The so-called "veto session surprise" may soon be a reality.
Legislation spearheaded by the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association that lifts a 10-year statute of limitations on filing asbestos suits in Illinois has passed in the General Assembly.
Described by one opponent as a "last-minute and desperate attempt" to change rules before Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner is sworn-in, Senate Bill 2221 will move to the desk of outgoing Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's for signature.
The measure passed quickly and along party lines during the legislature's six-day fall veto session that ends Dec. 4.
On Nov. 25, amendments were tacked on to an unrelated bill which passed the Senate April 2013 and was kept alive in the House Rules Committee since May 2013.
Ed Murnane, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League, criticized the rush to pass the controversial measure.
"If their new bill has merit, let the General Assembly and the new Governor consider it next year," Murnane stated early on Tuesday before the bill had gone to a full House vote.
The bill passed the House on Tuesday afternoon 70-43-2. The Senate concurred late in the day Wednesday.
Another critic, Travis Akin, executive director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch, said the bill will "open up a whole new way for personal injury lawyers to file asbestos lawsuits in Madison County."
"Madison County already attracts about one quarter of the nation’s asbestos lawsuits. This will only attract more out-of-state lawsuits and make Illinois even more of magnet for out-of-state lawyers looking to hit the lawsuit lottery in Illinois," he said. "This legislation will only lead to more lawsuits and what Illinois needs is jobs – not more ways to sue.”
Approximately 40 business opposed the bill during session on Monday.
Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, called the amendment introduced two days before Thanksgiving the “veto session surprise.” He and others said the legislation would be detrimental to business interests.