Saturday, July 31, 2010
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Quinn veto pen busy, likely not permanent

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[July 31, 2010]  SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has been busy with his veto pen this month, though it likely won't be permanent.

HardwareQuinn issued his second veto of July earlier this week when he added a provision to an ethics law that would allow voters to petition lawmakers for a vote on dormant legislation.

Quinn said he's right by both the state constitution and by voters.

"(Amendatory veto) is a power that can be used to perfect bills. ... Legislators didn't; didn't like amendatory veto, they didn't like the governor having that power. ... The people rejected that in 1974. They said, 'No, we want the governor to have this power." said the governor.

Quinn said he is using his power to empower the people of Illinois.


But University of Illinois at Springfield professor Kent Redfield said Quinn is more likely playing a bit of politics.

"These (vetoes) are pure posturing before the election. When we get to veto session, it's unlikely that either would pass on their merits," Redfield said.

Redfield said the governor is correct that he has the power to use a veto pen to change proposed laws. But the professor is quick to point out that judges in the state have never clarified "changing" and "rewriting."

"What (the courts) are saying is, you can go too far, and they haven't defined what too far is. ... But my guess is, if it ever got that far, the Supreme Court would say this is unconstitutional," he said.

Quinn insists he is only trying to give the voters a voice on many of the proposals that die in the General Assembly.

"There ought to be a process where citizens can be a petition for roll-call votes for the General Assembly. ... I think voters ought to have a safety valve to go around the legislative process and get direct action."

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Redfield said that is clearly stretching the governor's power.

"You can't add an initiative by statute," he said.

The professor points to the battle over the proposed recall amendment as an example of how it's supposed to work. Redfield again said he doubts either of Quinn's veto moves will survive a vote this fall.

But he also said no one should be surprised that this governor is using his amendatory veto power to try to create voter initiatives or open primaries.

Quinn said the same thing.

"I think those are paramount subjects, priority subjects ... How does government of the people operate. If it isn't operating properly for the people, then I think we need to step in and use the tools of democracy to improve our democracy."

Lawmakers have said in the past that they expect to act quickly and to overwhelmingly override Quinn's vetoes. But those votes won't come until after voters have their say in the November elections.

[Illinois Statehouse News; By BENJAMIN YOUNT]

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