By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A Quincy alderman is suggesting that the city move forward with its own concealed-carry ordinance rather than waiting for the state to draft legislation, even though a local ordinance would carry no legal weight or be enforceable.
At Monday's City Council meeting, Alderman Mike Rein, R-5, asked the city's Legal Department to draft an ordinance — and have the Police Committee and Police Chief Rob Copley develop procedures for implementing it — even though the city does not have the authority to override state law, which currently prohibits carrying concealed weapons.
The council approved the request on a voice vote.
"(Illinois lawmakers) haven't done everything legally so far. Maybe we can set a good example," Rein said in explaining his request, which came during the new business portion of Monday's meeting.
Illinois is the only state in the country that does not have some form of concealed-carry legislation.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on a 2-1 vote struck down the state's ban in December and gave lawmakers 180 days to craft a law regulating the carrying of weapons. Many states, including New York and California, severely restrict the issuance of concealed-carry permits. Other states, particularly in the West, have virtually no restrictions on such permits.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan is appealing the December ruling, but the state still must comply with the court's deadline while that appeal is being heard.
Rein said if the state complies with the court order and approves new legislation, he would not push for a city ordinance, which would be moot anyway because the city has no authority to enact its own rules that conflict with state law.
"If we had an ordinance, it would have to be consistent with what state law says," Copley said, adding that there is no need to have a local ordinance if it is identical to state law.
Rein did not say why he wanted city personnel to spend time working on an ordinance and procedures that will likely never be implemented.
In November 2011, the City Council approved an advisory resolution introduced by Rein in support of concealed carry, which was sent to Gov. Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.
Support for concealed carry in West-Central Illinois is strong. In November, 77 percent of Adams County voters supported a nonbinding referendum calling for legislators to allow concealed carry. Eighty-five percent of Pike County residents approved a similar nonbinding referendum last March.
In other business, aldermen accepted the annual report from the Historic Quincy Business District.
Executive Director Travis Brown said the district has an occupancy rate of 94 percent and saw a net gain of 16 new businesses and 61 employees in 2012. It is now home to 583 businesses and more than 8,200 employees.
Brown said $172 million has been invested in the downtown area since 1994 — $162.6 million in private money and $9.34 million in public money.
He said the city's investment in streetscape improvements on Maine Street that were completed in 2008 has helped reduce crime in downtown Quincy.
"Crime downtown as whole — not just in the area of Maine Street — is down 16 percent in the three years after the streetscape went in," Brown said.
The council also:
• Approved an ordinance to rezone 4329 State from single-family to multifamily.
• Heard the first reading of an ordinance to increase the budget line for health insurance by $14,147.
• Approved the Quincy Exchange Club's request to host the 22nd annual Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament on May 25-26 in downtown Quincy.
• Approved Catholic War Veterans of America Post 1933's request to hold a Veterans Day parade Nov. 9 on Maine between Fifth and 12th streets.
• Approve a request from the Franciscan Friars of Holy Cross Friary at Quincy University to hold its annual citywide Stations of the Cross on March 29.