SPRINGFIELD – Today, the Illinois House of Representatives voted to approve procedural House Rules for how business will be conducted in the chamber during the 102nd General Assembly. The House Rules determine how rank-and-file members of the House will be able to advance legislation, as well as the public’s ability to take part in the legislative process. Past iterations of the House Rules under former Speaker Mike Madigan have been decried by good government groups for the way power was consolidated in the office of the Speaker.
State Representative Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich), who voted against the new rules, said he was glad to see new House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) stick by his pledge to institute a 10-year term-limit on the positions of Speaker and Minority Leader. Although he noted legislation should still be passed to ensure future House Rules do not remove the limitation. However, he expressed concern that power is still consolidated almost exclusively in the office of the Speaker.
“I’m glad these House Rules place term-limits on the position of Speaker and will allow the House to hold remote committee hearings as we continue to deal with COVID-19, and I appreciate that Speaker Welch stood by his commitment on these issues,” said Bos. “Unfortunately, outside of a few other technical changes, these rules are essentially the same as those under Mike Madigan, and I voted no because they continue to place overwhelming power to control the legislative process in the hands of the Speaker.
“Under these rules, a committee chairperson appointed by the Speaker can kill a bill just as easily as before, and no daily notice of legislation to be voted on needs to be provided to House members or the public. In addition, amendments consisting of hundreds of pages can still be voted on just an hour after being filed, while House Floor debate can then be prematurely cut off to force a vote. Good government advocates have long pointed to rules like these as harming the democratic process and I agree.
“If the House of Representatives is serious about reform that ensures open and transparent government, then we need to do away with rules like these that prevent elected Representatives from being able to present legislation important to their constituents, and prevent thorough review and understanding of legislation by both House members and the public.”
In addition to term-limits on Speaker and Minority Leader, which are already part of House Republicans own caucus rules, Bos and House Republicans advocated for four specific rule changes to address the problems noted above. Details of those four requested changes can be found Here.