinois Made program encourages residents and visitors to discover the people, products, and unparalleled experiences found at small businesses in every region of the state. I encourage you to take the opportunity to visit these businesses in Genoa and Galena to see what they’re all about!
IDOT is Hiring!
The Illinois Department of Transportation is still in the process of hiring temporary snow removal operators and winter salaried highway maintainers. There is currently a snowplow driver shortage, which means snow removal could be delayed this season and IDOT is encouraging those interested to apply!
According to IDOT, the agency is “still in the process of hiring temporary snow removal operators and winter salaried highway maintainers in some of our districts. Hiring continues to be a fluid process and IDOT will continue to hire in many areas as the season continues to ramp up.”
The department has close to 1,700 permanent employees available for snow removal this winter and hopes to have more than 1,425 in temporary help, statewide.
Any qualified residents are encouraged to apply! Applicants must have a commercial driver’s license, submit to a criminal background check, a pre-employment physical, vision testing, and drug and alcohol screening. Veterans are encouraged to apply. Applications are only accepted online.
Firearm Ban Update
The ban on certain classes of firearms and magazines, called the Protect Illinois Communities Act, has faced a number of appeals, the latest being heard through the federal courts. Plaintiffs assert that the measure, in addition to containing elements of unconstitutional vagueness, constitutes a violation of the Second Amendment rights of Illinois residents. The Act was passed by Democrats during a lame duck General Assembly session on January 10, 2023.
After the bill’s passage I spoke on the House Floor to remind my colleagues, and Illinois residents, that this bill will not address the root causes of violent gun crimes nor do anything to penalize crimes committed with a firearm. This bill also requires a registry of firearms purchased legally, which is just another step toward firearm confiscation. If they truly wish to tackle the rising tide of gun violence in our state, Illinois Democrats would be well served to focus on enforcing current laws, fully prosecute criminals, stop decriminalizing crime, support law enforcement, support victims, and halt their never-ending attacks on 2nd Amendment Rights. I will continue to argue that the Democrats’ firearms and magazine ban is flat-out unconstitutional.
A recent decision rendered on the Act by a three-judge federal appellate panel opened the door for an appeal to the federal Supreme Court. A separate door was also opened by this decision to petition the appellate court for a rehearing of the case, with all of the judges of the appellate court asked to come together to render judgment, but last week’s action centered on the U.S. Supreme Court appeal.
The Illinois State Police (ISP) plan to enforce the state’s fire weapons ban and registry and has made an effort to more clearly interpret the law. The proposal must be approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, a bipartisan bicameral committee in the General Assembly. The committee’s next meeting is set for tomorrow, December 12, in Chicago.
I am once again encouraging law-abiding gun owners to stay engaged as this issue proceeds.
Celebrate The Holiday Season
The Illinois tourism department, “Enjoy Illinois,” has put together a package of website pages to highlight the holiday season in Illinois. Many Illinois communities have put together Christmas-themed displays and celebrations. Enjoy Illinois has put together itineraries and travel suggestions for the suburban Chicago area, Downstate Illinois, and the city of Chicago.
Be sure to check out any and all upcoming events over the next few months on my website: Events – Tony McCombie (repmccombie.com). This will be updated as events are scheduled for our office as well as community-based events in the 89th District.
Be sure to save the date for my blood drive next year; it is scheduled for February 9th in Savanna. With the ongoing blood shortages affecting hospitals across the state, I encourage anyone who is able to look at donating blood. Every donation counts!