Friday, April 27, 2007

“Bingo-bango” legislative roundup

A lot of drama and legislation zipped through the Capitol this week, so Deanese and I compiled a quick list of interesting action in addition to the stuff we wrote about earlier this week:

Sen. Gary Forby’s proposed minimum one-year electricity rate freeze for Ameren Illinois customers won approval from a House committee, but it’s not expected to offer relief to customers anywhere in the state any time soon. At the wishes of House Speaker Michael Madigan, Democrats changed it to include Commonwealth Edison and effectively denied the wishes Senate President Emil Jones Jr. Republican Rep. Bill Black of Danville, the original House sponsor who was legislatively shoved aside by House Democrats, said he reached the limits of his frustration. “We’re tired of this tennis game between the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House, two intelligent and highly respected men in this process. The tennis ball that they’re using are my constituents’ heads, and I’m just a little tired of it,” he said after committee. “Who do these people think they’re fooling? They aren’t fooling my constituents. They know what’s going on: Bingo, bango, bingo, bango, and they don’t get any relief.” (SB 1592)

Rep. John Fritchey’s legislation banning some pay-to-play campaign contributions won House approval. It would prohibit state employees from getting perks from potential contractors. And people seeking state contracts worth more than $10,000 would have to report their campaign contribution history. Legal, banking and consulting fees also would be prohibited. (HB 1)

Rep. Lou Lang’s gaming measure to create four new casinos in the Chicago area and add slot machines at racetracks won approval from a House committee. It also would create 37,000 more gaming positions in the state and generate $1.3 billion to $3 billion a year. (HB 480)

Sen. Terry Link’s statewide smoking ban, already approved by the Senate, moved out of a House committee with no amendments. It could be called for a vote by the full chamber this afternoon. (SB 500)

Rep. Anazette Collins’ measure to lower the age nonviolent offenders can be tried as juveniles won House approval. While 18-year-olds would be still be tried as adults, 17 year-old nonviolent offenders would be tried as juveniles so, the sponsor said, they could reform themselves without having an adult criminal record and without serving in an adult prison. (HB 1517)

Rep. John Fritchey’s parental notification measure for minors seeking an abortion failed the House. It would have required minor women to talk to an adult, other than clergy or adult siblings, before terminating a pregnancy. During House floor debate, Fritchey said it was the hardest and most frustrating piece of legislation he’s had to do. (HB 317)

Rep. Harry Osterman and Rep. Deborah Graham’s gun control measures stalled in the House. One measure would require background checks at every level of sale, and the other would require licensing for people who wanted to sell their guns. (HB 758 and HB 796)

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