By Vera Sauchanka, Nicole Anderson
Within the first 72 hours in office, Illinois’ Governor JB Pritzker has signed two executive orders, and one bill.
January 15, Pritzker had the typical first day on the job duties, such as setting up a desk, computer, and a new email address. Along with this, his office and the chandeliers had new light bulbs put in to brighten the place up. Pritzker said this is to mark a new era, and to shine light on all branches of the Illinois government.
Transparency and gender equality
During the signing ceremony, Pritzker said, “As my first executive order as governor, I’m directing all state agencies to usher in a new era of transparency.”
On the second day in office, January 16, Pritzker signed off on an executive order prohibiting all state agencies from asking any of their female candidates’ prior pay history, as an attempt to stop wage disparities in women.
Upcoming on Pritzker’s agenda is to raise the state minimum wage to $15/hour by working with Illinois lawmakers to enact it over several years. Small businesses are expected to be included in the regulation as well. Increase of a minimum wage was one of the key points on Pritzker’s campaign agenda.
Tougher gun regulations
The most notable and controversial was the third legislation signed. Thursday January 17, the governor signed “long overdue” state gun licensing bill, which will bring major changes into the day-to-day operations of gun dealers located in Illinois. The bill that Pritzker signed requires dealers statewide to obtain a license from the Illinois State Police and not just the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, as it used to be. The new law requires gun dealers to safely store firearms at all times; make copies of Firearm Owner Identification cards or IDs and attach them to documentation detailing each gun sale, as well as to have all employees in the industry to undergo annual training about the law and responsible business practices, which will include opening their place of business for inspection by state and local police.
Both Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have advocated for the bill in Springfield. Under Gov. Rauner’s rule, gun dealers were oversaught only by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives.
According to Pritzker, firearms industry has to be regulated just the same way as restaurants and hair stylists are. As part of that regulation, they have to obtain a license through the state. Lawmakers believe that the new bill will decrease violence statewide, and lower down illegal firearms flow. However, according to the Illinois State Rifle Association, the bill will just hurt small gun dealers by making them to pay more, and only create more bureaucracy with no impact on crime levels. The Association went on further and stated that they “are planning to challenge this legislation in court.”
Key staff salaries to double?
Among other matters under question at the governor’s office are… staff salaries. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Pritzker founded East Jackson Street LLC in order to pay double salaries to several key members on his staff. According to Pritzker’s spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh, he’s “committed to recruiting top talent to state government to best address the challenges Illinois faces.”
However, some political analysts see at least three issues with it.
“First, it creates a conflict of interest as the governor could use this as future leverage to influence decision-making process of his government,” says Jaime Dominguez, an assistant professor of instruction in the department of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern.
“Secondly, the optics are terrible in that his staff will be vulnerable to act on behalf of Pritzker versus what is best for the state. Lastly, this is unsustainable and can create a morale and unity problem for other government employees who might feel less valuable or that their work is not as important.”
Among Pritzker’s other priorities is legalizing recreational marijuana, as well as boosting child welfare and early school funding. Check back for updates on our website at mychinews.com/politics.