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Clock ticks on Ill. term limits ballot measure

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 10:14 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Seth Perlman)
Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner speaks with reporters during a term limits news conference Tuesday in Springfield.The clock is ticking for the possibility of Illinois voters getting to vote on term limits this year. An appeals court is due to rule on the measure's validity, and the issue is then expected to go to the state Supreme Court for a final decision before the ballot is certified next week.

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner made a last push Tuesday for court approval of a measure that would ask voters to impose term limits on state legislators, just three days before the November ballot will be finalized.

At a news conference in Springfield, Rauner stressed the urgency of getting a court ruling on the measure he says would be overwhelmingly approved by voters.

The Illinois appellate court is due to rule on the term limits measure’s validity in the coming days, and the issue then would have to go to the state Supreme Court for a final decision before the ballot is certified Friday.

“Unfortunately time’s running out,” Rauner said.

He chairs the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, which gathered about 600,000 signatures for a ballot measure that would limit legislators to eight years in office, increase the size of the Illinois House, reduce the size of the Senate and make it tougher for the Legislature to override a governor’s veto.

But attorneys with ties to top Democrats, including longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, sued to keep the question off the ballot. Arguing on behalf of several business groups, they say the measure is unconstitutional and that taxpayer money shouldn’t be spent on it.

A circuit judge said the question didn’t meet a constitutional requirement that any changes to the Legislature be “structural and procedural,” sending the measure to the appeals court.

Quinn, who led a voter initiative in 1980 that reduced the number of state representatives, backed a term limits proposal in 1994 that also was thrown out by the courts, and in 2008 advocated for a constitutional convention which would have allowed for consideration of term limits. But he doesn’t support Rauner’s measure because of the change it makes to the size of the House.

“He shows up this year as someone who said he’s for term limits. He wasn’t there when we had to get thousands and thousands of signatures for a pure term limits measure,” Quinn said Tuesday in Chicago.

Term limits have become a major focus of Rauner’s campaign as he portrays himself as a government outsider, a stark contrast to Quinn and Democratic statehouse leaders who have spent decades in elected office. He said Quinn has a poor track record in office.

“He has misled the voters and failed the voters on taxes, on job creation and economic growth, on education and on term limits,” Rauner said.

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