June 13, 2024

Eye On Illinois: Even after final gavel, any bill can come back from the dead

“There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.”

That quote from Billy Crystal’s Miracle Max character in “The Princess Bride” echoed while reading a Capitol News Illinois summary of the legislation that failed to advance before lawmakers adjourned at the end of May.

In one sense, no proposed bill is ever truly deceased, because even when we reach the end of the 103rd General Assembly in January, someone can simply refile a stalled bill in the 104th.

One recent example is House Bill 4119, a proposed Election Code amendment, which House Minority Leader Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, filed Aug. 8. Her proposal was nearly identical to House Bill 2929 from the 102nd General Assembly. State Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, filed that bill in February 2021. It ultimately died in the Rules Committee, where McCombie’s has idled since April 5.

But the CNI analysis considered ideas that might yet advance, either during the fall veto session or January’s lame duck days. Among those is House Bill 793, a plan to phase out the subminimum wage for “14C Workshops,” the classification for job centers serving people with developmental disabilities.

I addressed that topic May 16, drawing impassioned responses from different sides of the conversation. That was a week before the House sent it to the Senate on a 78-30 vote. Although it picked up six sponsors, the plan stalled in the Assignments Committee.

This bill actually represents both types of “mostly dead” as supporters note they’ve been working on it for five years, seeking buy-in from various stakeholders, introducing amendments to address concerns, and when one legislative session concludes, heading back to the drafting table to formulate the next attempt.

Another aspect of the subminimum wage credit issue was House Bill 5345, the subject of an April 6 column after it moved out of the Labor and Commerce Committee on a 17-10 vote. But that proposal, which eventually would eliminate the tipped wage credit statewide, ultimately went back to Rules and will probably need more tweaking over the summer if it’s going to advance before the final gavel.

These ideas represent just a small sliver of thousands of bills filed every session. I can never detail everything here, so I commend following Rich and Isabel Miller’s Capitol Fax blog, if only for the “It’s Just A Bill” posts. I have about 50 different tabs open in one browser window, all different digest posts shedding light on a panoply of proposals.

It’s important to remember a bill being introduced means nothing on its own: votes are essential. But by the same token, nothing is truly final until the governor puts ink to paper. In government, anything is possible – eventually.

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Local News Network. Follow him on X @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

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 sholland@shawmedia.com.