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Shell bills, or why pro-gun groups suddenly care about cathode ray tubes

Thomas Clatterbuck



As introduced, House Bill (HB) 0772 describes new rules about recycling cathode ray tubes. These tubes were commonly used in old TVs. Discounting the possibility this was a way to preemptively ban ray guns, why would pro-Second Amendment groups care about HB 0772?

Despite how it was initially introduced, the bill is not really about ray tubes or recycling at all. Instead, it was a shell bill, designed to create an opportunity to get other legislation to the house floor more easily. The real text under 0772 creates “lethal violence order of protections,” or a way for the state to seize someone’s guns without convicting them of a crime or even notifying them before hand. You can compare the original bill to its amended version to see just how different they are.

How did a recycling bill become a gun control bill? The process is very simple. Bills can be amended on the floor of either chamber to make changes to what the bill says. Theoretically, this is to facilitate compromise and new information that may not have been available in the initial committee hearing where the bill was discussed. However, there is a common phrase that can totally change what a bill does:

Amend House bill/Senate Bill # by replacing everything after the enacting clause with the following:

That phrase allows an otherwise mundane bill, like cathode ray tube recycling, to instantly become a controversial gun control bill. Amendments do not change a bill’s number or its sponsorship. That is why a bill’s sponsors, or supporters, are often changed after an amendment.

Why would anyone want to do that?

Normally, getting a bill onto the floor of either the House or Senate is a long and involved process. The bill has to pass through a committee hearing, where it will be discussed by a group of legislators who focus on that particular topic. This step allows bad bills to be weeded out, and good bills to be improved.  It also gives interest groups time to organize lobbying efforts either for or against the bill. Finally, committee members have to vote on the bill.

By using a shell bill, the real bill can skip that process. And there are legitimate reasons this might be necessary. Committees only have so long to pass bills to the full chamber for further discussion. If there was a catastrophe that needed additional funding, or a dangerous legal loophole was discovered late in the session, it would be too late to submit a new bill to address the topic. Having a shell bill on hand to address an emergency is valuable even if it skirts the normal rules.

But that is not what is happening here. The new bill creates a mechanism for depriving individuals of their rights and property without being charged with a crime, much less having a trial. It is up to the accused to prove they are innocent and should have their rights restored. There is a certain symmetry to using a shell bill, which circumvents the normal legislative process, to pass a law which would circumvent the normal judicial process.

Other outlets will talk more about the specifics of HB 0772, but the mechanics that allowed the new 0772 are a separate issue. Shell bills undermine the legislative process and defeat the purpose of having committees. If bills supported by the majority party get to skip the committee phase, then all committees get to do is copyedit the easy bills and kill bills proposed by the minority party. If committees were free, this would matter a lot less; but committee chairs get an extra $10,000 stipend for their trouble. That is a very expensive process to not use.

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Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.


LIVE | Springfield City Council Committee of the Whole April 9th

Staff Contributor



Follow along live with the Springfield City Council committee of the whole meeting. The council will be discussing proposals to allow businesses to access the local fiber optic network. Fiber optic connections can dramatically increase network speeds over other technologies.

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City branch pickup starts tomorrow in the Northwest Quadrant

Staff Contributor



Springfield’s spring branch pickup program starts Monday, April 8th. Each quadrant of the city will have two pickup dates, one in April and one in May. Crews will only visit each quadrant once per month. The first pickup will be in the Northwest Quadrant.

Size of Branch Piles

Branches must meet the following standards to be picked up:

  • No larger than 3 foot in height, 4 foot in depth, and 10 feet in length;
  • Piles larger than a small pickup load will not be picked up by the city;
  • The program is for branches only, no logs will be accepted
  • Branches/limbs trimmed by a commercial contractor will not be picked up; and
  • Branches must be placed on the curb not obstructing the street or sidewalk.

Small branches may also be broken up and put into yard waste bags for pick up by your waste hauler.

Year-Round Residential Branch Drop Off

Residents may drop off branches, free of charge year-round, to Evans Recycling with proof of residency. This service is not for commercial contractors but for city residents only. Evans Recycling is located at 2100 J. David Jones Parkway and is open Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, 7:00 a.m. – 12-noon. Contact number is 217.391.0886.

Pickup schedule

Week of April 8th & May 6th

  • Northwest Quadrant – area north of South Grand Avenue and Old Jacksonville Road.  West of Walnut Street/J David Jones Parkway.

Week of April 15th & May 13

  • Southwest Quadrant – area south of South Grand Avenue and Old Jacksonville Road.  West of Walnut Street.

Week of April 22nd & May 20th

  • Southeast Quadrant– area south of South Grand Avenue and east of Walnut Street, including the properties around Lake Springfield.

Week of April 29th & May 27th

  • Northeast Quadrant – area north of South Grand Avenue and east of Walnut/J. David Jones Parkway.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council Meeting April 3rd

Staff Contributor



Follow along live with the Springfield City Council meeting for April 3rd, 2019. This meeting was moved for the April 2nd, election. There will be a presentation by Public Works on yard waste pickup service in the city. They also discussed providing funding for the Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation.

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