And after clearing changes to a recreational cannabis legalization measure, the Illinois House must debate it on the floor. Facing opposition, bill sponsors scaled back expungement provisions in the measure and narrowed down home grow for just medical marijuana patients, among other changes.
The Illinois House planned to take up the cannabis measure at a Thursday night committee meeting, to clear it for a vote on Friday. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who helped to shape the expungement changes, came to Springfield to testify on the measure.
The original language would have automatically expunged an estimated 800,000 convictions. The revised language means those with convictions for cannabis possession convictions under 30 grams can get pardoned by the governor. States attorneys would then be able to petition the court to expunge the record. A judge would direct law enforcement agencies and county clerks to clear their record.
While the bill sponsor remained optimistic about its passage, House Democrats met during a lengthy caucus about the bill earlier Thursday. It’s unclear whether there’s enough support, so a close vote is anticipated, sources said. But Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan will likely play a big role in helping Gov. J.B. Pritzker secure enough votes for passage since it’s considered one of the governor’s key legislative priorities this session.
Way too many people out there spiked the ball in the endzone after the Senate passed the legalization bill. This ain’t over until it’s over.
Among those testifying in support of the bill at Thursday’s committee hearing was Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, a proponent of the bill’s expungement provisions.
“This is not simply a measure of social justice and equity; it is a public safety issue,” Foxx said. Clearing people’s records of marijuana convictions would help them gain access to educational and job opportunities and help prevent them from committing future crimes, she said.
Opponents have raised concerns that the bill will increase teen use of marijuana and result in more people driving while high, and have also cited health concerns, among other problems.
Ahead of the committee vote, supporters said privately that they expected a close vote on the House floor due to concerns from African American lawmakers that provisions to provide expungement were more complicated than had originally been envisioned.
* Foxx’s testimony was designed to address some of the concerns expressed by African-American House members from the Chicago area…
It’s a matter of “going back and writing the wrongs,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who was in Springfield to testify in favor of the measure (House Bill 1438) and had worked to negotiate the revised clemency process.
“Even a misdemeanor conviction has longstanding collateral consequences,” Foxx said, like employment and housing obstacles. “We must be responsible about legalization. I believe this bill does that. And I believe that the components related to expungements is the best that we could hope for, for the people of the state of Illinois.”
As I tweeted last night, appointed freshman Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago) hinted he may not be a “Yes” when the bill is brought up today.
* Mark Maxwell tweeted during the hearing last night. Here’s a couple of them…
A Supreme Court case over K9s? Seriously?
* And the News-Gazette seems to bemoan the failure of alcohol prohibition in an editorial today…
People, of course, rightly complain that consuming alcoholic beverages is no better. But alcohol is a reality that this country has tried — and failed — to address. Pritzker now intends to double down on the mortal threat posed by these twin, soon-to-be-legal intoxicants.
How ironic it is that Pritzker, who repeatedly cited the serious difficulties posed by his mother’s alcoholism, now celebrates dropping this time bomb into the lives of the people of Illinois.
Yeah, bring his mom into it. Lovely.
* The House brought the bill to the floor this morning and the Republicans requested a one-hour caucus. Watch the live coverage post for instant updates today.