Shortly after the new year begins, legislators will return to the Capital City for the biennial “lame-duck” session, which is scheduled for five days beginning Jan. 4.
In Illinois, lame-duck session is traditionally held after the first of the year because bills that pass prior to May 31 in a calendar year only need a simple majority vote, rather than a three-fifths majority vote, to have an immediate effective date. Because the inauguration of the new General Assembly isn’t until Jan. 11, lawmakers have five scheduled days of session to push through potential legislation that can be immediately enacted.
As a term, “lame duck” is commonly used to refer to politicians with known ending dates such as legislators who are retiring at the end of their terms or who have lost re-election. Lame-duck session allows these members the ability to vote on measures even though they no longer are accountable to their voters. Often, the most controversial bills are taken up during this period.
Illinoisans remember the last lame-duck session in January 2021, when the Majority Party rammed through the SAFE-T Act just hours before the start of a new General Assembly. This year, Senate Republicans expect other controversial measures to be taken up, including gun control and abortion expansion.