In our Friday July 28 edition, The Daily Line incorrectly reported that to accept the Governor’s recommended changes in his amendatory veto, the Senate would need a simple majority vote. Senate President John Cullerton’s spokesperson John Patterson corrected us in an email the same day, clarifying that “accepting the anticipated changes in the Governor’s amendatory veto would require a three-fifths vote (not a majority vote) because those changes are a new law taking effect after May 31.”  

For those whose concerns pivot on parliamentary maneuvers, this is where the game gets interesting.

In his email, Patterson said that several outlets had reported that a “simple majority” was needed for accepting the Governor’s specific recommendations for change, and that internal discussions were had about the matter.

As reported, Senate Rule 9-6 does indeed hold that when a bill has received a normal majority vote in favor of  “acceptances of specific recommendations for change [from the Governor], the Presiding Officer shall declare that the bill or item has been passed or restored over the veto of the Governor, or that the specific recommendations for change have been approved as the case may be.”

However, Patterson pointed The Daily Line to an opinion issued in 1972 by then Attorney General William Scott which shaped the nature of the veto process and effectively raised the necessary vote count needed to accept the Governor’s vetoes (given the specific conditions around SB1’s passage). The opinion, issued at the request of then Superintendent of Public Instruction Honorable Michael J. Bakalis, clarifies the effective date of a law raising the minimum salaries for full-time teachers and, in doing so, sets two conditions for veto-acceptance on bills meant to immediately go into effect.

Leaning on Article IV Section 10 in the state constitution, Scott opines that “unless the General Assembly provided for an earlier effective date and the bills received a three-fifths majority,” the act passed after June 30, 1971 and signed into law Nov. 17, 1971 would not become effective until July 1 of the following year.

In the case of teachers’ salaries, Scott’s opinion ultimately held back teacher raises for another 8 months. But in the case of SB1, the bill’s language provides clear legislative intent for the effective dates. In order to honor those dates, a three-fifths majority is the bar the Senate must meet in order to accept Rauner’s changes and get immediate funding flowing to schools.

Perhaps less interestingly, but certainly worth addressing, Patterson also pointed out our description of a Wednesday shot Cullerton took at Rauner. We wrote that it was a swipe at Rauner’s “mental health,” and Patterson notes the President’s words were “mental state.” It’s a common legal phrase as pointed out by NPR Illinois’ Brian Mackey and a necessary distinction to make given the rebuke Cullerton received the same day at the hands of the Illinois’ Mental Health Division Director Diana Knaebe. Nostra culpa.