Seven students embarked on a career trek to the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, IL last week and witnessed a marriage equality bill and an assault weapons ban advance out of committee during the lame-duck session, a wrap-up of legislation from 2012. The trip, which was sponsored by the Institute of Politics, gave students the opportunity to meet with senators and lobbyists on Wednesday and Thursday.
Two separate executive committees convened for each of the headline pieces of legislation. UChicago students watched the marriage equality bill pass out of committee by a vote of eight to five and listened as citizens testified their support for or against the bill. James Tyler Ferguson, star of the TV show “Modern Family,” appeared on the Senate floor to endorse the bill.
Supporters had hoped lawmakers would act before the lame-duck session ends January 9 , but Senate Democrats delayed a floor vote because three senators needed for passage were absent.
The outing also included a visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, where students met with the head curator, James Cornelius, who provided historical context to the lame-duck session.
The trip marked the winding down of the Institute of Politics’s year-long soft launch and the coming of their formal opening in 2013.