Eye On Illinois: Bipartisanship comes in different flavors


Bipartisanship isn’t dead in Illinois, but it’s important to look beyond vote totals.

Consider House Bill 3751, which allows immigrants with federal work authorization to apply for jobs in law enforcement. This plan passed the Senate 37-20 May 18, with state Sen. Dan McConchie, Hawthorn Woods, as the only supporting Republican. The original version cleared the House 101-0 March 24 and only seven Republicans voted against the Senate’s amended version May 19.

An inverse dynamic played out with House Bill 2862, which expands the Day and Temporary Labor Services Act with equal pay, safety and enforcement provisions. The May 17 Senate vote was 49-3, but the May 19 House vote was a heavily partisan 72-36.

Then there’s Senate Bill 76, a first step toward potential construction of new nuclear reactors. The Senate approved 36-14 May 19, a day after the House advanced it 84-22. Although the margins are similar, the roll call sheets here reveal different divides. The suburban Democrats who now represent me in Springfield voted against. The suburban Republican who had my Senate district for the last decade voted yes.

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland

Without getting into the weeds of each individual bill, the voting variances serve to remind bipartisanship comes in different flavors. Often times it’s the minority party signing on to a measure that would’ve passed without any help, but House Republicans needn’t act in lockstep with their Senate colleagues and vice versa. When a bill draws yeas and nays from both sides of the aisle in each chamber – especially on either side of the amendment process – that reveals a functioning legislature.

It also provides an opportunity for dialogue with individual lawmakers. Now might not be the best time given end-of-session obligations, but when afforded a chance, ask “I saw you voted against a bill the majority of your caucus supported, can you please explain your opposition?” Listen with an open mind and hopefully a reasoned response will reveal a legislator who takes their job seriously and gives each measure the consideration it deserves.

Agreeing on everything all the time isn’t the point or the goal. True progress comes not from disagreement but from learning the underlying reasons and striving for compromise.

MAILBAG: Will County Treasurer Tom Brophy offered a partial disagreement with a recent column on the Chicago Bears seeking government help for their move to the suburbs: “The game-day portion of the economic activity would simply be replaced from Chicago to Arlington Heights. I think it is reasonable for the benefiting taxing districts to assist with the costs prorated for the ADDITIONAL economic activity to be generated by the property on days OTHER than game days. Many new developments secure tax breaks. This entity should be treated no differently.”

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

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May 24, 2023 at 05:04AM

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