Illinois House GOP Wants To Restrict Lame Duck Sessions

Feb 5, 2014

Retiring Rep. Kay Hatcher says she's astounded how often people tell her it's okay to vote for bill because she isn't running.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Republican members of the Illinois House are trying to head off a post-election tradition... taking up  controversial legislation when it's too late for voters to do anything about it. 

Rewind to January, 2011.
Newly-elected members to the General Assembly were about to be sworn in.  But before the turnover, the old General Assembly took a few final votes.  Support from retiring legislators and those who'd lost their elections helped pass laws, like one that abolished the death penalty, and another that increased Illinois' income tax.

"The lack of constituent accountability has created an easy way to pass controversial legislation with no fear, no fear whatsoever, of repercussions," Rep. Dwight Kay said.

The Metro East Republican and other GOP colleagues want to do away with these so-called "lame duck" sessions.
They propose having legislators take office more quickly after an election.  Republicans also want to change the constitution to prohibit sessions in between an election and inauguration, unless all four legislative leaders and the governor agree.

It's unlikely Democrats, who control the General Assembly, will along with that plan.