The Illinois Senate returns to the Capitol on Wednesday to begin a weeklong legislative session that could take up pension reform, legalizing gay marriage and banning assault rifles.
The 97th General Assembly will finish its work Jan. 9 when a new Legislature is sworn in. That means there are many lame-duck lawmakers not returning who might feel less constrained to vote for contentious issues. The House comes in Sunday.
Gov. Pat Quinn has made it a priority for the assembly to find a solution to the state employee retirement programs that are underfunded by $96 billion.
Illinois legislators are scheduled to go back to Springfield this week to tackle any bills the governor vetoed this year.
Of the major legislation the governor vetoed - one big issue that's had all sorts of trouble getting support is gambling expansion. The measure Governor Pat Quinn vetoed would allow for several new casinos in the state - including one in Chicago. But Quinn has said the bill is flawed - with, quote, "loopholes for mobsters" - but a sponsor of the measure says he's close to having enough votes to override the governor's opposition.
Gun rights advocates scored a victory when the Illinois Supreme Court allowed a challenge to a Cook County assault weapons ban to proceed.
The court on Thursday ruled that lower courts were wrong to throw out the challenge. The Supreme Court says it wants the trial court to hear evidence on whether assault weapons get the same Second Amendment protections as handguns.