October 15, 2009
The Illinois House of Representatives voted on October 14, 2009 to reduce the number of votes required to override a veto by the Cook County Board President from an extraordinary four-fifths—or 14 of 17 commissioners—to three-fifths or 11. House Bill 4625, introduced by Representative Mark Walker, was approved 98-18-2 yesterday and would be effective immediately if it becomes law.
The Illinois Senate unanimously approved a different veto override measure (SB1868, sponsored by Senator Dan Kotowski) in April 2009. The House and Senate will have to agree on the same bill for it to go to the Governor to be enacted.
The four-fifths requirement is almost unheard of in American democracy. More usual is the three-fifths threshold used by the federal and many local governments. Such a high veto threshold gives the County Board President extraordinary power to ignore the wishes of the commissioners.
The Civic Federation has long advocated for reducing the Cook County veto override threshold, as we discussed in a blog post last month. The Federation commends Illinois House members for approving HB4625 and urges the Illinois Senate to pass and the Governor to sign the bill into law.
Another update: The Illinois Senate approved Senate Bill 588, also introduced by Senator Kotowski, by a vote of 53-1-2 on October 15, 2009. This bill also reduces the Cook County veto override threshold to three-fifths, but in contrast to SB1868 (see above), has an immediate effective date. The House and Senate will still have to approve the same version of the legislation for it to go to the Governor's desk to be signed into law.