There’s bipartisan agreement among two freshman lawmakers that the way things are run at the Illinois State Capitol can be chaotic.
It’s been a week since lawmakers finished their overtime session. Within 48 hours, lawmakers revealed thousands of pages of legislation to increase taxes, spend tens of billions of dollars and bring major changes to the state’s gambling and marijuana laws.
Freshman state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, said being under the silver dome was a lot like being under a big top.
“It’s like being in a circus, almost,” Caulkins said. “I’m sure there’s a ring leader somewhere, but we don’t see what’s going on.”
Caulkins said it was frustrating to try to determine what issues would be tackled from day to day.
“We don’t know the next act that’s coming into the ring,” Caulkins said. “We don’t know what that’s going to be and it’s frustrating for me, especially coming out of the business world. We try to have a five-year plan.”
Freshman state Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, said he understood the feeling.
“I can see that because I tell people I feel like I’m on ‘Game of Thrones’ running as fast as I can down the castle hallway with the unsullied behind me and the walking dead in front of me knowing that I have to run full force without knowing what I’m going to run into,” West said. “I hear that’s every session.”
But, West said he expects he’ll get a better grasp of how the legislature works.
“When you get one session under your belt, I’m assuming you understand how things roll. You understand that a deadline does not mean a deadline. You understand that anything can come.”
Regardless, West said he’s enjoying his time as a lawmaker.
Several deadlines to move bills out of committee or to move bills from one chamber to another are regularly waived by the legislature throughout the session. Lawmakers even blew through their end-of-session deadline of May 31 to work through June 2 to pass legislation set for the governor’s signature.
With the exception of a few subject matter committee hearings over the summer months, lawmakers aren’t expected back in Springfield until this fall.