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Because… George Ryan and Don Harmon!

Friday, Jan 22, 2021

* Tribune gonna Tribune, I suppose…


* To the column by the president and chief executive officer of the Better Government Association

Even so, Welch’s early pronouncements — opposing the gerrymandering of electoral maps and calling for a 10-year limit on terms of legislative leaders — represented at least a verbal departure from Madigan’s methods.

So how will we know if Welch is a “mini-Mike,” or something better than that? We can watch for certain tells.

Madigan used the House Rules Committee to exert unrivaled control over which bills came to a vote and which did not. Welch is launching a rules rewrite. If he’s serious about reform, the new House rules will allow bills he opposes, even those written by Republicans, to still reach the House floor for a vote.

The patronizing attitude is ridiculous enough, but there are also substantive critiques here.

* For about the last decade or so, Speaker Madigan moved all substantive bills out of the House Rules Committee to standing committees during odd-numbered years. The House rules have long limited bills for consideration in even-numbered (election) years to appropriations, emergencies and other top governing priorities. Most people don’t know that because they prefer the cartoon version of Madigan.

The rules to discharge bills from the House Rules Committee are, indeed, onerous. The motions must be signed by no less than three-fifths of the members of both the majority and minority caucuses and all those who sign must be a sponsor of the underlying bill. However, the Senate’s rules to discharge bills from the Assignments Committee are identical, so Madigan most definitely did not exert “unrivaled” control. Curiously, no “to-do list” was also handed to Senate President Harmon. Once again, that would clash with the cartoon version of Illinois politics.

* Now, a whole lot of the bills that were moved out of Rules were assigned to the House Executive Committee, where they went to die (click here to see the list of Leader Durkin’s bills as an example).

However, last night I used the Google and found an explainer of Illinois House rules and procedures published in 1982, the year before Madigan was elected House Speaker and while the Republicans held the chamber and George Ryan was Speaker. Discharging a bill from committee required a three-fifths vote in writing and mandated its inclusion on the daily calendar. The last version of Madigan’s rules only required a simple majority to discharge bills from standing committees.

Beyond all this, there’s also the question about why bills sharply opposed by Democrats in a Democratic super-majority chamber ought to be given the right to floor votes.

* This is not to say that none of the rules should be changed. They should. We’ve discussed this several times before. I’m just arguing for a fact-based approach, unlike the BGA. Also, the Illinois Policy Institute has some rules ideas. Some are decent, some aren’t. Click here to see them.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

14 Comments
  1. - Ok - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 1:05 pm:

    I guess the strategy is to force Democrats to make politically controversial votes on symbolic bills brought forth by Republicans, so that Republicans can then do more attack ads and have a better shot in elections?

    I guess that is the grand strategy.

    However, that being said, if a bill can pass in the House with 50%+1, then it should be able to discharged from Rules.


  2. - walker - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 1:13 pm:

    I often wish that critics of what happens in the House would take the time to learn what actually happens in the House. Yes, on this IPI has taken a closer look.

    When 118 recognition-driven pols produce 5000 plus bills, while we can only effectively handle the dozens that could could best benefit Illinois, there will automatically be frustration among members and their publics. How to manage that volume and resulting frustration is the biggest internal operations challenge.


  3. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 1:41 pm:

    I shoulda known that by putting Harmon in the headline I’d get no comments.


  4. - Publius - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 1:46 pm:

    Maybe it should be quality not quantity. Also, if someone has a problem with the rules maybe they should run better canidates to get elected and get a majority in the chamber. As noted the rules date back to Republicans. However I doubt Republicans in 2021 resemble Republicans from 1982.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 1:51 pm:

    === Curiously, no “to-do list” was also handed to Senate President Harmon. Once again, that would clash with the cartoon version of Illinois politics.===

    This was tough to match or expand, reading what was published by the Tribune and reading it as I did knowing and preparing myself for a disconnect.

    As one who has written on comments here about the rules and what I’d like to see as a starting point and having a logical and useful look to make them better, using this change in Speakership in that, it’s a time for serious discussions to that, and ignoring how Harmon and Welch are seen by the Trib as an example is not helpful to the honesty to that task.


  6. - Annonin' - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 2:03 pm:

    Maybe the BGA board could trim his private club allowance…until he gets better backgrounding


  7. - Bored Chairman - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 2:05 pm:

    == I shoulda known that by putting Harmon in the headline I’d get no comments.==

    LOL! Well, seems this country craves “boring” from their political leaders these days.


  8. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 2:06 pm:

    Rich - Thank you.

    As someone who has criticized the lack of memory in Springfield, Madigan has more than a few things to answer for. “Creating” current House Rules isn’t one.


  9. - The Doc - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 2:15 pm:

    Is the BGA so hard up to identify bad practices that Greising has to invent stuff from whole cloth? Par for the course for the Trib oped page, I suppose…


  10. - Anonish - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 2:16 pm:

    Then Madigan killed the bill, the trailer bill, and every bill that wasn’t even filed.
    He becomes a spook story reformers tell their kids. “Talk about good government and Michael Madigan will get you.”


  11. - not for nothing - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 2:22 pm:

    @ok that’s a bogus standard. there are a ton of bills that would get enough votes that are bad ideas. It’s up to a responsible chamber leader to prevent them from getting on the board.


  12. - Annoin' - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 2:27 pm:

    BTW according BGA’s most recently available 990 Greising knocks back $177K Andy Shaw still got $100K


  13. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 2:54 pm:

    Speaker Ryan, reminds of this (fond?) lookback from Rick Pearson last week.

    Hope everyone in–and watching–the Illinois House this morning appreciates that this is often what it was like in the old days when George Ryan was speaker, when there were 177 House members, and when committee meetings began at 1 a.m. before floor action.

    https://twitter.com/rap30/status/1349280091482714113


  14. - Roman - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 3:37 pm:

    The BGA and Greising removed all doubts about them being a partisan political organization with their campaign against the progressive income tax amendment. It was a philosophical question about tax rates that had little to do with ethics. But Greising had to carry water for the BGA’s corporate donors — after all, they pay his salary, not the liberal good government types. He ensured those checks will keep flowing, but he can no longer credibly call himself nonpartisan.


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