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That was the week that wasn’t

First week of veto session ends with yawn

The first week of the veto session is in the books, and what a week it wasn’t.

There were a lot of significant issues that could have been addressed by lawmakers, but you wouldn’t know it from the score card.

That big gun bill that would impose mandatory prison time on people found to be illegally carrying guns? Never surfaced. It’s still being worked on.

Tax breaks for Archer Daniels Midland to move its headquarters and 100 top-level jobs from Decatur to Chicago? Never surfaced. It’s still being worked on.

Back pay for those thousands of state workers who didn’t get the pay raises they were due a couple of years ago because Gov. Pat Quinn said the Legislature didn’t allocate money for them? A bill was introduced by Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, on Oct. 9 to pay the money, but it still isn’t scheduled for a hearing.

Same-sex marriage? It wasn’t called for a vote in the House, despite the large rally last week intended to build pressure on lawmakers to support the bill.

Pension reform? Surely you jest.

Of course, the veto session runs for 2 weeks, which means things could get pretty hectic on Nov. 5-7 when lawmakers return. But the first week certainly lived up to Republican Rep. Rich Brauer’s prediction that things would be “deadly dull.”

To their credit, both the House and Senate canceled the scheduled Thursday session last week. It’s not unheard of for one or both to clock in for about an hour on getaway day, collect their per diems, and call it a week.

PERHAPS THE most astonishing thing to happen last week was that Quinn actually had one of his vetoes upheld.

Last spring, the General Assembly passed a bill allowing museums to cut their number of free admission days in half. Several of the big Chicago museums have had financial problems, and reducing the number of free days they must offer was seen as a way of helping them.

Quinn vetoed the bill.

“Many Illinois families can only visit these museums on the 52 days that they are currently open to residents free of charge,” Quinn wrote in his veto message. “I cannot support any legislation that seeks to reduce exposure to the vast educational resources on display at our museums, particularly for those in our state that are most vulnerable.”

The House tried to override the veto last week, and the effort failed miserably. Many House members echoed Quinn about the bill hurting the poor.

Incredibly, Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, agreed with Quinn. He went so far as to say Quinn was right. It might takes years of intensive research to find the last time Franks had anything positive to say about Quinn, or his predecessor, for that matter.

Franks did temper his remarks by dredging up the old saw about how even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

Quotable quotes

“Don’t underestimate Pat Quinn. He may be a buffoon when it comes to leading and on policies, but he is brilliant when it comes to leveraging the populist card in a Democratic state.”

– Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, a candidate for governor, in a recent speech.

•  •  •

“I want a word to my two brothers who couldn’t make it here. They can tell this to their employers: If they are looking for EDGE [Economic Development for a Growing Economy] tax credits anytime in the near future, they should not look to the House Republican caucus for any help anytime soon.”

– Newly installed House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs, joking during his inauguration speech last week. Durkin said two of his brothers couldn’t attend because their employers wouldn’t give them the day off.

•  •  •

“Walking into this Capitol and onto the House floor, it really never gets old.”

– Durkin, on relishing his job.

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