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Rep. McSweeney refiles township consolidation bill

Proposed legislation almost identical to vetoed version

State Rep. David McSweeney has filed an almost identical version of a bill that would allow voters to eliminate townships. The original bill was rejected by former Gov. Bruce Rauner last week.
State Rep. David McSweeney has filed an almost identical version of a bill that would allow voters to eliminate townships. The original bill was rejected by former Gov. Bruce Rauner last week.

Less than a week after former Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed and offered recommendations for proposed legislation that could put McHenry County townships up for elimination, state Rep. David McSweeney refiled an almost identical version of the bill with the hopes of getting the approval of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“It’s 99.9 percent of the same bill. There were no substantial changes,” said McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican. “I don’t care what Bruce Rauner says. Nobody does. He was voted out of office by a landslide. He’s a phony, and nobody cares what he has to say.”

Rauner, who relinquished his seat to Pritzker on Monday, signed an amendatory veto of House Bill 4637 on Friday. Rauner took issue with the bill’s focus on McHenry and Lake counties and recommended a statewide expansion of the legislation’s terms.

“While I applaud the effort to create a clear process that aligns with the Illinois Constitution’s vision that townships may be dissolved if approved by referendum, this is a process that should be available with equal clarity across the state,” Rauner wrote in response to the bill.

Rauner rejected a provision that mandates the abolition of road districts in Lake and McHenry counties that manage fewer than 15 miles of road.

“This question of consolidating services should also go to the voters through a referendum, a process that Lake and McHenry counties – and all other counties – can already pursue under state law,” Rauner said.

On Monday, McSweeney refiled the legislation as House Bill 348.

The new bill contains the same power of the preceding bill, creating a referendum process for voters to dissolve those townships at the polls. The provision that asks that townships dissolve any road districts with less than 15 miles of road remains.

McSweeney said he expects the bill to pass the Illinois House and Senate, allowing the legislation to move quickly to Pritzker.

“Assuming it passes the House and the Senate,” McSweeney said, “I’m hoping [it passes the governor’s office] no later than April. I have the same support. I’m committed to getting it done.”

State Rep. Steve Reick, a Woodstock Republican who votes against the bill in Springfield, remains opposed.

“I’m disappointed that Rep. McSweeney feels so obliged to file something that flew in the face of the [McHenry] County Board,” Reick said. “I don’t think this type of township elimination is going to save taxpayers any money.”

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