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'Right To Work' Ban Fails, Equal Pay Wins & More Highlights From This Week's Very Busy Veto Session In Springfield

By aaroncynic in News on Oct 27, 2017 5:25PM

The dome of the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

Illinois lawmakers strongly rebuffed Governor Bruce Rauner this week during the October veto session, overturning more than a dozen pieces of legislation the governor vetoed.

Here are some of the highlights:

Ban On Bump Stocks Fails

In the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas that took place in early October, which saw 58 people killed and some 546 injured, a committee in the Illinois House early this week approved a ban on bump stocks and other modifications that increase the rate of fire for semi-automatic weapons.

On the first day of the veto session this week, the House Judiciary-Criminal Law committee approved the legislation, which later went to the full House. “[Bump stocks] can turn legal firearms into illegal machine guns capable of shooting up to 800 rounds per minute,” Rep. Martin Moylan, who sponsored the bill, told the State Journal-Register.

“We are taking the first step towards better protecting our loved ones and preventing this horrific violence from happening in Illinois,” he told the Chicago Tribune.

But the measure failed in a 48-54 vote on Thursday, with opponents saying that the ban was too broad. “I don’t view this as a bump stock ban, I view this as a ban on 40 to 50 percent of the guns in the state,” said Rep. Jerry Costello.

Rep. Chris Welch reminded the legislature of the Vegas shooter’s visit to a Chicago hotel across the street from Lollapalooza, just months before he committed the massacre in Nevada.

"We all know someone who attended Lollapalooza," Welch said, according to the Tribune. "The question is: What will it take for us to take action? Will it take your mother, father, son or daughter to be shot before you will speak up?”

Right-To-Work Zones Still Stand

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner scored a minor victory when the House failed to veto a bill that would’ve prohibited “right-to-work” zones, which weaken unions by allowing employees to work union jobs without paying dues.

The veto failed by just one vote, with the House voting 70-42 in favor, just shy of the 71 vote majority it needed.

“The people of Illinois scored a victory today. The House of Representatives rejected efforts to close a door to job opportunity here. Instead, courageous House lawmakers stood together to dump the old playbook and move forward to make Illinois more competitive,” Rauner said in a statement published by Capitol Fax.

Unsurprisingly, the Koch brothers-founded advocacy group Americans for Prosperity lauded the failure. "This is a huge victory for beleaguered Illinois communities that are eager to improve their economic competitiveness,” the group’s Illinois chapter said in a statement. “This bill was an example of bad policy that prevents Illinois from transforming into the economic engine of the Midwest, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Gov. Rauner and those in the House who voted to uphold his veto.”

The bill isn’t completely dead, however. A motion to reconsider can still be filed, and Rep. Moylan told the Sun-Times he plans to file a separate bill ahead of next month’s veto session removing controversial language which mandated penalties for municipalities violating the legislation.

Increased Transparency

House members voted unanimously to override the governor’s veto of a bill that increases transparency on how the state is addressing its massive backlog of bills.

The Debt Transparency Act, which Rauner vetoed, requires state agencies to report monthly the amount of bills being held and liabilities which are subject to interest payments, rather than yearly. The measure was championed by State Comptroller Susana Mendoza.

"The only way to get on a better financial footing is to know the true extent of how bad our finances are," said Mendoza at a press conference, according to the Associated Press.

Rauner’s political opponents both lauded the measure and criticized the governor for the initial veto.

“Bruce Rauner wants to keep the state’s real financial pain under wraps because he knows his damage is done,” said Jordan Abudayyeh, spokesperson for one of Rauner’s many potential Democratic challengers, JB Pritzker. “After going over two years without a state budget, Rauner tripled the bill backlog and now it’s time for him to face the consequences of bringing our state to financial ruin.”

“Rauner promised voters he would bring the state’s fiscal house back into order, but all he’s done is made it worse,” said Sam Salustro, Communications Director for the Illinois Democratic Governor’s Association. “Rauner forced the state to operate for years without a budget, ran up debt, and ran down the state’s credit rating. His failed leadership only means more debt for middle-class families.”

Equal Pay

The House also overrode a bill Rauner vetoed aimed at evening out the pay disparity between women and men.

The bill bars employers from inquiring about pay history and benefits of job applicants, as well as the sharing of pay rates between employees. Additionally, if a gap in pay exists between men and women at a company, employers must justify the difference. Finally, those found not in compliance with the Equal Pay Act, which the bill amends, would face stiffer penalties.

The override passed 80-33.

"Ladies and gentlemen here in the chamber, if you have a mother, a sister, a wife, a daughter, an auntie or a niece who is in the wage-earning private sector you need to be a yes on this vote" Representative Margo McDermed said, according to WAND17.

Rauner’s potential 2018 gubernatorial opponents also responded.

“Illinois women deserve equal pay for equal work, but in 2017, Illinois has a governor who disagrees with that fundamental right,” said Pritzker in a statement emailed to Chicagoist. “Bruce Rauner vetoed the No Salary History bill, blocking critical legislation that would help prevent wage inequality in our state, and proving that he has no interest in standing with Illinois women."

“In vetoing my amendment to the Equal Pay Act, Bruce Rauner reminded us that he will protect his billionaire brethren at any cost—including defending discriminatory wages that devalue women’s work, deprive working families of mobility, and have particularly devastating consequences for women of color,” said State Senator and potential Rauner gubernatorial challenger Daniel Biss. “I’m proud that my House colleagues have taken action today to interrupt this cycle of discrimination, and I urge my Senate colleagues to override the veto as well.”