Western Springs legislator lashes out at action in lame-duck session
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:13AM
At least one suburban legislator is rankled by last-ditch efforts to pass laws on controversial issues during the lame duck session in Springfield.
State Rep. Jim Durkin, R-82nd, Western Springs, said moves to rush through laws banning assault weapons and allowing same-sex marriage are unfair to voters.
“I’ve had it with the 11th hour passage of bills which do not get the thorough vetting before the public and members of the legislature,” Durkin said.
“There are bills which get pushed through when the threshold drops to 60 votes and a number of legislators are on their way out who otherwise would vote against these measures, but they’re looking to make friends.”
Durkin referred to the lame-duck session two years go when lawmakers abolished the death penalty in Illinois, legalized civil unions and hiked the state income tax.
“I have been in the minority party for a great amount of time, and it’s sickening to watch this process play out,” he said. “It should disgust the voters in Illinois.”
The assault weapons ban and same-sex marriage deserve thoughtful debate and analysis with opportunity for public input, he said.
Information late Thursday indicated sponsors didn’t have enough votes to bring bills on either controversial issue to the Senate floor for a vote, Durkin said. The House of Representatives returns Sunday, and all matters must be wrapped up before new lawmakers are sworn in Jan. 9.
Durkin voted against the civil union measure two years ago and said he would need time to analyze how the same-sex marriage law would affect couples differently.
Gun control laws shouldn’t be passed piecemeal, but should be considered as a whole in light of the recent federal ruling Dec. 11 striking down Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed weapons, he said.
Durkin said he is studying details of bills banning assault weapons, but didn’t spell out a position, other than advocating for a comprehensive approach to gun control.
But the ramrod approach to controversial legislation has spurred Durkin to research and introduce a measure of his own in the near future.
Durkin said he intends to sponsor a bill insuring that a super majority vote, rather than a simple majority of 60, is required to pass bills in the House after May 31, to prevent lame-duck session abuses.
“This is just wrong. The fact that it’s being done in the dark of night at a speed, which is nearly impossible for a thoughtful debate and input from the public,” he said.
Lawmakers instead should be spending time and effort on solving the unfunded pension liability and the state’s backlog of unpaid bills, he said.~.