Legislative Update: January 27, 2017

Governor Rauner Presents State of the State Address
This week in Springfield, Governor Bruce Rauner presented his State of the State Address before a joint session of the House and Senate. During the 35-minute speech, he struck an optimistic tone and spoke of the great opportunity afforded to us as legislators during these difficult times. The key line in the speech, in my opinion, is when the Governor said we have a moral obligation to work together for change. Those words strike at the center of our purpose as lawmakers in Springfield. We do need to work together and we do need to respect each other’s points of view. Only then will we move forward in a bipartisan fashion and make Illinois a place where people truly want to live and stay. 
While the budget impasse monopolizes political discussions right now, Governor Rauner pointed to some legitimate accomplishments that have occurred during the last two years. Progress that has been made in the areas of education funding, ethics reform, government efficiency and transparency and job creation stand as proof that positive change is possible. As legislators, we need to build on those accomplishments.

Following the Governor’s remarks, I spoke on camera and gave my reaction to the address. You can watch that video here.

Madigan’s House Rules Adopted on Party-Line Vote
On the day before the State of the State Address, the House convened to adopt the rules that will govern the movement of legislation during the 100th General Assembly. House Democrats used their majority status to push through a set of House Rules that strengthen the power of Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) and muffle the voices of rank-and-file legislators and the constituents they represent. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and several members of our caucus proposed rules that would have improved transparency and allowed all lawmakers, regardless of party affiliation, to have their bills heard. The Republican proposal included the following measures:
  • Allowing the discharge of bills from the Rules Committee when at least 71 lawmakers (a supermajority) vote to allow a bill to be brought forward for consideration
  • Requiring public advanced notice of Rules Committee hearings
  • Creating a public review period for committee amendments
  • Extending the public review period for floor amendments
  • Requiring a public review period on all budget bills
  • Requiring a year-round review of the state budget and spending
  • Automatic referral of Bills to a substantive committee during the first year of every General Assembly
  • Requiring the second reading of bills to occur in open session rather than in perfunctory session
These reasonable changes would have ensured that every lawmaker could more fully represent his or her constituents and would have also provided a much-needed new layer of transparency as bills move through the legislative process.

Despite the adoption of the Speaker’s rules, I remain hopeful that my 2017 legislative initiatives will be given a fair hearing in Springfield. I will urge bipartisanship at every step and work with colleagues from both sides of the aisle on legislation that is good for our district and for all of Illinois.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan Files Suit to Stop State Workers’ Pay
On Thursday, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit seeking to stop state worker pay during the budget impasse. Specifically, she is asking that a preliminary injunction that allowed state workers to be paid during this time with no budget or appropriation be dissolved. If successful, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza would lose the authority to approve payments to state employees as of February 28.

Shortly after news of the lawsuit was made public, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) in a statement said, “The timing of the Attorney General’s action is questionable in light of the current attempts to resolve the budget impasse. This decision clearly undermines the legislature’s duty to negotiate a bipartisan solution.”

The Chicago Sun Times broke the news Thursday evening. You can read that article here.

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