Illinois capitol locked down before key vote – Politico

The Springfield Fire Department and the Hazardous Materials Unit are pictured at the Illinois capitol building.

The Springfield Fire Dept. and the Hazardous Materials Unit exit the Governor’s office at the Illinois State Capitol after after a woman threw a powdery substance in the office during an overtime session on July 6 in Springfield. | AP Photo

07/06/2017 04:14 PM EDT

Updated 07/06/2017 04:27 PM EDT

The Illinois Capitol went on lockdown Thursday as emergency crews arrived on the scene just as House lawmakers were readying to cast a critical vote in an attempt to override GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a budget package.

Workers in hazmat suits and gas masks could be seen entering the governor’s office around 2:30 p.m., approximately one hour after the vote was scheduled to take place.

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An announcement inside the Capitol indicated the building was locked down and those inside should take shelter — though lawmakers and public individuals in the House gallery continued to mill about and appeared at ease.

Springfield Fire Chief Barry Helmerichs told POLITICO a woman threw a powdery substance at the governor’s office, lieutenant governor’s office and the House gallery just before 1:30 p.m. It has tested negative for a biological agent.

“Yeah, she did all three of them, she’s in custody,” Helmerichs said, adding that the woman had some of the substance on her.

“We do not know what the substance is,” he said. “We did an initial protein test, to determine if it was a biological agent or not and that test was negative.”

The incident came one day after state House Republican leaders warned members to take precautions following an angry outcry surrounding a budget vote earlier this week.

Some GOP members reported receiving threatening communications after voting in favor of a budget package that would end a two-year stalemate but raise state income taxes. GOP House floor Leader Steven Andersson, one of 15 Republican lawmakers who crossed over and voted for the Democratic budget, reported receiving a death threat in addition to abusive text messages and calls. “I’m coming for you,” it said. The Illinois State Police are investigating that incident.


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