State lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday for what could be their last clash with Gov. Bruce Rauner, as they consider overriding dozens of the governor’s vetoes less than two months before he leaves office.
Rauner hasn’t made many appearances since losing his re-election bid to Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker and hasn’t been publicly defending his vetoes. That’s in contrast to his high-profile four years fighting Democrats who control the General Assembly.
Two weeks ago, Republicans joined Democrats to vote to override the GOP governor’s vetoes more than three dozen times. Democratic state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside said Republicans were “relieved” after years of largely voting with Rauner.
“When the governor first came in the office, he was intimidating and, for lack of a better term, a bully,” Welch said on WGN-AM 720 on Sunday.
But the House has to agree with Senate votes to override Rauner and vice versa if any are to stick.
Among possible override efforts this week: raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes, vaping devices and other tobacco products to 21. Rauner vetoed the proposal over the summer, so the minimum age remains 18 for now.
The Senate voted to override the governor the last time they were in Springfield, but it could be hard for the House to follow suit. Supporters need 71 votes. When the House first approved the age increase, there were 61 votes in favor.
Backers say the change could keep more teenagers from starting to smoke. They hope they can find 10 more votes among lawmakers who are angry with the governor or are lame ducks who can’t be punished by voters for changing their minds.
Opponents like Rauner say raising the age will just send smokers and vapers to neighboring states such as Indiana and Wisconsin.
If the governor’s veto stands, anti-smoking lawmakers could try again next year, once Pritzker takes office and Springfield is packed with more Democrats after the party’s big Election Day victories.
“I think some of the more contentious issues we’re probably not going to see on an override of a veto,” Republican state Rep. Tim Butler of Springfield said on WGN-AM 720. “I think the Democrats will wait until spring session and when we come back in January, and maybe act on some things where they didn’t get the 71-vote threshold to override a veto.
“But certainly for those of us on the Republican side, it’s a transitional period to say the least,” Butler added. “Election night was not a good night for the Republican Party in Illinois, and I think we need to do some evaluation on how we move forward.”
Lawmakers this week also could consider overriding Rauner on immigration legislation, a proposal addressing the deaths at the veterans home in Downstate Quincy and regulations on car-sharing companies such as Turo. The Senate did all three before Thanksgiving.
Senators also voted two weeks ago to override an immigration bill Rauner vetoed in the heat of his re-election campaign. It would set a deadline for processing visa applications aimed at assisting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, giving them federal protections if law enforcement certified they came forward and actively cooperated in prosecuting their case.
They also voted to override the governor’s rewrite of a bill that would raise a $100,000 cap on damages for families of veterans who died from Legionnaires’ disease at the state-owned veterans home in Quincy. Lawmakers’ version would move the cap to $2 million. Rauner’s veto set it at $300,000.
And the Senate voted to impose rules similar to those that regulate car rental companies onto online car-sharing startups such as Turo. The proposals could be considered by the House this week.
Illinois lawmakers also have said they want to negotiate a compromise on dueling proposals aimed at companies such as Sterigenics in west suburban Willowbrook that emit dangerous ethylene oxide gas.
Separate bills from House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs and Democratic state Rep. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills would limit and eventually ban use of the chemical in Illinois.
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November 26, 2018 at 05:33AM