Area legislators likely to oppose governor's gun bill veto
CHAMPAIGN — Lawmakers should have no trouble overriding Gov. Pat Quinn's amendatory veto of a concealed carry bill next Tuesday, based on the reaction of East Central Illinois legislators.
The General Assembly has until Tuesday, under a federal courts deadline, to pass a concealed-carry bill before Illinois' current ban — the only one in the nation — is abolished and Illinois would become an "open carry" state.
Even the lone Democratic lawmakers from the area — Sen. Mike Frerichs of Champaign and Rep. Naomi Jakobsson of Urbana — indicated Tuesday that they'll likely vote to overturn Quinn's rewrite of HB 183. The original bill had passed the Senate, 45-12, and the House, 89-28, on the last day of the spring session. Both Frerichs and Jakobsson had voted for the bill.
Overriding Quinn's changes will require at least 71 votes in the House and 36 in the Senate.
Among the governor's revisions:
— A blanket prohibition on guns where alcohol is served.
— Allowing individuals to carry no more than one weapon and an ammunition clip with no more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
— Preserving the right of home-rule communities such as Champaign, Urbana, Danville and Chicago to enact future weapons bans.
— Barring possession of concealed weapons in churches, businesses and homes, unless a sign is posted that gives permission. The original bill required churches, businesses and homes to display a sign if they wanted to prohibit concealed weapons.
Frerichs, contacted Tuesday afternoon, said he hadn't had a chance to read Quinn's revisions to the bill but that "I think that the legislation was the result of compromise and months of talks. I think it would have been more helpful if the governor had involved himself earlier in the process."
Frerichs declined to state firmly that he would vote to override.
"I have not read the governor's amendatory veto so it would be hard for me to comment with any certainty," he said. "But I can tell you I was involved in negotiations, and I thought that both sides had some give and take and compromise on the original bill and it was something that I supported."
Although Frerichs voted for the concealed-carry bill, that was before he indicated he would be a candidate for state treasurer. But he said that wouldn't matter.
"It's a bill like any other that I have to vote on. I was elected to represent my constituents. That's what I try to do," he said.
Other downstate Democratic senators said they also would vote to override the Quinn veto.
Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill said, "It's disappointing that the governor decided now to weigh in. However, I am confident that we have the numbers to override the governor's veto."
Sen. John Sullivan of Rushville said, "Quinn has ignored the will of the people, the courts and the General Assembly."
Jakobsson said she too likely would vote to override Quinn's changes.
"I'm pretty sure they have the votes to override the amendment," said Jakobsson. "There are parts of the amendment that maybe some people would like and some people wouldn't but you can't pick and choose."
She noted that she had voted for the bill, primarily because the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, had include a provision she requested.
"At this point that is what I am thinking," she said. "I went to him at the time and I said, 'Thank you. You now have my vote.'"
Republicans lawmakers said they think there will be plenty of support to override Quinn's revisions.
"This is disappointing," said Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon. "The governor knew this deadline existed. He had known it since Dec. 11 so we're coming up on seven months now. Rather than actively insert himself into the negotiations on a bill that he knows has to become law, he decided to make a few speeches, issue a few press releases and then rewrite the bill.
"That's not leadership. That's reminiscent of his predecessor (Gov. Rod Blagojevich) who didn't actively engage in governing but governed by speech and press releases. Hopefully the Democrat leaders will not play ball with him on this one and will call the bill for an override vote when we go back in a few days.
"I think if it's called for a vote in both chambers, I think the votes will clearly exist to override in both chambers."
Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign, said "I think he'll be overridden, but it's very difficult to gauge how suburbanites and Chicago lawmakers are going to vote. But I would say that downstate Republicans and Democrats will work in a bipartisan fashion to support concealed carry, the measure we've already passed."
Quinn's amendatory veto was politically motivated, Brown said.
"I think it's very clear that he's in a Democratic primary and is jockeying for position," said the Champaign Republican.
Rep. Josh Harms, R-Watseka, also made note of the political considerations of the veto, with Quinn facing opposition from at least one other Democrat, former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, and also possibly Attorney General Lisa Madigan, both of Chicago.
"This is just one more example of our governor playing politics instead of governing, as evidence of the circus show he put on for his veto signing in Chicago today," Harms said.
Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said it was "more than a little ironic that Gov. Quinn chose this week that we are celebrating the birth of democracy in our nation and freedom from tyranny to issue this veto. In issuing this veto, he is overruling the clear will of the people of Illinois as evidenced by the bipartisan, supermajority of votes in the democratically elected Legislature."