11/1/2006 3:33:00 PM Guest Column Veto session: Just about anything can happen
By Rep. ROGER EDDY For the Daily News
We are in the final weeks leading up to the fall election, but it is also soon time for the General Assembly to meet in what is known as the "Fall Veto Session." The dates for the session this year are Nov. 14-16 and Nov. 28-30.
It is important to note that the session occurs after the fall election. That means there will likely be several members of the General Assembly who will be "lame ducks." Because of either retirement or the fact they lost an election, they could be casting their final few votes as members of the General Assembly. The "new" General Assembly begins in January. As of this writing, there are several very close races for House and Senate seats that could increase or decrease the number of lame ducks depending on the outcomes on Nov. 7. The reason I mention this is that when this condition occurs every second year, there is a possibility of some surprises during the fall session.
The generally accepted purpose of the fall session is to allow the General Assembly to deal with veto actions taken by the governor related to legislation that passed during the regular spring session. The governor has 60 days to act on a bill once it is sent to his office by the General Assembly. The options of the governor are to either sign the bill within 60 days or take some type of action to veto the bill. A veto can take two forms. The governor can veto the bill entirely or change only a part of the bill. If the governor changes only a portion of the bill, it is referred to as an "amendatory veto." In such a case, the change is not supposed to alter the intent of the bill but rather to make a minor change.
If a bill receives either a complete veto or an amendatory veto, the chief sponsor of the bill has an opportunity to "override" the veto. If the veto is amendatory, the bill sponsor can move to accept the changes (concur) or override the changes. If the veto is a full veto, the sponsor could attempt to override that action. Either way, it takes a super majority (3/5) vote to override a governor's veto.
Although the fall session is known as the veto session, other legislative action can occur. Any bill introduced prior to spring deadlines can be voted on if the chamber leadership wants the measure to advance. Plus, any "shell" bill could be used as a way to advance legislation that has never previously been introduced. That is also important since several bills related to utility-rate freezes that were not passed in the spring still have a chance to be acted on during the veto session. The fact is, although the session is coined the "veto session," anything can happen.
In the next few weeks, I want to make you aware of some of these issues and seek your input. I will try to cover both veto and non-veto issues.
During the 2006 spring session, the General Assembly sent 353 bills to the governor for action. He vetoed 11 bills. Of that number, there are seven total vetoes (three House and four Senate) and there are four amendatory vetoes (one House and three Senate). That does not seem like much in the way of work for the number of days that the session is scheduled. However, the electric-rate freeze extension might take a good deal of time to plow through.
Legislators will also be dealing with some logistical issues during the veto session. Remodeling in the State Capitol building has taken longer than expected and the renovations will not be complete enough to allow the House and Senate to meet in their respective chambers at the State Capitol. At this time, the plan is for the House of Representatives to meet at the Old State Capitol's House Chamber and the Senate is likely to meet at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. However, committee hearings will be held back in the regular hearing rooms at the State Capitol or at the Stratton Building on the grounds of the State Capitol.
Many things will be different: it is likely voting will take place by oral roll calls rather than the electronic board, laptop computers will be available on a limited basis (that will limit instant access from e-mails that we have come to depend upon), paper copies of all bills and amendments will be provided rather than computer access and there is a public viewing area at the Old State Capitol but it is very limited. Obviously, we will all make the most of a situation that could hinder communications. However, as a member of the House, I look forward to sitting in the chamber that played host to Lincoln. If you have questions or concerns regarding any legislation that we will be asked to vote on, please understand the fact that communication will be a bit more difficult that we are used to.
I will have much more next week and each week leading up to the fall session regarding issues that we will face. I have really appreciated your input in the past and look forward to hearing from you concerning issues that are important to you. You can write me at: P.O. Box 125, Hutsonville, IL 62433 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read more on my Web site: www.peopleforeddy.com.