Positive Signs for Illinois’ Economy But …

Politics
August 3, 2018
Senate Week in Review: Positive Signs for Illinois’ Economy But …
President John F. Kennedy once said that a “Rising tide lifts all boats.” The rising tide of the national economic turnaround, which I attribute to President Trump’s tax cuts and America First policy, is apparently having an impact on Illinois – despite the reluctance of Illinois politicians who obstructed reform policies for years. Meanwhile, Second Amendment rights in Illinois are under attack, but citizens – through their county governments – are pushing back.
 
Illinois Jobs Update
The latest information about job creation in Illinois indicates a drop in unemployment in some metropolitan areas compared to a year ago, while job creation was generally on the upswing. The two recent reports by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) showlower unemployment in six of the state’s 13 major metro areas while job creation rose in nine of those major metro areas.
 
According to IDES Director Jeff Mays, the unemployment increase in the remaining seven metro areas can be attributed to “an increase in the overall workforce brought on by renewed confidence in the local economy.”

The workforce includes people working and those looking for work. So, more people being counted causes the unemployment rate to climb.“Many people that were unemployed are now out looking for work as more jobs are available,” said Mays.

A second report indicates that while Illinois’ statewide unemployment rate remained steady at 4.3 percent in June, payrolls jumped by more than 18,000. Citing preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Director Mays said, “June’s payroll gain is the largest in 12 months and the third largest in 24 months…Illinois’ unemployment rate held steady in June and stands at its lowest point in 12 years.”
 
It’s good that a positive trend is emerging but, we have lagged well behind most other states in job creation since the so-called “Great Recession” ended in 2009. There is still much room for improvement.
 
A recent report by the Illinois Policy Institute shows the state’s job growth at 1.11 percent since the Great Recession, while nationally, job growth is at 1.67 percent. That same report indicates that Illinois job growth tanked after the 2017 income tax hike down to .74 percent, while nationally job growth was “virtually unchanged” at 1.60 percent.
 
My Republican colleagues and I pushed economic reforms for years to boost the economy – including fewer regulations and lower taxes – only to be stymied by the political opposition. As a result, Illinois’s economy is not performing as it should.
 
Meanwhile, Illinois’ public debt crisis is making national news. The Fox Business Network recently reported that Illinois is one of five states“drowning” in debt. Connecticut, California, New Jersey and New York are the other four. Speaking Thursday to business anchor Stuart Varney, former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said taxpayers are likely to be first in line to feel the pain to pay off the debt he characterized as “irretrievable.” Public pensions are the primary cause, according to Daniels, who calls them “unfunded promises.”
 
Standing Up for the Second Amendment
Opposition to new gun restrictions, which came out of the 2018 spring legislation session, continues to grow. To date, 26 Illinois counties have declared themselves to be “sanctuary” counties for law-abiding gun owners.
In the 54th Senate District, Fayette and Effingham counties passed sanctuary status, while the Illinois State Rifle Association says Bond, Madison and Marion counties are considering it.
 
These are counties that recognize a renewed effort in Springfield to limit Second Amendment rights after one of the biggest gun rights victories – Illinois’ Concealed Carry law – took effect in 2013. Shortly after the passage of Concealed Carry, I warned gun owners at the annual Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day in Springfield that they must remain vigilant. I predicted there would be future attempts to limit and restrict their Second Amendment rights. Regrettably, that has come to pass.
 
Recently, the Governor signed House Bill 2354 and Senate Bill 3256 into law. These new laws limit our Second Amendment rights.
 
HB2354 would allow a family members or law enforcement to petition the court to remove a person’s firearms through the newly-created Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act. This could happen with little or no evidence and the law provides very limited due process rights for the person whose firearms are confiscated. Also troubling is the fact that a prosecuting attorney, such as a State’s Attorney would not necessarily be involved in these situations, which could open this law up for abuse by individuals making false accusations.
 
SB3256 creates a 72-hour waiting period before a person could purchase a firearm. This is just another gun control measure that doesn’t address the root problem of gun violence. It only impacts law-abiding gun owners. Criminals won’t abide by a waiting period. They never have – never will. Illinois already has a minimum 24-hour waiting period for all long gun purchases and a 72-hour waiting period for handguns.
 
Can you image a 72-hour waiting period for your Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, and Free Exercise of Religion (1st Amendment) or prohibiting an illegal search by authorities (4th Amendment)?
 
The Second Amendment is an individual right, acknowledged as a natural right and guaranteed by our Constitution. It was so affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2008 ruling in the District of Columbia v. Heller case.
 
These new Illinois laws are overreaching, excessive and unjustly punish law-abiding gun owners. Stripping away constitutionally-guaranteed Second Amendment rights will not improve public safety and make our communities and neighborhoods safer.
 
During the 2018 legislative session I not only opposed these restrictions, I offered proposals to expand our gun rights, as I also have done in previous legislative years.
 
After the well-publicized school shooting in Parkland, Florida in February of this year, I introduced legislation (Senate Bill 3609) allowing local school officials to decide if armed school personnel was appropriate. It is a debate lawmakers should have had but didn’t. The only solution we’ve seen so far on gun violence is to impose more restrictions on law-abiding citizens. That tactic isn’t working.
 
Two additional school shootings occurred after I introduced SB3609, including one in Dixon, Illinois that happily ended without injury or death and with the perpetrator arrested. Despite these events, even one so close to home, there was no action on my proposal by the majority party that controls the legislative process. It should be noted that there was a previous years’ effort to create a school safety task force in Illinois but, little to nothing has been done to address school safety.
 
My legislation is not about turning schools into armed camps either. However, it seems to be simple common sense that we extend to our children the same level of protection lawmakers are provided at the Capitol to keep the building, legislators and state employees safe. Protections for the Capitol Complex includes armed personnel and security details. Unfortunately, as families get ready for a new school year, our “gun-free” schools remain an easy target for individuals seeking to threaten our children and school personnel.
 
Notable Quotable
“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”  James Madison, (1751 – 1836); Fourth President of the United States; “Father of the Constitution”
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