Illinois House passes rules removing pandemic-era remote voting

(The Center Square) – The rules are in place for each chamber of the new Illinois General Assembly.

In order for legislative activity to begin in the 103rd Illinois General Assembly that was seated last month following November’s election, the House and Senate must approve new rules that dictates legislative policies and procedures and how committees are to function.

The Senate approved itsr rules unanimously Jan. 12.

“By popular demand, after a 30-year hiatus, we are restoring a process of adapting congratulatory resolutions,” said Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park. “We are also, for efficiency reasons, allowing the parliamentarian to approve an amendment for consideration without going through the committee on assignments.”

There were other changes, but the Senate rules still allow for remote participation, including voting.

Senate Republicans didn’t push back on the rules.

“The rules aren’t perfect,” state Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, said. “But I appreciate, and our caucus appreciates, the concessions that President Harmon made.”

There was more contention in the Illinois House rules debated Wednesday in Springfield.

Removed from the House rules are the pandemic-era provisions that allowed for remote voting. State Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, explained some other changes.

“It updates the COVID decorum rules, it renames the rule to replace COVID with the more generic term pestilence or public danger,” Gabel said.

State Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, explains updated House rules 


State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, pushed for more transparency in other areas, including addressing late releases of legislation that replace entire bills with new language.

“We recently had a gun bill pass that had my name on it whenever it was over in the Senate as an innocuous insurance bill and I wasn’t allowed to pull my name off of that bill,” Niemerg said. “It was a complete gut and replace. It came back to the House. My constituents didn’t have time to review it.”

Niemerg said many of the rules continue from the era of former House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. Madigan was speaker for all but two years from 1983 to 2021 and crafted much of the rules that governed the House carried over term after term. Madigan last year was charged with more than 20 corruption-related counts in a sweeping federal investigation.

“Our [Republican] bills will be stuck in rules. It will never see the light of day,” Niemerg said. “We’re gonna be passing bills again at 2, 3, 4, 5 in the morning.”

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Chicago, who replaced Madigan in 2021, said voters gave Democrats the supermajority and despite that, some Democratic suggestions weren’t added while some Republican suggestions were.

“We are ending remote floor voting, reforming the use of the consent calendar and clarifying the powers of the minority leader, all at the specific request of the leader,” Welch said. “These rules include leadership term limits.”

The rules vote was split along party lines in the House.

Both chambers return next week.


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February 1, 2023 at 05:12PM

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