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Speaker Welch talks process

Monday, Feb 22, 2021

* WGN-TV Political Reporter Tahman Bradley recently interviewed House Speaker Chris Welch. An excerpt

TB: Let’s move on and discuss what the House will look like under Speaker Welch. Now, all bills filed on time will be required to be assigned to committees, but the committee chairmen can still decide whether or not they come to a vote. In other words, your committee chairmen can kill Republican ideas before they’re even brought up. So what’s different?

SCW: Well I mean first of all, I think that this is representative of a democracy. We are a super majority and we have the ability to govern the state because we won elections. But what our colleagues on the other side of the House should do is instead of complaining about rules that they helped to write many, many years ago - many of these same rules were in place when Lee Daniels was a Republican Speaker of the House - they should work their bills, they should work with those chairmen and get those bills out of committee, because the chairmen are in charge of those committees. And I think that’s very important. Not the speaker, not the minority leader, it’s each individual chairperson of those committees. They taught me as a freshman legislator eight years ago, work your bills, go to both sides of the aisle. Democrats and Republicans and my friends on the other side of the aisle should do that as well.

TB: Mr Speaker, why not allow an up or down vote on every bill that’s filed?

SCW: Well, you know, one of the things that the rules allow us to do is manage this process. Tahman, you’ve covered Springfield for a long time, a lot of bills get filed. We have to be out of there by May 31st at midnight, or a different process kicks in. And our friends on the other side of the aisle use a tactic to slow things down. We want to get things done, and they want to slow things down. And so if you don’t have rules in place that allow you to manage the process, they’ll kill good legislation just by slowing you down.

TB: Mr. Speaker, the Springfield practice of unveiling major pieces of legislation at the 11th Hour has long been complained about. What steps have you taken to end the practice of a lawmaker filing an amendment with only a few hours left in session? There are a couple minutes of debate and the next thing you know people are voting on something they’ve not read.

SCW: Well let me correct something that you said there. It’s been a long standing practice, but not because it’s a surprise. The negotiation process, many times you’re in working groups that have been going on for weeks and months, and the work of those working groups come about the agreement at the very last minute. And so, we have to eliminate the political spin and get past that rhetoric and recognize that a lot of amendments that are filed is the work of bipartisan working groups, agencies and several different parties. Just like with this past lame duck session with the Black Caucus pillars. Those bills were worked on for months, several people at the table. And so when there’s this talk that amendments were popping out at the last minute, that’s not quite true. Those things have been worked on for weeks and months as part of the process.

Please pardon all transcription errors.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Nuke The Whales - Monday, Feb 22, 21 @ 10:33 am:

    As of this morning, there were 3,961 bills filed in the House (including technical changes). Even if that was not time prohibitive in the legislature, there is no legislative body on the planet that subjects itself to such a requirement.

  2. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Feb 22, 21 @ 10:37 am:

    These are some really good and informative responses. I may have been mistaken in my initial impression that Speaker Welch’s time with the gavel is brief.

    Welch has almost perfectly labeled the GOP as being that person in your class’ group project that never comes to any of the meetings, doesn’t participate in the chats, and shows up to class on the day of the presentation wondering why they’ve never seen any of the material in the final version of the power point and threatens to tank everyone’s grade because they’re not prepared to present.

  3. - Third Reading - Monday, Feb 22, 21 @ 10:45 am:

    – Mr Speaker, why not allow an up or down vote on every bill that’s filed? –

    Do Tahman and WGN do a report on every story idea that comes in?

  4. - Fav Human - Monday, Feb 22, 21 @ 10:52 am:

    And so when there’s this talk that amendments were popping out at the last minute, that’s not quite true

    But is all that working group stuff out in the public? If a Bill is filed, I can see it, and decide what I do and do not like about it. And let others know as well.

    I am not sure that is true for all the ideas going up and getting decided upon in working meetings. Aren’t they really hidden and only leaked in part, if at all?

    So, it may be the Speaker did some spinning of his own.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 22, 21 @ 10:58 am:

    ===TB: Mr Speaker, why not allow an up or down vote on every bill that’s filed?

    SCW: Well, you know, one of the things that the rules allow us to do is manage this process.===

    It’s all about 60.

    That’s the ball game.

    Sure, many a bill, (and there are MANY) they are wholly designed for the press pop, the faux outrage, to pretend there’s a solution for a problem NO ONE sees…

    The idea of process… to divide the wheat and chaff… to get to honest attempts to get to real discussions to real bills that could pass with 60 (or 71 as needed) *is* the charge of the majority party leadership.

    If you can get 60 on the stairs… and show actual blockage to process… we’d see more of that… because that’s process too.

    Because a bill is proposed… it can just as easy… “just be a bill”

    Asking a question without grasping why process *does* matter isn’t understanding legislating at all.

  6. - Lefty Lefty - Monday, Feb 22, 21 @ 10:59 am:

    Facts all over the place in this post - from Speaker Welch and the first few commenters. Thank you for some fresh air this Monday morning.

  7. - thechampaignlife - Monday, Feb 22, 21 @ 1:27 pm:

    ===there were 3,961 bills filed in the House===

    Maybe the real issue is the lack of limits on the number of bills an individual can file. Perhaps they have to pick their top 10 bills to file. That still leaves 1180 potential bills, but it would help separate the wheat from the chaff.

  8. - Ferris Wheeler - Monday, Feb 22, 21 @ 4:05 pm:

    === But is all that working group stuff out in the public? If a Bill is filed, I can see it, and decide what I do and do not like about it. And let others know as well. ===

    if you want to know what a working group is discussing, contact your legislator. it’s not that hard.

  9. - MyTwoCents - Monday, Feb 22, 21 @ 5:07 pm:

    With regards to the let every bill get a vote, first there would have to be limits on the number of bills introduced by members. How many identical or very similar bills are filed every session just because different legislators want their own press pop? Pick any hot topic, from guns to abortion and think about having to vote on 20 different bills that repeal the FOID Act or ban abortions, etc. It would open Pandora’s box and just be rife with abuse.

  10. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Feb 22, 21 @ 5:08 pm:

    - Third Reading - Monday, Feb 22, 21 @ 10:45 am:

    At 82.5 hours of newscasts per week maybe they do

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