SPRINGFIELD – Newly adopted term limits for the
Illinois Senate president and minority leader were approved on the new General
Assembly's first day earlier this month, but any kind of similar proposal for
leaders in the lower chamber will not likely advance under "Madigan's rules."
House Democrats voted Tuesday in favor of long-serving Speaker Mike Madigan's handcrafted
rules that govern the Illinois House of
Representatives, which in effect maintain Madigan's autonomy in determining
what legislation lives and dies.
But in the Senate, shortly after the 100th Illinois General Assembly was sworn
in, lawmakers in that chamber unanimously approved term limits for the
president and the minority leader on Jan. 11.
As term limits go, the new rules are generous about how long service in the
high-ranking Senate seats may last. In a unanimous vote, lawmakers in that
chamber passed Senate
Resolution 3 allowing the Senate's president and the minority leader a
maximum of 10 years – five terms – serving in those seats.
The measure was a common-sense step, State Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) said in a press release.
"I think it is important to have measures in place to ensure no one person
presides over the chamber for too long," Haine said. "Legislative
leaders have significant autonomy over what happens in the legislature, and to
ensure that person remains accountable to the state, that role should come with
limits. I strongly hope the House will follow suit with similar action."
Overwhelming agreement, on both sides of the aisle, is that the greatest
obstacle to term limits in the House is Madigan, now into his fourth decade as
speaker. However, the GOP is fresh from taking away four seats – and the
Democrats' former super majority – in the House during the November election,
making Republican support for term limits incrementally more significant.
As term limits have been part of
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's "turnaround
agenda," it was quite natural for GOP
candidates in this past general election to make term limits part of their
Rauner will deliver his third annual State of the State address at noon today on the floor of
the House. His focus will likely be on issues related to budget,
taxes, pensions, economic reform and perhaps term limits.
Co-founders of the conservative Illinois Opportunity Project
(IOP) said during a
recent edition of Chicago-based radio talk show "Illinois Rising"
that term limits would
need to be carefully implemented.
"Even if they were all out next term and you had all new people, you would
still have to go get the people who are principled enough, who are
policy-driven enough to fill those slots and who wouldn't just go there – as we
see all the time – and act as the current group is acting anyway," IOP
co-founder Pat Hughes said. "So it's not just a matter of saying, 'Hey,
we're going to pass a term limit law and get new blood in there.' The new blood
has to be the right blood."
was elected House Speaker for the 17th time in a Democrat-heavy 66-51 vote.
Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood) was the only Democrat in the House to break ranks
and vote "present" in the tally for speaker, the first Democrat to do
so in 30 years.
Drury has said he expects repercussions.
All House Republican representatives cast their vote for Rep. Jim Durkin
The political reality in the Illinois House would seem to knock more universal
term limits for Illinois lawmakers off the table, but four out of five Illinois
residents who participated in a Paul
Simon Institute poll say they support term limits. Support also is mounting
on among Democrats.
"Leadership should be a rotation of ideas," state Sen. Scott Bennett
in a press release the same day as the Senate term limit vote. “No one
person should have so much power. We need diversity and new ideas as we tackle