Starting in January, all parents will be able to decide whether to extend their health insurance coverage to their children up to age 26. Veterans will be able stay on their parent’s policies until age 30.
The Illinois Senate on Tuesday agreed with House to accept Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s changes to legislation he made through his amendatory veto powers.
The Senate approved House Bill 5285, but it rejected changes the governor made to House Bill 4201, which Blagojevich changed to extend property tax exemptions to all veterans with service-connected disabilities. The Senate failed to secure enough votes, with 15 voting present as a way to show they don’t oppose the concept. But many do oppose the governor’s method of changing legislation to initiate major new policies without debate.
Sen. Dan Rutherford, a Chenoa Republican, voted against his own bill because he said the governor’s amendatory veto prevents legislators and citizens from dealing with the policy in a public forum. “We’re in a political debate here,” he said. “We’re not doing this as a good public policy process.”
Rutherford also said he hopes one of the governor’s amendatory vetoes ends up in court, which could help define a rather vague power in the state Constitution. His comments echo statements made by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat who said last week that the courts could help “answer this question that has been so contentious between the two branches ever since 1971,” when the current Constitution took effect. Read more background here.
Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, said during floor debate that the governor’s changes to let adult dependents remain on their parents' insurance policies is an improvement. “This is a great opportunity to address a major challenging issue for parents and families,” he said. “It also gives employers a chance to provide this coverage, and employers don’t have to pay for it.”
But several Republicans said that the new law could negatively affect small businesses. While the young adults can be among the healthiest policyholders, Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican, said it could be cheaper for parents to buy individual policies for their dependents rather than lump them in with their group policies and raise the price for their employers.
Other amendatory vetoes are expected, particularly on ethics legislation that Blagojevich has repeatedly said he looks forward to “improving.” He has to act before August 29, or the original version automatically becomes law. He also has said he could change as many as 50 bills.
Watch for Illinois Issues magazine's September print edition to gain more context about this and previous governors' uses of the amendatory veto power.