Deerfield legislators defend votes on gun issues, marijuana at post-session town hall

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Recreational marijuana and gun control were among topics raised by more than 100 persons attending a town hall meeting with state Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, and state Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield.

Participants peppered Morgan and Morrison with questions on those topics, taxes and more on Tuesday, June 11, at Deerfield’s Village Hall in an event billed as an update on legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly in the session that ended May 31.

Interest in the town hall grew over the weekend when the Illinois State Rifle Association sent a communication to its membership asking them to attend and question Morrison about legislation she introduced placing restrictions on gun owners.

People in the room were observed wearing shirts that showed their support for gun rights while others were dressed in the red T-shirts showing an affiliation with Moms Demand Action seeking more control over firearms.

After Morrison talked to the group about child welfare issues, increasing the age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 and the pending referendum on creating a progressive income tax in the state, Morgan talked about recreational cannabis and health care.

Then the questions came. Numerous hands went up from people on both sides of the gun issue, but the first inquiry came from Kevin Leman of Antioch about the legalization of recreational cannabis.

“All we’re going to do is increase our problems,” Leman said. “We already have problems with medical marijuana, and it’s just going to increase with recreational marijuana. People are going to drive while they’re high on it.”

Morgan, who helped develop the state’s medical marijuana program, said at this time between 800,000 and 1 million people in Illinois use cannabis in one form or another for non-medical purposes. He added that they currently purchase it illegally and are not aware of what precisely they buy.

“For me, it’s a question of what is really happening,” Morgan said. “Children in schools can get it. Now we can control it. We can do better. We can control it and we can tax it. With medical marijuana, we know where every plant is in the ground.”

Just as police stop drivers who appear intoxicated from alcohol consumption, Morgan said they do the same thing with those impaired by drugs. That enforcement will continue unabated. He said between $400 million and $600 million is anticipated in revenue.

Several people, including Rich Bierman of Wheeling, questioned Morrison on legislation she introduced requiring people to be fingerprinted when seeking their first Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) card or renewing one. It also empowers police to collect the card and firearms when there is a revocation.

“Why do we have to be fingerprinted?” Bierman said. “Are my guns going to be confiscated if I forget to renew my FOID card?”

Morrison said after the meeting the enforcement action only applies to revoked cards, not someone who fails to renew it in a timely manner. Fingerprinting is a onetime event. The bill is currently sitting in the Illinois Senate waiting for a final vote. It was passed by the House with amendments.

Doug Kearney of Round Lake Park said gun violence is a Chicago issue, not a suburban one. He added that he does not feel rights of law-abiding gun owners should be altered because of those obtaining weapons illegally.

“The violence in Chicago is not done with legally purchased guns,” Kearney said. “Why do we have to be fingerprinted? Guns are a constitutional right.”

Morrison said the violence is too close to home.

“A school bus dropping off children from Northbrook on a field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry was shot at,” Morrison said. “Yes, the violence is here.”

Daniel Easterday of Deerfield was one of the attendees asking about different taxes and fees approved by the legislature. He said charges like increasing the cost of vehicle stickers and what he called a “Netflix” fee were crimping the middle class.

Morrison said many of the bills were pushed by businesses who want growth in Illinois. Morgan said no legislation is perfect, but there were new laws geared to help the middle class. One is elimination of a franchise tax that often applies to small business owners.

Other comments and questions dealt with the budget passed by the legislature, the $45 billion multi-year infrastructure plan, pensions and more.

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via Lake County News-Sun

June 12, 2019 at 05:41PM

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