Bill to give Legislature final say on state facility closings fails in committee

Doug Finke

A bill giving the General Assembly final say in whether state facilities close stalled Wednesday in the House Executive Committee.

Senate Bill 327 didn't get enough votes to be passed to the full House.

Advocates for the developmentally disabled said the legislation will block their goal of moving people from large institutions into community-based homes. The bill's House sponsor, Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields, declined suggestions that he change the bill to exclude state facilities for the developmentally disabled.

The legislation was developed after former Gov. Rod Blagojevich insisted on closing state facilities even after a state legislative panel voted against it. That included moving the Illinois Department of Transportation's Traffic Safety Division to southern Illinois. Blagojevich said the panel was merely advisory and could not stop him from closing and moving facilities.

The legislation would allow lawmakers to override the governor. Although the Senate bill was stalled, an identical version is contained in a House bill now pending in the Senate. Sen. Maggie Crotty, D-Oak Forest, said she expects to call the bill for a vote.

Gov. Pat Quinn halted the traffic safety move. The division will now remain in Springfield, but relocate to vacant office space in the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527