SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House changed its rules Wednesday to allow lawmakers to cast votes on legislation remotely, giving them enough votes to pass a change to the budget bill and other measures.
Shortly after this rule change, House Democrats approved the amendment to the budget that resulted from a drafting error in the bill the House passed shortly before midnight on May 31.
The budget amendment that was requested by Gov. JB Pritzker passed the House Wednesday, 71-44, with the three additional remote votes giving Democrats the minimum number required to pass the bill.
The budget now will head back to the governor for his signature.
Pritzker issued an amendatory veto of next year’s $42.3 billion budget on Tuesday to ensure that state funding takes effect when the 2022 fiscal year begins on July 1.
Pritzker’s amendatory veto to the budget made July 1 the date that portions of next year’s operating budget would take effect, since some of those sections of the budget were not assigned an effective date.
The amendment to the budget bill was approved on Tuesday by the Senate, 36-21, which is also exactly the number of votes it needed to pass.
Votes taken in either chamber after May 31 must receive a three-fifths majority, under the state constitution, or at least 36 votes in the Senate and 71 votes in the House, in order for an earlier effective date to be implemented.
Republicans called out their Democratic counterparts for overlooking key errors in the more than 3,000-page operating budget bill that was introduced late in the night on May 31 before it was approved less than an hour later.
Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, an Elmhurst Republican, said the budget should have been available earlier and posted online in order to give the public an opportunity to provide feedback.
“This is a budget that was passed after midnight because the majority party hoped the world wasn’t watching,” Mazzochi said. “You ran through a $42 billion budget to give pay raises to legislators, new spending, hundreds of millions of new taxes on Illinois businesses, and the public doesn’t even get a chance to give real world, meaningful feedback before you push that yes button.”
Some Republican House members also spoke in opposition to the resolution allowing remote voting, which will only be permitted until the first day of the fall veto session in November 2021.
Rep. Tim Butler, a Springfield Republican, said the lawmakers could vote remotely for any reason because the resolution did not establish any criteria for allowing remote participation.
“This isn’t a slippery slope. We’re sliding down by allowing remote legislating. I understand, maybe, for some extenuating circumstances, but without any guidelines as to why people participate remotely, I think this is an extraordinarily bad idea,” Butler said on the House floor Wednesday.
The Illinois Senate had already approved remote voting in both committees and on the Senate and used the practice frequently throughout the session. But the House only approved remote voting in committees.
House Majority Leader Greg Harris, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the resolution, said he would hope “this would be used responsibly by members for emergency situations, or if there were unavoidable conflicts that detain them.”
The remote voting resolution passed 66-45.
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