A little nugget out of the Denver Post (sorry, couldn't resist) about a House floor debate about the budget:
When I covered the Illinois legislature, you'd hear the same sound coming from somewhere in the back of the chamber when a bill was going down in flames.
But some hijinks were put to a quick end. When one amendment headed toward certain death, a lawmaker made a whistling noise that sounded like a plane falling from the sky. He was quickly chided by House Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder, to show "respect for the dignity of the chamber."
That's especially true when someone would join the Century Club in the House, which was when 100 or more of the 118 representatives voted against a bill on the floor. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there was some whistling going on it just the other day with a bill that would've allowed private entities to serve liquor at state historical sites. It was sponsored by Rep. Dan Reitz (R).
At one point in the voting process, the legislation attracted 50 or so "yes" votes, Reitz said. But when lawmakers realized the bill would not get the 60 votes required for passage, they decided to pile on the "no" votes, he said.
"It's part of the game," he said.
By sponsoring a bill that garnered at least 100 "no" votes, Reitz earned the dubious distinction of joining the House's so-called "Century Club." He also gained temporary custody of the "Century Club" trophy and cap.
Joining the Century Club takes some doing, because you have to get a bill out of committee before it tanks before the whole House. Not everybody, however, is gracious in such lopsided defeat. Take, for instance, Reitz' immediate predecessor in the Century Club, Rep. Ken Dunkin (D), who reached triple-digit no votes twice in the same session. Maybe his initial reaction had something to do with it:
House lawmakers pummeled the Rockford civic center's proposal with 105 no votes and 7 yes votes.
As they shouted "No! No! No!" while casting their votes, Rep. Kenneth Dunkin, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the legislation, stuck his middle finger in the air and gestured it toward his colleagues.
"That was not a good move on his part by any means," said Rep. Chuck Jefferson, a Rockford Democrat who voted against the measure. "It was not a class move."
A group of lawmakers then presented to Dunkin a trophy marking his induction into the Illinois House of Representatives Century Club -- lawmakers whose proposals die with 100 or more no votes.
Dunkin stood stunned. "That was a very serious bill," he told the chamber. Rep. Joe Lyons, a Chicago Democrat who presided over the vote, shouted back: "No it wasn't. Maybe to you, nobody else."