One of the reasons I ran for state representative in 1972 was the live debate I heard on WBBM Radio near the end of the legislative session one June, probably in 1968.
I was living on Paddock Street, just down from the Crystal Lake Library in a basement apartment with only one entrance. Probably an illegal occupancy.
The debate fascinated me.
The best debate while I was tuned in was on State Rep. Mike Tryon’s bill to make uniform municipal rules on the posting of campaign signs.
Here’s how I described it in an article about the Tryon bills that looked like they would pass:
HB 3785 imposed uniform political sign posting regulations statewide. If passed, no municipality could prohibit campaign signs on residential property during the period beginning 45 days before an election. Again, no negative votes.
The Senate tacked on an amendment saying that cities and villages could not limit political signs to a short time before elections, that is, they could be posted anytime during the year, but that they could regulate the size of the signs.
The first change was to make the language confirm with a United States Supreme Court decision. Apparently, it is illegal to regulate the posting of political messages. Political messages, after all, are the most important speech protected by the First Amendment.
The second change was to make clear that the size of all signs, including political signs, may be regulated by a municipality. It seems that any rules for political signs must be the same as those for commercial signs. In other words, if there were no limits on the size of political signs, there could be no limits on non-political signs’ sizes.
It was pretty obvious someone or someones were against the bill, which previously had passed both houses without a dissenting vote.
Chicago Representative John Fritchey, who more than once in House Impeachment Committee hearings defended ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich’s U.S. Senate appointee Roland Burris, asked questions that were hostile and, finally, asked the chair if the bill affected Home Rule units.
If the Speaker ruled it would, that would hike the number of votes required to pass it from 60 to 71.
A couple of other legislators asked questions that seemed aimed at justifying a “No” vote.
Franks mentioned specifically the McHenry County sign ordinance, which has been used to declare his and his father’s reference to that part of the Torah they have place on the front of their law office south of Marengo.
I wondered if his opposition was a not-so-subtle shot at the Republican Party-controlled McHenry County Board that passed the ordinance which Franks and his father are challenging in court.
At the end of the debate, the Speaker ruled that 71 votes were required to pass the bill.
In support of his bill for uniform local ordinances for the putting up political signs, Tryon argued,
“If you want incumbent protection, vote ‘No.’
“If you’re for free speech, vote ‘Yes’”
117 state reps. punched their buttons and Tryon’s bill came out on the short end of the tally:
The next question is whether Tryon can convince the State Senate to agree to removing the amendment they placed on Tryon’s House Bill 3785.
Was Tryon correct in saying that those who voted “No” favored continued “incumbent protection?”
If a candidate were limited to displaying his or her signs to a mere two weeks before a campaign, that would certainly provide an ad