The Illinois House and Senate are heading back to Springfield for what they call a veto session. Local 4 talked with three area legislators to talk about the session and what they hope to accomplish.
Rep. Gregg Johnson (D-72) will be attending his first veto session as a representative. “A veto session is where we go back for a couple of weeks and the governor has either signed or not signed legislation coming through,” he said. “If there’s legislation that he didn’t agree with, the piece of legislation that was passed he will veto that. Then it comes back to us again for a revote to decide if we either choose to override that veto or allow his veto to stand.”
Rep. Tony McCombie (R – IL House Minority Leader) says Governor Pritzker doesn’t have to completely veto a bill. “He could strike the whole bill, or it could just be lines within a bill,” she said. “I think we only have six bills, three full vetoes and three amendatory.” McCombie says that just because a certain bill has been vetoed doesn’t guarantee it will be brought up in the veto session. “That’s up to the majority party so that would be up to Speaker Welch whether or not he calls those and the same in the Senate, which would be President Harmon.”
Johnson is looking forward to the veto session. “I’m excited to go there and learn another part of the process. I’m a freshman legislator, so every day that I’m there, I learn a little bit more. Now I get to learn about the veto session, learn how that takes place.”
Sen. Mike Halpin, (D-36) has seen many of these veto sessions. “This is something I’ve been through each year that I’ve been a member of the General Assembly for six years in the House,” said Halpin. “This will be my first veto session as a senator and what I’m looking forward to is taking a look at some of the legislation that the governor may have vetoed for a particular reason but is willing to work with the legislature to try to meet the idea that we were trying to pass and try to come to an agreement on what a new piece of legislation looks like.”
McCombie and Halpin have a common hope for the session – that the moratorium on building new nuclear facilities is lifted.
“One of the things that we did in May was to pass a bill that would allow us to consider some other safe nuclear energy sources here in the state,” said Halpin. “We’ve had a moratorium on nuclear energy for several decades now but as we transition away from dirty fossil fuels, we need to have options to supplement our wind and our solar energy sources. I think we need to reach agreement on that so we can get our best technological minds on researching and figuring out what we might be able to do in the future.”
“I think a shared priority for both Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate was a veto of SB-76 and that was the nuclear bill,” said McCombie. “Sue Resin carried it in the Senate and Lance Yednock carried it here in the House. I have hopes that that bill is able to be presented again and have another vote because it was passed by both the House and the Senate by a strong majority.”
“Even if this bill does pass, there is a lot of guidelines through the state and through the federal government, so we are far off on having anything done in the state concerning nuclear,” she said. “If we don’t lift the moratorium, we can’t even begin that.”
Johnson’s lone issue with the veto session is one most members of any legislative body can understand. “I really love going and serving the public (but) you still miss your family. I’ve been home for a few months now, since we wrapped up, and the hardest part is being away from my wife and daughter and my entire family down there. But you’ve got to go to Springfield if you want to make a difference, you want to make the world better.”
“The hardest part really is being away from your family for another week,” said Halpin. “It’s always good to see my colleagues; there are always any number of issues that we need to try to find solutions on, so I look forward to that every time we’re down here.
“I’ll be back in district next week and then back in Springfield the following week for our second week of veto session,” he continued. That’s when I think it’s more likely we’ll finalize any of the legislation that we’re talking about in that second week. This week, I think, is just time for everybody to sit down and talk discuss these issues fully and see where we can reach some agreement.”