Senate moves to lower threshold for Stroger override
Thursday, October 29, 2009
by Dave McKinney
SPRINGFIELD -- State lawmakers Thursday moved to clip the powers of
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, tighten cemetery oversight
and cap campaign contribution following Rod Blagojevich's alleged
The state Senate voted 48-1 to send
legislation to Gov. Quinn that would lower the threshold for Cook
County commissioners to override a veto by Stroger.
Quinn backs the legislation, lowering the override requirement from a
four-fifths majority of the county board to a three-fifths majority
could empower opponents of Stroger's penny sales tax hike and set the
stage for another vote to repeal it.
In September, Stroger fought off an attempt to roll back the sales
tax hike when Commissioner Deborah Sims refused to join 13 other
commissioners in overriding Stroger's veto of a repeal.
Quinn spokeswoman Marlena Jentz wouldn't say whether the governor
would sign the legislation, which Stroger's office said would gut the
county's health-care system and lead to the closing of Oak Forest and
Campaign, cemetery bills
In other key legislative action, government watchdog groups reached
agreement with Quinn and the legislative leaders on a major
The measure, a Democratic-crafted answer to Blagojevich's ethical
breaches, would impose $5,000 contribution caps per election for
individuals and $10,000 caps on unions and corporations per election.
But those caps would not apply uniformly to legislative leaders and
political parties, where fund-raising limits would be in place during
primary elections but not general elections.
That triggered Republican complaints that the new standards would
concentrate the power of legislative leaders but weaken the
independence of rank-and-file lawmakers whose fund-raising abilities
would face uninterrupted caps.
The proposal, whose caps would kick off in 2012, was sponsored by
House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who described the package as
"For the first time in the history of Illinois, there will be limits on contributions," he said.
The measure passed the House 66-49 and now moves to the Senate for an expected vote Friday.
Also Thursday, the House approved 89-27 legislation that would put
some cemeteries under closer state scrutiny -- a response to atrocities
at Burr Oak Cemetery.
For the first time, for-profit cemetery managers would have to be
licensed by the state, giving government regulators greater authority
to investigate complaints at cemeteries. The measure now moves to the
A bill to disallow most seniors from riding buses and trains for
free surfaced briefly in the House but was pulled from debate without
explanation by its sponsor, Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook). The
inaction pushes the CTA's funding crisis to the brink because lawmakers
are scheduled to go home for the year on Friday.