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House Rolls Over Vetoes While Rauner Claims Big Win

Peter Breen
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
Rep. Peter Breen, the Republican floor leader, speaks during debate Wednesday in the Illinois House of Representatives.

The Illinois House dealt a series of rebukes to Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday, as Republicans joined Democrats to override nearly a dozen of the governor’s vetoes.

The bills covered a range of issues — from gender pay equity to whether schoolchildren should be taught cursive writing.

The votes are a significant departure from Rauner’s first two years in office, when the governor held Republicans together and blocked all but three overrides.

Rep. David McSweeney, a Republican from Barrington Hills, backed Comptroller Susana Mendoza's legislation intended to give a clearer picture of Illinois’ debt.

“This is a good bill," he said. "Nobody should oppose this bill. Stop the madness. Vote yes."

And nobody did oppose it — that passed 112-0.

Rauner did prevail on three bills, including a Democratic attempt to set up a state-sponsored worker’s compensation insurance company that would compete with the private sector.

Right to Work

He also declared victory in another fight over labor unions.

Rauner wants local governments to be able to set up “right to work” zones, where unions could still negotiate pay and benefits, but would not be able to collect fees from all the covered employees.

Rauner says towns could lure otherwise-reluctant companies to set up shop. But Democrats, like Rep. Jay Hoffman, of Swansea, say it’s an attack on working people.

“We shouldn’t even be talking about this, but the governor, over and over and over again, keeps beating his fist on the desk and demanding that he have right-to-work in some form in Illinois," Hoffman said.

Democrats fell one vote short on the override. One of their members was absent, and the sponsor of the legislation says he'll make another run at the veto when the House reconvenes in two weeks.

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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