It's hard to pack this much illumination into what the Illinois General Assembly is like. Rich Miller writes, in my book, one of his best in this column on Representative John Fritchey, in terms of illuminating the dynamics of the General Assemnly.
If you want to learn what it is like in the state legislature, or learn what a state representative does, read this column. He explains how good legislators like John Fritchey take opportunities where they arrive -- first, to bring together opponents and allies in an agreed bill to avoid a disaster, second, to assist a legislative ally over a few months in passing significant legislation, and third, to attack a bill in committee with relentless arguments until support for it withers away. I was at that Judiciary committee meeting, as it happens, and heard Fritchey and Lou Lang pound away (on the merits) against the bill. Convincing colleagues to go against a Speaker-supported bill based on the strength of policy arguments does not happen very often.
And the white knuckle pressure on big bills from one's closest allies and legislative leaders is also not often understood, but explained well in Miller's column.
If the Daily Southtown archive isn't working, google this first paragraph:
Rep. John Fritchey's spring legislative session was going extraordinarily well ... until he smacked into the past 10 days.