State House passes term-limits bill that would relegate reigns such as Madigan’s to the history books

The bill, which Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch co-sponsored, has “been a priority for the speaker since Day One, because he understands how important it is to build a bench for leadership positions in the General Assembly,” a Welch spokeswoman said.

SHARE State House passes term-limits bill that would relegate reigns such as Madigan’s to the history books
Former House Speaker Michael Madigan walks away from reporters after a committee hearing on the Southwest Side in February.

Former House Speaker Michael Madigan walks away from reporters after a committee hearing on the Southwest Side in February.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Speakers of the Illinois House would only be allowed to serve a fraction of the record-setting tenure that Mike Madigan enjoyed under a bill lawmakers sent to the state Senate on Thursday, imposing term limits on top leadership posts in both chambers.

The bill caps the terms for speaker and minority leader in the House and president and minority leader in the Senate to no more than 10 consecutive years. It would take effect in January 2023.

“This is a big moment for reform in the state of Illinois,” state Rep. Anthony DeLuca said before the House voted unanimously to pass the bill he sponsored. One legislator voted present.

Vowing to “give credit where credit is due,” the Chicago Heights Democrat said without the support of new Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, passing the term-limits bill “would not have happened.”

The bill, which Welch co-sponsored, has “been a priority for the speaker since Day One, because he understands how important it is to build a bench for leadership positions in the General Assembly,” a spokeswoman for the speaker said.

After Democrats chose Welch to lead them in January, the Hillside Democrat expressed support for a term-limit provision and, in February, such limits were baked into the House’s internal rules.

House Republicans already had a rule in their caucus limiting their leader to five terms. Western Springs Republican Jim Durkin is in his fifth term as GOP leader in the House. The Senate also set 10-year limits on that chamber’s top leadership posts.

Asked why the new state law was needed on top of the two chambers’ self-imposed rules, Welch’s spokeswoman would only say, “it’s to further codify those rules into law.”

It was a sharp departure from the days of Welch’s predecessor, known as “the Velvet Hammer,” for his quiet but iron-fisted grip on the speaker’s gavel.

Then House Speaker Mike Madigan, left, in July; Future Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, right, in September.

Then-House Speaker Mike Madigan, left, in July; future Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, right, in September.

Neal Earley/Sun-Times; Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP

Madigan served for nearly 40 years in the House’s top leadership position, more than any other state House speaker in the nation for at least the last century before the ComEd scandal derailed the Southwest Side powerhouse’s political career.

The legislation, which now goes to the Senate, was just one of the bills passed by the House Thursday.

Despite some division, the House also sent bills to the Senate that would remove penalties on students and their parents for chronic truancy; create a licensing program for certified midwives as well as an Illinois Midwifery Board; and remove barriers for those with felonies seeking to change their names.

Under a bill passed in the Senate, those completing community service sentences would be required to be paid at least the minimum wage — currently $11 an hour but set to gradually rise to $15 an hour by 2025.

“We’re trying to bring equity to this because ... if you run a stop sign or if you just have a broken windshield and you’re required to do community service, it will only pay you $4 an hour right now,” said state Sen. Jacqueline Collins, the bill’s sponsor. “We want it to be no less than minimum wage.”

State Sen. Jacqueline Collins in 2018.

State Sen. Jacqueline Collins in 2018.

Rahul Parikh/Sun-Times file

The bill passed 35 to 16 and now moves to the House.

The Senate also passed a measure Thursday that would prohibit the Illinois secretary of state from sharing facial recognition data with law enforcement entities for the purpose of enforcing federal immigration law.

State Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, said her bill was necessary so that undocumented immigrants “feel safe” in obtaining a temporary visitor driver’s license with the secretary of state’s office.

If the office receives such a request, the attorney general’s office would be asked to “quash the subpoena.”

The bill passed 37 to 14 and also moves to the House.

State Sen. Celina Villanueva.

State Sen. Celina Villanueva.

Provided photo

On Wednesday, the Senate passed a bill allowing prosecutors to ask courts to re-sentence prisoners who have demonstrated good behavior or whose punishment should be reduced for other reasons.

State Sen. Robert Peters, the bill’s sponsor, said such re-sentencing would be up to the local state’s attorney’s “discretion” and would add another avenue for rehabilitation in the justice system.

But state Sen. Steve McClure argued the bill would unnecessarily require victims to relive their abuse.

“Victims deserve peace. And unfortunately, this bill causes them to potentially be revictimized over and over and over again,” the Springfield Republican said.

State Sen. Robert Peters last year.

State Sen. Robert Peters last year.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

Peters, a Chicago Democrat, countered the bill had been “pushed by survivors” and that Senate Republicans “preach about survivors and victims, but they can’t press a green button when [victims] bring a bill.”

The bill passed 31 to 17 and goes to the House.

Another bill passed Wednesday evening prohibiting the state Department of Children and Family Services from using restraints on minors during transit.

State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said she introduced the bill following news reports that DCFS had been using “metal shackles” while transporting youth under its care.

Rachel Hinton reported from Chicago, Andrew Sullender from Springfield.

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