Legislative News from Senator Don DeWitte

Illinois Legislative Session Begins

The Illinois General Assembly kicked off the 2024 regular session on Jan. 16, and lawmakers spent much of the week in meetings with constituents and other lawmakers, and drafting legislation that will be filed. The General Assembly is expected to take up a number of serious issues during the session, including the ongoing immigration crisis and its associated costs. So far, Governor JB Pritzker has chosen to deal with the crisis through executive action, bypassing the legislature while spending hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars. The Governor needs to be more transparent about how much is actually being spent on immigration services, and how much money is being taken away from programs designed to help Illinois citizens. The regular legislative session resumes at the Capitol on Feb. 6.

Lawmakers Take Up Assault Weapon Ban Rules

On the same day that lawmakers returned to Springfield, the bipartisan and bicameral Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) met to discuss new permanent rules for the state’s “assault weapons” ban (AWB) proposed by the Illinois State Police (ISP). As you may know, I sit on this committee.

Currently, the State is operating under emergency rules that ISP promulgated last year. These new permanent rules will replace those emergency rules and contain changes, additions, and clarifications that ISP has worked on since the emergency rules were first published.

Numerous concerns have been raised about the potential for confusion caused by both the emergency and permanent rules. Critics have said the rules are too vague and could leave gun owners struggling to understand exactly which firearms, parts, and attachments are illegal or need to be registered.

Republican members of JCAR filed a motion to prohibit the new permanent rules from being put into place, citing many of the same concerns, but the motion failed on a party-line vote.

However, the Republican JCAR members were successful in filing a motion to object to the rules on the same grounds. ISP must respond in writing to the Committee’s objection before it can file the regulations with the Secretary of State’s Office to be adopted.

Senator DeWitte Continues to Collect Valentines for Seniors

Valentines are continuing to arrive at my offices, but there is still time to drop off valentines, poems, drawings, and other well-wishes for this year’s Valentines for Seniors program. Between now and February 5, my West Dundee and St. Charles offices are collecting items that will be distributed to local nursing homes, assisted living centers, and long-term care facilities in the 33rd District.

Cards and other items can be dropped off at either office Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:30. There will be containers outside of the offices for off-hours drop-offs. They can also be mailed to the office.

West Dundee Office
641 South 8th Street
West Dundee, IL 60118

St. Charles Office
406 Surrey Woods Drive, Suite A
St. Charles, IL 60174

For additional information about this program, please contact Joe at, or call the DeWitte office at 847-214-8245.

IL Tollway Switching Away from IPASS Transponders, Adopting Sticker System

The Illinois Tollway has announced it is replacing traditional I-PASS transponders with stickers this year. The stickers will be available by the end of January.

According to Tollway officials, sticker tags are being adopted by toll agencies across the country and by the Illinois Tollway as they provide a convenient, reliable and less expensive travel experience for customers. The sticker tags use radio frequency identification to communicate with toll collection technology. They will be available at customer service centers at the Tollway’s headquarters and oases. Officials said they will also be at Jewel-Osco stores and Road Rangers locations (Rockford area) at some point in February. Attendees of next month’s Chicago Auto Show (Feb. 10 through Feb. 19) will have a chance to buy the stickers as well.

Existing transponders will continue to work through their expiration dates, and customers will not be required to switch to the I-PASS sticker tag until then. Officials are asking customers to dispose of old transponders “in an environmentally sound way, not discarded in the trash.”

There is no deposit fee for the I-PASS Sticker Tags. The $10 transponder deposit will be applied to the I-PASS customer’s account once a new I-PASS Sticker Tag is registered to the account for current transponders.

DeWitte Demands Pritzker Rescind Proposed Cuts to Service Hours for Vulnerable Illinoisans

Last week I joined my Senate Republican colleagues in demanding that Governor Pritzker reverse course on a plan to significantly reduce service hours for Illinois adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) who live in group homes. Governor Pritzker and his Administration’s Department of Human Services have proposed cutting service hours by 2.5 million in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2025 budget.

These alarming cuts would affect about 10,000 of our most vulnerable citizens who rely on their state government for assistance. It equates to an approximate $87.7 million cut in state funding for this population of residents.

In a letter dated January 17 to Governor Pritzker, Republican Senators pointed out that the cuts equate to a nearly 10% drop in service hours for the IDD population in group homes at a time when the Governor is channeling hundreds of millions of dollars toward services for noncitizens. Per the letter, “It’s very difficult to ignore that you’ve increased funding for noncitizens by over a billion dollars across the board, seemingly while your Administration is pushing this rate cut for the developmentally disabled. It’s obvious your priorities are not with the citizens of this state who are the most underserved.”

In a bipartisan effort, legislators from both sides of the aisle successfully advocated for a $2.50 per hour wage increase for Direct Support Professionals in the FY2024 budget, and this proposed decrease in service hour funding more than wipes that additional budget funding away.

My office has been inundated with calls and emails from family members who fear for their loved ones’ ability to access service hours they need. Every lawmaker in Springfield should be outraged over this. We all need to work together and ensure these cuts do not happen.

You can read the Senate Republicans’ letter here.

DeWitte Urges Caution with Response to Local Journalism Task Force Findings

For the last year, I have sat on a panel that studied the decline of local journalism outlets throughout Illinois, and considered possible legislative remedies that would increase the number of journalists and local newspapers in the state. On January 17, we presented our findings at a Capitol press conference.

I actually came from a journalism family. My mother was a reporter for over 20 years before becoming the editor of the then St. Charles Chronicle which is now the Kane County Chronicle in the Shaw Media network. So I have a deep respect and appreciation for journalists and the work they do, and an awareness of the challenges they now face.

Through our research, we learned that the Chicago area is among the 20 U.S. metro areas with the highest loss of news sources per capita. The decline in local news access in rural parts of the state is even worse.

At our press conference, some policy recommendations were unveiled. While I recognize the need to do what we can to reinvigorate the local news sources in our state, in my comments I urged caution as we proceed. Free speech is enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and that guaranteed freedom must guide our future discussions on how and if the legislature should involve itself with this issue.

Click here to watch my press conference comments, and click here to view the task force’s final report.

IDNR Seeking Summer Instructors for 2024 Urban Fishing Program Clinics

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is accepting applications now for instructors for 2024 summer fishing clinics through the department’s Urban Fishing Program. The Illinois Urban Fishing Program was established in 1985 to teach people of all ages to fish, to provide better local fishing opportunities, and to offer participants an understanding of and a greater appreciation for natural resources.

Fishing instructors are the department’s boots on the ground at free clinics hosted in communities throughout Illinois. These temporary positions are not to exceed six months, making them perfect for teachers, retirees, students, and others eager to help people learn about fishing skills and ecology. The deadline to apply is approaching quickly. To learn more about the positions, qualifications, and how to apply, visit Look for positions titled “conservation education representative.”

Illinois Cannabis Sales Set Record

Illinois set another record for recreational cannabis sales in 2023, with more than $1.63 billion in sales. While sales to out-of-state residents showed a significant drop as additional states joined Illinois in legalizing the adult use of cannabis, sales to Illinois residents increased by 14%. Overall, Illinois saw a 7% increase in retail cannabis sales, resulting in $417.6 million in cannabis sales tax revenue.

Recreational cannabis sales have increased each year in Illinois since legalization in 2020. However, Illinois has some of the highest cannabis prices in the country, along with some of the highest taxes, driving some customers out of state. Marijuana sold in Illinois, the third largest market for legal cannabis in America, ranks as the most expensive.

Under the law, Illinois residents can have 30 grams of cannabis flower, five grams of cannabis concentrate, and no more than 500 milligrams of THC contained in a cannabis-infused product. Residents in the medical cannabis pilot program may have more than 30 grams of flower, but only if it is grown and secured in their residences under certain conditions.

Want to stay up to date with Senator DeWitte?

Sign up for his E-Newsletter below: