Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Legislative Amendment

Legislative Amendment (Although this Vocabulary first appeared in Pension Vocabulary in October of 2011, it is all the more poignant as we deal with proposed amendment HJRCA49.)

“It is conceivable that a legislator who is not running for re-election and who is under the inauspicious and officious influence of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and other legislators will write and propose an amendment to the Illinois constitution before exiting the General Assembly, thereby challenging the 'Pension Clause' once again and; thus, we must prepare for a constitutional revision" (We Must Prepare for a Constitutional Revision).
Unfortunately, in a state where appearances trump realities, an influential and powerful Speaker of the House Madigan was able to generate an unnecessary and confounding proposed legislative amendment (HJRCA#49) before the people in the November elections.  More about the topsy-turvy complexities of this badly drafted bill later.  First, let’s be very aware of how the legislative amendment process differs from others and how it is voted on specifically in Illinois.

In Illinois, two procedures can be used to make amendments to the Illinois Constitution, both of which will eventually face the approval or disapproval of the voting public. In truth, we might argue that either a Constitutional Convention might bring such a possibility or that a court's interpretation might be the same as an amendment, but a truly new request for a proposed amendment is more likely to come to all of us in Illinois by one of two processes.
One is an Initiative Amendment Process: This occurs when an amendment is placed upon a ballot based upon the request (or initiative) of the citizens of Illinois. In order to proceed, a set number of voters must sign a petition to request an amendment. “This initiative method was included to give the voter the possibility of changing the constitution even if the legislature was unwilling to do so” (Understanding the Illinois Constitution )  In order to declare such an initiative, a percentage of voters equaling at least 8% in the previous gubernatorial election must be identified on the petition...



Another is a Legislative Amendment Process: An individual in the House or Senate of the General Assembly creates and proposes an amendment, often at the sanction of leadership. In this case, the proposed amendment must seek the approval and vote of both houses of the General Assembly by a three-fifths endorsement. No more than three articles of the constitution may be amended in any election; in the case of the public pensions, the single target would probably be Article XIII, Section 5: “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

Regardless of whether a proposed amendment comes from the legislature or through the initiative process, it must be placed on the ballot at the next general election and must be approved by three-fifths of those voting on the amendment or by a majority of those voting in the election. Some voters choose not to vote on amendments at all, while others choose to vote only on them; thus, the need for a fractional difference as per the Illinois Constitution (Article IV).
In short, a positively accepted and proposed amendment from either the public or a member of the legislature will be an opportunity for the citizenry of Illinois to make an alteration in the existing framework of the Constitution of the State of Illinois. 

1 comment:

  1. Please include repeats of your past posts from Pension Vocabulary as you blog. The tie-ins and linking are important - even the earlier date of when you considered and voiced issues is important.
    Ken Previti