This year's annual two-week legislative veto session has so far
failed to live up to its hype.
Issues such as civil unions,
abolition of the death penalty and medical marijuana have yet to
surface. A committee vote on a massive gaming expansion was
postponed after advocates, opponents and residents overflowed the
hearing room to testify.
"This week, we have really come to the realization that we're not
going to see some of those things," said state Rep. Dan Brady,
R-Bloomington. "Who knows about the second week of veto, when we
Recovering from an expensive, often bitter campaign season,
lawmakers are easing back into a legislative pace. But a public lack
of activity doesn't mean nothing is happening.
"This week is probably more of a week of getting things in place,
and when we come back after Thanksgiving, that's when I expect most
of the substantial action on legislation will take place," said
state Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Pekin.
"Getting things in place" means getting votes. No lawmaker wants
to roll out something controversial until it's assured of passage,
according to one political observer.
"It's a matter of counting votes and not wanting to fail
publicly," said Kent Redfield, a professor of political science at
the University of Illinois-Springfield.
And the strategy for controversial, hot-button issues differs
from that of statewide topics such as a capital bill or ethics
reform, Redfield said, when drafts of legislation are passed around
But remember the lesson from the pension reform bill passed in
one day last session, he said.
"Things can happen pretty quickly once they've got the votes,"
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However, he cautions not to expect a vote on an income tax
increase anytime soon -- even during the lame-duck session set for
the first week of January, when only a simple majority vote will be
needed for passage. Additionally, House Speaker Michael Madigan has
said he wants Republican support on such a controversial topic
during a lingering recession with high unemployment.
And the issue most likely will be one of several bargaining chips
in an overall fiscal and political strategy as the state struggles
with an expected $15 billion budget deficit.
"Revenue, the budget and redistricting will all get linked
together," Redfield said. "I think it's more likely that it's going
to happen in May rather than January."
Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Thursday and then break for
the Thanksgiving holiday. They come back for the second week of veto
session on Nov. 29.
Statehouse News; By MARY MASSINGALE]