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Beware reforms: Part 52,947

Sunday, Jan 6, 2013

* Rep. Jim Durkin might wish this week that he’d kept quiet instead of talking to his local paper late last week

At least one suburban legislator is rankled by last-ditch efforts to pass laws on controversial issues during the lame duck session in Springfield.

State Rep. Jim Durkin, R-82nd, Western Springs, said moves to rush through laws banning assault weapons and allowing same-sex marriage are unfair to voters.

“I’ve had it with the 11th hour passage of bills which do not get the thorough vetting before the public and members of the legislature,” Durkin said. […]

“I have been in the minority party for a great amount of time, and it’s sickening to watch this process play out,” he said. “It should disgust the voters in Illinois.”

* Durkin even went so far as to say there oughtta be a law

Durkin said he intends to sponsor a bill insuring that a super majority vote, rather than a simple majority of 60, is required to pass bills in the House after May 31, to prevent lame-duck session abuses.

“This is just wrong. The fact that it’s being done in the dark of night at a speed, which is nearly impossible for a thoughtful debate and input from the public,” he said.

I happen to like Jim Durkin a lot and have a great deal of respect for the man. He’s a good state legislator, a decent man and is a reasonable voice in his caucus.

* But what the heck is Rep. Durkin gonna do if a pension reform bill suddenly pops up on the floor in the next day or two and an immediate vote has to be taken - without much deliberation and with little to no public input?

Durkin is a member of House GOP leadership. He has vowed to vote for pension reform, and in the past has demanded immediate action on the issue. He can’t exactly vote “No.”

* On the surface, Durkin’s idea has plenty of merit. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Constitution’s lame duck loophole has been overused.

But the reality is that sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do when you’re in leadership. The hard truth is that being allowed to pass bills with a mere simple majority after January 1st helps stuff get done around here. Sometimes the Republicans don’t like that, as with the income tax hike (although they aren’t complaining about the new money). Sometimes, they do, like when they rammed through a bunch of stuff in the 1997 lame duck session - or now, with pension reform.

There’s no way they can pass pension reform with three-fifths majorities when they’re gonna have a whale of a time trying to find simple majorities this week.

* And speaking of people who probably should’ve remained mum, check out Finke’s column

When some House members crafted their own pension reform bill, Gov. Pat Quinn insisted it had to undergo a vigorous review by actuaries to see how much it would save.

It took a couple of weeks, but it was reviewed and the results were made public before Christmas, giving legislators time to digest them before coming back to Springfield.

Now Quinn is talking about yet another plan that he thinks should be approved by lawmakers in three days. The House returns Sunday, and the last day to do anything before new legislators are seated is Tuesday.

Hopefully, the actuaries were given this plan long enough ago that they can verify in the remaining three days that all of the savings are legitimate.

If so, they will have had more time to review it than the people who are expected to vote on it.

And remember the last time the Legislature quickly rammed through some pension reforms? Even some of the reformers now admit mistakes were made that will need to be corrected.

Anyone confident they’ll avoid that problem if a new reform plan is rushed through again?


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Sunday, Jan 6, 13 @ 1:06 pm:

    If there’s an issue under the sun that hasn’t been talked and studied to death, I don’t know what it is. Sometimes you just have to take hard votes.

    I don’t think the GA needs more impediments to getting things done.

  2. - Sgtstu - Sunday, Jan 6, 13 @ 1:49 pm:

    I agree with Rich, I think this is a good idea. Lame duck stuff leads to closed door talks and back room deals. Bring it all to the floor for everyone to have a say on it and not just the Super 5 . Maybe it might help Bost from throwing bills in the air.

  3. - CircularFiringSquad - Sunday, Jan 6, 13 @ 2:34 pm:

    Hard to agree Durkin is any great shakes as a legislator…just about any Magoo in the building know votes requirements are set by the Constitution. Hard to top last year’s performance to scare parents into penalty laden withdrawals from College IL, but we think dun dun it by gosh
    Fire,Aim, Ready

  4. - RNUG - Sunday, Jan 6, 13 @ 3:56 pm:


    I think Rich’s point was that passing bills is like making sausage, it isn’t very pretty to see what goes on behind the doors. But often it’s the only way anything gets done.

  5. - Just Me - Sunday, Jan 6, 13 @ 5:35 pm:

    As a rule of thumb Quinn should just stay mum all the time.

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