* As subscribers already know, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has created a new PAC. The “Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits” has already raised over $200,000. The two top contributors are real estate magnate Howard Rich and a trust controlled by Sam Zell.
From the Trib…
Imposing term limits in Illinois will require asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment. To get it on the ballot, hundreds of thousands of signatures will have to be gathered. On Tuesday, Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said that details of the petition drive, as well as the exact wording of the proposed term limit amendment, will be publicly announced “in the next few weeks.” […]
Traditional political action committees that support candidates for election also have limits on donations. But since Rauner’s term limits PAC is pushing a proposed question for the November 2014 general election ballot, there are no limits to what donors may contribute.
That means Rauner could give unlimited amounts of his own money to his PAC, ostensibly pushing term limits while helping to promote his candidacy for governor. Meanwhile, his opponents would continue to be hamstrung by state donation limits. […]
There’s another potential benefit for Rauner. If he wins the Republican primary in March and gets the term limit question on the November ballot, it could create a powerful way to drive turnout in a state where the Democratic Party controls Illinois government. The strategy is similar to one used by President George W. Bush in his successful 2004 re-election effort. Bush adviser Karl Rove got anti-gay marriage referendum questions on the ballot in several battleground states, including Ohio, drawing conservative voters to the polls.
* The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in the 1990s that citizen-initiated constitutional amendments must change both the structure of the General Assembly and its procedures. From the Constitution…
Amendments shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV
From the court’s ruling…
The eligibility or qualifications of an individual legislator does not involve the structure of the legislature as an institution. The General Assembly would remain a bicameral legislature consisting of a House and Senate with a total of 177 members, and would maintain the same organization.
Likewise, the eligibility or qualifications of an individual legislator does not involve any of the General Assembly’s procedures. The process by which the General Assembly adopts a law would remain unchanged. […]
the proposed amendment does not meet either the structural or the procedural requirement of article XIV, section 3 [Emphasis added]
So, it’s quite likely that any term limit proposal would be prevented from appearing on the ballot. Still, it’ll give Rauner a rallying cry and an organizing tool
* Signature and other requirements…
(I)n order for a term limits initiative to come to a vote, a petition with signatures totaling 8 percent of the number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election would first need to be approved.11 Moreover, the Illinois Supreme Court would then have to rule such an initiative permissible under Article XIV, Section 3.
Eight percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election would equal 298,399 valid signatures.
* The term limits case involved Pat Quinn, who gathered over 400,000 signatures to get a term limits amendment on the ballot. This is how the then state treasurer reacted to the Supreme Court’s ruling…
In a statewide opinion poll published recently by the Chicago Tribune, nearly 70 percent of voters said they would vote in support of the term limit amendment if it appeared on the ballot in November. But in the midst of all this support for change, the Chicago Bar Association (CBA)—a registered lobby group of 21,000 lawyers—rushed forward to protect the political status quo. The CBA filed a lawsuit to block the Eight is Enough term limit referendum from appearing on the November 1994 ballot statewide.
Interestingly, the CBA also lobbied the General Assembly in support of a pay raise for judges. On the same day that the legislators approved the judicial pay raise, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to hear the CBA challenge to the term limit referendum. Six weeks later, on August 10, in a 4-3 split decision, the Illinois Supreme Court denied voters the chance to vote on the term limit referendum this November. In a cowardly action, the court refused to explain why it will not allow Illinois voters the chance to participate fully in the democratic process.
Illinois is the first state in the nation to reject term limits before the people have had a chance to vote on the issue. The Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling against the Eight is Enough referendum is a slap in the faces of more than six million voters and is an insult to the highest ideals of democracy. The court’s majority ruling ignores the fact that the Illinois Constitution clearly gives voters the right to reform their legislature. The constitution provides citizens with the power of initiative and referendum. The authors of our state constitution wanted voters to be able to propose changes to the legislature in cases where, through self-interest, the General Assembly opposed them.