Happy holidays to you! As the year winds down I think we can all look back on some great successes this year. Economic activity is approaching pre-pandemic levels, and there is definite excitement in the air as we count down to the holidays we celebrate in December. Please shop local when doing your holiday shopping, so we can all support the small businesses that employ our friends and neighbors and help our communities thrive. Small businesses truly are the backbone of the Illinois economy.
Lawmakers Pass Bill Paving Way for Next Generation of Nuclear Reactors
During the recently completed fall Veto Session, state lawmakers took an important step toward creating a stronger and more reliable power supply for Illinois by passing legislation to end the moratorium on new nuclear reactor construction.
House Bill 2473 lifts the ban on next-generation nuclear reactors of less than 300 MW beginning January 1, 2026, allowing for the construction and development of next-generation Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). The Illinois Emergency Management Agency Office of Homeland Security will be directed to establish rules for reactor decommissioning, environmental monitoring, and emergency preparedness by January 1, 2026. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will provide consultation.
House Bill 2473 also authorizes the Governor to commission a brand-new study to research the state’s role in guiding the development of new nuclear technology and makes conforming statutory changes, including updating references to IEMA-OHS in preexisting Illinois law.
Passed by the Senate with a 44-7 vote and by the House of Representatives with a 98-8 vote, House Bill 2473 awaits final action by the governor.
New Back 2 Business Grants
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) recently announced the Illinois B2B NewBiz grant program that became available on November 30. This new program extends financial relief to businesses that started during the COVID-19 pandemic in industries that were most impacted by it. Grants are for businesses that have not been eligible for state grants and most of the federal emergency support thus far.
Business owners can learn more and apply for the Illinois B2B NewBiz grant on the grant portal, at https://b2bnewbiz.com, until January 11, 2024. To be eligible for a grant award of up to $30,000, for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations must meet all of the following criteria:
- Started operations between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021.
- Had gross receipts of at least $25,000 and up to $20,000,000 in 2021 (annualized if started during 2021).
- Currently has active operations in Illinois.
- Have not received a Back to Business (B2B) grant prior to 2023.
- Including Business Interruption Grant, Back to Business Grant issued prior to 2023, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, or Restaurant Revitalization Fund Grant.
- Must meet one of the following two criteria:
- The business or nonprofit is in a priority industry as defined for the previous Back to Business grant program (a list of priority industries and their definitions can be found here).
- The business is majority owned by an individual or individuals who became eligible for and received unemployment insurance benefits – including from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – between March 13, 2020, and the date the business began operations.
Addison SOS Road Testing Center Open for Business
Last week I joined Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias and other public officials for the official grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new Secretary of State’s Road Testing Center in Addison.
Located at the Addison Township Office at 50 E. Oak Street, the facility will focus on serving Illinoisans who need to take a behind-the-wheel driving test to obtain or renew a driver’s license. Other basic driver services will also be offered, such as driver’s licenses and sticker renewals.
It is a wonderful addition to this region and it will provide a much-needed service for those who live and work in this area, as motorists will now have easy access to a test that is required for many drivers, especially seniors.
The Secretary of State’s Office has been working to improve service delivery following the COVID-19 health pandemic. Steps to improve customer service include the “Skip the Line” appointment system for most driver services, the implementation of a designated senior-only appointment phone line, and senior-only walk-in centers in Evanston, Bridgeview, and Westchester.
Strengthened “Clear and Present Danger” Law is Working in Illinois
Following the tragic mass shooting at the Highland Park 4th of July parade in 2022, it was learned that the suspect in that shooting was able to obtain a FOID card and legally purchase firearms, even though Highland Park Police had filed a clear-and-present-danger report with the Illinois State Police (ISP) just months prior. The report detailed that the shooter had threatened members of his family and had threatened to commit suicide.
The administrative rule in place at the time required the ISP to discard clear-and-present-danger-reports if there was no pending or active FOID card on record for the individual at that time. The shooting shined a light on a glaring loophole in the existing clear-and-present-danger law, which aimed to keep firearms out of the hands of unstable people intent on causing harm to themselves or others.
Following the Highland Park shooting, a new administrative rule was subsequently filed with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) that required the ISP to keep all clear-and-present-danger reports on file, regardless of whether the individual has a pending or active FOID card at the time.
The ISP recently released information that shows the strengthened clear-and-present-danger law is working. Click here to read their report.
When we keep firearms out of the hands of potentially dangerous people, we save lives. I was proud to support the clear-and-present-danger legislation when the original bill was passed, and I am supportive of the work members of JCAR did to strengthen the ISP’s ability to get guns away from those who pose a danger to themselves or others.
Submissions needed for Illinois Veterans History Project
The Illinois Veterans History Project, developed as part of an effort by the Library of Congress and the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, needs your help to ensure our veterans are not forgotten.
The project is a statewide initiative that seeks to collect, preserve, and make accessible first-hand recollections of veterans who served in the five military branches.
Illinois military veterans and their families are being asked to submit their stories, photos, and mementos to be put on display at www.idaillinois.org.
Submissions can be searched by name, war, and hometown of the veterans who submitted materials. So far the collection contains more than 6,700 records.
To submit an entry, visit www.ilsos.gov/veteranshistoryproject and complete an Illinois Patriot Information Form to the Illinois State Library. Completed forms can be submitted electronically to email@example.com or by mail to the Illinois State Library, 300 S. Second St., Springfield, IL 62701−1796.
Happy Holidays to You and Your Family!
As we approach the end of 2023 and prepare to usher in 2024, I hope you are all able to spend quality time these next few weeks with family, friends, and other loved ones. I hope this holiday season fills your heart with love, and your home with joy and laughter. From my family to yours, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a bright and prosperous new year!