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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 1999

Governor Signs Legislation To Require Background Checks For The Purchase Or Transfer Of Firearms

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed legislation that requires the Illinois State Police to perform federal background checks on the purchase or transfer of firearms in Illinois, a procedure the agency has been completing unofficially for several months.

Ryan signed Senate Bill 1062, which requires the State Police to complete an automated search of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System whenever a licensed firearm dealer in Illinois makes a sale or transfer of a firearm. The legislation also establishes the State Police as the official point of contact for all criminal background checks for gun purchases in Illinois.

"They already perform statewide criminal background checks under Illinois' "Instant Check" state law, so adding the responsibility of performing the national check as well is a sound approach and will likely increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the entire system," Ryan said.

The State Police have been performing the NICS gun background check on all federal firearm dealer-based purchase in Illinois in conjunction with the state "instant check" system since December 1, 1998.

However, in a signing message Ryan asked the General Assembly to consider new legislation that gives the ISP powers to fully fund the NICS checks.

It is possible that in the future Congress will require the states to pay for a share of the NICS, a cost to Illinois that could approach more than $1 million annually. Ryan asked legislators to consider ways to mitigate the potential cost of the federal background checks if Congress acts.

The legislation was sponsored by state senators Kirk Dillard, R-Downers Grove; Dan Cronin, R-Elmhurst; and James "Pate" Philip, R-Addison; as well as state representatives Dale A. Righter, R-Mattoon; Ronald Wait, R-Belvidere; Dave Winters, R-Rockford; Richard Myers, R-Macomb; and Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth.

In other legislative action:

Ryan also approved House Bill 502, which requires all applicants of nursing licenses to undergo criminal background checks. Under the legislation, those applying for a nursing license in Illinois must submit to a name-based background check conducted by the Illinois State Police. If the initial background check indicates a criminal conviction, the applicant must then submit to more thorough fingerprint-based background check as a qualification for licensure.

Currently, the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation must rely on applicants to self-report any offenses. This bill will provide patients receiving care from Illinois licensed nurses with the assurance that their nurse has passed a criminal background check.

Sponsors of House Bill 502, which takes effect January 1,2000, include state Rep. Jerry Mitchell, R-Sterling and state Sen. Todd Sieben, R-Geneseo.

House Bill 1224, also signed by Ryan today, authorizes the Illinois State Police to conduct criminal background checks of prospective volunteer firefighters upon the request of the chief of the volunteer fire department.

Under existing law, the Illinois State Police conducts criminal background checks for various state agencies and public entities.

Sponsors of House Bill 1224, which takes effect January 1, 2000, include state representatives Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville; Tim Osmond, R-Antioch and state Sen. James Clayborne, D-East St. Louis.

In addition, Ryan signed House Bill 811, which provides that schools may excuse a student from performing or observing dissection and may allow the student to instead perform an alternative project. The State Board of Education will develop guidelines for notifying students and parents about courses that include dissection. Students may not be penalized for refusing to participate or observe dissections for any reason.

House Bill 811 was sponsored by state Rep. Laura Beth Gash, D-Deerfield; state senators Dan Cronin, R-Elmhurst; Arthur Berman, D-Chicago; Evelyn Bowles, D-Edwardsville; Dick Klemm, R-Crystal Lake; and Adeline Geo-Karis, R-Zion.

House Bill 534, also signed by the governor today, amends the Transitional Bilingual Education Article of the School Code to require that all applicants for bilingual certificates be tested in writing, reading, speaking and grammar skills in English and in the second language for which the application is being made.

The Illinois State Board of Education is authorized to adopt rules governing the selection and validity of tests, administration of tests, determination of passing scores, frequency of testing, fees, applicant identification requirements and the validity of period of scores. The ISBE is also given the authority to waive testing requirements if the applicant has successfully completed an equivalent test.

House Bill 534 was sponsored by state representatives Edgar Lopez, D-Chicago; Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago; state senators J. Bradley Burzynski, R-Sycamore; Robert Molaro, D-Chicago; and Antonio Munoz, D-Chicago.


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