Playing games with the constitution (updated X5 -- weekend session possible)

Playing games with the constitution (updated X5 -- weekend session possible)

Posted by JP on Tue, 04/29/2008 - 12:51
UPDATE 5: The Senate's Executive Committee approved a new version of a recall amendment Tuesday evening. This would be the same committee that had an unruly committee hearing two weeks ago only to decide it wouldn't consider a previous version of recall. If things go as planned, the Senate's final approval would likely come on Thursday and then the House would be in session through the weekend to make the May 4 deadline. Expect to hear a lot more about recall in the next few days. ***UPDATE 4: We're jumping this one to the top because of its importance. A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan just called to say if the Senate approves a constitutional amendment giving voters the abillity to recall the governor and other elected officials, the House will be in session this weekend in order to make the May 4 deadline to get it on the November ballot. The Senate is discussing just such a plan in committee at the moment. The House approved a recall amendment earlier this month, but the Senate has some changes in store.*** State lawmakers are back in session this week and high on the agenda are constitutional amendments covering everything from letting voters recall a governor to abandoning the state’s flat income tax. Despite all the hubbub, don’t be surprised if none of them make it to the November ballot. Here’s why. To get on that ballot, a proposed amendment must be approved by May 4. That’s this Sunday. The existing state constitution says an amendment must be “read in full on three different days in each house …” prior to approval. Given that today’s Tuesday, things are getting tight. The House has approved a recall amendment, but senators claim it needs some fixing. If they make any changes, that three-day clock is reset and the process starts all over. Should a modified recall amendment pass the Senate today or tomorrow, the House would have to stay in session all weekend to make the May 4 deadline. Don’t look for that to happen. Similar time crunches face every other amendment proposal. So far, neither the House nor Senate has approved any other amendment. That could change today with a potential income tax amendment in the Senate, and legislative redistricting expected to come up soon in the House. If approved, those plans cross over to the other chamber and would have to be fast-tracked to meet the constitutional deadline. For those not following Illinois politics, the House and Senate haven’t been playing nice the past few years Something else to keep in mind is that regardless of what lawmakers do or don’t do with these amendments, voters will be asked this fall if a special convention should be called to review and possibly scrap the existing constitution and write a new one. UPDATE: The Senate is in session and Republican members are complaining that they will not have the opportunity to vote on the proposed recall amendment. Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican, inquired whether they'd get to vote on both amendments or just the big tax increase -- a reference to the pending vote on getting rid of the state's flat income tax requirement. State Sen. James DeLeo, a Chicago Democrat, is presiding over the Senate. He told Republicans that something could emerge on recall in the "very next few hours ..." UPDATE 2: Prediction time. Looks like the amendment to get rid of the flat tax will be voted down in the Senate. It appears there are only 35 Democrats in the chamber today. The plan needs 36 votes to advance and it'd be shocking if any Republicans vote for it given the tenor of the debate. Plus, at least one -- and likely more -- suburban Democrats say they'll vote "no." UPDATE 3: I was right. The Senate just voted down the income tax amendment. It needed 36 votes. It got 19. The vote was 19 "yes", 35 "no", and 1 brave "present" vote. But that didn't stop the Senate from debating the plan for more than an hour.
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