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Veto session: Second week could be frenzy or fizzle

Publication Date: 2010-11-20

During the first week of its fall veto session, the Illinois General Assembly passed none of the controversial measures that were talked about before the veto session. In each case, the sponsors still are trying to herd enough members together to pass their legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, said the addition of days in January's lame-duck session before a new General Assembly is sworn in could mean bills won't be called for a vote until then.

"Sometimes when there's a lot of expectations, things tend to fizzle out because maybe it’s trying to accomplish too much, too fast," she said. "It has been a relatively quiet week."

Lawmakers return to Springfield the week of Nov. 29 for the final three days of the six-day veto session.

Here is where things stand with the major legislation floating out there:

Lifting smoking ban in casinos

House Bill 1846

Status: Awaiting a vote on the House floor. It has no Senate sponsor.

Quote: "We need the money. This is the bottom line. To let $500 million go, never to be recovered, is something that I cannot overlook," said Rep. Dan Burke, D-Chicago, sponsor of the bill.

Situation: Burke's bill would lift the smoking ban in casinos until states adjacent to Illinois ban smoking in their casinos. Burke said the ban has hurt Illinois casinos and is depriving the state, which has a $13 billion budget deficit, of much-needed revenue.

A recent study by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability found a 28 percent drop in state casino revenue since the ban went into effect, citing the smoking ban as the biggest reason.

Opponents point to a bad economy and revenue numbers showing that the Jumer's Casino in Rock Island did better when it opened a brand-new, Las Vegas-style establishment, exceeding revenues of a nearby Davenport, Iowa, casino, where smoking is still allowed.

They also worry about the legislation opening up the possibility for exemptions for bars or others who claim to have been harmed by Illinois' nearly 3-year-old smoking ban.

Next year, Burke said, he will explore filing legislation that would require casinos to have non-smoking areas for patrons and employees.