lame duck

Illinois' new governor has his first opportunity to determine the fate of legislation. Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision could affect how much you're paying for electricity.

The measure at hand, House Bill 3975, took a strange and winding path to get to Governor Bruce Rauner's desk, beginning with one governor and one General Assembly, and carrying over into another administration and new legislative session. The plan allows Ameren and Commonwealth Edison to continue asking customers to pay for upgrades to the electric grid; in many cases that means a higher electric bill.

Amanda Vinicky

Even though the race for Illinois governor is over, Gov. Pat Quinn and Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner continue to be at odds, this time over the minimum wage.

When he made his brief concession speech, Quinn said there was one goal he'd like to accomplish before leaving office: increasing the minimum wage.

But Rauner (who says he has not spoken with Quinn since the election) says lawmakers should hold off making any major policy changes until he takes over early next year.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

  The budget being expected to be pushed through the General Assembly Friday does not count on extending the 2011 income tax hike. But Republicans say they can "see through" the Democrats' plan to revisit the income tax after the November election.

After Democratic leadership gave up on attempting to keep Illinois income tax at five percent, the House pushed through what Democrats call a "middle of the road" budget. It taps into other revenue sources and relies on delaying payments to vendors in order to keep spending relatively flat.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Once upon a time, a veteran political reporter asked a simple question of his cub sidekick. “Young man,” intoned the legendary newsman, “What do you think of the Illinois legislature?” The rookie answered with all the insight gained during a couple of weeks on the Statehouse beat. “I can’t believe I have to live in a state where the laws are made by such a bunch of bozos!” he declared indignantly. “Young man,” responded his mentor, “no matter what you may think of them, never forget that every one of them is here because the folks back home voted for them over anyone else.”

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.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gay marriage. Gambling expansion. State employee pension reform. Medical marijuana. Forcing some businesses to disclose tax breaks. Driving privileges for undocumented immigrants. Keeping open prisons and mental health and developmental centers. Implementing federal health care expansion.

Jamey Dunn
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Soon after the general election, lawmakers will return to Springfield to vote on bills vetoed by Gov. Pat Quinn and perhaps to take up unresolved issues from the spring legislative session. 

While legislators were cautious with their votes during the regular session — for fear of creating wedge issues or giving their opponents fodder for mailers in the upcoming campaign — the lame duck veto session may be another story.