SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn this week sent back to lawmakers a proposal that would have tightened the executive appointment process.

By Diane S.W. Lee

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn this week sent back to lawmakers a proposal that would have tightened the executive appointment process.

The Illinois Legislature in mid-February approved Senate Bill 1 to require the governor to renominate existing appointees whose terms have expired. Quinn on Tuesday used his constitutional power to tack on a provision in the legislation to keep appointees from the previous administration in office longer.

“My recommendations for change would honor the intent of the sponsors but would also give citizens ample time to apply for a vacant position and allow a reasonable amount of time for identifying and recruiting qualified candidates,”  Quinn said in an emailed statement.

Under the state Constitution, Illinois senators must confirm the governor’s appointments within 60 session days. But under the current law, existing appointees do not require a second confirmation from the Senate after their terms expire.

Some 547 appointees are serving expired terms, according to information from John Patterson, a spokesman for Senate Democrats.

The legislation would clear out expired salaried appointees once their terms end, unless they are renominated by the governor and then reconfirmed by the Senate. Unsalaried appointees would have 30 days until they must leave their job.

Quinn made changes to keep salaried appointees in office until July 1, and unsalaried appointees until Oct. 1.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, sponsored the measure, which Senators approved unanimously on Feb. 10. Spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said Cullerton’s office is reviewing the governor’s action. The Senate returns to session on May 3. A vetoed bill is returned to the legislative chamber in which it originated.

“I think it is important for people to know cleaning up the appointments process in the wake of the (Gov. Rod) Blagojevich scandal remains a top priority for the Senate president,” she said. “We need a process that respects a constitutional balance of powers.”

The House overwhelmingly approved the measure on Feb. 17. Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said the House will wait to see what the Senate does with the legislation.

Lawmakers in both chambers can vote to accept Quinn’s changes, or override his partial veto with a three-fifths vote.

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