Governor Vetoes McCormick Place Reforms; Seeks Changes

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced May 26 that he had issued an amendatory veto of the sweeping reform legislation for McCormick Place and was sending the measure back to the Illinois General Assembly for changes.

Quinn told a Springfield news conference that he was concerned with a number of perceived flaws in the bill, particularly the constitutionality of naming a specific individual, James Reilly, to run McCormick Place and a lack of adequately streamlined union jurisdictions. The governor also opposed a planned increase of the tax on ground transportation from Chicago’s airports and the failure of the measure to comply with the state Procurement Code.

Organizers of several major trade shows had warned the governor that failing to sign the bill as is would increase the chances their events would be moved to other less costly cities.

Quinn urged the legislature to move quickly to revamp the legislation before the Memorial Day holiday.  “The General Assembly has taken only half a step toward reforming our state’s convention industry,” Quinn said in his amendatory veto message to the legislature. “When it comes to reform, half measures do not suffice. The only real reform is comprehensive reform.”

Jack Johnson, vice president, external relations, for the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB) said lawmakers were expected to take up the veto this week. The CCTB’s instant analysis of the veto concluded that Quinn was seeking:

  • One union for drayage, rigging and related duties and another for carpentry, decorating and related tasks. The result would be the ouster of the Riggers Union and Decorators Union;
  • Eliminate the Airport Departure Fee increase to fund Sales and Marketing efforts for McCormick Place and Rosemont. Quinn is urging a greater portion of the hotel tax be given to CCTB, although that request is not included in the Amendatory Veto;
  • Cancel the appointment of Reilly to be the MPEA Trustee;
  • Granting the authority to the governor, with the approval of the state senate, to appoint the MPEA Trustee and provisions for removal and replacement if necessary;
  • Changes to align procurement of professional management of McCormick Place with the state’s Procurement Code.

Reach Jack Johnson at (312) 567-8529 or jjohnson@choosechicago.com