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Special Session Of State Legislature Could Determine Fate Of Indicted Rep. Derrick Smith, Pension Reform

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 17, 2012 2:00PM

The Illinois General Assembly is normally quiet this time of year. Today, however, the hustle and bustle of the Art of the Deal will be in full swing as a special session of the legislature is in session.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan originally announced the special session last month. The assumption was that Madigan announced the session so the House could vote on expelling indicted Rep. Derrick Smith. Smith was arrested a week before the March primary for accepting a bribe from an undercover FBI agent, but has refused to resign from his office despite calls from state Democratic power brokers.

If Smith is expelled from the House, he can still win his seat back if he wins November’s general election.

Gov. Pat Quinn, seeing how Madigan decided to convene a special session of the House, decided to call his own special session of the entire General Assembly in an attempt to hammer out a pension reform deal. State Dems and Republicans couldn’t agree on a pension deal during the legislature’s spring session, with the major roadblock being a proposal championed by Madigan to shift the responsibilities for teachers’ pensions from the state to local school districts and universities. Madigan, at Quinn’s request, removed that proposal from the table so other business could continue.

Quinn announced his plan to call a special session at an appearance at the City Club of Chicago on July 30, saying it was “time to vote” on the long-stalled bill. Quinn announced his pension reform plan in April and said he was “put on this earth” to solve Illinois’ Gordian knot of a pension morass.