Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Legislature to reject Quinn's AV on McPier

By Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn made some tweaks today to a bill intended to changes the operations of McCormick Place, the convention facility in Chicago that draws almost 3 million people each year.

The governor said the reforms in Senate Bill 28 did not go far enough, but legislators on both sides of the aisle are vowing to override his amendatory veto by the end of the week.

Quinn said the agency that oversees McCormick Place and Navy Pier, commonly known as McPier, should be required to follow state procurement rules at all times. The bill passed by the General Assembly requires McPier to “substantially” follow the procurement code. Quinn, a former tax attorney, said that he considers “substantially” a “weasel word” that is unclear about the procurement standards the agency would be legally required to uphold.

Quinn also took issue with the legislature having the power to appoint a McPier trustee, saying the position should be an executive appointment. He added that the legislation did not provide for a way to remove or replace the trustee. Quinn has been openly critical of the legislature’s choice for the job, Jim Reilly, a former House member and chief operating officer of McPier. He questioned the constitutionality of the bill specifically naming someone to the position.

This evening, the House passed SB3215, which would address the issue of removing a trustee. House Speaker Mike Madigan said the bill is an attempt to compromise and appease some of the governor's concerns. He added that he expects the House to shoot down Quinn's changes.

The final change to the bill addresses union rights to do business and says that the agency will only deal with two unions. Quinn said that would “streamline” business for customers. Critics say it is meant to benefit larger unions, which will absorb smaller ones that do business with McPier.

Quinn also removed a $2 tax on taxis to and from the city’s airports.

“I don’t think that’s a good way to greet visitors to our state, a higher tax on how they get from where they land at the airport to where they’re staying, This also includes people who live within our own state. … We have many many people who do business in other places of our country and our state. I don’t think they should be nicked by a nuisance tax,” Quinn said.

Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno issued a joint statement condemning Quinn’s veto. It said, "Governor Pat Quinn's decision today to veto key elements of the bipartisan McPier reform package has the potential to destabilize one of the most productive economic engines in the State of Illinois.”

Senators plan to start work to override the veto tomorrow, in addition to considering the budget proposals that came out of the House yesterday.

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