SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – Illinois House Republicans want to change the Illinois Constitution to put an end to the General Assembly’s lame duck sessions following an election.
Republican lawmakers said they want to prevent lame duck lawmakers from voting on vital issues, such as the major tax hike passed this week, after they’ve been voted out of office.
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State Rep. Adam Brown (R-Decatur) said, “this is just another instance where the common folks like myself across this district – small business owners – feel disenfranchised that (House Speaker) Mike Madigan would call these bills in a lame duck session when he knows 12 hours later, 24 hours later, we’re going to be swearing in a new breed of leaders.”
Lawmakers approved a 66 percent income tax hike on Wednesday, just hours before new lawmakers were sworn in for the start of the new legislative session.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said lame ducks are entitled to vote because that’s what they’re supposed to do.
Of the 60 Democrats who voted for the tax hike, 12 were doing so on their last day in office.
State Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) said there was no reason to vote for a tax hike after the election, other than to provide political cover to lame duck lawmakers who had nothing to lose by voting for it then.
“There was no new information, no new emergency,” Mitchell said. “We knew on Nov. 1 – the day before the election – how bad state government was. We knew we owed $15 billion.”
The Republicans’ proposed constitutional amendment would prevent the General Assembly from holding any session between a general election and the inauguration of new lawmakers. It would also move the swearing in of new state lawmakers from mid-January to Dec. 1.
Supporters said they have some support from Democratic lawmakers, Madigan is unlikely to support the measure.
The proposal would require a three-fifths majority vote in both the House and Senate before it could be put before Illinois voters during the next general election.
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