* Legislation to abolish the death penalty in Illinois just passed a House committee 4-3.
* The Tribune recently editorialized in favor of the legislation…
The last prisoner executed by the state of Illinois was Andrew Kokoraleis, who died by lethal injection at the Tamms Correctional Center in March 1999. The next year, then-Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions, concerned that a deeply flawed system had sent innocent people to death row. Three years later he commuted the sentences of 167 condemned inmates and pardoned four others.
A lot of Illinoisans apparently believe that was the end of it. Only 39 percent of voters responding to a recent poll answered (correctly) that Illinois still has the death penalty. The others said it does not (33 percent) or that they didn’t know (28 percent).
No, the death penalty hasn’t been abolished in Illinois. It hasn’t been fixed either.
Those poll results show to me that people don’t really care all that much. Whether they will care if the bill passes is the big question, however.
* Unsurprisingly, another sweeping amendatory veto went down to defeat yesterday in the House…
A bill that would shield voters’ political party preferences from the public record has been killed in the Illinois House.
Gov. Pat Quinn had rewritten House Bill 4842 so voters would not have to publicly declare their parties when voting in a primary election. The bill originally instructed the State Board of Elections to publish a voters guide on the Internet during primary elections.
However, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, said the amendatory veto was unconstitutional.
“He created a wholly different bill,” Currie said. “That was not what was contemplated by the people who drafted and the people who supported the 1970 Constitution.”
Lots of people support the governor’s idea, but not so much in the General Assembly. Plus, legislators don’t take too kindly to a governor attempting to legislate with an amendatory veto.
* A case in point is the seniors ride free bill. That one was such a political hot potato that the General Assembly decided to go along with Rod Blagojevich’s AV. But opponents have persisted and another vote to get rid of it appears likely…
On Monday, a House committee approved legislation that would scale back the free-rides program by setting income limits for seniors to qualify.
“There is no such thing as a free lunch or a free ride,” Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, said.
Gov. Pat Quinn has previously said he would veto legislation limiting free rides, but Currie said she is confident the proposal will have enough support for lawmakers to override a veto.
When the Majority Leader is on board, that usually means the Speaker is on board, and that usually means that the bill will pass.
* But not everybody is ready to vote for it…
State Rep. Fred Crespo, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, was among lawmakers hesitating to take the perk away. He said it might be difficult for seniors to adjust to the change.
* Keep in mind, however, that a federal law requires seniors to get a 50 percent mass transit discount, so they still won’t pay the full freight…
On Monday, a House committee approved limiting free bus and train rides to seniors who make less than $27,600 a year. More affluent seniors would pay the federally mandated half price for rides.
…Adding… From the RTA…
Saw your blog post on the RTA’s senior ride free bill today. Thanks. Just a small note: the bill doesn’t eliminate seniors riding free. It means test it so that seniors who are in the Circuit Breaker Program ride free and all others half off. It works the same way our current People with Disabilities Ride Free Program works which was created by the General Assembly a few months after the Seniors program was created.
* House Dems elect Madigan again
* ComEd fights Ill. on conservation
* Stimulus program helping 26,000 Illinoisans may expire
* Lawmakers, advocates, opponents hash out reform for Medicaid, workers’ comp
* A big push to end capital punishment - Death penalty abolitionists say now is the time
* Broken Beyond Repair
* The dollars and cents of medical marijuana in Illinois
* Waste in state government? Don’t blame auditor general
* Keep Illinois casinos smoke free
* Bill would reduce police, fire pension benefits
* The other pension crisis
* The gambling balancing act
* Quinn: Come down from North Pole
* Smokers may get to light up in casinos
* Taylorville coal plant bill advances; support lacking in full House
* Tensaka Supporters: Time To Act