I-Team: 9 Illinois lawmakers skip historic concealed carry vote

July 9, 2013

The ABC7 I-Team looks at those who didn't show up for the historic override vote on concealed carry.

Eight members of the Illinois House were absent Tuesday and did not vote on the concealed carry override, and there was one state senator not voting. But they were not AWOL. They had "excused absences," jargon the General Assembly shares with most grade schools.

And most of the elected state officials were excused for being on vacation- not to be interrupted by a late-scheduled override vote of legislation that allows for public possession of concealed guns.

When the General Assembly recessed last month, elected officials knew that they might have to return to make certain Illinois had a concealed-carry gun law in place as ordered by the courts.

But when the House and Senate convened Tuesday, eight State Representatives and one Senator didn't vote. Most of the nine weren't even on state soil- but rather on vacation from their nearly $68,0000-a-year jobs that the voters elected them to do.

"Excused absences" as they are known, were listed for Elgie Sims, a South Side state rep in office less than a year and a member of the Firearms Subcommittee. Sims' office said they didn't know where he was.

Rep. Keith Sommer near Peoria is on a scheduled vacation, out of the country.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski of Rockford is also on vacation out of the country.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie of Chicago is in Canada and said to have agonized over returning for the vote, but in the end felt her vote would not matter, according to a spokesman.

House member Kelly Burke was not in Springfield for the vote and a staff member told us she was in her Oak Lawn district office. Messages left at Burke's south suburban office were not returned.

Tuesday evening, Rep. Burke sent the I-Team an email stating that she was not in Illinois at all. "I am at the University of Virginia with legislators from all over the country for a legislative leadership conference," Burke wrote. "I was selected to represent Illinois several months ago. The opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with other legislators is important and beneficial for my constituents and the General Assembly."

State Representative Thaddeus Jones, a member of the public safety committee, was given an excused absence from today's gun vote for unknown reasons. According to Jones' office, he was at the Capitol today but no explanation was given for why he was excused from Tuesday's landmark vote.

Two who missed the House vote were more explainable: Palatine Rep.Tom Morrison was delayed by a highway accident that blocked traffic, and Dan Burke of Chicago was undergoing a medical procedure.

A spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan said Tuesday night that it isn't unusual to have excused a handful of excused absences for a vote that came up at the last moment.

Not voting on such a hot-button issue as conceal carry, could also be a political advantage in the next election cycle without a vote, one's opponent has no position to challenge.

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