Governor Rauner Vetoes Legislation to Increase Powers of McHenry County Board Chairman

In a solid victory for the citizens of McHenry County, Governor Bruce Rauner issued a full veto today to HB 171, which would codify in state statutes powers granted to specific county board chairmen with regard to appointing members to standing committees.

“I spoke out against this bill when it was discussed on the floor of the House of Representatives, and urged the Governor to veto it after it was approved by the General Assembly,” said Reick. “The bill was written to specifically apply to McHenry County, in spite of the fact that in 2012 county voters voted 2:1 against a referendum that would expand the powers of the leader of the McHenry County Board. Today the Governor sided with the 75,010 McHenry County voters who resoundingly defeated the idea of an all-powerful County Board Chairman. Voter intent was heard and respected by Governor Rauner today.”

In his veto message to the General Assembly, Rauner condemned the practice of codifying in state law carve-outs and special solutions that only apply to certain counties and that respond to specific local concerns. “Passing state law on such specific question of local authority undermines local control and the ability to create rules as elected Board’s may deem appropriate,” said Rauner.

The Governor went on to say, “Questions concerning the balance of power within local governments can be most appropriately reconsidered by local voters. Just as the citizens of a county can vote via referendum on whether their county adopts an executive form of government, so too should they be able to determine the appropriate power balance in question in this bill.”

When HB 171 was delivered to Rauner for final action, Reick launched a petition drive that was signed by more than 100 citizens who asked the Governor to veto the bill. “All the credit goes to the citizens who saw HB 171 for what it was: a pure power grab; and who responded by urging a full gubernatorial veto,” said Reick, who delivered the petition signatures to the Governor’s office. “This was a good example of how a few voices can make a big difference in government. The message that McHenry County wants a county board chairman with limited powers was heard, and Governor Rauner responded appropriately. I appreciate his full veto.”

HB 171 can return to the House and Senate for an attempted veto override, but a 2/3 vote in each chamber is required. The November House vote on HB 171 was 63-48-1, and in an override, 71 votes will be needed.

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