Where Illinois Legislators Stand on Three Key Bills

Lawmakers take up unfinished business on pensions, gay marriage, and casinos in the upcoming fall veto session. Here’s the current status of each issue.

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Pensions

The bills: Competing bills—House speaker Michael Madigan’s SB 1 and senate president John Cullerton’s SB 2404—would fix the state’s public employee pension system.
Where they left off: The senate defeated Madigan’s bill, which would significantly scale back benefits for current and retired state employees, even as Madigan sat on Cullerton’s more worker-friendly counterproposal. Governor Quinn “suspended” the pay of legislators for failing to act, a move party leaders are challenging in court.
What’s next: A bipartisan panel has been working since June to negotiate a compromise; those involved say progress is being made, albeit gradually.
Will it get a vote? “I’m reasonably optimistic about this,” says Chris Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois Springfield. “It’s really not [advantageous] for anybody to leave it hanging.”

 

Gay Marriage

The bill: SB 10 would legalize gay marriage in Illinois.
Where it left off: The bill cleared the senate with ease on Valentine’s Day but stalled in the lower chamber as moderate legislators from both parties faced opposition from conservative religious organizations.
What’s next: LGBT groups will march on the capitol the first day lawmakers arrive in October. Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago)—the bill’s chief sponsor—has promised supporters a vote on the bill before the end of the year. Any legislation needs a three-fifths majority to pass during a veto session to go into effect prior to June 1 (the bill couldn’t even get a majority in May), and lawmakers might not want to make waves before the March primary elections. A bill can pass with a simple 60-vote majority during the veto session, but it would not become law until at least June of 2014.
Will it get a vote? “I’m thinking it’s going to happen within the year, but I don’t know about the veto session,” says Mooney. “The leadership would really have to want to push it.”

 

Gambling

The bill: SB 1739 would establish five new casinos in Illinois and allow racetracks to install slot machines.
Where it left off: Representatives could not agree on how to oversee the proposed Chicago casino, among other sticky issues, and shuffled the proposal back to the Rules
Committee just before the deadline in May.
What’s next: Proponents such as Rep. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island) must finalize legislative language and build consensus around the controversial package. Governor Quinn has vetoed two similar bills in the past, citing weak ethical protections.
Will it get a vote? “With gaming, it’s almost always safe to bet on nothing happening,” Mooney says. “What they need is a governor who wants to drive it, and this governor not only doesn’t want to drive it, you get the impression that he doesn’t want to have his fingerprints on it.”
 

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