SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois political world was all abuzz last week over two sentences Attorney General LISA MADIGAN said to a Chicago TV station.
"I think there's a lot of people who are considering what they want to do in the future and if they can be of greater service to the people of the state," she said. "I am among those people."
To do what, exactly? Madigan previously said she's not interested in the state Supreme Court. She could run for U.S. Senate, but probably not if U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin opts to run again.
That pretty much leaves governor, which people suspected was her long-term goal all along. If that's the case, it will be a fascinating campaign to watch.
Gov. PAT QUINN has said he wants to run for re-election in 2014. Of course, barring a miracle on the order of the Second Coming, Quinn will have to do it without the support of public employee unions who have supported him in the past.
Madigan has her own challenges, including if her father, MICHAEL MADIGAN, continues as House speaker. Although she is popular around the state, some supporters may decide having Madigans as both governor and speaker is too much power in one family.
Then again, it may not make much of a difference. As Quinn showed in 2010, a strong showing in the Chicago area is enough to overcome a more anemic showing downstate. Folks there might be just fine with as many Madigans running the show as they can get.
* "I'm not really doing politics right now." Quinn ducking a question about a possible Madigan run for governor while at a summit on school violence last week.
* Rep. JIM DURKIN, R-Western Springs, has filed a bill that would essentially do away with lame-duck sessions of the General Assembly.
Just to review, lame-duck sessions are those times the legislature meets in early January following an election year, but before new lawmakers are seated. There are two things that make lame-duck sessions conducive to passing controversial bills. It takes fewer votes to pass things than it would have just a few weeks earlier in the General Assembly's annual veto session. And there are any number of lawmakers who are retiring or were retired by voters who never have to face an election again. This year, nearly three dozen lawmakers fit that description.
Durkin's bill stipulates that it will take a three-fifths vote to pass stuff during the lame duck, instead of the lesser number now.
"These two factors, a lower standard and decreased constituent accountability play into the appeal of using the lame-duck session as a way to move otherwise highly controversial legislation," Durkin said.
Page 2 of 2 - Yes, two years ago, it took a lame-duck session to pass an income tax hike. It's frightening to think what kind of shape the state would be in today if it didn't have that extra $7 billion a year in revenue.
However, the most recent lame-duck session was a dud. Controversial measures like a ban on semi-automatic weapons and same-sex marriage didn't go anywhere. Drivers licenses for illegal immigrants passed, but that was about it.
The point is you sometimes can get controversial stuff through a lame-duck session, but it's not a slam dunk.
* Really exciting news for policy wonks ahead this week.
The state plans to sell about $500 million in general obligation bonds, the first sale since lawmakers again failed to do anything about pension funding during the lame-duck session.
How that sale progresses should provide some evidence of what continued inaction on pension reform is going to cost the state. Not to wish ill on the state, but some unfortunate outcome from the sale might finally jolt lawmakers.
Statehouse Insider is written by Doug Finke, a Statehouse reporter for GateHouse News Service. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/DougFinkeSJR.