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House GOP demand seat at the table for final weeks of session

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – House Republicans are frustrated after spending only six minutes on the floor Friday morning. GOP members say they’re disappointed with this trend, especially when there are many pressing issues lawmakers could be working on.

Republicans say while another week passed in Springfield, lawmakers don’t have much to show for it. Caucus leaders say Democrats left them out of critical discussions on redistricting and the budget process. Although, House Democrats said Thursday that bipartisan working groups have met.

Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) called out Democrats for continuing to discuss their map behind closed doors. He noted that Rep. Lisa Hernandez admitted Thursday that Democrats are using ACS data and legislator input to craft the map.

“On Monday, it will be exactly two weeks until the end of the legislative session,” Brady said. “As per usual, unfortunately, at the eleventh hour here in Springfield, the House Democrats will blindside the people of Illinois and jam down their throats another set of gerrymandered maps that will include, simply, the old way of doing things.”

Democrats continue to call the process transparent, but Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) says that’s far from the truth.

“The transparency described by Democrats for redistricting is a hoax,” Spain said. “It is a hoax from the Heartland. And the activities going on right now are anything but transparent.”

Will the public get a chance to see the map?

While redistricting committee members from both chambers held many hearings across the state, Spain hopes Democrats didn’t “waste everyone’s time” while they planned to make a partisan map all along.

Good government groups consistently told lawmakers they should allow at least two weeks for the public to see the map and recommend changes before a vote takes place. Democrats initially discussed holding hearings for the public to discuss changes to the proposed map. However, no details have been released at this time.

Spain says Democrats should be nervous to vote on this map if they campaigned on a goal of independent redistricting.

Addressing the FOID backlog

Republicans also feel Democrats are avoiding debate on ethics and solving the FOID card backlog. GOP members argue Democrats continue to kick ethics reforms down the road and don’t want to solve the long-standing problems with FOID.

Rep. CD Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) says he appreciates the rank and file members of the Illinois State Police, but he feels they cannot handle the program.

“If we can’t come up with a viable option that doesn’t make it more difficult to get your FOID card, then we have to shuffle it to the side until there’s an option because we are impeding on people’s constitutional rights,” Davidsmeyer explained.

The Capitol Bureau asked Davidsmeyer if he’s willing to co-sponsor a bipartisan proposal backed by Illinois State Police to modernize the FOID system. Davidsmeyer said he’s against that proposal. He argues it could make exercising second Amendment rights more expensive. The bill could also require people to apply for FOID cards every five years instead of 10.

However, ISP Director Brenden Kelly believes the plan would bring FOID into the 21st century. In April, he explained the legislation could create an electronic card and combine the FOID and concealed carry license into one. There’s also incentives for people choosing to give their fingerprints to state police.

“They’d have automatic renewal of the FOID cards if you have concealed carry or do the voluntary fingerprinting,” said Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville).

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Mike Miletich

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