November 8, 2017

Attempt to override Rauner veto of measure banning right-to-work zones fails again


For the second time in two weeks, legislation that would ban the creation of right-to-work zones in Illinois fell one vote short in the state House.

Representatives voted 70-39 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of the so-called Collective Bargaining Freedom Act. A supermajority of 71 votes was needed for a successful override.

The legislation that would have made it a criminal offense for local governments to create right-to-work zones in their jurisdictions was criticized by Republicans and thought to be unconstitutional by many legal experts. A trailer bill that passed the chamber Tuesday amended the legislation to remove the criminal aspect.

Right to work allows employees in union settings to opt out of joining the union and paying union fees. Rauner campaigned on making Illinois a right-to-work state, as all of its neighbors are, but then pushed for local right-to-work zones after realizing the Democrat-controlled General Assembly wouldn't approve it.

Supporters of the measure said it was needed to send a message that Illinois is a union state.

Union supporter and state Rep. Jerry Long, R-Streator, said the bill was junk, political theater, and meant to target legislators who vote against it.

"I will tell you that we have got to stop getting the cart before the horse," Long, R-Streator, said. "We’ve got to make Illinois business friendly. Otherwise, we’re going to lose our union jobs. My union brothers and sisters know that."

Other opponents said the measure would send the wrong message to job creators who already don't consider Illinois because of its poor business climate.

The Senate, with a supermajority of Democrats, successfully voted to override Rauner's veto in October. But after two failed attempts in the House, the sponsor of the bill said he won’t try to run an override vote again.

Rauner called the failed veto override "a victory for the people" in a statement.

"Courageous House lawmakers joined together to make Illinois more competitive so local communities can continue to decide how to make their economies stronger, help their businesses grow and give individual workers the freedom to support a union as they choose," Rauner said. "Thanks to their action, Illinois is better positioned to be a national and global competitor."

The governor did see one veto successfully overridden Tuesday, and the Illinois Student Loan Bill of Rights is now law.

That bill requires servicers to properly process payments, require explanations of repayment options, and inform borrowers under what circumstances loans would be forgiven.

The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Logan Square, said the measure holds student loan service providers accountable.

"This is a bill to protect sheep and the only people opposed to it are the wolves, the student loan servicers that are praying on our students, and profiting from their expense," Guzzardi said.

Opponents of the bill said the measure adds burdensome regulations on student loan servicers and doesn't address the real driver of student loan debt, which is the growing costs of college.

Despite the opposition, the veto override passed 98-16, which makes the measure law.

Both chambers are back in session today.