|House off to a Stuttering Start
House session was cancelled earlier in the month by Speaker Madigan who bafflingly cited a “lack of workload”. We’ll meet for the first time in 2016 this week on January 27th, the same day that Governor Rauner is to give his State of the State address to the General Assembly. 2016 is an election year and the tendency by leadership can be to put off tough votes until after the primaries in March. The legislative calendar, as set by Speaker Madigan, does not have us in session regularly until April; we are only scheduled to be in Springfield for 2 days in January, 5 in February, and 3 in March. It’s disappointing given how much work we still need to do to compromise on the budget and necessary reforms. In the meantime, rank and file legislators have been at work drafting bills before the deadline last Friday. Generally in the second year of the term (99th General Assembly), fewer bills are filed.Criminal Justice Reform Task Force Needs More Time
Upon taking office, Governor Rauner made it one of his goals to reduce the state’s prison population by 25 percent within the next decade. At one point, there was an estimated 49,000 inmates in a system designed to house 32,000. Through executive order, he established a task force to reform the state’s criminal justice system and sentencing practices. The group that was assembled is comprised of legislators, lawyers, judges, police, prison administrators, professors, and a community activist. The task force was supposed to present a final report at the end of last year, but unsurprisingly given that they are tackling such a large and complex issue, they’re asking for more time. The task force has released its initial recommendations, with a final report expected to be delivered to the governor in March.
This week Governor Rauner presented proposals which would impact CPS and the pension system.The CPS proposal comes amid reports from the Better Government Association that the system doesn’t know what happened to much of the equipment from the 50 schools Mayor Emanuel closed two years ago and a another decline in CPS’s bond rating by Fitch.