CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - A new sea of blue has taken over the state government in Illinois.
On Wednesday, the 101st Illinois General Assembly was sworn in, and Democrat John Cullerton was also sworn in as Senate President in Illinois.
“Welcome to a new year, a new Senate, and a new Illinois,” Cullerton said. His party takes charge of the state House and Senate, with the Governor’s mansion to follow.
The change could mean a new era in politics and movement on two controversial topics - the legalization of marijuana and gun control laws.
Paul Simon Public Policy Institute political expert John Jackson said, “Democrats are in charge...they’ve got to govern. they’ve got to produce...because they’ve got no excuses not to.”
This new political landscape in Illinois will be headed by the newly-elected governor JB Prtizker.
“I think Prizker is going to get along with the general assembly in a way that no governor in this century has ever gotten along with general assembly,” Jackson said.
Which could mean action on issues like recreational marijuana Jackson say. “I think it is highly like that recreational marijuana could be legalized...”
According to a public opinion poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Two-thirds, or 66 percent, of Illinois voters said they favored the legalization of recreational marijuana if it is taxed and regulated like alcohol.
SIU Senior political science major student Joe Locher is indifferent to the marijuana laws.
“As far as making it legal or not, I don’t really care, either way it’s going to be about the same," he said.
However, Larry Luecking out of Nashville, Ill. sees it as a way to save money.
“I think that’s a way of making money from the state...and uh if that works fine at least they won’t raise taxes anymore," Luecking said.
Another issue the new legislature could address immediately is licensing for gun shop owners. This was a bill that required it passed in 2018, but then Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed it. Now, supporters hope they can take the measure straight to Governor Pritzker for his signature.
Lueking is not for stricter gun laws.
“I think everyone should be able to open carry," he said. "I don’t think there should be any gun control.”
Locher grew up hunting and having guns in his family, so he’s does think guns should be accesible, just through the right channels.
“It’s important that the people that want can get them through a good process," Locher said, "to make sure the right people have them that are going to use them for the right reasons.”
Regardless of how that plays out, Jackson hopes one thing will be accomplished.
“I’d like to see Illinois return to normal government...normal government is give and take. you have to compromise...you have to sit down and work things out..," he said.
Governor Elect JB Pritzker will be sworn in on Monday, January 14, 2019. Juliana Stratton will be the first black woman to be lieutenant governor in Illinois.