Governor Signs Assault Weapons Ban
In the Lame Duck Session, an “assault” weapons ban was passed and signed into law, with the vote split mostly along party lines. There were a few concessions made from the original bill; however, the current legislation overall prohibits the manufacture, sale, and future purchase of “assault weapons.”
While the new law bans most citizens from purchasing certain firearms, existing guns are grandfathered in. Owners of those guns are required to register those weapons under the new law.
After passing in both the Senate and House, the Governor quickly signed the ban into law at a press conference at the Capitol.
Senator Terri Bryant voted “no” to the ban. She said that these restrictions continue to try to criminalize otherwise law-abiding gun owners instead of going after violent criminals.
In response to the bills signing, Second Amendment organizations have begun to file lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of the ban in court. Senator Bryant also believes that the bill violates the Second Amendment and is hopeful the courts will overrule this infringement.
Abortion Bill Passes in General Assembly, Awaiting Governor’s Signature
Last Tuesday, both chambers passed another abortion bill that proponents claim will increase access to abortion and gender reassignment procedures. They say the legislation is designed to protect people undergoing these procedures and those performing them in Illinois, including those traveling from other states where the procedures may be illegal.
Additionally, the bill will expand on who can perform these procedures and will expedite the licensure process for medical professionals coming from other states and allow non-physicians to preform abortion procedures. Furthermore, the bill will target insurance companies and compel them to provide coverage, if they already provide pregnancy coverage, for certain abortion medications.
Lastly, the bill would also prevent the Governor from extraditing individuals who come to Illinois that are charged with breaking abortion laws in other states.
Opponents of this bill cite multiple concerns with the legislation. One concern is that by allowing non-doctors to perform certain abortion procedures will result in potential severe injury. Also among them is the concern that prioritizing abortion licensure will result in delay in approving other licenses for different illnesses, including those potentially terminal like cancer or brain tumors.
Senator Bryant voted against the abortion expansion bill. She noted that Illinois is already seen as a very abortion friendly state, but this law would turn Illinois into a state of extreme pro-abortion laws.
SAFE-T Act Is Partially Paused in the Illinois Supreme Court
After the Kankakee County judge ruled parts of the SAFE-T Act as unconstitutional in a lawsuit filed by multiple counties, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled December 31st to halt the implementation of the no-cash bail system that was supposed to go into effect on January 1.
The ruling is in response to a lower court ruling that would have stopped the participating counties from enforcing the no cash bail law. The Supreme Court’s ruling was issued to make sure different systems weren’t being used in different counties while the court case moves forward. In its order, the Illinois Supreme Court said the ruling was to “maintain consistent pretrial procedures throughout Illinois.”
While this ruling does place a momentary stop on the no-cash bail system, it does not stop all of the SAFE-T Act. Other changes still in force include: requiring body cameras on law enforcement by 2025, more police training in accountability and transparency, and new guidelines for the decertification of police officers. Some cite the increased financial burden these requirements place on municipalities, however.
As of now, a firm date has not been set yet for the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the lawsuit. However, the Court has released a loose schedule for the case to follow. Opening briefs will run from late January to the end of February and oral arguments will be held sometime in March. Then it is up to the Justices to make their decisions and draft their opinions. Currently the Court is made up of five Democrats and two Republicans, with terms lasting ten years.
103rd General Assembly Inaugurated, Bryant Named to Leadership
Last week saw multiple inaugural ceremonies, as first the elected statewide officials were sworn in on Monday. Members of the General Assembly were sworn in at two different, simultaneous ceremonies on Wednesday. The Senate’s was held inside the Old State Capitol while the House of Representatives travelled to the Performing Arts Center at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
In the Senate, Republicans elected a new Senate Republican leader, Senator John Curran (41st District, from Downers Grove). Soon after, the rest of the Republican leadership team for the 103rd General Assembly was released. State Senator Terri Bryant was named as the Assistant Republican Leader for the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus.
Senator Bryant, who previously represented the 58th Senate District during the 102nd General Assembly, will continue to serve as the state senator for the District in the 103rd General Assembly. The new 58th District contains all or parts of Edwards, Franklin, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Marion, Monroe, Perry, Randolph, St. Claire, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, and White counties.