Minority Leader Durkin Calls For an End to Lame Duck Sessions


Written by IllinoisReview.com

Illinois has a history of passing controversial legislation such as tax hikes during the last few hours before a new General Assembly is sworn in.

There’s two obvious reasons leadership uses this tactic: 1. Those members who were not re-elected are able to make votes for which they won’t be accountable to their districts, and 2. When the calendar moves into January, legislation no longer needs super majorities to pass, they go back to requiring simple majorities for bill passage.

Wednesday, House GOP Leader Jim Durkin filed legislation asking voters to put an end to lame duck sessions of the Illinois General Assembly by moving up the date of inauguration. House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 30 would require future outgoing to General Assemblies to conclude their work before Election Day.

“No one is safe when the legislature is convened for a lame duck session. Back in January 2011, under the dark of night, Democrats passed the single largest tax increase in Illinois history on families and employers. Votes were provided by outgoing lawmakers no longer accountable to their constituents. My proposal would require controversial legislation to be considered prior to an election – not afterwards,” Durkin said.

Durkin’s proposal would put on the November general election ballot a constitutional amendment asking voters to move the date of the Inauguration of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor from the second Monday to January to the second Wednesday of December. It also moves up the date of the convening of a new General Assembly from the second week of January to the second Wednesday of December.

The bill would also prohibit the outgoing General Assembly from convening or acting on legislation unless a special session is convened with the joint approval of the Governor, and each of the four legislative leaders (the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the House, and the Minority Leader of the Senate). The purpose of the session must be specified in the proclamation and action limited to the topic identified.

“This would allow the legislature to convene if there was a true emergency such as an act of terrorism or natural disaster,” said Durkin. “As lawmakers we have been sent to Springfield by the voters to make the tough decisions.

“While not always an easy task, a big part of our job is to explain why we voted one way or another on any particular issue to the people we represent. In the past we have seen lawmakers take positions on bills during the lame duck that they might not have taken if they had to answer to the voters,” said Durkin. “By eliminating lame duck session, lawmakers will be accountable for every vote taken.”