Yesterday was a busy day in the state capitol. In a historic vote, the House passed a civil unions bill, which could be signed into law as early as this week. (We covered the debate, in all of its glory, here.) In another hot-button debate, the chamber voted down a medical marijuana pilot program to the dismay of its chief sponsor, State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie).
Those weren't the only bills considered. The House overwhelmingly passed a bill (SB 3538) that lowers retirement benefits for future firefighters and police officers, who were exempt from the "pension reform" legislation approved this past spring. (Because the bill included a steep ramp-up in Chicago's contributions to its pension system, Mayor Richard Daley is furious at its passage.) A bill (SB 3539) to abolish the death penalty cleared committee but was held from full consideration. State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Chicago) says she is one or two votes shy of reaching a majority. (The Sun-Times editorializes in favor of the measure this morning.) And a major gambling expansion (SB 737) squeaked out of a State Senate committee yesterday. The bill, slightly reworked from the original version, would create licenses for five new Illinois casinos, boost the number of slot machines at existing Illinois river boats, and add slots at Illinois racetracks. David Ormsby provides a good overview here.
The action moves to the State Senate this morning. We will provide updates about their progress today and tomorrow.