SPRINGFIELD – In one of the first legislative actions of the Illinois House of Representatives in the 101st General Assembly, lawmakers voted on House Rules, which will govern operations in the House for the next two years.
In recent years, this set of rules has been written to consolidate power in the hands of the Speaker of the House, at the expense of the other 117 elected members. This week, the House Republicans offered reasonable reforms for inclusion in the House Rules. Their proposal included to following suggested changes:
1. Require Committee Vote for Bipartisan Bills & Resolutions Pending in Committee – Require that when a bill or resolution in committee has at least five co-sponsors from the majority caucus and at least five co-sponsors from the minority caucus, the Committee Chairperson must provide an opportunity to the bill sponsor to present the bill for consideration and a committee vote.
2. Create Waiting Period for Floor Amendments – Create a longer public review period before consideration of floor amendments and concurrence motions by prohibiting consideration until the calendar day after notice is posted for a hearing or the calendar day after the measure is reported directly to the House from the Rules Committee.
3. Create Waiting Period After Committee Testimony – Require that the initial testimony and discussion of bills in committee must occur before a vote of the committee on the reporting motion; and such committee vote may not occur on the same calendar day that testimony was heard.
4. Require House Vote for Bills & Resolutions Supported by Bipartisan Supermajority – Provide that a motion signed by 71 members guarantees a vote of the House on a bill or resolution. At least five members affiliated with the majority party and five members affiliated with the minority party must be included among the 71 or more signatories. Such bills would be discharged from a standing/special/Rules committee, or transferred from the regular calendar, and placed on an order of business that the House must go to each day that it convenes in regular session; and sponsors of bills on the order would have the right to call their bills for a vote whenever the House is on that order.
5. Extend Time for the House to Consider Motions to Discharge Standing/Special Committee – Provide that for six session days after the committee reporting deadline the House may still consider motions to discharge from standing or special committees. Currently, bills remaining in committee on date of the reporting deadline are immediately re-referred to the Rules Committee, which means that the motion to discharge from standing committee, which requires 60 votes for adoption, is no longer an option.
These recommendations would help foster bipartisanship and empower legislators on both sides of the aisle. However, with the Democrats holding supermajority in the House, they were not considered.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) released the following statement in response to the newly adopted House Rules:
“Our residents across Illinois deserve a fair legislative process. We can only achieve this through greater transparency in State Government. One-sided rules do not provide that—and the current state of Illinois has proven that. With residents leaving Illinois for better opportunities for their families and businesses, we must do better, and that includes improving the process behind our proceedings here in the House. I am disappointed in the vote and hope that moving forward more fairness and bipartisanship can still be attributed to our work on both sides of the aisle here in Springfield.”
The House of Representatives will resume session next week in Springfield starting February 5th.