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House Blocks Rauner Move To Merge Anti-Discrimination Investigators, Judges

Barbara Flynn Currie
Brian Mackey
/
NPR Illinois
Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a Democrat from Chicago, speaks with reporters in this May 2017 file photo.

The Illinois House has blocked Governor Bruce Rauner’s attempt to merge the parts of state government that deal with discrimination complaints.

In Illinois, discrimination is investigated by the Department of Human Rights. Then, the cases are judged by the independent Human Rights Commission.

Earlier this year, Governor Bruce Rauner issued an executive order to combine the functions. The Republican says the two-step process is inefficient.

But Democrats, like Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago, say the people deciding the cases should not be under the authority of those doing the investigations.

“That’s sort of like having the court system be monitored by the cops," she says.

House Democrats blocked the order last week on a party-line vote.

Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, a Democrat from Chicago, says Rauner ought to have come to the legislature with a bill, rather than trying to do it by executive order.

“Too much is at stake. Too much is at risk," Currie says. "And there is nothing in this executive order that would guarantee the saving of a single penny, or the reduction by a single case of the terrible backlogs we face."

Democrats say they’re willing to work with Rauner to address the commission's backlog of cases, which has kept some people waiting years for a resolution.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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