The Illinois General Assembly is set to start a lame-duck session in Springfield on Friday. The purpose is to consider laws that, if enacted, could affect daily life across the state.
The return to work is long overdue. The state legislature skipped its traditional veto session in November and December. COVID-19 took the blame, but House Speaker Mike Madigan was a reason too. It would have been a distraction to hold even a fall veto session with the speaker at the center of a federal corruption probe.
Given the state of Illinois government — all but insolvent, rife with corruption, struggling against a resurgent pandemic and indifferent to issues of equity — there are times when it would almost feel like a relief if the legislature did not meet. But doing the people’s business is its job, and Illinois has a lot of business that needs to be done.
In 2020 the legislature adjourned a COVID-shortened session on May 23 and never met again. This taught us something else about the state legislature. It turns out inaction can do its damage too.
David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.
Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.
Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.