Representative Dan Swanson’s June 28 Capitol News Update


  • Fix to senior homestead exemption continues to be blocked
  • Democrats’ overhaul of election laws blocked by judge
  • Illinois “bump stock” ban still in effect despite Supreme Court ruling
  • County Fair season underway

Fix to senior homestead exemption continues to be blocked

For more than 30 years, many seniors in Illinois have been eligible for a Low-Income Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption on their taxes. To qualify, a person 65 or older must be the owner of record of the property (or have legal or equitable interest in it) and must be liable for paying the real estate taxes on the property. The law allows qualified seniors to have their home’s equalized assessed value (EAV) frozen to avoid big increases in taxes due to inflation.

But to be eligible for the low-income exemption, a person must have a total household income of $65,000 or less, and lately this has been where the problem has started to come in. A recent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for seniors has pushed many Illinoisans over that $65,000 figure. But with inflation and other contributing factors, such as new EAVs of their property, some seniors are seeing their homeowners tax liability increase drastically, sometimes even doubling.

The way to solve this problem is to raise the maximum income limitation to be eligible for the exemption so that these COLAs do not push people out of eligibility. I am sponsoring legislation, House Bill 1074, which would raise the amount up to $73,700.

Unfortunately, like a lot of good ideas this spring, this bill was not allowed to advance through the process or get a vote on the House floor. This is a problem that is only going to continue to grow. We need to address it sooner rather than later.

Democrats’ overhaul of election laws blocked by judge

Democrats muscled through a major change to Illinois’ election laws in early May, about halfway through the election cycle. The new law changed the rules for candidates seeking access to the ballot for this fall’s election.

The practical effect of the law was to keep off the ballot several Republicans who were seeking to challenge Democrat incumbents by retroactively requiring them to run in the March primary rather than accessing the ballot through collecting petition signatures. Existing law allows candidates to petition their way onto the ballot as long as they turn in enough valid signatures by June 3.

A lawsuit was filed a few days later alleging that the new law violated Illinois’ constitutional right to vote by repealing a campaign law in the middle of the election cycle. This month a Sangamon County judge agreed, granting a permanent injunction which blocks enforcement of the new law for this year’s election. The judge ruled that it is unconstitutional to restrict ballot access, thus restricting voting rights, under the law as it existed.

It is not yet known if the state will file an appeal to the judges ruling and attempt to reinstate the new restrictions.

Illinois “bump stock” ban still in effect despite Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on bump stocks and other devices that increase the firing power of semiautomatic weapons last week, but Illinois’ state-level ban remains in effect. A spokesperson for the Illinois Attorney General’s office confirmed that the ruling did not affect Illinois’ law. A separate challenge to that law is still pending

The Illinois ban was enacted early last year after a sweeping gun ban law passed the General Assembly during the January 2023 lame duck session. At the time, Illinois became the 9th state in the country to enact such a ban.

Illinois’ ban has been challenged in federal court, and we are awaiting word on whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the challenge.

County Fair season underway

Our Sons of the American Legion Post #1197 volunteers to collect admission fees at the Henry County Fair gates. Tammy and I volunteered to work the east gate near the livestock buildings and arena from 7 until 11 a.m.

We greeted many young people who were showing pigs, calves and/or bucket calves. We wished every one of them “good luck!” In addition to those special young people, I met the newly crowned Henry County Royalty.

Congratulations to all!

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