(Chicago, IL) – February 25, 2011. Freshman State Representative Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) on Wednesday introduced a Constitutional amendment that would impose term limits on the Illinois General Assembly’s legislative leaders, a measure that force fellow Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) out of his post.
“The legislature is too tightly controlled by four individuals who are not accountable to most citizens,” Biss said. “This bill aims to make the legislative process more responsive by ensuring that we hear fresh ideas from new leaders, which is vitally important to how the legislative process takes shape.”
With a January 2014 effective date, House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 20 would prohibit a member from serving in a leadership position for longer than ten years.
In addition to ending Madigan’s tenure as Speaker, who has held the job since 1983, with two-year hiatus between 1995-1997, Biss’ measure would also end the reign of House GOP Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). Cross won his leadership job in 2002.
Newly minted state senate leaders, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), would retain their posts until 2019.
“This bill is about limiting the amount of influence a small group of legislators can amass in state government,” Biss said. “The state of Illinois is ready for change, and that’s something we can’t accomplish if don’t turn away from what got us into this mess.”
One Democratic lawmaker responded to Biss’ proposal and comments, saying, “Jesus!”
Thanks to the sharp eye of State Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago), a key clarification needs to be made regarding the departure dates of Mssrs. Madigan, Cross, Cullerton and Ms. Radogno were Biss’ proposal to be adopted. Fortner, who is sponsoring a nearly identical plan, HJRCA 9, and who consulted constitutional lawyers, notes that the departure clock would start ticking on the second Wednesday of January 2014, thus allowing Madigan, Cross, Cullerton and Radogno’s tenure to last until 2024.
Still, even with the 2024 end date, the proposal by freshman Biss, who will be long gone by then, would have the same obvious effect of prematurely ending Speaker Madigan’s tenure.