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June 4, 1999

Governor Signs 'Safe To Learn' Package Into Law

BENSENVILLE -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed landmark legislation proposed by Attorney General Jim Ryan that will take a pro-active approach to prevent violence in Illinois schools and will help keep students safe in classrooms.

Governor Ryan signed the "Safe to Learn" package during a visit to Fenton High School in Attorney General Ryan's hometown of Bensenville. Governor Ryan noted that "Safe to Learn" is the result of strong bi-partisan support in the legislature and growing public concerns over acts of violence in schools across the country.

"Potential violence can be prevented, but it takes a partnership between everyone, from parents to school officials to law enforcement, and that's what 'Safe to Learn' will foster," Governor Ryan said. "There is no other issue more important to me than the safety of our youth and I applaud the attorney general for launching this far-reaching initiative."

The cornerstone bill in the package is Senate Bill 757, which establishes a grant program administered by the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority that will provide funds to create safety initiatives in schools and prevention programs to help at-risk students. The bill also establishes pilot programs around the state that focus on the prevention efforts.

"No one wants to believe that the violence that occurred in Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky or Georgia can occur here in Illinois," Governor Ryan said. "Unfortunately, the events in schools across the nation should convince us that we must take greater steps to protect our children and their teachers in their classrooms," he added.

Senate Bill 757 takes effect July 1, 1999. The lead sponsors of the legislation were state Sen. Dan Cronin, R-Elmhurst and House Republican Leader Lee A. Daniels, also of Elmhurst

The other "Safe To Learn" bills signed by Governor Ryan include:

* Senate Bill 759, which amends the Juvenile Court Act to allow for adult criminal prosecution of certain crimes committed by juveniles and to require mandatory prison terms of six to 30 years, if convicted. The bill takes effect January 1, 2000. The lead sponsors were state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale and state Rep. Tim Schmitz, R-Batavia.

* House Bill 1194, which requires school officials to notify law enforcement when they observe anyone with a firearm at a school. The bill also allows for the psychological evaluation of minors involved in threatening incidents. The bill takes effect immediately. The lead sponsors were state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth and Cronin.

* House Bill 1195, which amends the criminal code to make shooting a gun at school a Class X felony. The bill increases penalties for selling guns to anyone under age 21 who has been convicted of a misdemeanor or has been judged to be delinquent, and to persons under 18 who do not possess a Firearm Owner Identification card. The bill takes effect January 1, 2000. The lead sponsors were state Rep. William A. O'Connor, R-Berwyn and state Sen. Dave Sullivan, R-Park Ridge.

* House Bill 1201, which makes "gunrunning" a Class X felony if a person sells a weapon to a person under age 18. The bill takes effect January 1, 2000. The lead sponsors were state Rep. Patricia R. Bellock, R-Westmont and Dillard.


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