Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Bush on the ballot -- the legislative vehicle likely to be unveiled soon

The legislation to accommodate the Bush campaign's relentless, arrogant use of the 9/11 attacks for their re-election campaign is likely to emerge next week.

Speaker Madigan is putting together an omnibus election reform package. Most of it is technical, but there will almost certainly be a provision that permits the Republican National Committee to certify George Bush as the candidate after the September deadline, creating a specific exception to state law because the Bush campaign wants New York City as a September backdrop.

If I were a legislation, I'd probably vote for this package now, because it will probably also include a provision to give Illinois residents an additional 14 days to register to vote (now the deadline is 28 days before an election -- this legislation will create a 14-day grace period until 14 days before the election where people can register to vote in person at the office of the election administrator). The bills SB 2133 and HB 3427 are the first incarnations of the present legislation. Senator Meeks' bill SB 2138 is here and Representative Robin Kelly's bill HB 3427 is here.

I worked hard on these bills, and I wish that Speaker Madigan would have let these bills come up for a clean vote on their own without getting caught up in these other election-related issues, so that Representative Kelly and Senator Meeks would get the credit they deserve for making this extra 14-day grace period happen (if it does end up making it into the final version of the legislation). But, a lot of the big bills get caught up in these leadership-controlled vehicles, to be dropped into public view late in the legislative session, and they suffer from a lack of vigorous public input and vetting. I prefer legislatures to be more transparent.

So, it isn't clear when the election package will be dropped into a Senate shell bill that's on the house side now. Probably next week.

In the meantime, I just got a call -- I'm going to the Cubs game tonight! 30 minutes till game time. Got to run.

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