Some Good News From Springfield

Some Good News from Springfield (Yes, really!)

*Passage of the ERA

*Passage of the “Combatting Illegal Gun Trafficking Act”

*Passage of the State Budget

By Joanna Williams

Illinois becomes 37th state to ratify the ERA!

In a 72 – 45 vote, The Illinois House made history on May 30 by being the 37th state to ratify the Equal Right Amendment.  It has taken 45 years for 37 states to ratify the ERA, now just one short of the 38 needed to enact the amendment – but there’s a legal debate about whether the deadline to ratify the amendment passed decades ago or whether there’s a possible legal workaround.

Still, an unclear future is the brightest prospect for the amendment in decades.  Originally passed by Congress in 1972 and ratified in 35 states by 1977, the amendment became a culture war battleground, and then it lay dormant, presumed to be a lost cause, until last year when it was ratified by Nevada. Its revival comes in the midst of the #MeToo movement, the Women’s March, and a reawakening of women’s activism.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in 2014 that if she could choose any amendment to add to the US Constitution, it would be the Equal Rights Amendment.  “I think we have achieved that through legislation, but legislation can be repealed, it can be altered. So I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion – that women and men are persons of equal stature – I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”

Combatting Illegal Gun Trafficking Act passes Illinois legislature

In bipartisan votes in both the House and Senate, SB 377 passed and was sent to Governor Rauner to sign.  The Act encourages better business practices among gun dealers, holds corrupt dealers accountable, and will keep thousands of illegal guns traced to Illinois gun dealers from getting into the wrong hands. It requires the Illinois State Police to certify dealers and enacts provisions to better record and track private sales.

Now it’s Governor Rauner’s turn to do the right thing.  Please call (217-782-0244) and urge him to sign the bill. 

State Budget Passes With Overwhelming Bipartisan Approval

On May 31st Illinois lawmakers approved a spending plan putting the state on track to have a full budget in place ahead of the new financial year for the first time since Republican Gov. Rauner took office in 2015.  The House agreed to the $38.5 billion proposal by a 97-18 vote, following a landslide 54-2 tally in the Senate.  Rauner said in a statement that he plans to approve it.

The overwhelming vote margins reflected a consensus between Democrats who control the General Assembly and Republicans allied with the governor – both sides wanted to avoid going into the election season under the cloud of a budget stalemate like the one that consumed state government for nearly two years until last July.  The votes also reflected the changed dynamics at the Capitol, where Rauner for the first time focused on achieving a stand-alone budget rather than a broader deal that included items from his legislative agenda.

Included in the budget are pension savings coming from voluntary buyouts, $2.2 billion on Infrastructure, increased funding for early childhood education and an extra $350 million for K-12 schools that was promised as part of a new state funding formula that was enacted last year.

Nevertheless, despite bipartisan agreement, lawmakers acknowledged that the budget was not designed to significantly change the trajectory of Illinois’ troubled financial situation in the long term.