Senator Barickman’s Senate Week in Review: January 26 – 30, 2015

The spring legislative session continues February 3 as the Senate returns to Springfield. Illinois’ new Governor Bruce Rauner will deliver his first State of the State Address on Wednesday, February 4, setting the tone for what Illinoisans can expect this spring. Governor Rauner has already given indications that job growth and fixing the state budget are to be among his administration’s top priorities.

This week, Illinois’ controversial medical marijuana law continued to make headlines over delays in issuing licenses. Also, newly released numbers show which counties have the highest, and lowest numbers of active concealed carry licenses in the state.

Rauner Says Budget is Immediate Concern

In a recent interview with the Illinois Radio Network (IRN), Governor Bruce Rauner continued to emphasize the severity of the budget problems facing Illinois. According to Rauner, dealing with the cumulative effects of years of tax-and-spend budgets and questionable fiscal practices is one of his primary concerns, and one that will be difficult to fix.

Rauner said that the current fiscal year budget is nowhere near balanced, and the state is running out of money with five full months still left in the fiscal year. The Governor noted the previous administration didn’t appropriate enough money to some departments, then told agencies to ignore what was appropriated and spend what they needed to – promising that they would address the revenue shortfall at a later date.

“…that’s a problem that I’ve got to fix, and I will fix it, but it’s going to be hard to do,” Rauner said to IRN.

Rauner has indicated that he will push for reforms to the state’s tax code. The Governor’s State of the State is on Feb. 4, and the Budget Address is scheduled for Feb. 18.

Medical Marijuana Licenses Delayed

A rocky transition between administrations is causing further delays in issuing medical marijuana licenses to patients. Under the 2013 state law legalizing medical marijuana in Illinois, state agencies were required to score and rank applications for the 21 facilities that would be allowed to grow medical marijuana and 60 of the retail stores that would be licensed to sell it.

Recently released internal documents show that the former administration of Governor Pat Quinn evaluated and ranked license applications for growers and dispensaries before leaving office, but for unknown reasons never announced their choices. The internal documentation revealed a sometimes dysfunctional selection process that critics have called secretive and open to favoritism.

Quinn’s administration left the licensing process for Rauner to complete, but the new governor says that his office will need to perform a legal review of how Quinn’s administration evaluated applications before it can complete that process.

Active Concealed Carry Licenses

Recently released numbers from the Illinois State Police give a county-by-county picture of active concealed carry licenses in the state of Illinois. Unsurprisingly, Cook County has the largest number of active concealed carry licenses at 24,751, with Will, Dupage, Lake, and Madison Counties rounding out the top five. At the bottom of the list are Scott, Brown, Gallatin, Schuyler, and Calhoun Counties. 

Top 10 Counties for Concealed Carry: 

1. Cook

24,751

2. Will

6286

3. DuPage

5721

4. Lake

4347

5. Madison

3401

6. Kane

2950

7. St. Clair

2720

8. McHenry

2621

9. Winnebago

2195

10. Sangamon

2139

Bottom 10 Counties for Concealed Carry: 

1. Scott

45

2. Brown

55

3. Gallatin

64

4. Schuyler

66

5. Calhoun

71

6. Henderson

71

7. Putnam

71

8. Stark

76

9. Pope

79

10. Hardin

95

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