* Proponents of allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain limited drivers licenses thought Monday night that they were short of passage by a vote or two. Others thought it wasn’t even that close. So, why did the bill get 66 House votes yesterday? Well, some support came from unlikely quarters. And some folks were turned off by the debate. A sample…
Other opponents, including several South Side Democrats, pointed out the unfairness in depriving someone in the U.S. legally of driving privileges for not paying child support but allowing those here illegally a pathway to a drivers license.
“I believe that all of these provisions in the state of Illinois denying an Illinois citizen from a drivers license should darn well be considered, whose background we know, before we give a drivers license to those we don’t know,” said Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago), who voted against the bill.
Three South Siders voted against the bill. Rep. Bill Cunningham stuck with the cops, who opposed it. Reps. Monique Davis and Mary Flowers voted “No” as well. Both ended up losing bids for leadership.
* Another sample…
Debate in the House lasted nearly 90 minutes, with critics arguing the new immigrant drivers licenses put the state on record as condoning illegal entry into the country, set up a system that can be exploited by fraud and ignore the fact immigration policy is a federal responsibility, not a state one.
“There will be fraud, abuse. All I have to say is people have called me a hater, a racist,” said Rep. Randy Ramey (R-Carol Stream), who voted against the plan. “All I’m doing is standing by what the Constitution of the United States of America says. If the fed government wants to change the rules, I’d stand by that.”
But, if it’s supposedly “in the Constitution,” then how can the feds “change the rules”?
As I noted yesterday on the live blog, Ramey also made a fruitless attempt to stall the bill by asking for some pretty ridiculous impact notes. That likely didn’t go over well, either.
* Meanwhile, from the Sun-Times…
A dormant gambling expansion bill that would bring a casino to Chicago moved to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk Tuesday after the state Senate’s top Democrat quietly lifted a parliamentary paperweight that he’d placed on the plan nearly two years ago.
The likelihood that the governor would affix his signature to the package seemed remote since Quinn once belittled the effort as “top heavy” and “excessive,” and the top state gambling regulator whom the governor appointed called it a “pile of garbage.”
Before the close of the lame-duck legislative session Tuesday, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) removed a parliamentary hold he’d put on the bill immediately after it passed the Senate in May 2011.
By releasing the hold, Cullerton now puts Quinn in a position where he could, should he choose to, use the legislation as a bargaining chip in his stalled pursuit of cuts to state pension benefits. The Senate president has been an active supporter of gambling expansion, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pushed hard for a city casino.
The state Constitution gives Quinn 60 calendar days to act on the gambling bill - two months into the spring legislative session when presumably finding a way to solve the state’s $95 billion pension crisis will remain on the frontburner after lawmakers whiffed at efforts to pass a pension bill this week.
* Steve Rhodes is skeptical…
I don’t see how the governor has any leverage, though; with Democratic supermajorities in the new legislature, he’s not really at the table anymore. Why would legislative leaders and/or Rahm - who really, really, really, really wants a casino - give up anything to Quinn to get pension reform in exchange for getting a gambling bill signed when they can now pass a veto-proof gambling bill on their own?
Quinn is now about as relevant as Squeezy.
I suppose it could be used as a chip, but it would be pretty darned irresponsible to do that and I don’t see Cullerton making that sort of move. I hope I’m right.
* Feds say expanding Medicaid in Illinois could bring in billions, but lawmakers are wary
* Editorial: Don’t trim at-risk kids out of state budgets
* Retiring Sen. Cultra unhappy with direction Illinois is going