Friday, November 30, 2012

General Assembly Sessions

Veto, Regular, Special, and Lame Duck Sessions (The Road Ahead)

Veto Sessions are sessions of the General Assembly reconvening after the regular sessions in order to consider bills earlier vetoed by the Governor. On occasion, other bills and actions are also considered.  Bills in Veto Sessions requite a three-fifths majority of both houses to pass.  The Veto Session dates for the General Assembly in Illinois in 2012 are November 27, 28, and 29, and December 4, 5, and 6.  Earlier speculation had been that pensions and gambling would take up the majority of interest in this session.  So far, some tweaking of gambling has been discussed and rumors of a pension deal some time later abound.  In addition, the Governor has signaled interests in edited versions of earlier bills.  Perhaps another gambling version, with Rahm Emanuel’s assistance (arm twisting?), will appear in the Lame Duck Session (see below). We might certainly expect an appearance of old and new pension bills at that time as well. 

Regular Sessions of the General Assembly in Illinois begin on the second Wednesday in January (as per the Illinois Constitution) and adjourn at the end of May. Newly elected officials are sworn in and assume their legislative duties in the General Assembly on this day.  This year: January 9, 2013. 

Special Sessions of the General Assembly can be called by either the Governor or the presiding officers of each house for consideration of a specific issue or emergency.  Often these gatherings are the result of an economic concern or special need. In addition, Special Sessions deal with impeachments or confirmations of political appointments. Recall Governor Quinn’s convening a special session this last summer to deal with pensions, one which failed to bear any fruit due to the impasse regarding cost shifts to local districts.    

Lame Duck Sessions are those convened by the General Assembly, which include elected members who have been previously defeated or are leaving political office before the assumption of duties by newly-elected replacements.  In the General Assembly, sessions called before the swearing in of all newly elected replacements (as well as other incumbent legislators) are considered lame duck sessions.  Departing members of the House or the Senate are often considered lame ducks, ironically a term originally to describe someone who could not meet his/her debts.  On the other hand, it also depicts an individual who is no longer subject to the forced pressures of his or her political party or constituency.  Such sessions are infamous for passage of unexpected or previously contentious legislation.  The recent tax hike of 2011 was passed in a lame duck session.  Other issues that may certainly appear this year (2013) will include gambling, pensions, issues of marriage equality, etc.   A Lame Duck Session would likely occur in January, just after the New Year and prior to the swearing in of newly elected officials.  Those dates would be January 2 – 8.  There are 21 lame ducks in the House and 15 in the Senate. 

We Are One Illinois ( ) is calling for possible days of action in Springfield by its over 600,000 members from January 3 through January 8.  Clear your calendar.  

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