* As Doug Finke points out, there’s an awful lot to do in the next five weeks…
The deadline has now passed for the House and Senate to act on bills that started in their respective chambers, marking the halfway point in the process. Let’s see where some big things stand.
The state budget? It’s not May yet, so of course it’s nowhere to be seen. Outside, that is, of Gov. PAT QUINN’s budget that was outlined in March and hasn’t been heard of since. Even Quinn’s budget probably wouldn’t be out there if the state Constitution didn’t force him to do it. Bzzzt. (Cue the penalty buzzer).
Gambling expansion with its lure of easy new millions for the state? Hasn’t’ passed either chamber. Bzzzt.
Concealed carry seems headed toward the state in one form or another after a court-ordered deadline of June 9. Surely the legislature has acted to put its stamp on that, right? Nope. The House has debated and voted on two concealed-carry bills — one restrictive, one not — and rejected both of them (guess they get points for consistency). That still puts the House ahead of the Senate, which has yet to publicly debate and vote on any concealed-carry bill. Bzzzt.
Compared to all of that, there’s been an explosion of activity on pension reform. The Senate actually passed a reform bill (on the second try) dealing with one of the five systems. The House has passed three reform bills over to the Senate.
Unfortunately, none of that stuff is the final version of pension reform. Plus, it all passed before the spring break that ended April 5. Since then, nothing
* Add Rep. Adam Brown’s bill to the list…
Brown, in his second term in the House, is sponsor of HB 2496, a bill to provide state incentives to help lure a $1.2 billion fertilizer plant to Tuscola, a project that would be an economic boon to East Central Illinois. Iowa also is competing for the plant.
Brown had lined up two dozen co-sponsors for the measure, met with House leaders, the governor and others, got the bill out of committee unanimously and thought it was in good shape for passage.
“It was getting extremely close to being called. We had a meeting with Speaker (Michael) Madigan, (Democratic Leader) Barbara Flynn Currie and (Republican Leader Tom) Cross where we sat down and discussed all the issues at hand. They indicated they were supportive,” Brown recalled.
“And then a couple days later, John Bradley filed Amendment 3.”
Amendment 3 forgives a $15 million state loan to the Chicago Port Authority that was made 25 years ago.
The odd thing is that Rep. John Bradley is from Marion, about 310 miles from the offices of the Chicago Port Authority. But Bradley is also among Madigan’s assistant leaders.
The amendment was approved in a voice vote on the House floor, so now it’s part of Brown’s bill for the Tuscola fertilizer plant, a bill that was seemingly headed for approval. Now his bill is on hold.
“I tried to remove it,” Brown said. “But it turned out that wouldn’t work out.”
A pattern is developing in the House of holding off on all the goodies until the hard stuff is passed. Brown is a conservative, but he’s against pension reform. He’s also a likely “No” vote on the budget. The thinking may be to not give him what he wants for his district until after the hard stuff has passed.
But that means a ton of legislation (far more than listed above) is backlogged. It’s gonna be a crazy May. Either that, or nothing will get done.
* Editorial: Don’t give state more money to throw away
* Vendors step up to pay Illinois’ bills
* Editorial: Illinois road paved with patronage
* Economic development, Texas-style: What Illinois can learn
* Bost: Link Card abuse out of control