Illinois Senate passes term limits for legislative leaders

Illinois Senate passes term limits for legislative leaders

The Senate on Inauguration Day took action to limit the power of its legislative leaders. Meanwhile, House Democrats re-elected Mike Madigan as House speaker, ensuring he will become the longest-tenured legislative leader in modern American history.

Members of the Illinois Senate Jan. 11 passed a resolution that imposes term limits on leadership positions in their chamber.

Senate Resolution 3 mandates that state senators can serve as Senate president or minority leader for a maximum of 10 years per position, or five terms. Members of the Senate voted unanimously to adopt SR 3.

This resolution does not apply to the House, where state Rep. Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, was elected to his 17th term as speaker on the same day the Senate took action to put limits on leadership.

At the end of his two-year term, Madigan will become the longest-serving House speaker in modern American history. He has held the speakership for 32 of the past 34 years.

“Leadership should be a rotation of ideas,” said state Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, in a press release. “No one person should have so much power. We need diversity and new ideas as we tackle our problems.”

Service in Senate leadership prior to the 100th General Assembly does not count toward the term limits outlined in the resolution, meaning Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno may serve in their current leadership positions until 2027.

The resolution takes effect immediately.

It is not a constitutional amendment, but rather changes the Senate rules, which can be altered with a simple majority vote.

Meanwhile, the House rules serve to give Madigan more power than any legislative leader in the country, according to a new report from the Illinois Policy Institute.

Is it any wonder term limits are so popular?

Nearly 4 out of 5 Illinoisans support term limits, according to polling from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. In 2014, Illinois organizers collected hundreds of thousands of petition signatures to put term limits on the state ballot.

But the effort was killed after an associate of Madigan’s, lawyer Michael Kasper, successfully sued to silence voters on the matter.

According to data from the National Council on State Legislatures, Illinois is one of only 14 states with no form of term limits for state lawmakers and the following executive branch offices: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor general and comptroller.

Calls to pass any form of term limits through the General Assembly, until now, have fallen on deaf ears. State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Cary, filed a constitutional amendment in 2015 to place term limits on Illinois lawmakers.

It never left Madigan’s Rules Committee.

While not nearly as strong as other term limit proposals, Illinoisans should take heart in the fact that state Senators took action to protect their chamber from the type of one-man rule seen in the House.

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