State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) welcomed dozens of students from across the 59th Senate District to the Capitol last week to participate in an immersive experience in state government and leadership.
Students from 17 different schools joined Sen. Fowler in Springfield on Feb. 27, many visiting their state Capitol for the first time. Students came to participate in the second meeting of Sen. Fowler’s Youth Advisory Council, a program dedicated to giving students insight into their state government and the opportunity to hear from leaders and role models from both their communities and those involved in the legislative process in Illinois.
“This was my first time hosting this event in Springfield and I couldn’t be more pleased with the work and leadership these students displayed throughout this entire process,” said Sen. Fowler. “These kids did our District proud, representing our schools and demonstrating their dedication to the program.”
Throughout the day, students visited the Senate Chambers before speaking with lawmakers who represent districts across the state. The students also heard from Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, a representative from the Chamber of Commerce, and the Acting Division Manager of Fairs and Promotional Services with the Department of Agriculture.
Afterwards, students came together to participate in a simulated mock committee hearing, acting out roles of those involved in the policy process including lawmakers, lobbyists, concerned citizens, and reporters.
The topic debated and eventually passed in the simulation is a measure that would expand the right to conceal and carry firearms in public parks and athletic facilities under the control of municipalities or park districts. Students had suggested and voted on the measure when they met at their first meeting in November.
“Considering the current discussions surrounding gun control and our citizens’ Second Amendment Rights, the issue these students chose to debate couldn’t have happened at a more timely moment,” said Sen. Fowler. “It just goes to show that these students are paying attention, forming their own opinions and are excited to have their voice heard.”
The discussion on firearms went from simulated discussion to reality for lawmakers in the General Assembly, with a number of gun-control measures being brought before both the Senate and the House of Representatives last week.
In the Senate, lawmakers debated two measures: House Bill 772 and House Bill 1273.
House Bill 772 would allow family members or law enforcement to file for a lethal violence order of protection if someone poses an immediate and present danger by owning or purchasing a firearm. The legislation aims to help identify individuals who display signs of dangerous behavior, and remove their FOID card and any firearms in their possession prior to a possible shooting. It also outlines suspicious behavior that may not be covered under traditional protective orders.
Sen. Fowler voted against the measure, noting that public safety will always be his main concern and priority. However, he thinks lawmakers should be cautious moving forward as to not deny a fundamental Constitutional Right to citizens.
Other concerns with the measure include the overly broad manner of the legislation that would allow individuals to petition the court for the removal of a person’s firearm, fundamental concerns with denying due process to law-abiding gun owners, potential for abuse, and overregulation when Illinois law already provides that a person who is subject to an existing order of protection may not lawfully possess weapons under the Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card Act.
House Bill 1273 would update the Gun Dealer Licensing Act (Senate Bill 1657), which has been passed by the Senate and the House, and now awaits consideration by the Governor.
If the Gun Dealer Licensing Act is signed by the Governor and does become law, House Bill 1273 proposes to implement several changes:
States that the video surveillance system required at businesses that sell firearms will not have to be implemented until Jan. 1, 2021.
States that each license be valid for five years. An application fee or renewal fee for a dealership license or a dealer license shall not exceed $1,000 for the five-year period.
Clarifies that the gun store video surveillance mandate does not include bathrooms.
Sen. Fowler opposed this bill that would penalize thousands of gun stores, arguing that this would only harm small and local gun dealers who would be forced to shoulder the burden of maintaining costly security systems.
News from the District:
In more local news, Sen. Fowler is providing an update on the current status of bringing a stoplight to the accident-prone intersection of Route 13 and Poplar Street in Harrisburg.
Sen. Fowler said the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in conjunction with the City of Harrisburg, will be installing traffic signals at the intersection. Work on the installation of the traffic signal should begin this summer, with the new traffic signals expected to be in operation by the fall of 2018. More information on this story can be found at senatorfowler.com.
Other exciting news includes the success members of the local Hardin County Cougar Archery team had during the recent Illinois Scholastic 3D Archery Indoor State Championship. The team was represented in competition by seven students from Hardin County, including Adriana Armstrong, Brody Oxford, Kassi Ketten, Malcom Dare, Sean Lane, Wyatt Dutton and Dezarae Blair.
Members from the Hardin County archery team competed against approximately 120 other archers at the February 17 event.
Adriana won the Illinois Scholastic 3D Archery Indoor State Championship in the Female Fixed Pins division. Brody won S3DA State Championship in the High School Olympic Recurve class. Sean was awarded 3rd place in the High School Male Pins class. Kassi finished 4th in the High School Female Pins class.
Sen. Fowler congratulates all of the archers on their accomplishments at the S3DA Tournament and wishes them all the best as they turn to the upcoming 3D Archery season.