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Revised death penalty and other public safety measures to get hearing in Illinois legislature today

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (Illinois News Network) -- An Illinois House hearing Monday afternoon in Springfield will tackle reinstating the death penalty for cop killers and mass murderers, and other issues that are part of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s latest public safety push.

Rauner injected the death penalty idea into the conversation when he changed a bill lawmakers sent to his desk. The bill, House Bill 1468, would have put a 72 hour, rather than 24 hour, waiting period for certain semi-automatic rifles. Rauner changed that to include all guns. But he also put in language that would reinstate the death penalty in Illinois for specific crimes like mass murder or killing a police officer.

Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011 after several people were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to die.

The Illinois State Rifle Association issued a bulletin Thursday that said the veto should be sustained.

"Now we have to make every effort to prevent the amendatory veto from being overridden," ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson said in an email. "We need phone calls to the members of the Illinois House asking legislators to support the governor’s veto."

Rauner said his package of ideas is intended to bring about what he called important public safety measures. Those ideas include bringing back the death penalty, putting a 72-hour waiting period in place for all firearm purchases, banning bump stocks and trigger cranks, authorizing restraining orders to disarm dangerous people and requiring judges and prosecutors to explain why charges are reduced in plea agreements for violent offenders in gun cases.

House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said Rauner’s move is pure politics.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, is promoting an amendment to Senate Bill 2580 filed by Carroll to bring Rauner's ideas up for a hearing at 2 p.m. Monday in the Judiciary-Criminal Committee.

“The issues the governor raised ... deserve a full hearing and consideration before the House,” Madigan said in a statement. “We look forward to hearing from stakeholders and continuing our effort to keep our children, our schools and our communities safe from senseless gun violence.”

Rauner said Friday’s deadly mass shooting at a Texas school was another reminder there needs to be common sense policies in place to protect children. He said his proposals would free up resources for armed school resource officers at public schools.

“Just like the hero in Dixon [Illinois] who stopped a shooter in his tracks effectively in Dixon,” Rauner said. “We need that in every school that would like it and we also need mental health professionals, and I've proposed ways that we can fund that for each school to keep the schools safer.”

Rauner said local sales taxes should be freed up to hire more school resource officers.

On Wednesday in Dixon, school resource officer Mark Dallas shot and wounded Matthew Milby, a 19-year-old former student of Dixon High School, when Milby allegedly opened fire with a rifle. There were no other injuries.

Given that Rauner has been in office for more than three years, during which there were multiple mass shootings across the country, the gun proposals seem like a last-minute effort, Lang said.

“We haven’t heard all that much from him,” Lang said. “And now in the 11th hour he wants to be a person who wants to talk about guns and guns safety, and try to pander to both sides.”