Lawmakers Put the Kibosh on Honorary Resolutions

Article excerpt

Fifty years of matrimony. A 70-foot catsup bottle. A sanitary district with a spotless record. For years, the Illinois Legislature commended such things with honorary resolutions.

No more.

Lawmakers in the Senate and the House have decided to ax honorary resolutions, saying the public pats on the back cost too much. In the House alone, Republicans figure more than $150,000 was spent to pass honorary resolutions last year.

These resolutions are the Legislature's way of sending a birthday card, or a sympathy card or a note of congratulations in the form of an official document. They also promote a lawmaker's image with constituents who may be inclined to say thank you with a vote.

"The system has been abused by both sides," said House Majority Leader Robert Churchill, R-Lake Villa. "It was a very expensive perk."

The House passed more than 3,100 honorary resolutions in 1994 at $55 a pop, said Mike Cys, House Republican spokesman. During the 1994 spring session alone, the Senate passed about 1,700 honorary resolutions.

"Representatives love to give these things out, and people love to get them, but it costs a lot of money," said Cys.

The expense stems from staff time and printing costs. Honorary resolutions often read like miniature research papers, peppered with "whereas" and "let it be resolved."

Honorary resolutions differ from legislative bills in one important way: They always pass. Not a single honorary resolution was rejected last year in either house during the spring legislative session.

Senate Republican spokesman Mark Gordon said he is not sure how much money the Senate will save, but he expects the move will free Senate workers from digging up trivia on Boy Scout troops, retirees and societies. …