The question of whether it's possible for one class of state lawmakers to pass a bill but hold it for a future governor could be tested when lawmakers come back for lame duck session, but the answer if it’s legal might have to wait on the courts.

What could happen when lawmakers return Monday for the final two days of the 100th General Assembly? That’s anyone’s guess. And there is lots of speculation.

State Rep. Jaime Andrade, D-Chicago, asked out loud an interesting procedural question.

“Can legally something be passed in the lame duck and be held and sent to the new governor?” Andrade asked. “I don’t know.”

There's been speculation of an effort to give the incoming Gov. J.B. Pritzker certain administrative powers or to undo certain things done by the outgoing administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner.

State Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said it’s an interesting question of whether a previous General Assembly can pass legislation but hold it and then send it to a new governor.

“This is, I know, one of the unusual years where the General Assembly is sworn in before the governor. Just an oddity in the way that the calendar falls,” Harmon said. “I’m going to have to look into that.”

Monday and Tuesday are the final two days of the 100th General Assembly. The 101st General Assembly is seated Wednesday, Jan. 9. Gov.-elect Pritzker is inaugurated Jan. 14.

Longtime statehouse observer and University of Illinois Professor Emeritus Kent Redfield said it’s technically possible for lawmakers to hold a bill that passed in one General Assembly and then pass it onto a new governor. He said it’s an ambiguous area that he’s not aware has been fully litigated.

“Particularly if it’s controversial legislation involving something like gun control measures, something involving taxes, there certainly would be a court challenge,” Redfield said.

State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, said he will oppose any gas tax increase and if one were to pass and held for the future administration to act on, he’d join the court battle.

“I would try to stop it on the vote itself but also try to stop it afterwards,” Skillicorn said. “It’s unacceptable that unaccountable, effectively unelected representatives would ram through a massive tax hike on the people of Illinois.”

Messages seeking comment from the incoming Pritzker administration about a possible gas tax hike were not immediately returned.

Per the state constitution, lawmakers are supposed to send measures that passed both chambers to the governor within 30 days of passing. A procedural hold called a motion to reconsider was used on House Bill 40 in 2017 after it passed both chambers. That hold kept the controversial bill allowing more tax dollars for abortions from the governor for a total of four months. The hold was eventually lifted and sent to the governor who signed the bill. A lawsuit challenging that procedure as an abuse of the legislative process has been appealed to the state Supreme Court, but whether the court will hear it is still not known.


Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for INN. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “The Council Roundup,” as well as “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.

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