by Maureen Mulhall ISRA Lobbyist
Illinois –-(Ammoland.com)- Remember 7th grade civics and how a bill becomes a law? Someone has an idea (it doesn’t have to be a good one), you go to your legislator, a bill is drafted and it goes through 1st, 2nd, and 3rd reading.
Then it goes through all of those same readings again in the other chamber, on to the Governor for his signature and praise our Constitution you have a new law!
Come on, this is Illinois. Do you really think it’s that simple or straightforward all of the time?
Well in fact sometimes it is. But oftentimes, especially after May 1 2015, a different process is employed, which is much more difficult to follow or predict – legislation by amendment or your Shadow Government. Amendments can happen many times throughout the legislative process and they are critical to successful negotiations and well written legislation. Amendments can help correct mistakes, clarify the meaning of certain sections of the law or reflect a genuine compromise between opposite points of view.
But the legislative leaders introduce hundreds of bills each session, “shell bills”, that are usually one line bills that change one word in a particular section of the law. Shell bills are introduced “just in case you need something“. That “something” is OK if it’s an issue you’re promoting but not so good if it’s language from a bill that you’ve already killed once or twice. Shell bills usually sit around for months just waiting for the right moment to be amended, often with language that hasn’t previously been considered by the General Assembly.
It’s not unusual that these kinds of amendments are introduced, heard in committee and passed in just one day.
Another way in which the Shadow Government amendment process comes into play is in the case of a perfectly good bill that has already passed one chamber. Sometimes that perfectly good bill just languishes for a while and all of a sudden an amendment is introduced that strips all of the language in the original bill and a whole new idea is proposed.
Take for example HB 183 from 2013, the bill that became the Firearms Concealed Carry Act. HB 183 as introduced amended the law regarding required signage on ATM machines. HB 183 passed the House as it was introduced, got through the Senate Financial Institutions Committee intact, and sat on 3rd reading in the Senate for a month. Then on May 16 with just 2 weeks left in the spring legislative session, an amendment was filed to delete all of the language related to ATM signage and voila, you have the Firearms Concealed Carry Act.
This is an example of legislation that we supported, but just as often it’s legislation we don’t support.
The amendment process can be a useful tool in crafting good legislation, but it can just as easily be used as a subterfuge for things like tax increases or restrictions on your 2nd Amendment rights. How does the average voter, the average taxpayer become informed about in this part of the process, let alone have a voice in it? Be a member of the ISRA and support our lobbying efforts. Your ISRA lobbyists are the boots on the ground for you every day of the legislative session. We read all of the bills and all of the amendments, constantly on alert for unfriendly language that wasn’t expected. Pay attention to the ISRA legislative alerts, the Thursday Bulletin and the ISRA website for updates on issues. And let your legislators know your areas of interests. Implore them to check with you before they take a vote on legislation with which you have an interest.
The above was written by Maureen Mulhall ISRA Lobbyist.
By the time you read this Thursday Bulletin I will be on my way to the NRA Convention in Nashville, TN. The ISRA will have a booth near the NRA registration area. Stop by and see us. If you are not an ISRA member, you should be. If you are a member, thank you.
I hope to see you in Nashville!
ISRA Executive Director
Upcoming events and classes at the ISRA Range
April 18 New Shooter High Power Rifle Competition Clinic
Contact Konrad Powers at illinoishighpower.org
April 21 Tuesday Night Irregular Rifle League (TNIRL) Organizational Meeting
7:00pm at Fran’s on 17
Contact Bryan Coyle at [email protected]
Check out ISRA’s new modern website at www.isra.org! Tell us what you think!
The ISRA is the state’s leading advocate of safe, lawful and responsible firearms ownership. Since 1903, the ISRA has represented the interests of over 1.5 million law-abiding Illinois firearm owners Visit: www.isra.org