Eye On Illinois: Show Me State has different spin on issues familiar to Land of Lincoln


Sometimes in the course of understanding Illinois, it helps to look across its borders to ponder issues in neighboring states.

Today we consider Missouri, where The Associated Press last week reported on three relevant issues: police reform, gun legislation and state response to a change in federal abortion law.

City and state leaders are clashing on police reform. Kansas City, largely controlled by Democrats, can’t do things like hire a police chief or control the law enforcement budget. That power rests with a five-person Board of Police Commissioners, mostly seated by gubernatorial appointment. The November ballot will include a statewide referendum on a constitutional amendment to give state lawmakers – the majority are Republicans – increased authority on police funding.

Kansas Citians invoke “taxation without representation” to argue they’re the largest American city, and the only one in the state, that can’t control its own police budget, which consumes more than 20% of general revenue. Republicans elsewhere in the state contend ceding that control is tantamount to letting progressives reduce police budgets.

Chicago is finally phasing out the appointed school board, a power lawmakers granted to Mayor Richard M. Daley, but it’s wild to consider the potential debates if Springfield essentially ran the Chicago PD.

On guns, Missouri may be at odds with federal officials over concealed carry permits. Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray opposing what he said was a plan for federal agents to audit county sheriffs’ gun permit records. Although the FBI hasn’t gone on record to say it actually planned such an audit, Schmitt’s letter gives him the chance to again take credit for his involvement, while in the state Senate, in passing a law that made local sheriffs responsible for concealed carry permits instead of driver license clerks.

Among all the discussions about upgrading or eliminating Illinois’ Firearm Owner Identification Card system, I’ve never heard anyone suggest shifting responsibility for FOID cards or concealed carry licenses away from the state police. It makes no sense to have that go through the driver services, which makes it fair to wonder why Kansas ever thought that to be a good idea, but it seems unlikely county sheriffs would welcome the burden.

Schmitt also factors in the abortion issue, as lawyers and medical officials seek clarification from him and Gov. Mike Parson following the June 28 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The AP reported Schmitt’s office is silent and Parson deferred to the Department of Health and Senior Service, which effectively said county prosecutors can decide which actions may be appropriate.

There are no such questions in Illinois, but the situation remains instructive about how federal changes have immediate local implications.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

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July 20, 2022 at 06:42AM

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