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Simple solutions are never simple

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013

* From an Illinois Issues column on abolishing the lame duck session, which allows simple majority votes to pass a bill during a few days ever other January

Granted, the pressure on the Illinois General Assembly and the U.S. Congress to deal with major issues is immense. Political gridlock has made passage of controversial legislation nearly impossible without resorting to chicanery. And bond rating houses and influential interest groups such as the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and others are pushing loudly for solutions to the state’s fiscal mess or to controversial social issues.

But it’s a shame — better yet, a sham — that legislative leaders, the governor and the special interests believe that the only way to make those major changes is through votes by legislators who don’t have to answer to the voters who elected them.

Yes, the 2011 lame duck session went further than ever before. But the recent 2013 lame duck session was a gigantic bust. They usually are. So, I’m not sure they need to change the rules because one out of many lame duck sessions went further than some think they should have.

* Also, we have primaries in March. Any legislator who loses a March primary is a lame duck and therefore “don’t have to answer to the voters who elected them.” Any legislator who announced his or her retirement before the March primary was also a lame duck. And several legislators retired last year and were replaced by temporary seat-holders. But rarely does anyone talk about those folks.

In other words, eliminating lame ducks from the equation would be impossible.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

16 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 11:10 am:

    A solution in search of a problem.


  2. - langhorne - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 11:20 am:

    the problem isnt the existence of a “lame duck” session, since there are many versions of lame ducks. focusing on the calendar is misleading. focus on the duck. the problem is the lack of competitiveness throughout the process.


  3. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 11:28 am:

    This isn’t a real issue. It’s a decoy.


  4. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 11:38 am:

    Lame ducks will always exist, but those last few days of session sure see a greater concentration of action on controversial issues than other days.

    The temptation to put off controversial issues until those closing days, or even deliberately wait to try pushing weak legislation through during that time, simply seems too much for our dear legislators to resist.

    The regular session prior to November typically forces legislators to work towards a broader consenus rather than adopt a hasty band-aid out of desperation, laziness, weakness or a lack of ideas.

    Exhibit A: The pension panel proposal that emerged on January 8th. It was such a great idea that the Governor… kept it secret until the very last minute?

    It was a desperation heave that, under different circumstances, may have passed essentially to make it appear legislators were doing “something” to deal with a pressing issue.


  5. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 11:46 am:

    Wow that was a waste of about 6.5 min. of our lives we can never get back. Although the idea of PQ Reformanator looking to solve as his problems in the lame duck was kinda fun.
    Under the theory that a pol never facing a voter again is disqualified from action …..Obama is done now too.
    Go find some real problems to report on.


  6. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 11:53 am:

    === the problem is the lack of competitiveness throughout the process ===

    Well said, Langhorne.


  7. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 12:25 pm:

    ==votes by legislators who don’t have to answer to the voters who elected them.==

    Ummm, these people were elected and they are entitled to be legislators until their term expires. I’m not sure why people think that there is some sort of cut off prior to the end of their term. This is nothing but whining by somebody who has no clue how the legislative process works.


  8. - Levois - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 1:28 pm:

    Apparently quick fixes such as this are rarely that “quick”.


  9. - soccermom - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 1:31 pm:

    You say “a gigantic bust” like it’s a bad thing.


  10. - McLean Farmboy - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 1:46 pm:

    I don’t think it’s a lame duck problem as such, I think it is more about the window that opens those few days in January where you get simple majorities for immediate implementation that fosters a sense that shenanigans are going on.


  11. - Anon III - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 2:02 pm:

    You are suggesting that the sure prospect of not having to face the voters again will increase the productivity of those members of the legislative body. Then an old suggestion to every ten years make all sitting legislators ineligible for reelection – making everyone a lame duck at the same time once every ten years – should dramatically improve the productivity of the Legislature.


  12. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 2:10 pm:

    ===You are suggesting that the sure prospect of not having to face the voters again will increase the productivity of those members of the legislative body.===

    If that was aimed at me, I was doing no such thing.


  13. - Anon III - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 3:39 pm:

    Rhetorical “you.”

    “It’s a shame … that legislative leaders, the governor and the special interests believe that … .”


  14. - Mugwump - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 3:44 pm:

    I don’t understand what “lack of competitiveness throughout the process” means? What does it have to do with outgoing or defeated members voting on important issues with presumably nothing to lose politically? If they have nothing to lose, they can vote their conscience. Or is the problem that they need a job so they will vote against their conscience to please political bosses that can get them a job? What does competitiveness have to do with it?


  15. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 7:43 pm:

    .., and rarely solutions


  16. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jan 29, 13 @ 11:01 pm:

    === the problem is the lack of competitiveness throughout the process. ===

    The problem is that barely half the voters know what the top source of revenue or top spending item is in the state budget, and they probably know more about the Kardashian family than how state government works.


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