Illinois Statehouse News | Analysis

Thoughts on fall veto session depends on perspective

2013-10-28T00:00:00Z Thoughts on fall veto session depends on perspectiveKurt Erickson Lee Springfield Bureau nwitimes.com
October 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

For some analysis of the start of the Illinois General Assembly's fall veto session last week, we turn to Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Rutherford.

“I am disappointed that the first week of the fall veto session has ended without the governor and members of the General Assembly making any progress on the most significant financial issue plaguing Illinois: pension reform,” Rutherford said in a note sent to the media.

For a comment on the status of the debate over legalizing gay marriage, we now turn to Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, a candidate for comptroller who supports the idea.

“We will not stop this fight until true equality is the law of the land, and all Illinois families are recognized as being equal,” Simon said.

And finally we turn to U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican who is backing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial plan to enact tougher sentences for people convicted of gun crimes.

“I hope our representatives in Springfield can come together to give local law enforcement the tools they need to keep violent drug gangs and other criminals off our streets,” Kirk said in a statement.

All of the above statements reflect some amount of frustration that the General Assembly didn’t take any votes on substantial issues in the first week of the veto session, leading to the inevitable cries that members of the House and Senate are ineffective, do-nothing politicians.

Let’s look at it a different way:

If you are a state retiree, the lack of action on pensions is a good thing. It means you will continue getting your current pension benefits.

If you are opposed to gay marriage or Emanuel’s tougher gun laws, the so-called “do-nothing state legislature” is perfectly OK. Gay marriage is still not legal. The controversial weapons law is not in effect.

The concept of gridlock, in other words, depends on your perspective.

Lawmakers return to the Capitol for the final three days of the fall session on Nov. 2.

-- ADDING TO THE MIX

Although lawmakers obviously have a major backlog of unfinished business, that isn’t stopping them from continuing to add new proposals to the mix.

State Rep. Art Turner, D-Chicago, for example, introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage in Illinois from $8.25 to $10.65.

State Rep. JoAnn Osmond, R-Antioch, introduced legislation to require boat operators to raise a red or orange flag when the skier they were towing falls down.

And, state Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, introduced legislation to reduce the budget for the governor’s office by $1 million.

We’ll keep you posted if these go anywhere.

-- PERENNIAL CANDIDATE

Suburban Chicago dairy magnate Jim Oberweis is again prepping to take on U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin in the 2014 election.

On Wednesday, the Republican state senator from Sugar Grove told a crowd attending an anti-gay marriage rally at the Capitol that he was hoping some of them would sign his nominating petitions to get on the Senate ballot.

Oberweis was unsuccessful in his attempt to go to Washington in 2002 and 2004. He also failed in a 2006 bid for governor and a congressional run in 2008.

So, after tamping down his expectations and winning a seat in the Illinois Senate a year ago, he’s ready to move on.

If the milkman gets in, he could face Downers Grove businessman Doug Truax and another perennial candidate, Chad Koppie, in the March GOP primary.

Kurt Erickson can be reached at kurt.erickson@lee.net or (217) 782-4043

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