The Morrison Memo: Veto Session Summary

Fall Veto Session Concludes with Action Taken on Several Vetoed House and Senate Bills
Lawmakers were in Springfield last week for the final days of the 2017 fall veto session. Of the bills that received a partial or full veto by the Governor during the spring legislative session, more than a dozen were brought forward for successful overrides. While Rauner vetoes were overridden in many cases, I am pleased to report that an effort to override his veto on a complete prohibition of “right to work” zones in Illinois failed to garner the required 71 votes for an override. 

Legislators will spend the next few months in their home districts tending to the needs of local constituents. We will also spend this time finalizing our legislative agendas for 2018. Members of the House of Representatives report back to Springfield on January 23, and Senators will return the following week for the 2018 regular session.

General Assembly Sends Comprehensive Sexual Harassment Prevention Legislation to Governor
Members of the House and Senate approved a comprehensive piece of legislation last week that seeks to address the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield. SB 402 includes a mandate for annual sexual harassment training sessions for state constitutional offices, state employees, lawmakers, and lobbyists. The bill also includes a provision brought forward by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, which would create a telephone hotline for persons seeking relief in cases of sexual harassment. Examples of help that the hotline could provide include assistance in filing a sexual harassment complaint, referral of a victim to counseling, or referral of a victim to protective services. House members received their training on November 8 and Senators received their training on November 9.

SB 402 was part of a package of sexual harassment reforms passed in the wake of allegations of misconduct at the Capitol. Other bills that seek to change the culture in Springfield include HJR 83, a resolution that condemns the culture of sexual harassment and calls on all lawmakers to work together to change the culture, and HR 687, which creates a task force on sexual discrimination and harassment. I recently spoke on camera about the sexual harassment problems in and around the Capitol, and how, when all is said and done, it comes down to an issue of personal character. Click here to watch those comments.

Legislative Inspector General Appointed
The Legislative Ethics Commission, a bipartisan working group within the Illinois General Assembly, has appointed Julie Porter as a special legislative inspector general. A former federal prosecutor in Chicago, Porter will play a key role in the General Assembly’s internal disciplinary process for members and staff. The appointment came in the wake of a nationwide inquiry into sexual harassment in American workplaces.

Reports of sexual harassment can be made on a confidential basis to the Legislative Ethics Commission. With approval of the Commission, the special legislative inspector general (LIG) will examine the reports. If a complaint appears to be valid, the LIG may conduct further inquiries, and may initiate a remediation process. In some situations, the remediation process may require a referral of a specific report and case to law enforcement.

Attempts to Prohibit “Right to Work” Zones in IL Fail During Veto Session
Members of the Illinois House failed to override a gubernatorial veto of union-backed legislation that would prevent local governments from establishing “right to work” zones. The override vote failed on two separate days during the veto session. Right to work zones would allow communities to choose whether to create jurisdictions where employers and unions are prohibited from entering into agreements that require workers to either join a union or pay related fees. I voted “no” both times this legislation was brought forward for override consideration. As lawmakers, we should not be approving laws that make Illinois less competitive for businesses. It hurts our State and it also hurts residents who are looking for work.

Bond Sale Allows State to Pay Off More Than $3 Billion in Past-Due Bills
The money was transferred to the Office of the Illinois Comptroller, which was authorized to sign checks to make the payments. The payment cycle reduced the estimated quantity of past-due bills owed by the State from more than $16.5 billion to less than $13.3 billion. Even after this payment cycle, Illinois continues to owe a significant amount in past-due bills. Illinois has the lowest credit rating of the 50 states, with ratings posted by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s at the lowest rank available for investment-grade entities qualified to borrow money in the debt markets.

Bicentennial Campaign will Honor 200 Illinois Veterans
State officials have announced the launch of HONOR 200, a signature program of the Illinois Bicentennial Celebration, honoring the work of 200 veterans whose contributions are above and beyond the call of duty. 

The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs will work with veterans organizations throughout the state to promote HONOR 200 and solicit nominations for those who will be recognized as part of the program. Nominees will be evaluated on their achievements and on the extent to which their contributions have aided, benefited, and provided inspiration to their community. Anyone can nominate an Illinois Veteran. Written nominations can be sent to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, 69 W. Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60601 or online at www.illinois.gov/veterans.

The Official Illinois Bicentennial Celebration will begin this December 3rd, 2017 with events in Springfield and Chicago. The celebration will continue with programs and events throughout 2018, ending with the Bicentennial Birthday Party on December 3rd, 2018 at the United Center. The HONOR 200 veterans will be recognized during the Birthday Gala. For information on the Bicentennial and to find out how your community can participate go to www.illinois200.gov.

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