Although the General Assembly was called back to Springfield December 15-16 to discuss the need for a special election to fill the United States Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate did not allow debate on proposed special-election legislation.

Senator Tim Bivins said the decision by majority Democrats to block a special election leaves the power to fill the vacant seat with Governor Rod Blagojevich, even though it is unlikely he will attempt to make an appointment. Republican lawmakers argue that the appointment process has been so tainted by the allegations that Blagojevich attempted to sell Obama’s seat to the highest bidder that the only way to make sure the second senator from Illinois isn’t under a cloud of suspicion would be to have him or her chosen by the voters.

Proposed legislation would allow for the special election to be held concurrently with municipal elections, which would save Illinois taxpayers millions of dollars. The special primary would be held on February 24 and the general election on April 7. Alternative dates of April 7 for the primary and May 26 for the general election were also included in the event the bill didn’t become law by January 2, 2009.

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