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Prairie State Wire

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Breen and Bellock question partisan task force


By Angela Underwood | Jun 2, 2018

Rep. Patricia Bellock (R-Hinsdale) questions SB2662 at the May 28 House floor debate.

During the May 28 House floor debate, state Reps. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) and Patricia Bellock (R-Hinsdale) wanted to know why a Democrat-proposed task force was clearly partisan in membership.

SB 2662, which is sponsored by state Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg), would create the Task Force on Human Services Contracting Act.

“Our state relies heavily on the nonprofit community organizations to provide services to our residents, and the budget impasse exasperated problems that had already been occurring for some time, such as late payments,” according to the bill's introduction.

Rep. Peter Breen

The task force will create a forum in which government and service agencies can identify problems and solutions to improve state contracting partnerships in order for lawmakers to better serve residents more cost effectively and efficiently, according to the bill.

“There are six areas the task force will focus on and issue a report by Jan. 1, 2020,” Mussman said.

Getting right to the point, Breen brought up the uneven political party membership. 

“Why is it that your task force includes seven members from the majority party and six members from the minority,” Breen asked, adding that he thought that task forces were supposed to be balanced

“Admittedly, that was a decision made by the Senate, and I simply didn’t make any changes to that,” Mussman said.

“We are the House, and normally we try to operate more in a bi-partisan manner than the Senate does apparently,” Breen replied.

Mussman said she was not aware of the discrepancy.

Breen asked if she would be willing to run a trailer bill to even out the legislative representation, and Mussman said that if lawmakers felt it was necessary next year, they could examine the numbers.

“Do you feel that it is unnecessary that we be evenly represented in a bi-partisan manner on task forces… or is this something Democrats need an advantage on so they can put their finger on the scale of the results?” Breen asked.  

Mussman countered, noting that the task force will only issue a report and that the governor and General Assembly will carry the real power by vote, leaving Breen to question who makes the organizational appointments.

Mussman could not find the answer in the text, saying she did not think it would be an issue.

“So, you weren’t prepared to present your bill today,” Breen said with a smile.

After Breen suggested pulling the bill from the record, Bellock noted the possible cause of the inequity.

“That was an oversight by our side of the aisle when we did not pick up on the imbalance of the minority and majority parties on the task force,” Bellock said.  

The House, however, voted 60-42 to pass SB 2662. Two days later, the bill passed the Senate unanimously.

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