Statehouse update: House talks concealed carry, medical marijuana, Senate takes up higher ed

In Springfield …

Symbol of the State of IllinoisLast Friday – April 19 – was the deadline for House bills to be voted out of the House to the Senate. Thursday, April 25, is the last day for Senate bills to be voted out of the Senate to the House.

The House of Representatives will not meet this week, but the Senate is scheduled to meet today through Thursday.

Last week, the House took up two bills related to concealed carry.

HB 997 (Phelps), a bi-partisan bill, would enact the Concealed Carry Act. This bill is intended to meet the June 9 deadline required by a decision rendered by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Appellate Court whereby Illinois must enact a law to protect the Second Amendment rights of Illinois residents to carry a concealable firearm.

The Illinois State Police would be responsible for background checks of applicants seeking a concealed carry license; there would be a $100 license fee and the applicants would be required to undergo a program of firearms training and education. If an applicant clears the background check and meets the firearms education and training requirements, the State Police will have to issue the concealed carry license (known as “shall issue”).

On Thursday, April 18, failing to secure the required 71 votes needed for passage out of the House, the bill sponsor placed the bill on the Order of Postponed Consideration, opening the possibility for the bill to be considered at a later date.

The House also rejected HB 831 Floor Amendment 1 by a vote of 31-76-6. This bill would have created a concealed carry alternative modeled after the State of New York, which has a “may issue” law that authorizes the state or local police to deny a concealed carry permit to an applicant for a wide variety of reasons or for no reason. This allows the New York state government to deny almost all New York City residents the right to carry a concealable firearm.

After several years of trying, Rep. Lou Lang finally passed a bill out of the House that would authorize the use of medical marijuana (HB1), by a vote of 61-57-0. HB 1 provides for the rationing of supervised grow operations and dispensaries of limited quantities of marijuana to persons with certain diagnosed medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and cancer. The use of medical marijuana must be recommended by a doctor with whom the patient has a “bona fide” medical relationship. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Photo of books and mortar boardSeveral bills passed the Senate Higher Education Committee last week and are now before the full Senate for approval.

SB 1900 (Biss) requires all public universities in Illinois to establish an Open Access to Research Task Force by Jan. 1, 2014. The task force at each university will be appointed by the chairperson of the Board of Trustees for that university, with the advise and consent of the entire board.

Each task force must include members representing the university’s library, members representing faculty and, where applicable, a labor organization that represents the university’s faculty, and members representing the university administration.

The task force will be charged with:

  • considering how the university can further the open access goals laid out in this Act, whether by creation of an open access policy for the university, the creation of an open access policy for the State, or some other mechanism;
  • review how peer institutions and the federal government are addressing issues related to open access and ensure that any institutional or statewide policies are consistent with steps taken by federal grant-making agencies; and
  • consider academic, legal, ethical, and fiscal ramifications of and questions regarding an open access policy.

Each task force is required to adopt, on or before Jan. 1, 2015, a report setting forth its findings and recommendations, and requires the Illinois Board of Higher Education to publish a list indicating which public universities have submitted the required report.

Photo of a NO SMOKING signSB 2202 (Link) passed the Senate Higher Education Committee and is before the Senate for approval. Should this legislation pass the General Assembly and be signed into law by the governor, beginning on July 1, 2014, smoking will be prohibited on the campuses of all public universities and community colleges. Through an amendment, an exemption was created for smoking in a private vehicle.

SB 2245 (Righter) passed the Senate and requires public universities and community colleges to give veterans and service members the earliest possible enrollment opportunity that they offer to any class of students. Students would be required to use this benefit within 15 years after leaving military service.

SB 1592 (Rose) also passed the Senate and is before the House for consideration . This bill provides that if a student who receives a Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant is dismissed from their higher education institution because of poor grades, then that student would not be eligible to receive a MAP grant for the next school year.

Finally, the Senate also passed SB 1687 (Biss). Speaker Madigan is the chief sponsor in the House, and the bill is now in Rules Committee. This legislation delays by one year the implementation of Public Act 97-968 which made changes to the State Universities Retirement System as it relates to the re-employment of SURS annuitants. Changes were also made to the definition of academic year, civil service employees, the 18-week paid limitation and the highest annual earnings.

The Voices section of NIU Today features opinions and perspectives from across campus. Lori Clark is director of State and Federal Relations for NIU.

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