Pension reform among issues for lame duck session

January 7, 2013 5:27:25 AM PST
State legislators met again Sunday night in Springfield trying to reach agreements on several important issues from same sex marriage to gun control and the pension crisis.

As he left the capitol, House Speaker Michael Madigan was optimistic that between now and Tuesday, his chamber will advance a plan to resolve the state's nearly $100 billion pension shortfall.

"From what I can see and from my experience in meetings, people are working in good faith," Madigan said.

Reforms still being negotiated by legislative leaders include larger payroll deductions and a higher retirement age for current workers, and caps on benefits and cost-of-living increases for retirees.

"There are issue differences but there's a good faith effort to get through them and pass a bill," said Madigan.

Earlier, a house committee cancelled a hearing on a bill to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. The measure passed a senate committee last week but could not get a vote by the full senate.

"If the votes aren't there to pass something between now and late Tuesday in one of the Chambers then there's no reason for us to act on that as well," said Rep. Elaine Nekrit.

A gun rights advocate wasn't worried that bill is likely to re-appear as more Democrats take their seats in the 98th general assembly to be seated Wednesday.

"This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue," said Todd Vandermyde, National Rifle Association. This has more to do with principals and regional issues than it does partisan politics."

Lawmakers also will not consider a same-sex marriage bill during the lame duck session. But the bill's supporters say they believe its passage is inevitable during the next legislative session.

"I totally think there's an inevitability and even one of our opponents, one of our no votes in the Senate said in the papers in Southern Illinois this weekend, they've got it, it's just a question of when we take the vote," said Rep. Greg Harris.

Also Monday, the full House is expected to vote on a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to get special Illinois drivers licenses. The measure has already passed the Senate and continues to have bi-partisan support.