Springfield legislative session enters final week with several major issues in need of resolution

Photo of Illinois flag in globeJust one more week remains in the current legislative session before the Illinois General Assembly adjourns Friday, May 31.

At this point, major issues remain unresolved, which is not uncommon given the natural rhythm of the legislative process in Springfield.

Kathryn Buettner, NIU vice president of University Relations, was in Springfield this week and delivered to the speaker’s general counsel a prioritized list of regulatory relief measures for state universities approved by the state’s presidents and chancellors as a follow up to the legislative cost-shift negotiations. The list was also presented to State Rep. Bob Pritchard and to Senate President John Cullerton’s chief of staff.

Negotiations continue through the weekend and next week in an effort to obtain as much regulatory relief as possible during the current session and commitments to continue the discussion over the summer and fall.

On Wednesday, it appeared that a legislative breakthrough on the concealed carry issue was imminent. An amendment was filed late Wednesday afternoon by Rep. Brandon Phelps that contained the universities’ requested exemption language, among many other provisions. The legislation was the product of Speaker Madigan’s involvement in the negotiations on this issue, and it passed the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning by a vote of 13-3.

Although it passed the House 85-30, with one voting “present,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate President Cullerton and Gov. Pat Quinn have all taken public positions against the new amendment, putting its future in serious doubt.

Pension reform remains at a stalemate.

Cullerton has not yet called Madigan’s reform proposal pending before the Senate, and the speaker has not called Cullerton’s reform proposal pending in the House. The pressure continues to build on both leaders to negotiate a compromise that will allow the state to move forward.

It will be a very challenging and long week next week as legislators are forced to resolve these challenging issues prior to adjournment. If no resolution is forthcoming by May 31, the General Assembly will be forced into overtime where a three-fifths vote would be required to pass any major legislation, rendering a successful outcome on these major issues even more difficult.

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