Deadline Day For Legislating — Time Running Out On Marijuana, Gambling, Infrastructure, Budget ...

May 31, 2019

Friday is the last day of the Illinois General Assembly’s scheduled spring legislative session, and lawmakers still have a long list of things to do.

Potentially, that includes legalizing marijuana, expanding the number of casino licenses, legalizing sports betting, and passing an infrastructure plan.

There’s also a plan to expand access to abortion, and another to require gun owners be fingerprinted. And don’t forget the state budget.

House Speaker Michael Madigan remains a key figure in whether and how issues are resolved in the Capitol, but he's kept an unusually low public profile this spring. On Thursday, he made a rare visit to the House floor during debate of legislation to set rates for a graduated income tax.
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Rep. Tom Demmer is a Republican budget negotiator. Compared to some of the more controversial issues up this spring, when it comes to the budget, he sounds downright optimistic.

“I can’t say we’re in a position right now of being able to support it, but we’re trying to have some level of conversation,” Demmer said Thursday.

There had been talk of tax increases among Democrats earlier this year. But budget negotiators say April's income-tax windfall makes that less likely.

“We’re not quite there yet, but we’re attempting to get involved. Because as we’ve said all along, I think a better product comes out of bipartisan negotiations,” Demmer said.

Democrats have mostly sounded similarly optimistic notes when it comes to a spending plan.

Of course, Democrats have big enough majorities that don’t need Republican votes to pass a budget. But by most accounts the parties seem to be pursuing at least some level of bipartisan consensus.

As for the other issues: the marijuana bill was approved in a House committee just before 11:30 p.m. Thursday and is expected to be called for a vote Friday.

Gambling and infrastructure, however, have been on shakier ground all week.