"I can't think of a more dramatic way to win a vote."
That's Jeremy Schroeder, executive director of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (ICADP), basking in the glory of his organization's victory last Thursday night in the Illinois House. Two hours after a bill to abolish capital punishment in Illinois (SB 3539) was defeated by just one vote and placed on the calendar for postponed consideration, State Rep. Pat Verschoore (D-Rock Island) and lame duck State Reps. Bob Biggins (R-Elmhurst) and Mike Smith (D-Canton) changed their minds at the 11th hour and gave the chief sponsor, State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood), just the cushion she needed. "I was on both sides of this issue," Verschoore told the Illinois Statehouse News later that evening. "But then you think of the potential cost savings of this bill, and the state needs all of the savings we can get."
ICADP is hopeful that the State Senate will take up SB 3539 before the veto session winds down this week. Support in that chamber, which reconvenes today at 3 p.m., is said to be deeper than in the House. If it survives, the bill will head to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has expressed some reticence about eliminating the option. ICADP has been in close contact with the governor's staff, discussing the ins and outs of the legislation. "The latest we've heard is that he wants to take a look [at SB 3539] and listen in on the debate," Schroeder tells us. "He, like many of us in Illinois, are really struggling with the issue."