SPRINGFIELD - Who hasn't groaned at the thought of lawmakers who will never again face voters in their districts gathering at the State Capitol to make landmark decisions on taxes, pensions, budgets and volatile social issues? Appears one lawmaker has heard enough complaint about those so-called lame duck sessions that he's proposing they end - or at least aren't used so often to spare lawmakers from the repercussions of making bad votes.
State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) introduced legislation that will effectively eliminate a major lame duck session loophole. Presently, the simple majority vote in lame duck sessions has allowed controversial pieces of legislation to become law that would otherwise not have sufficient votes.
House Bill 195 would require a three-fifths vote to approve any proposals in a lame duck session. This vote requirement would only be in effect during odd-numbered years prior to the convening of the newly elected Illinois General Assembly.
"Legislators should not be able to maneuver around House procedures," said Rep. Kay. "This bill will help to ensure that the traditional legislative process is preserved while preventing legislators who have retired or been fired by the people from ramming through legislation without the support from three-fifths in each chamber from becoming law."
This proposal will prevent legislators who will not be returning to office from casting votes with no political accountability. During prior General Assembly lame duck sessions, legislation such as the 67% income tax hike became law in January 2011 without three-fifths approval and most recently driver's licenses for illegal immigrants was approved, costing Illinois taxpayers an estimated $800,000 to implement.
"The lack of constituent accountability has created an easy way to pass controversial legislation with no fear of repercussions," said Rep. Kay. "While there are many bills passed in lame duck session that are good pieces of legislation, this does not outweigh the fundamental issue we have at hand. These proposals need to be properly assessed so we can guarantee fundamentally sound legislation is being passed.
State Reps Jim Durkin, David McSweeney, Brad Holbrook, Mike Bost and Tom Demmer have signed onto the legislation with Rep. Kay.