The annual Grundy Economic Development Council Legislative Breakfast welcomed two new faces Monday.
“Due to redistricting, part of the southeast corner is separated off so we have two new legislators,” said Nancy Norton Ammer, GEDC CEO. “I can tell you they have already jumped in to join the causes and legislation in Grundy County.”
Ammer is referring to state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) and state Rep. Kate Cloonen (D-Kankakee). Also at the breakfast sponsored by Exelon and AT&T were State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris), state Rep. Pam Roth (R-Morris) and Matt Gross, a staff member of U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon). Kinzinger was in Turkey, said Gross.
Pete Brummel, senior vice president of Grundy Bank, was the moderator of the event.
The state’s budget and pension problems were the lengthiest discussion among the officials, but legislators on both sides of the aisle are still working on a solution. Other topics with upcoming deadlines, such as the concealed carry bill, also brought passionate responses.
The four state legislators shared the belief a concealed carry bill will be passed before the June 9 deadline given by a federal appeals court at the end of 2012. The court ruled Illinois’ ban on carrying a concealed weapon is unconstitutional and, therefore, the state has to legalize it or the state will go to constitutional carry, which would be an open carry law.
Roth and Cloonen are both sponsors on the bill to legalize this.
“It was very disappointing in, well two weeks ago now, that there was some shenanigans played, some people came off the bill, and it failed by six votes. We will have some form of conceal and carry by the end of the month. If we don’t, we will go to constitutional carry,” said Roth.
She continued that many of her constituents are telling her that if the the bill continues to be amended, adding more restrictions, they would rather her vote no and let it go to constitutional carry and forcing the Chicago Democrats to get on board.
“Forty nine other states have figured it out, their crime has decreased on average at least 10 percent,” said Roth.
“And the city with the toughest gun laws and highest crime rate in the country is firmly not supportive of a conceal and carry package that, in my mind, is our 2nd Amendment right. If we give up this one, what’s next?”
According to published reports, gun owners want the law to be the same across the state. A “shall issue” bill would require permits be issued to those who do the training and pass background checks. A “may issue” bill gives law enforcement officials the power to veto.
The “may issue” bill failed drastically, but the “shall issue” bill was just shy by six votes, said Roth.
Sen. Hutchinson said the debate has continued due to restrictions on where the weapons could be carried, such on public transportation. She said she understands the concerns of people who live in violent areas that those in other areas of the state don’t have concerns with.
“But I do think we need a model more like New York that takes into consideration the urban area of Chicago, but leaves the rest of the state to it,” she said.