SPRINGFIELD – With the first year of the 102nd General Assembly mostly wrapped up, lawmakers have officially passed 664 bills through both houses for eventual consideration by the governor.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker had signed 17 of them as of Friday, June 25, including the signing of the state’s operating budget and a bill making several changes to the state election code.
Charlie Wheeler, an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois Springfield who covered the Illinois General Assembly for the Chicago Sun-Times for more than two decades, said he was struck by the “progressive nature” of the bills passed by the General Assembly this year.
“The voting legislation, for example, you look at what other states are doing and then you look at what we did, that was kind of an example” of the strongly Democratic legislation that passed this year, Wheeler said.
Like next year’s budget, the elections bill passed with support from only supermajority Democrats – a common theme for some of the more controversial legislation that has passed during Pritzker’s time in office. Partisan bills included a 2019 minimum wage hike, placing an ill-fated graduated income tax on the 2020 ballot, criminal justice reforms that passed in January, and newly drawn legislative maps that will likely help Democrats maintain those supermajorities.
While there have been bipartisan victories as well, such as the budget and capital infrastructure plans passed during Pritzker’s first year in office, legalization of adult-use marijuana, and expanding gambling, the partisan makeup of the General Assembly has allowed the governor to use his veto sparingly.
Wheeler said it’s common to see fewer vetoes in such a situation. But he also noted Pritzker has worked well with Democrats in the General Assembly, despite some reported clashes, particularly pertaining to negotiations behind an energy bill that has repeatedly stalled when nearing a vote this year.
Pritzker has used the veto just 11 times as governor.