Special Session Update

Lawmakers were in Springfield today, and Sen. Rezin said that they did not vote on any pension reform legislation.  Instead, a Conference Committee process was started to resolve the differences between the House and Senate on pension reform.

A Conference Committee is not a well-known or often used process, but it is a process designed to resolve differences between the House and Senate on any piece of legislation, which in this case is pension reform in the form of Senate Bill 1.

Since there is an impasse, the House and Senate voted to form a Conference Committee that will be comprised of Senate and House appointees.  The Senate President and House Speaker will each appoint 3 members, and the Senate Republican Leader and the House Republican Leader will each appoint 2 members to the Conference Committee.  From that point, the Conference Committee will meet over time until a resolution is obtained.  If an agreement is reached, a Conference Committee Report (CCR) will be filed, but only if 6 of the 10 members of the Committee have signed the Report.  The Conference Committee Report must then be filed in both chambers and passed on a roll call vote by the House and Senate.

If the Conference Committee cannot reach an agreement or the CCR does not pass the roll call vote in both chambers, a second Conference Committee can be created.  If the second CCR fails, the bill is declared lost.

Sen. Rezin said once the Conference Committee has finished their work, lawmakers are likely to return once again to Springfield to vote on their report.

For further information on the conference committee process, please see Article VIII of the Senate Rules which are available by CLICKING HERE

Sen. Rezin said she has been consistent about what she would like to see happen with pension reform.  She has advocated for sensible, comprehensive reform in order for the state to get back on a solid financial footing while still honoring the pension payments to retirees.  

“Comprehensive pension reform must include several components in order to get the job done for the state,” she said.  “It has consistently been my goal to achieve reform that is constitutional, that gives assurance that the state will fund the pensions, and that will protect taxpayers from future liabilities.  We need to move forward with a comprehensive, fair and affordable pension reform plan.”

Sen. Rezin also said pension reform must include strong funding language to prevent the state from taking pension holidays like it has done in the past.  

Strengthening the case to include strong funding language in pension reform is Senate Bill 1920, which would have allowed the Chicago Public Schools to take a $400 million pension holiday over the next two years.  The legislation was pushed during the last week of the legislative session at the same time pension reform was being pushed.  The bill ultimately failed in the House and not called for a vote in the Senate, but Sen. Rezin said it is an example of why funding guarantees should be included in reform.  

“We know how badly how state needs pension reform, yet the House tried to pass legislation that would only repeat the situation that put us here in the first place,”  Sen. Rezin said.  “They talk about reform and asking people to take less, but then propose a pension holiday.  It just doesn’t make sense and it is not good policy for our state.”  

She hopes that the Conference Committee keeps this in mind as they begin meeting to devise a compromised proposal on pension reform.

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