Illinois lawmakers return to the state capitol Friday with two things on the agenda: a vote on whether to remove State Representative Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) and a special session on public pensions.
Smith, a West Side Democrat, was indicted earlier this year and charged with accepting a $7,000 bribe in an FBI sting. He entered a plea of not guilty, and a select panel of House members voted this summer to recommend Smith be expelled from the House, something that has not been done in more than 100 years.
It's unclear if Smith will be present in the House chamber when it convenes at 11 a.m.
A political protégé of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Smith was appointed to the House replacing Annazette Collins, who in turn moved from the House to the Senate after Sen. Rickey Hendon retired.
Even after being charged by the U.S. Attorney’s office, Smith won re-election in March. Democratic party officials then urged Smith to resign, something he has resisted.
The other big Springfield story is the special session called by Gov. Pat Quinn. Lawmakers have been called back to take up a public pension deficit that tops $80 billion.
Quinn and the four top legislative leaders are expected to gather Friday morning at the capitol prior to the 1 p.m. start of the special session. Efforts to scale back how public pensions are funded failed in the regular spring session, and most Springfield observers cast heavy doubt on any action until after the November election.
At the State Fair this week, Governor Quinn was booed by labor members who fought plans to change or reduce their pensions. Another protest is expected today at the state capitol.