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House Democrats discuss budget, proposal to change gun restraining order law

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – House Democratic leaders provided an update on plans for Illinois’ operating budget Thursday.

House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) explained Illinois continues to receive positive news on how well the economy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to more people heading back to work and companies making sales, Harris feels the economy is edging back to a sense of normalcy.

Harris says lawmakers are looking at a $1.3 billion hole in the budget right now. That’s down significantly since last week. He explained appropriations groups already started to go through each of the over 12,000 spending lines in the budget.

“The choices are really clear,” Harris said. “We’re either going to find ways to cut to fill that hole or we’re going to have to review the proposals the governor made to close corporate tax loopholes on wealthy individuals and corporations.”

Harris agrees that lawmakers still have plenty of work ahead to ensure Illinois remains on sound fiscal footing. Deputy Governor Dan Hynes says that includes repaying the federal government for loans the state used throughout the pandemic.

Keeping communities safe

The Illinois House also passed a plan this week to improve the state’s Firearms Restraining Order law.

Currently, the state can temporarily take guns away from people who pose a significant risk to themselves or others. While the plan gained attention a few years ago, Democrats found the law underutilized up to this point due to lack of awareness and inconsistent implementation.

Rep. Denyse Stoneback (D-Skokie) says her bill requires annual training for law enforcement on the use of firearm restraining orders. Police could also take ammo and parts to assemble a gun away from someone after a FRO is granted.

“House Bill 1092 addresses the gaps in the law and will work to prevent future mass shootings, hate crimes, domestic violence, gun crimes, and gun-related suicides. With this bill, we have an opportunity to prevent gun tragedies before they occur,” said Stoneback.

The state would task IDPH with creating an education campaign for people to understand the firearms restraining order process. Representatives passed the bill on a partisan 69-43 vote Wednesday.

“From the bottom of my heart, I applaud Representative Stoneback’s diligent leadership on this bill,” said Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch. “By improving public awareness of firearm restraining orders and bolstering police training, this bill will bring about specific, tangible reforms that can save lives and protect people from falling victim to gun violence.”

The proposal now awaits committee assignment in the Senate.

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Mike Miletich

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