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Monday, December 10, 2007

Governor's power grab could hurt the office

Today's syndicated column by Rich Miller is the subject of today's Capitol Fax blog's Question of the Day. Let's talk about this column though and if you wish you can make a comment over there.

Now a little background here is that the Governor has this tendency to make-up new rules on the fly. The issue here is that in attempting to expand his health care program in Illinois, the governor vetoed line-items in the budget that passed the General Assembly. He wanted to use those vetos to fund his proposals.

Let me first mention that when he attempted to go thru the legislative process his proposals didn't have great support amongst state legislators. If he had he wouldn't try to circumvent the rules like he is right now. So Miller's column looks at some of the repercussions...
As you may already know, last month JCAR blocked a rule change proposed by Blagojevich that would have allowed him to immediately expand the eligibility roles for government funded health insurance programs.

Health insurance is the governor's top priority, and he had previously claimed the right to veto spending from one part of the state budget and spend it on expanding health care, which would be unconstitutional, but that's another story.

After the committee blocked the rules, Blagojevich ordered his agency directors to proceed as though JCAR actually approved the rule.

The governor then sent his press office out to tell reporters JCAR was unconstitutional and didn't have the authority to block his new idea - even though Blagojevich signed the aforementioned law which allowed JCAR to do just that.

The governor's move caused quite an uproar. His tendency to ignore the Constitution, his stubborn refusal to take "no" for an answer from large bipartisan majorities in the General Assembly, his blatant abuse of his powers to call special legislative sessions (he's called more than all modern governors combined) and his hypocritical lawsuits against the House Speaker over, of all things, constitutional issues, had already rankled legislators to no end.

I asked House Speaker Michael Madigan what impact the governor's move would have. His response: Bills are going to get longer.

In the past, the General Assembly could avoid writing the minutiae of implementation language into most legislation because JCAR had a check on the administration's rulemaking authority. Now, with the governor throwing JCAR out the window, legislators will likely want to make sure they write as much detail as they can into their proposals. As a result, the system may become lots more cumbersome.

Lawmakers may also want to revisit old laws and update them in an attempt to prevent Blagojevich from making even more mischief.

The new environment is just one of many reasons why the House speaker has taken so long to write his new gaming expansion proposal. With the governor claiming unilateral authority to write new rules as he sees fit, Madigan wants to make sure he has his bases covered.
This column closes out with making comparisons between President Richard Nixon's actions as President and how his actions hurt the office and institution of the Presidency. Blagojevich's rather childish actions may have about the same effect on the Governor's office. See these executive offices evolve based on precedents.

The law evolves based on precedents but the activities of the Presidency or the governorships are based on precedents. An example would be that when John Tyler became President after the death of William Henry Harrison after one month in the presidency, there was discussion over whether or not John Tyler, who was Vice President should have the full power of the Presidency. It wasn't fully explained int he constitution if the Vice-President upon ascending to the Presidency would be a full-fledged president or the acting or interim president. All John Tyler had to say is that he's the President of the United States and anyone who doesn't like it can resign. And while a lot of people may not have liked that, since that time any Vice President who become President are full-fledged Presidents.

All I'm suggesting is that the actions of the office holder whoever they may be will have repercussions for years down the road unless someone decided to switch course and make a change. This governor decided to make waves, but only after showing how out of depth he is. The repercussions could be unfortunate or depending on who's governor and what their angle is, it might be a good thing.

I want to see how this plays out though.

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