Springfield Republican calls out Democrats for placing bill 'on review'
Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, is pictured on the House floor Friday, one day after accusing the new Democratic leadership in the House of slowing down Republican bills. (Credit: Lee Milner, Illinois Times)
GOP says House process remains unchanged despite new leadership
By SARAH MANSUR
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — Republican Rep. Tim Butler on Thursday accused the new Democratic leadership in the state House of Representatives of preserving practices from previous leadership which Republicans say unfairly benefits the majority party.
“So, what the speaker said back in January about this place being different and running in a different manner is a bunch of BS right now,” Butler said in a Thursday night floor speech during which he threw a paper calendar and pounded his desk out of anger.
Butler said Democrats have “ignored” important bills sponsored by Republicans, preventing them from being called for a vote on the House floor.
Specifically, Butler was speaking about his own measure, House Bill 2994, which has not been called for a vote ahead of a Friday deadline to advance bills to the Senate.
HB 2994 would allow Capital Township — which is wholly contained within the Springfield city limits — to dissolve into Sangamon County if the township and county boards of trustees establish resolutions that would place the question on a ballot referendum for the county and township voters to decide.
Despite the bill having bipartisan support and unanimous committee approval, Butler said he was told his bill was “on review.” He said he hasn’t received an explanation of what that means.
“I’ve got a bill that is important to my community that the leadership will not call!” Butler said on the House floor.
Both Butler and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, accused Democratic leadership of unfairly limiting the number of Republicans bills being called in the House.
Durkin said, based on his review, the House Republicans had only 10 of their bills called for a vote as of Thursday night, compared to 68 bills sponsored by Democrats.
“It doesn't give me any inspiration that anything has changed over the years,” Durkin said.
Rep. Thaddeus Jones, a Calumet City Democrat, said Durkin was not including the number of bills on the consent calendar, and that the number of bills advanced by Republicans is actually 48 bills. The consent calendar allows for the passage of several uncontroversial bills in a single vote without further debate.
“I think we all need to recognize the decorum that we should operate under on the House floor, and not act like little children and throw stuff,” Jones said.
The House continued action Thursday night and Friday after Durkin’s and Jones’ comments, including passing bills sponsored by Republicans.
Butler said his passion and frustration may have gotten the better of him on Thursday evening.
“But that's on behalf of the people that I represent, and on behalf of an issue that I've worked on almost the entire time I've been in this General Assembly,” Butler said in an interview with Capitol News Illinois Friday. “A lot of times, things get a little bit out of hand in the legislature. They do in all these state legislatures, in Congress. But I certainly don't regret the fact that I'm speaking up for my community and my legislation.”
The comments by Butler and Durkin were largely targeted at House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, who replaced former Speaker Michael Madigan in January. Madigan controlled the House chamber for all but two years since 1983 and was a frequent lightning rod for Republican criticism.
After Welch was elected in early January, he gave a speech emphasizing unity between the parties.
“Today will be the last time I talk about us as Democrats and Republicans,” Welch said in a speech to lawmakers. “I want to talk about us as being united. We are going to work together to be united.”
A spokesperson for Welch declined to comment on Butler’s remarks.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.