Part of the work that county board members must undertake is attending other bodies’ meetings on behalf of county residents. I undertook just such a trip this week, traveling to Springfield to meet with and hear from legislators and their staffers as a participant in a Will County Government League meeting. Here’s how my day went:

I decided to take the train; the cost is similar to vehicular travel, but somebody else does the driving – and there’s less environmental impact than all of us taking our own cars.  Parking was a breeze, at only $1 per day, I purchased a ticket online about 2 hours prior to arriving at the station.  It was a really modern process, with a ticket emailed right to my phone. It was a great trip: all stops were made on time, and I got to see so many local downtowns that I don’t get to when I’m driving (normally a driver would have seen only lots of cornstalk stubs).  Dwight has a lovely downtown; I am looking forward to a future visit.

I spoke with Rep. John Connor (D-85) on the way down regarding gun regulation and still had time to complete lots of additional work.  Rep. Connor was willing to take a bullet for us, no pun intended, but he is running for election for the first time (he was appointed upon the departure of Rep. McAsey and is now standing for a full term) and wants to be sure he’s representing his constituents’ interests.  He was concerned that we don’t provide funding for studies of the effects of gun violence.  The NRA is so powerful they intimidate legislators at all levels to the point they won’t even study gun control (unlike cigarettes; see a future blog post). He voted later that day for a number of regulatory bills in tune with the residents of Illinois.  Over 66% of US citizens are looking for stricter regulation as it pertains to guns.  It is interesting to note that we can limit cigarette purchases by those under 21 (minutes not yet posted re: Bolingbrook Ordinance 18-106, approved 2/28/18), but not guns – both can kill when used as directed.

Upon arrival at the station, it was a quick 6 block walk to the lunch meeting. This was my first Will County Government League meeting.  We received a briefing on a number of pieces of legislation that might move through Springfield; over 1000 bills have been filed so far.  We were all concerned about bills that Springfield passes that also pass along the costs of implementation to local units of government.  Another concern is the continued erosion of sales tax dollars due to online sales.  We learned the Supreme Court will be hearing a South Dakota Case on April 17th that might yield a solution to the sales tax issue since our legislators at the federal level haven’t passed the Marketplace Fairness Act.  Sen. Cristina Castro has introduced a bill in advance of the Supreme Court decision in preparation for a positive ruling that will then let us seamlessly move to collecting sales tax on all online purchases. We are also watching bills that might encourage private sector or Illinois Tollway participation in building toll lanes on I-80 to deal with the trucking congestion and the I-55 corridor.  We simply do not have enough lanes to handle the traffic; rush hour almost never ends these days, and the quality of life is suffering for all. Our gas tax simply doesn’t keep pace with costs and many use more fuel efficient cars, so they purchase less fuel, not to mention working at home.

Unfortunately, my group didn’t end up meeting with any legislators due to all the gun regulation bills that were introduced and passed that day, in both the House and Senate (In case you haven’t heard, Dick’s Sporting Goods will no longer sell assault-style weapons, and along with Walmart will no longer sell guns or ammunition to anyone under 21).  In the House, and if you haven’t watched Schoolhouse Rock in awhile you may recall bills need to go through the House and the Senate, the following items passed: HB 1465 which makes it illegal to sell to anyone under 21 or have in possession by anyone under 21 the following:  assault weapon, assault weapon attachment, .50 caliber rifle, or .50 caliber cartridge;  HB 1967 which prohibits, 90 days after the effective date of the bill, the knowing sale, manufacture, purchase, possession, or carrying of a bump stock or trigger crank. Also, HB 1468 HB 1469 HB 1664 and SB1657 all passed that afternoon; some have been passed in both chambers and are on the way to the Governor’s desk where he has 60 days to sign or veto them.  If he does not sign, they automatically become law after those 60 days.  The ones that have not passed in the other chamber have to be introduced there after three days (interesting they have a cooling off or waiting period for bills!).

Although I did not get to meet to discuss issues during this trip as part of the group, I will follow up on my own.  The highlight of the trip for me personally was that I ran into, literally, a colleague from the Illinois Women’s Institute of Leadership whom I had not seen since our graduation in 2006.  We reconnected and shared stories while awaiting our train rides home.

Stay tuned for next week, Guns in Bolingbrook.