Governor Bruce Rauner signed a number of measures into law during the week, including bills designed to promote gun safety and to authorize a rehabilitation project at the Quincy Veterans’ Home.
Also during the week, the State Fire Marshal announced $2.2 million in grants for local fire departments to purchase equipment.
Governor signs measures to promote gun safety
In an initiative to prevent future mass shootings and attacks, Governor Rauner signed a new gun safety law on July 16 that allows the public to identify and stop potentially dangerous individuals from endangering others or themselves with firearms.
The Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act allows family members, acquaintances or law enforcement to petition the court to identify and issue an ex parte order for an individual who poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to one’s self or another with a firearm. The Act will establish a number of factors and types of evidence that the court must consider before issuing a lethal violence order of protection.
House Bill 2354 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.
Governor Rauner also signed Senate Bill 3256, a law that extends the waiting period for possession of a firearm to 72 hours for all guns purchased in Illinois. Currently, Illinois’ 72 hour “cooling off period” only applies to handguns; now applicants will have to also wait to obtain long guns, rifles or shotguns.
The new laws take effect on January 1, 2019.
New law authorizes Quincy Veterans’ Home rehab project
The Quincy Veterans’ Home may now begin its five-year capital development plan following the signing of Senate Bill 3128, which provides for design-build contracting for the facility’s projects to renovate, rehabilitate and rebuild the Illinois Veterans’ Home at Quincy. This is expected to eliminate redundancies associated with the traditional construction process, and is anticipated to reduce time spent on the project and associated costs. Over the next five years, the campus will undergo a major rehabilitation to update the care facilities and residence to ensure it is up to code and safe for veteran residents and their families.
Senate Bill 3128 also provides for the deposit and use of federal funds received as reimbursement for capital improvement project expenses.
The Governor also signed House Bill 5683, authorizing a recently purchased adjacent nursing facility to be included as an official part of the Veterans’ Home. This facility will be used as temporary housing for veterans during the construction on the new facility at the existing campus, which will ensure continuity of care for residents.
The Quincy campus is the largest Veterans’ Home in Illinois.
State Fire Marshal announces fire safety grants
On July 17, the office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal and Governor Rauner announced the recipients of the Small Firefighting and Ambulance Service Equipment Grant Program, also known as the Small Equipment Grant Program.
One hundred fire departments and nonprofit ambulance services across the state received grants for the purchase of safety equipment, protective clothing, breathing apparatus and other needed tools. The money for this grant comes from the Fire Prevention Fund. The grants total $2.2 million, with each recipient receiving up to $26,000.
Governor Rauner congratulated the fire chiefs in attendance for the grant announcement and recognized the risks that first responders take daily.
“Firefighters do not hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way to battle fires, to save lives and to keep us safe,” said Rauner. “It is our job to ensure they have the equipment needed to stay safe. This grant ensures fire departments are better equipped, allowing first responders to do their jobs more effectively and safely.”
State Fire Marshal Matt Perez discussed the importance of the Small Equipment Grant Program.
“This year we had over 400 fire departments from across the state apply for a grant,” Perez said. “The requests for grants totaled over $9 million. We had $2.2 million in funds to award and we ensured that the neediest stations across the state received the money to ensure the safety of the men and women that protect their cities. It is imperative that we continue to find ways to aid the men and women that respond first to a disaster and always put the lives of others before their own.”