Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is “optimistic” a constitutional amendment moving the state from a flat income tax to a graduated structure will pass the House.
Still, he says the seven-minute debate the Senate had before approving the constitutional amendment on Wednesday was too short.
“Certainly they should have given more time to a matter of this consequence,” Madigan said in a wide-ranging news conference with students in the University of Illinois Springfield’s Public Affairs Reporting class on Monday. “It’s a constitutional amendment, it’s not just a statute. … It goes right to the heart to how you finance state government.”
Madigan said he supports Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposal for a graduated income tax, saying he thinks Pritzker started off on the right foot with it.
Other hot-topic issues this session, like legalizing marijuana, could prove to be controversial, Madigan said.
“It’s not as if every Democrat is supportive of the bill,” Madigan said of the legislation that Pritzker unveiled on Saturday.
Madigan said there are several issues regarding marijuana legalization that will be “very important” when trying to rack up the 60 votes needed in the House to pass the bill.
That includes expunging criminal records for those with lower-level marijuana-related convictions and who will be entitled to get licenses to grow and process marijuana in Illinois. Some in the legislature are saying minorities should get a leg up when being considered for licenses, since the marijuana industry is largely white.
“The key on that (expungement) issue is how far do you go in terms of the expungement?” Madigan said. “If you’re talking about some teenager who’s doing drugs and who’s only guilty of possession, that’s one thing. If you’re talking about people who are actually in the business, that were dealers, and you want to expunge those records, that’s a different case.”
For his part, Madigan said he is attempting to work with all the participants to see how to resolve the issues.
On Saturday, Pritzker announced his plan to legalize marijuana. It includes allowing adults 21 and older to legally buy cannabis to use recreationally from licensed dispensaries. Residents could have up to about an ounce of it. Madigan said he isn’t familiar with the language made public on Saturday, but he has been in meetings where people have talked about potential language.
When it comes to sports betting, Madigan said he’s not certain whether it will get tied up with other gaming legislation.
“You can go in one of two directions; you could have a sports betting bill that only deals with sports betting, or you can have one that deals with sports betting plus the other issues,” he said.
A lobbyist for the city of Chicago said at a recent hearing on the topic that outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration will support sports betting if a casino for the city is included.
While Madigan said he would be prepared to support a city-owned casino in Chicago, this is something else that could go two ways.
“It can be city-owned, or it can be like the other casinos,” he said. “That’s something that would be resolved here in the legislature.”
Madigan said both legalizing marijuana and sports issues are contentious issues and “not guaranteed today.”
Something that isn’t contentious, according to the speaker, is his relationship with Pritzker, unlike the one Madigan had with the governor’s predecessor.
Madigan says he has been supportive of the governor’s programs “from the very beginning,” such as raising the compensation level for “key people in the government” and raising the minimum wage.
“So far, so good,” Madigan said. “My goal is to work with the governor and other people in the legislature to have a productive session.”
Contact Cassie Buchman: 785-3095, email@example.com, twitter.com/cjbuchman.
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May 6, 2019 at 09:01PM