Gov. Pat Quinn is renewing his call for an assault weapons ban in Illinois. The Chicago Democrat promoted the idea during his annual State of the State address. Quinn says Illinois must also prohibit the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines. He criticized local officials around the state as well for not doing their jobs to make schools safer by improving the database of those barred from owning weapons.
Quinn says assault weapons don't belong in everyday public places like schools, shopping malls or sports stadiums. He says lawmakers should also pass legislation requiring every Illinois school to practice active safety drills. Quinn has pushed for an assault weapons ban since a deadly shooting at a Colorado movie theater last summer. He used his power of amendatory veto to rewrite a bill to ban assault weapons. Lawmakers rejected it.
Quinn also proposed raising Illinois' minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 an hour.
The federal rate has been $7.25 an hour since 2007. The current Illinois rate took effect in July 2010, when it increased by a quarter. The U.S. Department of Labor says only two other states, Washington and Oregon, have a minimum wage higher than Illinois. A proposal to raise the minimum wage came up in the state Senate last year but wasn't called for a floor vote.
The Governor tells lawmakers they hold the solution to solving the state's fiscal crisis, particularly Illinois' worst-in-the-nation pension problem. The Chicago Democrat says it's hard but not impossible and that the pension issue threatens the economic recovery.
Quinn put his support behind Senate Bill 1, which includes parts of a Senate-approved measure along with the increased contributions and reduced benefits in the bill that failed to get a House vote. Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded liability. But, Quinn only made scattered references throughout his speech to the problem.
Quinn says he's signed an executive order designed to help military veterans get jobs. The order calls for state agencies to streamline the process for veterans applying for job licenses. Quinn says the agencies should consider the veterans' special skills and allow them to skip the extra training that some licenses require. His move follows the Obama Administration's push to help veterans transition from military to civilian life. Quinn has been a strong supporter of veterans and the military. He says all Illinois residents owe veterans their gratitude.
The Governor says it's time for Illinois to allow gay marriage. Pat Quinn framed the issue as a measure against discrimination as he praised senators who moved a bill out of committee earlier this week and says it's time to pass the bill so Illinois can achieve "full equality." The bill's sponsors expect a Senate floor vote on Valentine's Day. Quinn helped Illinois approve civil unions in 2011. If Illinois approves gay marriage, it would become the 10th state in the nation to do so. Advocates say momentum in other states and President Barack Obama's support fuel their efforts in Illinois. Some religious groups have opposed the idea.
Quinn wants lawmakers to recuse themselves from taking a vote or other official action if there's a conflict of interest. Both of Pat Quinn's predecessors went to prison on corruption convictions. Quinn says citizens should be able to trust their elected officials. He says dozens of states have banned conflict of interest voting. The Governor says Illinois should join them. The proposal would also prevent lawmakers from representing a person or corporation where there's a financial or personal conflict of interest.
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