The McDermed Dispatch for February 26th

The House is back in session this week and next before a three-week break for the March primaries and Easter holiday. The deadline to introduce new bills was Friday, February 16th. Committees have until April 13th to discuss and amend bills before deciding whether or not to forward them to the House floor for a full vote. Given the three week break, expect a flurry of legislative activity over the next two weeks. If you have any questions about particular legislation, visit ILGA.Gov or call my office.

Gun Legislation
Many of us are still reeling from the horrific school shooting that occurred in Parkland recently. I have heard from a number of constituents on the issue of gun control and want to share with you some legislative updates.

Current Illinois law provides that no person may acquire or possess any firearm or ammunition without a Firearm Owner’s Identification card. Any applicant for a FOID card must be at least 21 years old, submit a photo, and undergo a background check that includes screening for not just criminal activity, but mental health and other disabilities. Prohibited purchasers in Illinois include those with felony convictions, previous mental health facility patients, the developmentally or intellectually disabled and those addicted to narcotics, among many others.

I have voted for and supported reasonable gun control legislation in the past. Last year I pushed for House Bill 4120 to ban bump stocks and am renewing the effort to fight for that bill this spring. This year I am supporting legislation that will strengthen the penalties against those found selling, manufacturing, purchasing, possessing, or carrying a machine gun; a type of gun outlawed both federally and in Illinois. In addition, I am the co-sponsor of House Bill 4904, which will require more security measures at gun dealers including the installation of improved security systems and regulations that require gun dealer employees to have a FOID card and undergo training. Click here to see the full list of bills I am sponsoring this session. 

I do not plan to support Senate Bill 1657, a bill that would impose significantly stricter regulations on gun dealers. There are a number of elements in the legislation as written that I have an issue with. The proposed regulations are opposed by the Illinois Department of Federal and Professional Regulation because they go above and beyond what the agency is capable of imposing. The bill goes further than even acceptable increased standards by requiring that retailers receive written approval from their local sheriff and allowing regulators to ask for employee fingerprints and access to other records. I am not comfortable with a single person having the authority to decide whether a business can operate or not, regardless of the nature of that business. In addition, and perhaps most egregiously, this bill would exempt larger stores like Walmart and Cabello’s, affecting only small business owners.

Strengthening Child Abuse Reporting Regulations in Athletic Programs
In the wake of scandals rocking the USA Gymnastics and Swimming programs, I have filed House Bill 5131 to strengthen the Illinois Child Abuse and Neglect Act. News investigations into both organizations found that individuals within the programs failed to act when faced with accusations and evidence against coaches and others in power. It’s clear that there is a systemic problem in children’s athletic programs and a tendency towards covering it up instead of taking action. That is unacceptable.

HB 5131 increases the criminal penalty for any person who knowingly violates reporting requirements of abuse or neglect from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony. It further states that anyone who does so as part of a cover-up or to protect a person from prosecution commits a Class 3 felony. The bill also requires recreational or athletic program personnel who are required to report child abuse to complete mandated training on recognizing and reporting child abuse.

Severe Weather Spotter Training & Health and Safety Expo
The village of New Lenox is hosting a joint event on Thursday, April 19th At the Lincoln-Way West High School Performing Arts Center. The Health and Safety Expo will take place from 5pm-7pm and the Severe Weather Spotter Training 7-8:30pm. The Health and Safety Expo will have 50 organizations from the health, safety, fitness, preparedness, and emergency response industries for attendees to peruse and receive free literature, giveaways, and health screenings. The Severe Weather Spotter Training provides those in attendance with information on what to look for during severe weather season. Attendees will learn about:

  • Thunderstorms – lightning, hail, damaging winds, flash flooding, and tornadoes;
  • Facts and myths about severe weather hazards that impact our area;
  • Advisories, watches, and warnings;
  • How and where weather spotters can report information from the safety of their homes; and
  • Steps that can be taken to prepare for severe weather.

Both events are free. For planning purposes, please register via Eventbrite. Those in attendance will also receive a chance to win some great preparedness-related prizes.