Springfield, IL…House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and members of the House Republican caucus today unveiled legislation asking voters to put an end to lame duck sessions of the Illinois General Assembly by moving up the date of inauguration. The proposal also requires the outgoing General Assembly to conclude their work by Election Day.
“You never know what shenanigans are going to be played in a lame duck session. In 2011 under the veil of night, Democrats in the lame duck legislature voted to impose the largest income tax increase on families and employers in the history of our state. Outgoing lawmakers, who are no longer accountable to the voters, should not be approving such controversial legislation,” said Durkin.
Durkin’s proposal would put on the November general election ballot a constitutional amendment asking voters to move the date of inauguration to the second Wednesday in December, approximately one month following the election. Currently, inauguration is held on the second Wednesday in January.
House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 43 would also prohibit the outgoing General Assembly from convening or acting on legislation unless a special session is convened with the joint approval of the Governor, and each of the four legislative leaders (the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the House, and the Minority Leader of the Senate). The purpose of the session must be specified in the proclamation and action limited to the topic identified.
“This would allow the legislature to convene if there was a true emergency such as an act of terrorism or natural disaster,” said Durkin.
Durkin also filed a resolution to change the current House Rules that would limit the actions of a lame duck legislature during the period of time between the vote on a constitutional amendment at the 2014 general election and the date when the amendment’s adoption is certified and becomes effective.
House Resolution 805 would require, beginning on the date of the general election, a three-fifths vote to move a bill from the Order of Second Reading, when amendments are considered, to the Order of Third Reading, when a bill is voted on for final passage. This would also apply to bills on the Order of Concurrence or Conference Committee reports.
“The two-year legislative session allows more than enough time to thoroughly vet and move legislation through appropriate channels while simultaneously holding lawmakers responsible for their legislative action,” said Rep. Pritchard (R-DeKalb). “Lame duck sessions often give rise to laws which otherwise would not have enough votes to pass because outgoing lawmakers are no longer accountable to the voters; one example of this is the 67% tax increase passed during the lame duck session in 2011.”
“If a legislator wants to vote for a tax increase or other controversial issues they need to be held accountable to their constituents. In the past we have seen lawmakers take positions on bills during the lame duck that they might not have taken if they had to answer to the voters,” said Durkin. “The bills we have filed will eliminate lame duck sessions and tough votes will have to be taken before an election – not afterwards.”