by Matt Paprocki
Senior Director of Government Affairs
In Illinois, there are
two types of annual, statutorily-obligated legislative
Session: The General Assembly
convenes its regular session in January and adjourns in May or June every year.
During regular session, legislators vote on a myriad of bills, the movement of
which is usually slow.
Session: When the legislature
reconvenes for a two-week session in order to consider the Governor’s vetoes
and other urgent legislation, which can pass out of the General Assembly over
the course of a single day. This year, veto session begins on November 27.
Why this matters
On November 6, 2012,
Illinois will have an election and we expect the largest turnover in Illinois
history. Just weeks later, the General Assembly will reconvene for veto session
with a lame duck legislature; this means that sitting legislators will be
voting on bills before the newly-elected legislators have been inaugurated.
Even though some of these legislators will have been voted out of office by
their constituents on November 6, they will retain their voting power until
January, which grants them unelected authority over important decisions that
impact not only their districts, but the entire state.
It is often during lame
duck sessions that controversial bills are passed, as there are no political
ramifications for members who have already been voted out of office. In fact,
it was during 2011’s lame duck session that the General Assembly passed through
the 67% income tax hike – the largest tax increase in Illinois history. The
members who are not reelected to the legislature are simply not held
accountable during veto session – even worse, there are instances of lame duck
legislators’ votes being swayed by interest groups in exchange for their next
This situation creates a
unique – and urgent – opportunity for the Illinois Policy Institute, given that
the upcoming veto session will likely address legislation concerning the
implementation of the ObamaCare exchange and we might even see an increase on
the state’s minimum wage. These legislative matters are especially pressing at
a time when our total state debt amounts to $271 billion and our $8.5 billion
stack of unpaid bills is hardly shrinking. That is why leading up to and
through November 27, the Government Affairs Department at the Illinois Policy
Institute will be educating members on key issues, selling real reform and
strong solutions to the economic challenges that we face, and promoting