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posted: 1/10/2013 8:32 AM

Editorial: To our departing lawmakers, thank you

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Fifteen suburban state lawmakers left office this week, and it's hard to figure whether they're more likely to be sad to go out on such a low note for the General Assembly, or simply happy to go.

As disappointed as we are with the General Assembly's failure to act on one of the biggest legislative crises of our time -- reining in public pension costs -- we're also grateful to those who tried valiantly to tackle the problem and who have represented suburban interests in the debate. May their blood pressures someday return to normal.

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Of course, though the focus of the just-ended General Assembly has been pensions, lawmakers have a full plate of other issues to deal with.

Our departing suburban contingent has done a lot of good for the suburbs, from Sen. John Millner's sponsorship of a new law aimed at preventing school violence after a teacher was stabbed in Elgin, to Rep. Sid Mathias' leadership in restructuring the RTA and avoiding service cuts, to Rep. Chris Nybo's bill allowing schools to administer epi-pen injections to students having severe allergic reactions, to Rep. Rosemary Mulligan's longtime attention to human services, to Sen. Susan Garrett's 2008 stand against legislative pay raises during the recession.

For these and very many other efforts, we owe all 15 departing lawmakers our gratitude.

Some of them -- like state Rep. Franco Coladipietro, a Bloomingdale Republican; Garrett, a Lake Forest Democrat; Rep. Karen May, a Highland Park Democrat; and Millner, a Carol Stream Republican -- chose to retire from the legislature.

Others were knocked out by every-10-years redistricting which, for instance, put Mathias, a Buffalo Grove Republican, up for election last November against another incumbent lawmaker.

Mulligan, a Des Plaines Republican, is the veteran of the group. A two-decade legislator, she came up short in petition signatures to get on the March 2012 primary ballot and did not run. On the flip side is Nybo, an Elmhurst Republican who served just two years before losing in the March primary.

Also leaving are Rep. Sandy Cole, a Lake Villa Republican; Rep. Kent Gaffney, a Lake Barrington Republican; Sen. Tom Johnson, a West Chicago Republican; Sen. Chris Lauzen, an Aurora Republican; Sen. Carol Pankau, an Itasca Republican; Rep. Randy Ramey, a Carol Stream Republican; Sen. Suzi Schmidt, a Lake Villa Republican; and Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg, an Evanston Democrat.

We'll no doubt see some of these names again, either in politics or working elsewhere for the public good. For now, let's hope they're recovering from a rough-and-tumble lame-duck legislative session with a good nap.

As they contemplate a future that includes a lot fewer trips down I-55, we offer our thanks and wish them well.

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