By CARL GREEN
Springfield, IL – The Illinois House of Representatives once again came a vote short of overriding the veto of a bill that would have ended the specter of local “right-to-work” zones being established in the state.
In the closing days of the legislative veto session, the House voted 70-39 to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1905 to outlaw local “right-to-work” zones. The Senate had already voted to override. But 71 votes were needed.
Such zones are a key element in Rauner’s “agenda” for the state because the Democrat-dominated Legislature is highly unlikely to agree to any state-wide “right-to-work” measures.
So far, local opposition has kept the idea of local RTW from getting off the ground; the only city to vote it in, Lincolnshire, has been stymied in a federal court case brought by unions.
But the vote last week keeps local RTW as a possibility, at least until another bill can be passed into law. A related bill to remove criminal penalties from the original bill, intended to win over Republican votes for the override, passed the House and will go before the Senate.
ABSENT MAVERICK STALLED OVERRIDE
House Democrats fell short of their veto override effort because one of their members – longtime party maverick Scott Drury of Highwood – was absent; he had voted for override the first time two weeks earlier.
Drury has been a loud critic of state party chief and House Speaker Michael Madigan, and he recently announced he would run for governor, only to switch to a primary bid for attorney general after Madigan’s daughter Lisa said she was stepping down.
Last year, Drury joined Republicans to vote against overriding a bill to authorize college grants and community college funding; it failed by two votes.
In 2015, he joined Republicans to uphold the veto of a Labor-supported bill to provide arbitration when state workers’ contract talks reach impasse.
In last week’s action, southern Illinois Republican, Dave Severin of Benton, who voted for the “right-to-work” ban override the first time it came up, switched his vote to uphold it.
Rauner, bruised and battered by an unprecedented 15 veto over-rides, called the failed veto override “a victory.”
While the right-to-work veto was the most significant issue, some of the successful overrides involved:
• Teachers – The House and Senate voted unanimously to override the veto of a bill that will now let substitute teachers in public schools get a refund of the $50 fee they must pay for a teaching license, as long as they teach at least 10 days in a school year. Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) sponsored the bill to help deal with a growing shortage of teachers and substitutes.
• Debt Reporting – The Senate joined the House in overriding the veto of Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s bill to require state administrators to report the extent of debts incurred by their departments. The bill is intended to help the state improve its finances.
• Cursive – Illinois public schools will have to teach cursive handwriting by 5th grade, following another override. “You cannot write a check, sign legal documents or even read our Constitution without an understanding of cursive writing,” said the sponsor, Representative Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood).
• Student Loans – The Student Loan Bill of Rights will now become law, requiring loan servicing companies to better inform students about repayment options and possible loan forgiveness because of issues including disabilities.