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Eye On Illinois: Task forces can be the early work of significant legislation

It’s summer in Illinois which, among other things, means the governor is busy signing legislation approved in the spring session.

Article IV of the state constitution says the General Assembly has 30 days to present a passed bill to the governor, a formality that triggers a 60-day window for the chief executive to issue a veto, sign the bill into law or have it become law by default. That timetable establishes June through August as prime time for staged events highlighting specific accomplishments, but a governor putting pen to paper often represents less a completion than a mile marker on a much longer path.

Scott T. Holland

Consider Monday’s signing of Senate Bill 1818, which creates the Illinois Flag Commission, or last week’s approval of Senate Bill 2123, which establishes a task force to study ranked choice voting. Strip away the fanfare or pushback to realize neither law actually does anything more than formalize the possibility of change.

Yet how officials talk about the future can be illuminating. The written purpose of SB 1818 is “to develop new state flag designs and to make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning whether the current state flag ought to be replaced with a redesigned state flag.” In a press release touting the signing, Gov. JB Pritzker was measured – “it may be time we create a new” flag – but Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton sounded far more certain of the outcome:

“With the creation of the next flag of our state, we are ushering in a new era that will represent every Illinoisan and commemorate how far we have come so we may go even further together.”

So what’s the timetable? The Illinois Flag Commission will select up to 10 possible designs by September 2024 and submit a final report that December.

Things will move a little faster on the elections front, as the Ranked Choice and Voting Systems Task Force’s report is due in March. However, the RCV concept will only be evaluated for presidential primaries, which means it actually wouldn’t come into play until 2028 at the earliest.

Of perhaps broader and more immediate utility is the task force’s work looking into state processes for certifying election equipment and systems. Although ranked choice advocates will evaluate that issue through the prism of whether tabulation technology can process ranked ballots, lawmakers should be able to glean useful information on that front regardless of appetite for a switch in primary procedures.

Illinois is rich with task forces and commissions. They may not move quickly or meet deadlines, but the work they do is foundational. The actual legislation codifying task force recommendations might seem rushed, but paying attention to the early drudgery safeguards against shock and surprise.

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

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

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