With the election behind us, the focus of the General Assembly now turns to the veto session, which begins today.
In a statement after the election, Governor Rauner encouraged people to put the campaign rhetoric behind them and come together. He called a meeting of the legislative leaders for yesterday to restart discussions about the many state issues as the fall veto session is scheduled to begin. Speaker Madigan didn’t attend, citing an unspecified schedule conflict. Senate President Cullerton pulled out of the meeting shortly thereafter, but indicated he would be available for a meeting today. Time will tell if the Democrat leaders are serious about addressing the needs of the state.
For the first time since the summer, legislators will be gathered all together in Springfield. The six day veto session is scheduled to place in the week before and after Thanksgiving, beginning today. There will be many issues, related to the budget and not, for legislators to tackle this week and in what is often referred to as the “lame duck session” in January.
Of the 438 bills passed by the General Assembly this year, Governor Rauner vetoed 33. The House and Senate have thus far only overridden one veto (concerning Chicago police and firefighter pensions) in the past two years.
One issue we will most likely see is a popular measure to institute automatic voter registration that was vetoed in August. The measure would automatically register anyone seeking a new or updated driver’s license or interacted with other state agencies. The Governor cited concerns about potential voting fraud and conflicts with federal law in his veto message. The bill originally passed both chambers with more than enough support to override a gubernatorial veto.
The legislation that created EDGE tax credits, an incentive program to encourage companies to relocate or expand in Illinois, is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. The program has been controversial with many questioning how successful it has been. As part of other cost saving measures, Governor Rauner suspended handing out EDGE credits after the General Assembly failed to pass a balanced budget. The decision on whether to keep, edit, or let the program expire may be argued over the veto session.
Another issue that may come up is the issuance of identification cards for individuals recently released from prison, an initiative recently called for by the Governor’s criminal justice reform commission. Most individuals released from prison do not have any forms of identification and lack the means, like a birth certificate, to get any once out of prison. This hampers their ability to travel freely and get a job, among other things. A bill to grant prisoners a state ID passed the Senate but has yet to be voted on in the House.
Brand new legislation, including possible new revenue sources and the budget, may also be debated and discussed during the veto session. Other legislation could include actions to address lead testing in school district drinking water. Concerns about the lead levels in public water supplies were raised after the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Many are calling for new measures to ensure that water is safe for children with new studies and tests.
In other news, the New Lenox Fire Protection District is participating in “Wreaths across America”. Wreaths cost $15 and will be placed on veterans’ graves at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery on December 17, 2016. 100% of your donation goes to the purchase of these wreaths. Should you wish to participate, please make a check payable to “Wreaths for Veterans” and mail it to NLFPD, 261 E. Maple St. New Lenox, IL 60451. Any amount is accepted & appreciated.