Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield for lame duck session

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SPRINGFIELD — It’s a new year and, next week, Illinois lawmakers will be sworn into new terms and begin a new legislative session. But the work of the current General Assembly isn’t yet done.

Lawmakers returned to the state Capitol Wednesday for a lame duck session ahead of next week’s inaugural activities. Topping the agenda is a proposed gun control package that includes an assault weapons ban

Proponents of the legislation, sparked by the Highland Park mass shooting six months ago and the product of months of working group discussions and legislative hearings, hope to get it across the finish line before declaring “sine die” on the present legislative session next week. 

“We stand at the precipice of passing the Protect Illinois Communities Act, a package of laws that would ban the kind of assault weapons and high capacity magazines that killed our relatives and neighbors,” state Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, tweeted Wednesday morning. “We’ve never been closer. Now is the time.”



Morgan 



ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO


Whether or not that happens in lame duck session an open question. 

Gun legislation is always tricky, even in a Democratic-controlled state like Illinois. It often exposes regional divides just as much as political ones. 

Even advocates acknowledge that the proposal needs some fine-tuning. 

The proposal includes a ban on the future sale and possession of assault weapons and a ban on high-capacity magazines. It would also limit the ability for those under 21 to obtain a FOID card to active-duty members of the U.S. military or Illinois National Guard. 

Some members of the legislative Black Caucus and other progressive members have raised concerns about the penalty enhancements contained within the proposal. 

Moderate Democrats also have concerns, some of which have been expressed by gun rights advocates in testimony, about what happens to those who possess high-capacity magazines. The legislation, as proposed, would make several Illinois gun owners criminals overnight, they fear. 

However, the appetite seems to be there to get something done on guns, whether in the next week or during the spring legislative session. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has long been a proponent of stricter gun control measures. As has Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, who carried gun dealer certification legislation — initially vetoed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner — that was signed by Pritzker in 2019. 

And Democrats’ supermajority in the House will expand next week while the Senate remains relatively steady. Much of the party’s gains have come in the Chicago suburbs, where gun control measures tend to poll well. 

So, it seems something will get done. But questions remain about when and how many compromises proponents will have to make to get there. 

Also during lame duck session, lawmakers may consider additional incentives to attract businesses in the burgeoning electric vehicle industry. 

According to Crain’s Chicago Business, legislation that would include a “closing fund” to Pritzker to help lure large employers to the state, is on the fast track.

The pot of cash Pritzker has to play with could exceed $1 billion. 

This would add to the menu of other items the state has crafted to incentivize the EV industry, including Reimagining Electric Vehicles in Illinois Act and the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. 

Inauguration on Monday

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and the four other statewide constitutional officers will be sworn in on Monday in Springfield following a weekend of activities. 

Pritzker will kick off the weekend by volunteering Saturday morning at the Central Illinois Foodbank in Springfield.



Gov. J.B. Pritzker acknowledges the crowd after being sworn in as the state’s 43rd governor during the Illinois inaugural ceremony Jan. 14, 2019, at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield.



RICH SAAL, THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER VIA AP


Pritzker, Stratton and their spouses will hold an “open house” meet-and-greet with the public at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Old State Capitol.

On Monday, the state’s constitutional officers will begin the day at an interfaith service at First Presbyterian Church in Springfield. The event is closed to the public. 

The inaugural ceremony will kick off at 11:30 a.m. at the BOS Center. Those interested in attending can apply for up to complimentary tickets at https://ilinauguration23.com/tickets/

In perhaps the most highly anticipated event of inauguration day, Pritzker is throwing a celebration that evening at the Exposition Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Tickets will be made available to the public pending availability. 

Pritzker threw a similar post-inauguration party in 2019 that was headlined by rock band Maroon 5. This year’s headlining act is expected to match or exceed that, though even Pritzker staffers say they are not sure who’s playing yet. The answer might not be revealed until the curtain drops Monday evening. 

The governor, a billionaire, is paying for the bash out of his own pocket. All ticket sales towards the event “will benefit charitable endeavors in Illinois,” according to a news release. 

Mary Miller votes against McCarthy

In a move that surprised no one, Rep. Mary Miller, R-Oakland, joined the rebellion against House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, this week.

In five floor votes, Miller joined 19 other Republicans in voting for a candidate other than McCarthy for House speaker.



U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, of Illinois, left, is joined by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, of Colorado, on stage at a rally at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Mendon on Saturday. 



MIKE SORENSEN, QUINCY HERALD-WHIG VIA AP


Though McCarthy has the support of an overwhelming majority of House Republicans, a House speaker must receive an overall majority in the chamber. With a slim 222-213 majority, McCarthy has just four votes to spare.

Miller’s opposition is no shock. She’s a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, of which all the anti-McCarthy members belong. 

But beyond that, her position makes sense. It stems from her successful member-on-member primary battle against former Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville. 

McCarthy, according to a December 2021 CNN report, worked behind the scenes to urge former President Donald Trump to stay out of the race, arguing that Davis and Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, were both good Republican members of Congress. 

Miller, who lives in Bost’s district, opted to run against Davis. She received Trump’s endorsement and would defeat Davis by a 15-point margin in June. 

Many, including Davis himself, attributed Miller’s win to Trump’s campaign rally for her the weekend before the election. 

Had Trump stayed on the sidelines as McCarthy had wished, it’s possible Davis — not Miller — would be in Washington today. One thing is clear: Davis would have been a vote for McCarthy.  


Contact Brenden Moore at brenden.moore@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter: @brendenmoore13

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January 4, 2023 at 09:15PM

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