The following article about how House Speaker Mike Madigan controls what happens in the House of Representatives spurs me to make some comparisons of how McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks is emulating his techniques:
About 200 state laws will take effect at the start of the new year. But what happened to the thousands of other bills introduced by legislators? Welcome to the Illinois House of Representatives’ Rules Committee, where bills go to die. Full Story
The comparative behavior by Franks is accomplished by controlling what can placed on committee agendas and on the Count Board agendas.
He has been known to personally have items removed from committee agendas despite members protests.
Even in the face of a State’s Attorney’s opinion saying refusal to place items on committee agenda requested by a committee chairman, Franks continued the practice.
Upon reflection, that technique provides Franks more power than Madigan has.
Individual County Board members cannot introduce bills the way state legislators can.
Have an idea?
If Franks does not agree with it, there is no institutional way to insert it into the process.
The second means of control is determining who will chair every committee and who will serve on each committee.
This goal of the Chairman probably was spurred by the power the Rules give each chairman to request opinions from the State’s Attorney. There is no limitation to the topic.
A bill giving Franks unchecked appointment power passed the Illinois General Assembly at Franks’ request, but (in the only responsiveness of Governor Bruce Rauner to McHenry County Republican concerns I can remember) Rauner vetoed the measure and it was not overridden.
Obviously, such legislation can be enacted next year when JB Pritzker, a Franks’ contributor, will be Governor.
The legislation does not mirror committee assignment in Illinois General Assembly.
There the top Democrat only assigns Democrats to committee positions.
The Republican leader appoints Republican members.
Under the proposed law, McHenry County’s top Democrat, Chairman Franks, would appoint Democrats and the Republicans.
The Committee on Committees action this year may have eliminated the need for legislative authority because the two chairmen who dared to challenge Franks–Chuck Wheeler and Yvonne Barnes.
The third technique is minimizing County Board membership influence on County government.
While County Administrator Peter Austin is contractually to report to the County Board, the first month he decided he better do what Franks wanted. This was ably demonstrated by his hiring two patronage employees with required County Board authorization.
Madigan hires all employees of his Democratic Party staff, while the Republican House leader selects Republican staffers.
The Republican majority on the McHenry County Board have no staff.
In Will County, which, with voter approval, has a County Executive form of government, which, by law, provides for a strong chairman, Republicans have a well-paid staffer to coordinate policy.
That is important, because of the limitations of the number of members who can confer because of the Open Meetings Act.
In any event, with the collapsing of the number committees and the probability that most will meet but once a month, Franks sets the stage to further consolidate power.
Just as Madigan has his staff pretty much write the budget, Franks has control of the administrative staff who bring policy decisions to committees on which he has determined the composition.