SPRINGFIELD-- It's try, try again for State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) and his “mandatory minimum” gun crimes bill.
He has passed the bill out of committee before, but is frustrated over “the goal lines being moved,” as he put it, when his colleagues ask for changes and then still refuse to back his bill, which – in its latest form – calls for a mandatory four-year prison term for certain gun crimes, but not for first-time offenders.
It's not enough to appease the Illinois Department of Corrections, whose chief of intergovernmental affairs, Michael Lane, said, “This is a bill to lock people up and lock them up for a long time. There's no redeploy money in it, there's no jobs program money in it, there's no COPS program money in it.”
Lane added the prison system is “broke,” and the estimated $60-80 million in costs he says the bill would generate if it becomes law would come from programs such as education and human services.
The bill could be called today (Thursday) on the House floor. It's the last scheduled day of the fall session, butZalewski said this is just the beginning of what could be a months-long dialogue about gun law in Illinois.