Republicans playing the long game on term limits

  • Gov. Bruce Rauner's term limits plan has re-emerged.

    Gov. Bruce Rauner's term limits plan has re-emerged. Associated Press

  • Ron Sandack

    Ron Sandack

  • U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says he wants to prohibit sewage dumping in the Great Lakes.

    U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says he wants to prohibit sewage dumping in the Great Lakes. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Updated 1/22/2015 6:46 PM

A key effort of the Rauner campaign has re-emerged in the legislature, but the suburban lawmaker behind it says he's playing the long game.

State Rep. Ron Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican, has proposed an amendment to the Illinois Constitution calling for 10-year term limits for state lawmakers.


Rauner tried to get a similar measure put before voters on the November ballot, but it was tossed in court. Still, it remained a major talking point for a campaign running against the Springfield establishment.

Sandack says he knows that establishment -- Democrats who control the House and Senate -- won't let his plan go anywhere.

Plus, opponents of term limits say cutting off experienced lawmakers puts government in the hands of people who aren't term-limited and can profit from their knowledge -- like lobbyists.

Sandack says he didn't introduce it in conjunction with Rauner but hopes keeping the issue alive could help drive public support for another push in 2016.

"The folks in charge of the General Assembly are still in charge," Sandack said.


For a term limits plan to succeed in Illinois, backers might need more help with legal support than voter support because it's the courts that tripped it up.

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Sandack is also behind a similarly fated plan to change the way state political boundaries are drawn. Democrats redrew the legislative and congressional maps on their own in 2010 and stand to reap the benefits until the next census.

That idea also got booted off the ballots by courts last year, and moving it through the legislature would be asking the people who drew the maps to change the game. Again, quite unlikely.

Elimination game

Republican state Rep. David McSweeney of Barrington Hills won House approval of his amendment eliminating the lieutenant governor's office in 2013. But it was never approved by the Senate and died.

He's trying again this year. Will things be different with Republican Evelyn Sanguinetti of Wheaton sitting in the No. 2 spot?

It wouldn't take effect until after the 2018 election if voters approved it in 2016. And Republicans are backing the plan to merge the state's comptroller and treasurer offices, too.


Climate question

In an interview this week, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, said he'd like President Barack Obama to back his plan to ban sewage dumping in the Great Lakes.

It was an opportunity to ask Kirk about climate change, given that lately some environmental activists have criticized Kirk for a comment he made to a trade publication E&E Daily.

Here's how the publication quoted him: "We had the previous warming period, which was called the global optimum, and the best way to talk about that is when Leif Erickson went west from his home, he discovered a landmass that he called Greenland, because it was. And that was called the global optimum, because the planet was much warmer. By calling Greenland 'green land,' we know that the climate has been changing pretty regularly within recorded memory."

Kirk's office originally responded with this statement: "Climate change is real and human beings definitely play a role. As I have said since 2010, I will not support a carbon tax or similar attempts which hurt the Illinois or American economy."

This week, before the State of the Union address, Kirk said he didn't want to get into a climate change discussion.

"I would say that my top environmental goal is to back this sewage dumping ban in the Great Lakes," he said.

"I would like people to sit back in another generation and marvel at how pristine the Great Lakes are," he said.

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