Following the elections, the General Assembly will gather in Springfield for what is termed “The Veto Session” to consider the governor’s legislative vetoes and undoubtedly consider new legislation. Since May the Governor has been reviewing the 633 pieces of legislation that passed the General Assembly this year. While he signed into law most of the bills, the Governor vetoed a total of 18—4 total vetoes and 14 amendatory vetoes. The General Assembly must now accept or try to override the Governor’s actions.
I will mention some of the expected new issues to be considered by the legislature, but first I would like to highlight a few of the governor’s actions. Contact my office if you would like a full list of the bills he vetoed.
Last spring House Republicans led an effort to review the effectiveness of each executive branch program– HB4836, the Sunshine Commission Act. This Commission would be created to investigate programs for duplication and low-productivity. The governor added 4 members, listed more detailed qualifications for members and directed that the commission hold public hearings and conduct their work in full public view.
HB4842 which creates an internet voter’s guide for primary elections was expanded by the governor to create open primaries. Under this system, voters would not have to declare the party ballot they wish to use.
Governor Quinn also used his veto pen to sharply scale back HB5154, a bill to prohibit the disclosure of performance evaluations of all public employees. Teacher and school administrator evaluations have already been excluded from public disclosure and the governor wants to limit further exemptions to just police officers. Many feel the public has a right to review all public employee evaluations since they are paying for the employees’ work. In reality, if the employee records are made public, the evaluation process will soon become meaningless. No supervisor will want to publicly disclose negative comments that might help improve performance for fear of employee legal action or public ridicule.
Finally, HB5206 was also expanded to allow citizen petitions for legislation regarding ethical conduct and campaign finance reform. The governor’s addition to the bill specifies how the legislature must consider the legislation which changes the Constitution without going through the constitutional amendment process.
Other Issues That May Come to a Vote
The House Speaker controls the agenda so it’s hard to know what other issues will come to a vote during the Veto Session. Communities have been telling me they need police and firefighter pension reform that could be amended to HB5873. Cash strapped municipalities want lower pension payments so they don’t have to cut workers or city services.
Negotiations to extend the “two-tier” pension concept for police and fire new hires similar to other state pension plans will be the focal point of any discussions. Among the proposals that will likely be considered is increasing the retirement age, but police and firefighters argue that older workers are more prone to injury and permanent disability issues.
The solution should be negotiated rather than determined by one person like the other pension reforms.
House Bill 6925 should be debated. It prohibits state employee unions and their political action committees from making campaign contributions to Illinois statewide elected officials or candidates. Current law prohibits businesses who seek state contracts from contributing to the elected official or candidate who would award the contract.
The need for this bill could not be more evident than when Governor Quinn’s budget director, who was in the middle of negotiating a union contract for the state, attended the Governor’s endorsement interview with the union. This kind of inappropriate mixing of state business with politics simply must cease.