Veto Session Resumes, Major Votes Possible
Illinois legislators are scheduled to assemble for what could be the last gathering of the General Assembly this year and finish out their veto session this week. The first week of the veto session in late October went by with little of substance accomplished. But what lawmakers didn't touch then is back now.
The back-loaded agenda ranges from budget matters to social issues, and includes tax packages designed to keep companies like Archer Daniels Midland headquartered in Illinois.
It also appears that the sponsor of same-sex marriage legislation, already approved by the Senate, is leaning toward calling it for a vote in the House. And, despite a push to toughen penalties for carrying a gun illegally, opposition might stop that, too.
The same issue that has plagued Illinois lawmakers for years -- funding the state's retirement systems -- continues to do so.
Meetings of the General Assembly's top leaders indicate some movement on the issue. And Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat from Northbrook says legislators heavily involved in pension talks have moved closer to revising retirement benefits. Still, there's no evidence of a deal.
"I think that there has been quite a bit of progress," Nekritz said, "because the issues keep narrowing. And to my mind, as long as people are at the table and the issues keep narrowing, we're making progress. And on this particular issue, that's a good direction."
Nekritz says this week is a key deadline, because legislators aren't expected to meet again until 2014, but it's not a hard deadline.
"It's been one of the frustrations of this particular issue that there is no cliff," she said. "It's not like we face -- like they did in Washington -- with a government shutdown on a particular date. This is just a very long, slow slide into oblivion."
But with no deal imminent, legislators could go home next week with Illinois' underfunded retirement systems status quo.
Archer Daniels Midland could see legislators vote on the tax credit package it has requested if it makes Chicago its headquarters -- a push that appears to be more popular since ADM agreed to boost hiring in Decatur.
And there are signs that members of the House who've previously been reluctant to vote to legalize same-sex marriage may be ready.
Also on the agenda: a hearing on a possible new tax on paint, altering Illinois' renewable energy requirements, and authorizing extra money for state programs running low on funding.
Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.