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Only 2 weeks left; why worry?

Big votes put off until end of the month

Less than 2 weeks remain in the spring session, assuming lawmakers don’t want to run into overtime after May 31.

We have yet to see anything of a spending plan for next year.

We still don’t have a final resolution on pension reform, concealed carry, same-sex marriage, gambling expansion, and who knows what else that won’t be quick or easy votes once they do come up.

Lawmakers tend to do what many people do and put things off to the last minute. It’s looking like May 30 and 31 are going to be very busy days.

‘Century club’

narrowly avoided

One of the traditions, such as it is, in the Illinois House is the “century club.”

It is reserved for House members who sponsor bills that get 100 or more “no” votes in the 118-member chamber. There’s even a little trophy that’s passed around with the names of the members who have achieved this momentous award.

With 5,000 to 6,000 bills introduced each year in the General Assembly, you’d think there would be ample opportunity to add names to the trophy each year.

But no, it is a small group of winners, mainly because most lawmakers, when they realize they’ve got a dud on their hands, give up on a bill long before it comes to a vote.

State Rep. Louis Arroyo, D-Chicago, was thought to be the next likeliest candidate for inclusion in the club. He sponsored a bill to ban the sale of lion meat in the state. Yes, there are a handful of restaurants where you can get a good lion sandwich, but mainly Arroyo’s bill was seen as a solution in search of a problem.

Last week, Arroyo pressed ahead with a vote on the bill. For a while, the debate sounded kind of like the hazing that’s given to freshman members when they sponsor their first bill on the floor with a lot of mock questions about what the bill does or doesn’t do.

It also gives members a chance to show off their comedic talents. Like Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, who said to Arroyo, “I’m not going to say your lyin’.”

Get it? Lyin’ and lion. “30 Rock” it ain’t.

Now, Arroyo could have put a stop to this any time he wanted. He could have pulled the bill from the record, essentially saying he no longer wanted a vote. But he didn’t, so on and on it went for nearly 30 minutes.

Finally, another House member moved to end the debate and vote on it, already.

That’s when Arroyo, finally realizing his bill was going down to ignominious defeat, announced he no longer wanted a vote on it. And that’s when things got stupid, as they sometimes do in the House.

Some Republicans, rather than just let it go after everyone had had their fun, insisted that the House rules required a vote at that stage of the game. They pulled out the House rule book to cite chapter and verse to prove their point. They seriously wanted a vote on a bill everyone had just spent 30 minutes ridiculing.

It ended only when the presiding officer basically ignored the Republicans and moved on.

For those who think the House shouldn’t waste time like this with so many big issues remaining to be dealt with, you might have a point.

If, that is, the House had been poised to act on any of those big issues last week.

It wasn’t, so the lion meat silliness didn’t derail anything.

He said it

“We have lots of conflicts in this building [the Capitol], yet we ban weapons here.”

– Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, answering those who said that high-conflict areas are more in need of concealed carry than more peaceful areas of the state.

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