Rauner’s puzzling amendatory veto mystery
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The J.B. Pritzker campaign slapped a new label on Gov. Bruce Rauner the other day, calling him “Governor Veto” because he’s vetoed several bills that the Democratic candidate supports.
Since the legislative session ended, Gov. Rauner has vetoed 75 bills. By my count, 44 passed with veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers.
So, he may or may not be “Governor Veto,” but he might turn out to be “Governor Override” come veto session in November.
The governor issued a Total Veto on 46 bills, and exactly half passed with enough to override. However, a bunch of those vetoes were slapped on bills that were duplicates in one way or another.
The more important issue is his amendatory vetoes. Rauner used his amendatory veto power to rewrite 29 bills, and 21 of those (72 percent) were passed with enough votes to override.
It’s rare for the General Assembly to accept an amendatory veto, mainly because House Speaker Michael Madigan will often kill them in his Rules Committee dungeon. If there aren’t enough votes to override, the vetoes are allowed to die. But legislators can and do override AVs if they can find the votes, and it sure seems like Rauner could be in for a bunch of those.
Take, for instance, House Bill 3418, which unanimously passed the Senate and cleared the House with 88 votes, 17 more than necessary to override. The bill would allow local governments to use tax incentives to create urban agriculture zones. The bill had no real opposition when it passed, but Rauner stripped out its tax incentives, stunning the bill’s supporters.
The General Assembly passed legislation to increase the amount that the Illinois Court of Claims can pay out in lawsuits against the state to $2 million, up from the current $100,000. Senate Bill 2481 was touted as a way to help the families of those who died at the Quincy veterans home. Rauner’s AV reduced that $2 million to $300,000. It passed the House 79-33 and cleared the Senate 42-7 and the sponsors are itching for an override.
I think the governor has gotten somewhat of a bum rap on that veto, by the way. A $2 million lawsuit cap could cost the state a bundle of dough that it currently doesn’t have. But $300,000 seems a little low. The $100,000 cap passed in 1971, and that’s $600,000 today, which seems more justifiable.
The governor signed all of Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s bills this year after getting thoroughly whacked last year when the House and Senate nearly unanimously overrode his veto of Mendoza’s legislation to require agencies to disclose how many unpaid bills they were sitting on.
So, Rauner instead turned his negative attention to Treasurer Michael Frerichs, vetoing several of Frerichs’ bills including an amendatory veto of legislation that would’ve allowed Frerichs to use money from the Unclaimed Property Act to buy a Springfield office building. Frerichs says buying one building instead of leasing two buildings would save taxpayers hundreds of thousands. But Rauner vetoed a Frerichs bill last year that allowed the treasurer to use third-party contingent fee auditors to make sure the life insurance industry was actually paying out claims. Rauner was overridden on that bill, so he used this year’s bill to again try to undo Frerichs’ law from last year.
“We don’t want officeholders to create their own empires, running their own little mini-governments,” Rauner told reporters when asked about that amendatory veto.
Rauner used his amendatory veto powers to rewrite HB4923 — Frerichs-backed legislation designed to tweak the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program — to make the entire program optional instead of mandatory.
He AV’d a bill designed to loosen some state treasurer investment decision restrictions to say those investments could only be made with the approval of the governor. SB2661 passed with just 2 “No” votes.
Rauner rewrote SB2857 that passed with large super-majorities to allow the treasurer to keep up to $12 million in administrative charges to pay for operations. Rauner also outright vetoed another Frerichs bill (HB4922) that would’ve stopped banks from charging fees on rebate cards.
Last year, the governor vetoed 42 bills and AV’d another 10. So, he’s way ahead of that pace, particularly with amendatory vetoes. Fifteen of his total vetoes were overridden last year while just 3 AVs were overridden. I’m thinking those numbers could be higher this time around.
So, why did he AV so many popular bills? You got me, but, other than his ire at Frerichs, some think he finally decided to fully engage with the General Assembly after session ended.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.
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