CHICAGO (AP) — Lawmakers returning to the state Capitol this week will address a proposal to let illegal immigrants obtain driver's licenses and may tackle medical marijuana, state facility closures and tax disclosure for Illinois corporations.
On most major issues, however, they will be laying the groundwork for the first week of January, and what's shaping up to be another blockbuster lame-duck session. That's when lawmakers in their last days in office could get the chance to vote on deals to expand gambling and fix the state's pension crisis, if not also addressing the right of same-sex couples to marry. They also could take final votes on the issues they tackle this week.
The six-day fall session, scheduled to wrap up Thursday, is held for lawmakers to decide whether to override gubernatorial vetoes. This year the General Assembly had fewer vetoes to deal with than in previous years. In 2011, Quinn vetoed all or part of more than two dozen bills; this year he used his pen on just 10 bills.
One issue likely to come to a head this week is $57 million that lawmakers budgeted for two prisons and two juvenile detention centers. The governor instead planned to close several of those facilities, some of which he said were half-empty, and direct the money to the Department of Children and Family Services for child protection, and to other agencies for job training and free transit rides for needy seniors.
But the Senate voted last week to override the governor's decision, saying the facilities are needed to save jobs, particularly in areas that have been hardest hit economically. The measure now goes to the House, where an override vote could occur this week.
Quinn said Sunday that he expected his veto to be sustained.
Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said the speaker had not yet decided whether to attempt an override. If one were successful there, Quinn wouldn't be forced to the keep the facilities open, but he couldn't use the money elsewhere.
Assistant Budget Director Abdon Pallasch said Friday that Quinn and his staff have been meeting with as many members of the House as they can, urging them not to vote for an override if a vote is called.
"It's a full-court press," Pallasch said. "We're working it very hard."
Gambling advocates were still pushing last week for a vote to override Quinn's veto of a plan to add would five new casinos, including one in Chicago, and put slot machines at horse racing tracks. But by the end of the week, they said their focus had shifted to coming up with a compromise deal to be voted on later.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who wants what would be the city's first casino, said last week that he and Quinn were "very close" to an agreement on resolving Quinn's objections. And Quinn reiterated earlier statements that a deal could come together before Jan. 9, when newly elected lawmakers are sworn in to office and a new legislative year begins. Emanuel was hesitant, however, to agree to a time frame.
Quinn said over the weekend that he didn't think any deal on a gambling expansion should come until lawmakers pass legislation reforming the state's pension system. Quinn has focused most of his efforts this year focused on ways to address the approximately $96 billion in unfunded liability.