Only three days remain in the Illinois legislature’s spring session. They should be busy, as lawmakers have not put all of the pieces together for their planned Medicaid or pension changes, nor have they completed the budget for the fiscal year which begins July 1. After May 31, bills with an immediate effective date take a 3/5 supermajority to pass, which means the controlling Democrats will need Republican help to pass them.
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The House and Senate returned from an abbreviated holiday weekend for an afternoon and early evening of action, none of which moves the needle on any of the Big Three of the budget, Medicaid, or pensions. A bill on its way back to the Senate would allow players to buy Powerball tickets online. Right now only Lotto and Mega Millions tickets are available. State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) worried some colleagues, who questioned his motives after recent passage of a huge gambling expansion. “All we’re doing is adding a game," he says. They already have rules in place on the other two games. I assume they’ll adapt the rules to the additional game.”
The Department of Natural Resources would give up one of its state parks, under a bill which the Senate has sent the House. Wildlife Prairie State Park, near Peoria, had been run by a foundation and friends’ group until the state took it over about ten years ago. “Currently, because of budget problems, (the state is) really not able to keep up with the upkeep in the park,” said sponsoring State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “There is a group that has been currently operating the park, and there is a group of contributors around that group that really want to take it back and be able to continue it in perpetuity.” “It really is a gem in terms of tourism, cultural events, the wildlife,” said one of the sponsors, State Sen. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria). “This is a good example of what we can do by turning it over to this private organization.” The park includes many animals indigenous to the Midwest.
SB 3497 (Powerball) has passed the House, 62-47-1.