Illinois Legislature meets Sunday as session’s end looms

SHARE Illinois Legislature meets Sunday as session’s end looms
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Illinois legislative leaders are meeting again with Gov. Bruce Rauner on Sunday to try to settle a dispute that has left the state without a budget. | AP file photo

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders have reported no progress on settling an 11-month budget standoff during their latest meeting to try to reach a compromise.

Rauner is asking Democrats who control the Legislature to pass pro-business legislation and curb the power of unions as a condition of a tax increase to address a $5 billion deficit. But Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan says he’s not willing to pass anything he believes will hurt middle-class families.

The current session ends Tuesday. Rauner said Sunday he’ll remain hopeful a deal can be reached by then. Madigan says he’s willing to continue negotiations through the summer if necessary.

In the meantime, House Democrats passed a budget last week that is $7 billion out of balance. The bill is headed for the Senate, and Rauner says he’ll veto it if it reaches his desk.

Rauner and leaders from both parties had met Friday but achieved no progress on a compromise, with Republicans saying Democrats were unwilling to continue group discussions among rank-and-file members to get a budget for next year.

The next fiscal year starts July 1 and Illinois is the only state in the nation without a budget for the current year.

After the legislature adjourns Tuesday it will become more difficult to pass a budget because it will require three-fifths support from each chamber, rather than a simple majority needed now.

Also on Sunday, legislation to regulate daily fantasy sports betting in Illinois was shelved Sunday after the proposal became mired in vote-buying allegations.

Democratic Rep. Michael Zalewski, one of the bill’s sponsors, told colleagues in a House committee Sunday that he would not put the proposal up to a vote before the Legislature adjourns its spring session Tuesday.

“This became a distraction to an unhealthy degree,” Zalewski said, without referencing the allegations that another lawmaker made last week.

Democratic Rep. Rita Mayfield had said she became privy to an email in which a lobbyist working for FanDuel and DraftKings suggested he could get support from members of the House Legislative Black Caucus in exchange for contributions to their foundations. Mayfield made the allegation during a hearing on the bill and said she didn’t feel comfortable voting on the proposal.

In other action Sunday, the House Executive Committee endorsed automatic voter registration in Illinois, but the measure will not move to the House floor.

Its sponsor, Rep. Robyn Gabel, an Evanston Democrat, has proposed additional changes at the request of the agency most affected by the legislation — the secretary of state’s office.

The plan would allow residents interacting with state agencies to get automatically registered, and the secretary of state’s office wants some changes because it is expected that many of those interactions would occur while getting or updating a driver’s license. Democrats say it could add 2 million voters to the rolls. Republicans says it’s aimed at getting more Democrats registered and voting.

Gabel hopes to get the committee’s OK on changes Monday and get a House vote and Senate concurrence before Tuesday’s end-of-session deadline.

Other legislative action expected Sunday, the House was expected to vote on a proposal to extend the deadline for the state’s medical marijuana pilot program from the end of 2018 to July 2020.

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