Illinois House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch, D-Hillside, during debate in Springfield

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch, D-Hillside, during debate in Springfield

(The Center Square) – Illinois state lawmakers return to Springfield Tuesday.

Both chambers have passed new rules for the 103rd General Assembly that began last month following November’s election.

More than 1,300 bills have been newly filed in the Senate. Friday is the deadline for more.

The House has a deadline of Feb. 17 to file bills. There’ve been nearly 2,200 filed.

During Debate last week over House rules, state Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, urged for more equity in whether Republican bills, with bipartisan support, can get a fair hearing.

“It’s no guarantee they would be voted on on the floor, just that they could be heard and voted on in committee,” Windhorst argued. “And I think the members on our side of the aisle believe that’s just fundamentally fair, it’s a matter of fairness.”

State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, said giving the Republican super minority a voice can be as simple as allowing equal time for witnesses during committee hearings.

“We wanted to ensure that all of our members of the committee, as well as all the members of the House of Representatives, have the opportunity to truly hear both sides of the issue,” Davidsmeyer said.

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, said Democrats won the supermajority.

“We will not waste the people’s time,” Welch said. “There are 78 of us on this side of the aisle for a reason. The voters have spoken.”

He laid out what he said is their priorities, like labor issues, access to abortion and election law among others

“They want us to continue balancing budgets and helping working families,” Welch said. “That’s what we’re going to do here. We’re gonna do the serious work that we were sent here to do.”

The Senate has hearings scheduled this week for committees touching on the judiciary, insurance and higher education this week.

The House has a subject matter hearing Wednesday to review the status of the state’s evidence-based funding for K-12 education.

More hearings could be scheduled in the days ahead.

Next week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his budget and State of the State Address.

Associate Editor

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.