Kay, Meier sponsor measure to curtail lame-duck legislation

News-DemocratFebruary 5, 2014 

Two metro-east state lawmakers are pushing legislation that would make it harder to pass bills during lame-duck sessions of the legislature during election years.

Republican legislators who are sponsoring the measure say a lame-duck session was used in 2011 to pass the temporary 67 percent income tax increase, and might be used again to prevent the tax from ending as scheduled next year.

Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, and Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, are co-sponsors of HR0805 and HJRCA43. Under the measures, the legislature would need a super-majority to pass bills in the months of November and December following an election. The requirement would be lifted when new legislators are sworn into office in the following January.

Kay and Meier said controversial measures such as tax increases often get approved during lame-duck sessions because any lame-duck legislators who are leaving office don't have to answer to voters.

Meier said: "We believe having a two-month gap between elections and inauguration allows for entirely too many big decisions to be made with little to no consequence. This is a common-sense solution that will prevent lame duck legislators from potentially negatively impacting us all. And besides, any day the legislature isn't in session is a day our state saves money. That's just an added bonus."

Kay said: "Lame-duck sessions produce laws which otherwise have no chance at becoming law. In 2011, the legislature passed the 67 percent income tax hike just hours before I was sworn into office. The reason why the vote took place was because many of my colleagues, including myself, would have voted against the tax hike and it wouldhave failed."

The state's House and Senate are controlled by Democrats. Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune that Madigan would take the proposal "under review, but I don't know why you would want to tie the legislature's hands."

TAX ROLLBACK IMPACT

Illinois is expected to see a $1.58 billion drop in revenue if the state's temporary income tax increase rolls back as planned.

Officials from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability told lawmakers Tuesday the preliminary revenue forecast for the next fiscal year will be $34.4 billion. That's down from $36 billion this year.

The drop in revenue reflects an expected decrease in the state's income tax. The temporary hike is scheduled to drop from its current 5 percent to 3.75 percent next January. Some Democrats want the tax increase extended but many Republicans oppose it.

Gov. Pat Quinn plans to give his budget address in March. The event serves as the official opening of negotiations on the state budget, which lawmakers are tasked with passing before adjourning for the year.

Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at bbrueggemann@bnd.com or 239-2511. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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