Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Senate to consider last session's appointments

By Jamey Dunn

Attorney General Lisa Madigan ruled today that the Illinois Senate has to consider executive appointees it did not vote on during the last legislative session.

Senate President John Cullerton had sent a letter to Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka asking her to stop giving paychecks to state workers appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn who had not been confirmed by the Senate during the last two-year legislative session, which ended earlier this month. Cullerton said Quinn would have to reappoint those individuals, and the confirmation process would have to start over in the new legislative session because a new General Assembly could not act on matters presented to the old one.

Quinn maintained that the state Constitution requires the Senate to act on appointments after 60 session days but does not limit those days to the same legislative session.

Topinka asked Madigan to decide the issue, and Madigan agreed with Quinn. She said in a written opinion that the drafters of the Constitution did not include a “same-session” limitation on confirmations, though they did include such a limitation on other issues. She said to assume such a limitation on executive appointments would mean a “rewrite” of that section of the Constitution.

“Attorney General Madigan said today that essentially she agreed with the position we’ve held all along,” said Annie Thompson, a spokeswoman for Quinn. “Currently, we are reviewing her opinion and determining where we go next.”

Among the appointees the Senate did not consider last session was Quinn's controversial choice for director of the Illinois State Police, Jonathon Monken.

“Our opinion was based on 40 years of precedent followed by the attorney general's office, six prior governors and 21 prior General Assemblies regarding executive appointments. We are assessing how this impacts the legislative process, but we will comply with the opinion,”
Rikeesha Phelon, a spokeswoman for Cullerton, said in a written statement.

She added that an Executive Appointments Committee hearing will be scheduled when the Senate is back in session next week.


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