GOP lawmaker looking to discourage the use of lame-duck voting

2013-01-26T05:30:00Z GOP lawmaker looking to discourage the use of lame-duck votingBy L.E. Hlavach |
January 26, 2013 5:30 am  • 

SPRINGFIELD — A Republican lawmaker filed a bill this week aimed at discouraging the use of lame-duck General Assembly sessions to quickly pass controversial measures by relying on votes from outgoing legislators.

The proposal, sponsored by state Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, would raise the number of votes necessary to approve certain measures in a narrow window that occurs every January in odd-numbered years.

Several legislators said they liked the proposal, but Durkin isn’t sure Democratic leaders will allow the measure to get to a committee or to a floor debate.

Under current Illinois law, members of the House and Senate who are retiring or who have lost their re-election bids can vote on legislation in January before a new General Assembly is sworn in.

With no reason to worry about the impact of their votes on the next election, these “lame ducks” are often relied upon to cast decisive votes on controversial measures.

In January 2011, three major provisions were approved in the lame-duck session — a 67 percent temporary increase in the state income tax, a repeal of Illinois’ death penalty, and the civil unions law.

This year, the lame duck session “was relatively relaxed,” Durkin said, “but there was a push to do a few things – same-sex marriage, pension reform and gun reform.”

“This is not just a criticism of the Democratic Party,” Durkin said, referring to times Republicans used the lame-duck session in a similar way. “Both parties share the blame.”

Durkin’s proposal would require legislation approved in the lame-duck session to have the support of three-fifths of the House and Senate, rather than just a simple majority.

Some legislators say they support Durkin’s proposal.

“In recent years, extremely controversial legislation has passed only with the support of these lame-duck legislators,” wrote state Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, in an email Friday. “We have to do something to begin to regain the public’s trust in the accountability of those they elect to represent them in Springfield, and this is a good first step.”

State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said Friday that “in theory” he supported the proposal.

It could reduce the tendency for legislation on “major issues to be held to wait for a lame duck session where the voting may be quite different,” he said.

The proposal is House Bill 195.

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(3) Comments

  1. BloomArea
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    BloomArea - January 26, 2013 1:25 pm
    The proof is in the pudding. The state tax increase and many other things would probably not have passed if some of the out going officials were not promised nice cushy jobs after the left the legislature or they were accountable after their votes. I think it is a good idea to not have lame duck sessions or make the threshold higher for lame duck votes. Too often lately we are passing legislation that is not well thought out, researched, and even read in the haste to do it in the last hour. Time to expect and demand these people to do their job instead of running off and passing bad legislation they are not accountable for.
  2. BC
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    BC - January 26, 2013 7:58 am
    The lame duck session is less of a worry than lobbyists who represent very large pockets and control with money. Career politicians must bow to these groups. Not doing so will result in millions being spent on aired propaganda to defeat them next election. Until the public wises up and quits believing everything that they see in the media, or we make politics less attractive monetarily, lame duck sessions are probably the only time the people are represented. These outgoing people are a hindrance to those remaining that still must cater to the big bucks that insure their job. A lot could be solved if serving in this capacity wasn't a retirement income and the Cadillac of medical insurance. Let them retire on what they earn in the private sector and use Medicare like the rest of us. We have come a long way since room, board and $10 a day while the Legislature is in session.
  3. exrepub
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    exrepub - January 26, 2013 6:08 am
    Lameduck sessions shouldn't matter. Legislators should vote their heart and what they think the people want not their financiers and they shouldn't have to fear they will not be reelected because of lobbyists and activists who threaten to take them out at the primary and do. . The beauty of lameduck votes is that they do vote their heart and what they think the people want. Those who don't like the lameduck sessions are those who want to vote along party lines and according to the lobbyists wishes. Their control slips with lameduck sessions doesn't it. . If they don't want lameduck votes don't have lameduck sessions. They are still elected and they still should be voting according to why they were elected. I get tired of people trying to rig votes and consequences. Enough.Lawmakers should not be worried about others votes, they should worry about their own and if they are representing the people who put them there and actually the people who didn't also. Too many people are worried about controlling how others vote and act. They need to worry about themselves first.
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