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Legislature Dodges Pension Reform, But Passes Bill On … Miniature Horses

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Tonto, a guide horse, yawns before going on a walk with his owner Shari Bernstiel, March 19, 2004 in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Tonto, a miniature horse who went through one year of training, acts as Bernstiel's seeing eye dog and is one of three working guide horses in the United States. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Tonto, a guide horse, yawns before going on a walk with his owner Shari Bernstiel, March 19, 2004 in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Tonto, a miniature horse who went through one year of training, acts as Bernstiel’s seeing eye dog and is one of three working guide horses in the United States. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – Illinois lawmakers may have gotten stymied on the issue of pension reform, a multi-billion-dollar mess affecting every taxpayer in the state.

But at least they managed to pass a bill involving miniature horses.

You heard that right. Under a measure the House sent to Gov. Quinn Thursday night – the evening members were supposed to consider a cost-saving pension bill – people with disabilities could use miniature horses as service animals in public places, much like guide dogs are used.

The vote was near-unanimous.

“I have no concerns that we’re gonna see any stampede in grocery stores or anything like that,” Chicago’s WBEZ quoted sponsoring Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, as saying.  “This is an issue that pertains really to the disabled community, and it’s something that puts us in compliance to the federal law.”

An overhaul of future state pension benefits for retired public employees was the centerpiece of the spring legislative session, but it collapsed late Thursday just before the deadline to adjourn. Illinois government has underfunded pensions by tens of billions of dollars.

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