More than 600 bills will land on Rauner’s desk as he seeks re-election
ith lawmakers gone from the Capitol until after the November election, Gov. Bruce Rauner is left to decide whether to sign or veto hundreds of bills over the next few months.
Rauner last week signed a full state budget into law for the first time in his term. Now, he faces more than 600 bills on the way to his desk, on topics ranging from controversial gun control proposals to a plan to designate a month for monarch butterflies.
Here’s a glance at a few of the bills.
Lawmakers this year have tried to toughen the state’s firearm laws in response to mass shootings around the country and persistent gun violence in Chicago. Among the plans on the way to Rauner’s desk is an idea similar to one he already vetoed in the days before the March primary election — creating a state-level licensing system for gun dealers.
Rauner has said he doesn’t believe “putting red tape on small business” would “improve public safety in Illinois,” and he’s contended that state licensing would be “duplicative” because the federal government already regulates gun stores. But supporters say the latest version lawmakers sent the governor is a compromise that takes his concerns into account.
Another gun control proposal would apply a 72-hour “cooling off” period for buying shotguns, assault weapons, rifles and other long guns, a provision that already applies to handgun purchases. Also on Rauner’s desk is a proposal to give judges discretion to temporarily suspend the gun rights of someone who displays violent warning signs if family members, housemates or police seek court intervention.
The #MeToo movement that has led to public allegations against several powerful Illinois political figures also helped spark a sense of urgency to approve new anti-harassment rules.
One bill on its way to Rauner would require local governments to disclose severance agreements with employees fired over sexual harassment or discrimination allegations. Under the proposal, the amount of money involved and to whom it was paid would be posted online and distributed to the news media within three days.
Similarly, another proposal would prohibit using taxpayer money to pay people to stay silent about allegations against a lawmaker.
On Friday, Rauner signed a bill giving the legislature’s top ethics watchdog the freedom to investigate sexual harassment complaints without first getting approval from a commission of lawmakers. Members of the Legislative Ethics Commission are appointed by the four House and Senate leaders, a requirement some have identified as a potential conflict. Supporters called the change a first step toward curbing harassment and abuse under the Capitol dome.
Other bills headed to the governor’s desk aim beyond Springfield. Those include new sexual education curriculum changes for public schools, anti-harassment policy requirements for businesses that want to land state contracts, and training for people who get occupational licenses from the state.
Quincy veterans home
One of Rauner’s biggest political liabilities has been the criticism of his administration’s response to deadly outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease at a state-run veterans home in Quincy.
The state’s freshly signed budget provides $53 million in first-year money to kick-start a long-term construction plan at the 19th-century campus that once housed veterans of the Civil War. Lawmakers also sent Rauner a proposal to raise the limit on damages from $100,000 to $2 million for those who sue the state, a measure that has been billed by Democrats as a way to provide justice for family members of veterans who died of Legionnaires’ in recent years. Republicans, meanwhile, have said the proposed changes are overly broad and would harm taxpayers.
Other bills aimed at the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs would create a new protocol for reporting disease outbreaks and require biannual health reports to be sent to state lawmakers.
As lawmakers in Washington have their own debates about immigration laws, Democratic lawmakers sent Rauner several bills that could have the governor taking sides. Rauner typically tries to avoid national issues, particularly those involving President Donald Trump.
Proposals on the way to Rauner would create so-called immigration safe zones, outline protections for tenants who are living in the state illegally and further encourage crime victims to speak to police without fear of deportation.
Rauner last year signed a new immigration law known as the Trust Act, a move that drew the ire of conservatives including Republican state Sen. Sam McCann, who has launched a third-party campaign for governor.
Not every bill the governor faces is on a hot-button issue.
One measure would change the classification of an official Illinois racehorse by lifting requirements that its mother be impregnated and give birth within the state.
Another would allow hunters to wear blaze pink clothing in addition to the traditional orange.
And one plan would ban the sale, purchase, trade and import of all ivory products or rhino horns with the exception of antique weapons and musical instruments. It would break with a recent Trump administration policy change that lifted a federal ban on the import of the products.