Illinois Senate approves new chamber rules

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 5:49 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The Illinois Senate approved a resolution Thursday with the chamber rules for the next two years. The rules haven’t changed drastically since the 102nd General Assembly, but Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) hopes some of the amendments will improve efficiency. Thursday’s debate on Senate rules was fairly civil compared with previous sessions.

The 120-page resolution allows the Senate parliamentarian to approve amendments for consideration without going through the Committee on Assignments. Harmon explained this will only be used if the parliamentarian determines that a proposed amendment is technical in nature.

Although, Senate Republicans were concerned because they feel this rule will make the legislative process less transparent. Harmon said he doesn’t intend to abuse the rule for the Democratic majority. He stressed that this change will help prevent situations where time is wasted on the Senate floor when the Assignments Committee meets for simple amendments.

“Some things have been described as technical in nature when they in fact change quite a few things,” said Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield). “So, what happens if there is a disagreement as to what is technical from our side of the aisle based on the decision that the parliamentarian has made?”

Harmon said any disputes with the parliamentarian will be handled pursuant to Senate rules. Some people wondered if the Senate would remove COVID-19 rules allowing lawmakers and the public to participate in committees remotely. However, that will continue throughout the 103rd General Assembly. The Senate will also still be allowed to adopt a motion to allow members to vote remotely during regular and special sessions.

Republicans were concerned that senators will only need to file one copy of amendments instead of the six copies previously required. McClure noted that frequently gets backed up and members sometimes have a hard time printing bills out before big votes. Yet, Harmon said everyone has to adapt to modern technology and limit their carbon footprint.

“It’s the same sort of backup where we’re trying to print six copies of a budget amendment,” Harmon said. “And it makes no sense to parade around the capitol complex with six copies of a large bill when we could do that all electronically.”

Meanwhile, the Senate will not have standing committees for commerce, pensions, redistricting or ethics. Harmon reassured Republicans that ethics bills will be heard in the Senate Executive Committee. Senate Resolution 8 passed on a 52-0 vote.

The Senate adjourned until Jan. 24. State representatives left Springfield Thursday without approving rules for the chamber. Although, the House plans to vote on rules for the 103rd General Assembly on Jan. 31.

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