A press release from Karen McConnaughay:
Senator McConnaughay’s End of Session Wrap Up
SPRINGFIELD- According to State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) after some last minute scrambling by the majority party in Springfield in an effort to resolve some of the most important issues facing Illinois, the spring legislative session concluded on May 31.
While progress was made on many issues during the spring session, inaction often gave way to frustration as the state’s Democrat leaders failed to act, or left until the last minute some of the top issues in Illinois.
“I am beyond frustrated at the lack of action during the spring legislative session on the most pressing issues facing Illinois today like pension reform and our severely out of balance budget,” said Senator McConnaughay. “I am happy that we were able to reach a compromise on concealed carry, but the General Assembly, and the Democrat leaders that control it, have to get serious about the other issues contributing to our fiscal instability.”
Arguably the greatest success of the spring legislative session is the passage of HB 183, a measure Senator McConnaughay voted for that was introduced in response to a federal court ruling requiring Illinois to legalize concealed carry. While the proposed law isn’t perfect, it is a good compromise that upholds Illinois residents’ Second Amendment rights while providing proper safety precautions.
After months of negotiation the General Assembly was able to advance House Bill 183, a measure providing Illinois citizens the right to carry a concealed firearm.
If this bill is signed into law by Governor Quinn it will allow Illinois to join the rest of the nation in allowing some form of Right-to-Carry. Illinois has been under a June federal court deadline to adopt some form of a Right-to-Carry law.
The compromised that passed provides common sense safeguards that ensure adequate training and background checks for those applying for a concealed carry permit. Additionally it promises greater uniformity throughout the state by preempting all local ordinances affecting concealed firearms and ammunition, including registration, licensing, possession and transportation, for those with a concealed carry license.
In order to receive a permit to carry applicants will not have to demonstrate a need to carry, but they will have to undergo 16 hours of training, more than any other state in the nation, and pay a $150 application fee. The concealed carry license will be good for five years.
The legislation also lists specific locations where a firearm cannot be carried. These locations include any school or child care facility, bars, hospitals, government buildings, airports, sporting events, and several others. The bill also prohibits carrying a firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Strict penalties are laid out for those found to violate this provision. Additionally, applicants cannot have been convicted of a misdemeanor and the bill outlines strong mental health standards and reporting procedures.
Without a doubt the greatest frustration of the spring was inaction by the ruling party in Springfield on the issue of pension reform.
Illinois Democrats hold the Governor’s office, a 71-47 majority in the House and a 40-19 majority in the Senate yet were unable to reach an agreement on pension reform.
While there was hope that an eleventh hour compromise may be reached, the General Assembly adjourned without significant progress.
All parties agree that the single most important issue facing the state is pension reform, yet the General Assembly adjourned on May 31 without addressing it.
Senator McConnaughay, expressed frustration with the state’s Democrat leaders and sympathized with the public wondering why, with super majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly and control of the governor’s office, a compromise couldn’t be reached to solve the pension crisis.
Lawmakers were able to make headway on a number of important issues, but the failure of the General Assembly to address pension reform is likely to overshadow those accomplishments.
Two competing plans were still at play in the final week of the spring legislative session; one introduced by Senate President John Cullerton and the other by House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Senator McConnaughay voted for Senate Bill 1, the House Speaker’s plan that would generate the most substantial savings for the state. Governor Quinn spent months talking about the need for pension reform, but was notably absent from discussions to resolve the issue.
While no compromise was reached, a measure to shift almost $800 million in pension costs to Illinois’ state universities and community colleges was averted. The cost shift would almost certainly have meant significant property tax increases and tuition hikes.
Also at the end of session the General Assembly once again passed a budget that spends more money than Illinois can afford.
On Monday legislators had yet to see a budget, but by Wednesday, without the time for a proper review, they were asked to vote on it!
Every year since the 67 percent tax hike of 2011 Illinois has watched spending increase, and this year is no exception.
Senator McConnaughay voted against all components of the FY 2014 budget except one element that used part of an unexpected windfall to pay down some of Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills.