Rejects legislators “vesting that power in one man, who can’t be appealed, who can’t be suspended.”
State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) released the following statement after Democrats unanimously adopted House rules blessed by Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago):
“The last election cycle this district was abundantly clear: they want Michael J. Madigan’s tenure as Speaker to end. How does one man acquire so much control, power, and influence? Because the House Rules let him control what legislation can reach the floor for a vote.
“Every two years, Speaker Madigan requires two critical votes from Democrat members; first, their vote to re-elect him Speaker of the House, which happened on January 9th. The second vote is for his House Rules of procedure, this year styled as House Resolution 59.
“House Resolution 59 will keep the Illinois House on lockdown under Speaker Madigan’s thumb. He alone will have to power to decide which bills get out of rules committee, assigned to committee, voted on in committee, and voted on the floor. He can make those decisions unilaterally with no reasons given; no questions asked; and no matter how dire the circumstances needing to be addressed.” Mazzochi noted that in the few months of her prior term, Madigan’s Rules committee quashed a bill to end gerrymandering; her bill to increase punishment for underage sex traffickers and provide them with victim support; and her bill to pay down the state’s multi-billion dollar bill backlog, which significantly hurt local hospitals and senior care centers.
“All 12.8 million Illinoisans deserve an equal voice in the legislature. They deserve a transparent process that follows both the spirit and the letter of our State Constitution, which requires a simple majority in the ordinary course of business. Under House Resolution 59, you can have a supermajority in favor of legislation, and it can’t come to the floor for a vote if the Speaker’s Rules Committee says no. That is not transparent. That is not good government. When even a bipartisan supermajority of rank-and-file legislators supports a bill, it deserves a vote.
Mazzochi also pointed out abuses inherent in the committee process as well. “Even when bills do make it to committee, Madigan’s handpicked chairs can refuse to call them, or switch people on and off committees to avoid taking a vote that would hurt them in their districts.”
“These Rules give us a process that, by design, gives the Speaker unaccountable raw power. The Rules expressly state his decisions “may not be appealed,” and “may not be suspended.”
“I urged a change to the status quo. The Democrats refused. I voted ‘no’ on Madigan’s rules, because they are designed to subvert, not support, the will of ‘we the people’ in Illinois.”
House Republicans offered five amendments to promote transparency and diminish the Rules committee legislative stranglehold over bills offered by ordinary members on both sides of the isle:
1. Require Committee Vote for Bipartisan Bills & Resolutions Pending in Committee – Require that when a bill or resolution in committee has at least five co-sponsors from the majority caucus and at least five co-sponsors from the minority caucus, the Committee Chairperson must provide an opportunity to the bill sponsor to present the bill for consideration and a committee vote.
2. Create Waiting Period for Floor Amendments – Create a longer public review period before consideration of floor amendments and concurrence motions by prohibiting consideration until the calendar day after notice is posted for a hearing or the calendar day after the measure is reported directly to the House from the Rules Committee.
3. Create Waiting Period After Committee Testimony – Require that the initial testimony and discussion of bills in committee must occur before a vote of the committee on the reporting motion; and such committee vote may not occur on the same calendar day that testimony was heard.
4. Require House Vote for Bills & Resolutions Supported by Bipartisan Supermajority – Provide that a motion signed by 71 members guarantees a vote of the House on a bill or resolution. At least five members affiliated with the majority party and five members affiliated with the minority party must be included among the 71 or more signatories.
5. Extend Time for the House to Consider Motions to Discharge Standing/Special Committee – Provide that for six session days after the committee reporting deadline the House may still consider motions to discharge from standing or special committees. Currently, bills remaining in committee on date of the reporting deadline are immediately re-referred to the Rules Committee, which means that the motion to discharge from standing committee, which requires 60 votes for adoption, is no longer an option.