Newly Proposed FOID Card Changes; IL Nursing Homes Closing; State Trooper Crashes; Baby Bison in IL

April 24, 2019
 

Alan Levine

If you want to buy a gun in Illinois, you need to get a background check, but you don’t have to submit fingerprints. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office says it’s time to change that. Plus, nursing homes around the state have been closing for financial reasons, and advocates say it’s going to get worse. And you might know FermiLab for its cutting-edge physics research, but they also keep up to 30 bison that you can go and see. The first calf of the year was born just this weekend.

More than two million people in Illinois currently have FOID cards, that's Firearm Owners Identification Card. And to legally own a gun in our state, those two million people all had to get a background check. But, you might be surprised to know that process does not involve getting fingerprinted. FOID cards have gotten more attention over the past few months. Back in February, a man named Gary Martin shot and killed five co-workers at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora. Martin first applied for and received a FOID card in 2014, despite having a felony conviction on his record for aggravated assault in Mississippi. But officials in Illinois didn’t know about that felony conviction until he applied for a expedited, concealed carry permit and submitted fingerprints. That revealed the out-of-state felony, but Martin had already bought weapons, and Illinois State Police never confiscated them. Now, a new bill would change gun ownership laws and make fingerprinting mandatory for a FOID card.

Kate Rosenberg-Douglas joins us on the show. She’s been reporting on this for the Chicago Tribune. Also with us is Cara Smith. She’s the Chief Policy Officer for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

And -

Yesterday we heard about some of the work being done to care for our youngest residents who have experienced deep trauma in their lives.Today, we’re focusing on our oldest residents across Illinois. Specifically nursing homes, which have been in big trouble for a while due to less and less money from the state. 20 facilities have closed in the last five years. Three have already closed in 2019. And for every patient on Medicaid, nursing homes lose an average of 41 dollars a day, which makes it worse for our most vulnerable seniors.

Given all of that, and the fact that Illinois’ aging population is growing, what do we do about this? For more we're joined by Pat Comstock, executive director of the Health Care Council of Illinois, a nursing home advocacy group. We're also joined by Jerry Nowicki. He reported on this for Capitol News Illinois. Lastly, Mayor Steve Dean of Le Roy, Illinois joins the conversation. Le Roy is a small town of about 3500 people, and their nursing home just closed this year. 

Plus -

If you see a state patrol car with its emergency lights flashing, the law says that you’re supposed to slow down and move over when it’s safe. This year, there’s been a big spike in the number of drivers who’ve hit squad cars. There were eight all of last year, and 17 since January 1st of this year. Sadly, three state troopers have already lost their lives. Now, Illinois State Police says it’s stepping up enforcement, and they’re also trying to get the word out.

For more on that we're joined by Christopher Watson, a Illinois State police sergeant and public information officer.

Also -

Once upon a time, bison roamed all throughout Illinois. It was part of millions of bison that used to roam all across the United States, but by the end of the 19th century they were nearly extinct. Since that time, the American bison population has been steadily growing again thanks to the work of organizations throughout the U.S. One of those organizations is Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory right here in Illinois. Up to 30 bison roam on their 1,100 acre prairie outside of Batavia at a time. Every year, Fermilab adds to their brood. Their first calf of the year was born this past weekend, which means baby bison season is officially upon us.

Andre Salles joins us from Fermilab. He’s in the office of communication.