Monday, December 26, 2016

What 2017 brings the Illinois General Assembly: Lame duck and the end of Madigan’s supermajority

At Illinois Policy by Helen Weiner  --

On Jan. 11, 2017, Illinois’ new state politicians will be inaugurated.
But before then, lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly, including members voted out of office in November 2016, will meet for two more days, known as “lame duck” session, a dangerous period that often sees controversial legislation sneak through the legislature.

Lame duck session allows legislators who have already been voted out of office to vote on bills that they will not be accountable for through the electoral process. Additionally, after Jan. 1, 2017, the House needs 60 votes instead of 71 to pass legislation, so those unaccountable representatives make up a larger portion of the voting block. In the past, this has allowed for bills like the 2011 income tax increase to pass the legislature with lower standards and many—20 percent, in fact—of representatives voting on their way out the door for a tax hike they may not have voted for if they had another election to face in the future.

Fortunately, 87 legislators in the House of Representatives signed a resolution that declared opposition to income tax hikes during lame duck, and 84 voted for a constitutional amendment that would partially close this loophole and require the supermajority needed during the rest of the post-regular session year for tax increases.

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