Illinois General Assembly heads back to session today…but for how long?

Chris Welch

Illinois Speaker of the House Chris Welch

The Illinois General Assembly begins a new session Jan. 5, but it is not expected to last long. They may have a new state budget and wrap up almost two months early.

Illinois state legislators head back to Springfield Jan. 5 for what is expected to be the shortest legislative session in decades.

The holiday break is over for Illinois lawmakers starting Jan 5, the first legislative session day in 2022. Spring sessions usually kick off in early January, but then continue to May 31 with a state budget coming in at the last minute.

That secretive, hurried budget process has kept most lawmakers from understanding what is in the budget or Illinoisans from having a voice about spending priorities or restraints.

Many of this January’s session days are canceled amid a surge in COVID-19 cases statewide.

Should the session wrap up without delay on April 8, it will be the earliest adjournment since the 1970 Illinois Constitution was ratified. The next earliest conclusions were also in election years: April 15, 2000, and May 4, 2006.

This year, the early adjournment will mean all 177 state representatives and senators will be unlikely to pass anything too controversial before heading out to campaign for the June 28 primary. COVID-19 delayed census numbers used to create new legislative districts and pushed back the primary from March.

Lawmakers have a lot to unpack with less time, but none more time-sensitive than passing a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Legislators will also be tasked with picking a new legislative watchdog because current Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope resigned effective Jan. 6. She is quitting after complaining lawmakers did not go far enough with ethics reforms that would make her job meaningful, such as allowing her subpoena authority and to investigate conduct unrelated to their legislative duties.

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