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New Senate session: swearing in, getting to work with term limits

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The Illinois Senate of the 100th General Assembly elected John J. Cullerton to serve again as Senate President, a role he was first elected to in 2009.

"My philosophy as Senate President has been to simply try to keep the Senate on the path that members set," Cullerton said. "I am honored to have again earned your trust and support."

The leadership election was part of the inauguration ceremonies for the Senate for the new 100th General Assembly. After ceremonies concluded, the Senate's first major action passed with a unanimous vote changing Senate rules to restrict leaders to serve no more than 10 years in those roles. The new term limits take effect immediately.

State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton), who supported the action, said this is a common-sense step to take that places additional checks to ensure democracy is working for the people of Illinois.

“I think it is important to have measures in place to ensure no one person presides over the chamber for too long,” Haine said. “Legislative leaders have significant autonomy over what happens in the legislature, and to ensure that person remains accountable to the state, that role should come with limits. I strongly hope the House will follow suit with similar action.” 

State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) has been a leading advocate for term limits since she sponsored a Constitutional Amendment to enact them when she joined the Senate in 2015.

“Term limits for legislative leaders is the top concern I hear while talking to constituents in my community,” Murphy said.  “I have heard them and agree – leadership positions are not meant to be lifetime appointments.”

100thGA ISDCState Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) approved this bipartisan move.

“We are preventing the possibility for senate leadership to consolidate power,” Bennett said. “As I talk to the people of my district, this is something they clearly support. It’s time that we allow the will of the people to be the law of the land.”

Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, had put forth an amendment to the Illinois Constitution to similar effect in the previous General Assembly.

“The people have called on us to be accountable, and we’ve made our first official act of the 100th General Assembly to respond to that,” Bush said. “To have progress, our democracy must always move forward and encourage new ideas and new perspectives. That’s why I’ve called for this measure before, and why I’m glad to see it become Senate procedure.”

"Leading any public body is a privilege that should never become a lifetime career," State Senator Julie Morrison  (D-Deerfield) said. "Democracy has always worked best when everyone has a voice in confronting the challenges facing its citizens."

State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) was sworn into office today. As her first act as State Senator, Castro immediately supported the new rule.  

“Voters of the 22nd District have entrusted to me the responsibility to be their voice in Springfield and I am honored to officially begin that duty today,” said Sen. Castro. “Term limits for leadership was one of my top priorities as a new senator, I’m happy to have made that happen as my first official act. Today in the Senate, we take the first step.”

“New leadership means new ideas,” Villa Park Democrat Senator Tom Cullerton said. “No one person should have that much power.  It’s important for the Senate to have a rotation of fresh ideas to tackle problems.”

“Today we took a step in the right direction by changing Senate rules to allow for limited years of leadership," Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood). "I am pleased the Senate President listened to the recommendation. It is a step in the right direction and I am a firm believer it is best to lead by example.”

After adopting the new rule, new legislation reflecting the recently announced budget package were read into the record. On Monday, Cullerton joined Leader Radogno to describe progress on a plan and set expectations they would be immediately filed for the new session.