SB600: Ring in the New Year by reclaiming your right to vote

By DOUG IBENDAHL • December 30, 2010
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The best chance yet to close the loop on SB600 is coming up next week. Here’s the latest on the crucial Illinois GOP reform.


State lawmakers are scheduled to be back in Springfield for the lame-duck session running from January 3rd through January 11th.


The new General Assembly (the 97th) gets sworn in on Wednesday, January 12th.


SB600 passed overwhelmingly in the State Senate on April 2, 2009. That was during the current 96th General Assembly. So prior to January 12th, all we need is House passage and then it’s on to the Governor’s desk.


But if SB600 doesn’t pass the House prior to January 12th, then the whole process on the bill has to start all over again in the Senate.


From January 3rd to January 11th – only 60 votes (a simple majority) are needed to pass the bill in the House.


The good news is the votes should be there. About the only thing that could stop passage would be Tom Cross and the dishonest games he plays to keep SB600 off the floor to prevent a vote.


If SB600 gets a vote – it almost surely passes.


Remember, the Democrats aren’t the problem. They already have this same right to vote for their top state party leaders. They have no reason to take the blame for Republican voters not having the same right. And in fact House Speaker Mike Madigan and the Democrats have demonstrated their good faith more than once on this issue.


The Democrats I’ve talked to simply can’t understand why Tom Cross and his team are so dumb about SB600. They all laugh at Cross. Giving Republicans back their vote would energize the Illinois GOP and that would help the Minority Leader as much as anyone.


In fact Tom Cross doesn’t have any legitimate arguments against SB600. It’s all just about control for him. Cross would rather settle for crumbs – as long as they are his crumbs.


Recall that SB600 got a vote on the floor of the House in October of last year – over howls of protest by Tom Cross. Thank the Democrats and a handful of Republican State Representatives for that. They heard from enough of their Republican constituents and decided a vote was warranted.


There were 59 YES votes and just 47 NO votes. But as that October 2009 vote was during veto session – a three-fifths majority (71 votes) was required for passage.


More good news – SB600 wasn’t recorded as failing. Instead a bill sponsor asked for “Postponed Consideration.” That means the bill was tabled and it can be brought back to the floor at any time.


Still more good news – Republican Mike Fortner had an excused absence the day the vote was taken in October 2009. Mike is a co-sponsor of SB600 in the House. He’s another definite “yes” vote.


Plus, Republican Jim Watson told us earlier this year that if SB600 gets another vote, he’ll support it this time. Jim had been a “no” vote.


So adding-on Fortner and Watson, there should be at least 61 votes in favor. In other words, if all the other votes from October 2009 held steady – SB600 passes with one vote to spare.


Actually I truly think that if and when SB600 gets another vote in the House, it passes with a lot more than 61 votes. Not only have all of Cross’ lies about the bill been exposed – SB600 opponents have even less of a leg to stand on today. Taking back a measly six seats in the State House in November was one of the worst performances of any GOP body in the country – in what was a once-in-a-lifetime pro-GOP environment this year.


It’s time to give the Illinois Republican Party back to Republicans. Tom Cross and his divisiveness have done enough damage.


SB600 will pass – IF the State Representatives hear from enough Republicans.


You’ll find phone numbers and email addresses for all of the current State Representatives here.


We need to contact both the Republicans AND the Democrats. Remember, given the big majorities the Democrats maintain in Springfield, no bill can pass without Democrat votes.


The two most important – and the two I would contact first – are the two caucus leaders: House Speaker Mike Madigan and House Minority Leader Tom Cross. Phone calls are definitely better than emails – even if that probably means just leaving a message regarding your SB600 support with the staffer who answers the phone.


Finally, if you haven’t yet joined the growing list of Republicans standing-up for the right to vote and for a better Illinois Republican Party – just send me an email to We’ll be honored to add your name to the list.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.



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