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Senate Week in Review: Gun Registry Suggested, Caterpillar Won't Expand in Illinois and More

A compiled review of activities in the Senate and state for the week of Feb. 6-10.

Please note: The Week in Review is written by a staff member of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus and approved by legislators. It is meant to provide constituents with information about legislative action and activities during the week

Illinois' problems with job creation were highlighted during the week when long-time Illinois company Caterpillar acknowledged the state's poor business and economic climate will prevented them from considering Illinois for a significant expansion, said State Sen. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove).

Almost a year ago, Caterpillar made headlines when a private letter penned by Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman to Gov. Pat Quinn was leaked to the media. The missive outlined CAT’s concerns that the state’s massive tax increase would undermine the company’s ability to remain profitable. Last week, fears the company would bypass Illinois for greener pastures were realized.

On Feb. 7, an e-mail was leaked to the Peoria Journal-Star that Caterpillar—prompted by logistical deficiencies and reinforced by the state’s inhospitable tax policies and bleak budget outlook—is bypassing Illinois to build the company’s new North American manufacturing plant in North Carolina. In a letter to Peoria County, the CAT facility selection team cited “previously documented concerns about the business climate and the overall fiscal health of the state of Illinois” that make it impractical to expand in Illinois.

As the largest private sector employer in the state—employing more than 23,000 Illinoisans—CAT’s decision is a blow to the Peoria area and the state as a whole. In the past, Caterpillar has lamented Illinois' excessive workers' compensation costs, pointing out that the cost for an employee with an identical injury is more than seven times higher in Illinois than at a similar plant in Indiana. Sandack said that serious efforts must be made to right the state’s fiscal ship, roll back the Democrats’ tax increase and reform Illinois’ tedious regulatory system.

“Senate Republicans warned that the tax increase would have these repercussions,” Sandack said.  “A year later, we’re seeing that a measure that was touted to be able to bring Illinois out of the financial hole it’s in has not improved the fiscal climate and is only driving businesses and people out of the state.  This cannot continue much longer and different policies need to be enacted in order to start improving our business environment.  If not, we’ll see more and more reports like this.”

Gun Registry

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to push for a statewide handgun registry that could make felons of downstate and suburban handgun owners.

Emanuel’s Feb. 9 call for a statewide gun registry is expected to draw fierce opposition from gun advocates and many downstate lawmakers. According to media reports, the mayor’s proposal would require all Illinois handgun owners to pay a $65 registration fee to the state, and provide the Illinois State Police with personal information, the gun’s make and model, and where and when the gun was purchased.

Currently, state gun owners are required to obtain a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card, but the actual guns aren’t registered with the state. Penalties for violation of Emanuel’s proposed legislation range from a misdemeanor charge for failure to report a lost or stolen firearm to a felony charge for residents in possession of an unregistered gun.

The City of Chicago already enforces a strict gun ordinance, requiring handgun owners to register with the city and pay a fee. However, the mayor says the statewide registry will help solve crime in Chicago, citing Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives statistics showing approximately 56 percent of guns at Chicago crime scenes are from outside city limits. Gun advocates pointed out that Illinois residents are already vetted through the FOID card registration process, and criticized the hefty registration fees associated with the mayor’s proposal.

Sen. Sandack is against the proposal, saying that it is just a money grab and completely unnecessary.

“Our state already requires FOID cards and criminal background checks for gun owners, among plenty of other safeguards via laws already on the books,” he said.  “It’s an intrusion on second amendment rights and it would penalize law-abiding citizens. There’s just no need for it.”

Medicaid Reform

On the heels of recent criticism from Republican lawmakers, on Feb. 7 Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Julie Hamos sent a letter to the federal government outlining the department’s intentions to begin implementation of commonsense Medicaid eligibility requirements passed by state lawmakers. On Feb. 2, HFS and Quinn’s administration were taken to task by Republican lawmakers for attempts to expedite expansion of the Medicaid program in Cook County, even as the administration dragged its heels on pursuing execution of the bipartisan Medicaid reforms signed into law in 2011.

Senate Republicans were pleased to see the administration pursue a more aggressive stance on Medicaid reform. The caucus was particularly interested in DHS findings outlined in Director Hamos’ letter that suggest nearly 6 percent of the department’s monthly medical card mailings from November 2011 were returned “undeliverable with out-of-state addresses.” If 6 percent of Medicaid recipients were deemed ineligible for benefits for failure to meet residency requirements, that would amount to approximately $650 million in savings each year.

Sandack on TV

Sen. Sandack taped the inaugural edition of his new cable show “Capitol Agenda with Senator Sandack” earlier this week.  The purpose of the show is to provide Sen. Sandack’s constituents with yet another way to remain informed about things going on in Springfield.  His first guest was State Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine), who talked about the tremendous financial challenges that must finally be addressed and spoke of some sensible and useful insights as to how to methodically reform the state.  Look for more details in the coming weeks to find out where and when “Capitol Agenda” can be viewed. 

Bills Pass the Senate

Also during the week, Senate lawmakers spent most of their time in legislative committee hearings or working with staff, lobbyists, public interest groups and other lawmakers to craft legislation prior to the Feb. 10 deadline to introduce legislation for the 2012 legislative session. Lawmakers will return to Springfield Feb. 22 for the governor’s annual budget address.

Some legislation approved by the Illinois Senate during the week includes:

Auto Dealers (SB 2571): Exempts dealers who sell vehicles to another dealer or auction house from the Dealer Recovery Trust Fund.

Comptroller Deductions (SB 2824): Prohibits the Comptroller from deducting payments to the Child Support Enforcement Trust Fund to ensure state law is in compliance with federal laws on child support distribution, so certain federal funding isn’t terminated.

DOC Mental Health Records (SB 2561): Gives the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice access to mental health treatment records of a person who has been treated or is subject to an evaluation, investigation or prosecution under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act.

Gold Star Plates (SB 2494): Makes Gold Star license plates available to family members, including siblings of a person who has lost his/her life while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Previously siblings were not eligible if a parent was still living.

Some bills approved by Senate Committees during the week include:

Airport Authority (SB 2527): Provides airport authorities with expanded powers to invest in, plan, market, and otherwise support bus or rail transportation within the area served by the authority.

DOC Reports (SB 2819): Eliminates various reports that the Department of Corrections must submit to the governor and General Assembly.

Jury Fees (SB 2492): Allows jurors to waive jury payment.

Life Jacket Requirement (SB 2839): Changes the exemption relating to life jackets from "sailboats" to "sailboards,” so that sail boats would still be required to carry a life jacket for each passenger on board the craft, whereas a sailboard (windsurfing board, boogie board) remain exempt.

Non-citizen Arrestees (SB 2531): States that if a person is arrested for a murder or a violent crime the court must determine the citizenship of the person, and if the person is not a US citizen must seize the passport of the arrestee and impose travel restrictions.

School Day (SB 2850): Calls for a full school day on the first and last days of the school year.

Veterans ID (SB 2837): Allows for the designation of "Veteran" on ID cards issued by the Secretary of State at the request of the applicant, including driver’s licenses, state ID cards, and disabled ID cards.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Guy Brownson February 15, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Where does Ron's opponent stand on these issues? Dillard? Nybo?
Jello February 16, 2012 at 07:31 PM
No sooner then this guy becomes Mayor of CHICAGO, he now thinks he's Mayor of Illinois and he can dictate to the entire state? WTF? -Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to push for a statewide handgun registry that could make felons of downstate and suburban handgun owners-
Mark Garrity February 20, 2012 at 07:33 PM
56% of handguns at Chicago crime scenes are from outside city limits. The Mayor of Chicago has every right to call for registration of guns. FOID cards are a joke. Buying a gun on the internet is piece of cake as evidenced by this investigation: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/12/16/investigation-illegal-gun-buyers-have-an-easy-time-online/
Dan F. February 20, 2012 at 09:38 PM
"82 percent of the gun sellers they (NYPD) dealt with on Craigslist had no problem making transactions with such people, although Craigslist prohibits gun sales." The article clearly makes the case in state registered owners and in state local gun shops are NOT the problem. The guns don't just come from outside city limits, they come in from outside the state. Since the Amazon Bill effectively killed internet sellers here in Illinois, how does additional Illinois regulation solve a problem from outside the state and outside the states control?
Guy Brownson February 20, 2012 at 10:56 PM
It is impossible to aquire a firearm over the internet legally. Period. In order to do that you must violate the law. Hence criminal. Unfortunatly Mr. Mark, you are gravely misinformed. As for the Mayor of Chicago, Rham is only trying to raise revenue on the backs of responsible gun owners.
Mark Garrity February 21, 2012 at 12:25 AM
And yet all those gun dealers are perfectly willing to break the law.
Jeffrey Crane February 21, 2012 at 02:07 AM
You think it's bad now, just wait until Obama gets back in town.
Mark Garrity February 21, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Only 1 percent of gun dealers account for almost 60 percent of crime guns. What's wrong with registering guns to trace them back to the criminal dealers? Put them out of business and there'd be a lot less gun crime.
Lee February 21, 2012 at 07:02 AM
Yet another 1% reference... Wasn't the City of Chicago's law against private ownership supposed to curtail violent crime? How'd that work out? FOID cards were supposed to make sure criminals didn't obtain guns... How'd that work out? Illinois is the only state not to issue concealed carry permits for its lawful citizens. Mark if you're so interested in new laws to help quell gun violence/violent crime how about supporting the concealed carry law? It's been proven effective.
The Enlightened Rogue February 21, 2012 at 07:55 AM
Please do not cite articles from left wing spin doctors. Fast and Furious is a perfect example of how far the anti gun administration is willing to go to create a scenario where they can as Rahm Emanuel always says never let a crisis go to waste. Problem is they got caught and you will notice the lame stream media hasn’t acknowledged much about it. Guns are not the problem people are the problem.
Guy Brownson February 21, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Between two people with FOIDs selling guns should be no more difficult that selling a shovel. Tools are tools.
Scott Theisen February 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Absolutely right Lee. Most people who want to curtail other peoples rights have a selective memory. Chicago is top in the nation in gun violence, despite some of the toughest laws. Gun laws do not prevent gun crime.
Ron Burgandy February 21, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Gun control doesn't work and will never work. Sorry...Let's move on from this. The only control you are making is controling average hard working citizens who may want to protect thier homes from rapists and burglars. Nice spin though Mr. Garrity.
Ron Burgandy February 21, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Licensed Gun Owners Don't Commit Crimes Published: January 17, 1994 Sign In to E-Mail Print To the Editor: As a former New York City prosecutor who has practiced firearms licensing law in the city and state of New York for more than a decade, I am alarmed by those who misunderstand the arguments made by the law-abiding and honest citizens of this state against much of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo's newly proposed gun legislation, which will further infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of the people of the state of New York. With rare exception, responsible and licensed firearms owners do not commit crimes with their registered weapons. Despite this, many politicians seem to suggest that legislation directly aimed at the law-abiding licensee will put an end to the brutality and bloodshed in our urban centers. Instead of focusing on the real problems in our society, the owner of legitimate firearms becomes the scapegoat for a criminal justice system that is weak and ailing. Instead of sending the criminal a message that he cannot commit a crime with a gun and get probation, Governor Cuomo wants further to restrict the rights of many upstanding members of society who have complied with the state's stringent gun licensing laws and who are licensed firearms owners. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/17/opinion/l-licensed-gun-owners-don-t-commit-crimes-884820.html
Ron Burgandy February 21, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Old article but still very relevant.
Ron Burgandy February 21, 2012 at 04:22 PM
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128186209
Ron Burgandy February 21, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Your back up doesnt back up your stats though. There is nothing about Chicago gun crimes in this article. Buying a gun illegally is a piece of cake. Just go to Chicago and ask a gang member to get you one. It ill cost ya about $250. Easy...Much harder to own one legally.
Mark Garrity February 21, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Like those guys in the video really look like gang members. Joshua Green -- writing in Bloomberg/Business Week, and who flagged us to this item -- notes that "despite the fact that Obama hasn't made the slightest feint toward regulating guns, firearms enthusiasts have whipped themselves into a paranoid frenzy, convinced that this is all just part of some elaborate conspiracy." http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/02/website-obama-is-greatest-gun-salesman-in-us/1#.T0PcoHlAXuY
Mark Garrity February 21, 2012 at 06:18 PM
You gun nuts are crazy. Be careful you don't shoot yourself in the foot.
Scott Theisen February 21, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Still can't address the facts Mark? Has gun control worked in Chicago?
Lee February 21, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Most gun "nuts" value freedom Mark... Something you're all too willing to dismiss at the expense of "safety". But as your lack of response suggests, it's not about safety is it, it's about "control".
Joseph Sharp February 22, 2012 at 12:13 AM
I agree with Lee. Unarmed citizens are more easily controlled. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Just like a car doesn't kill people, people kill people. Should we ban cars? Let's not think for one minute that banning guns in the city has kept the people safer. Every time I read the newspaper I see "3 wounded, 2 dead" in overnight shooting, etc. I want the right to carry my gun!

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