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Another one leaves: Sen. Wilhelmi takes IHA job

Saturday, Jan 28, 2012

* Crain’s

State Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi has been tapped for a senior leadership post at the Illinois Hospital Association, the powerful lobbying organization that represents 200 hospitals, sources have told Crain’s.

Mr. Wilhelmi replaces Howard Peters, executive vice president of policy and advocacy, sources said.

An association spokesman declined to comment on Mr. Wilhelmi’s hiring but said Mr. Peters will be a senior adviser to the group.

Mr. Wilhelmi did not return messages.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Jan 27, 2012

* Florence + The Machine will play us out

Down comes the night

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Friday, Jan 27, 2012

* It’s Friday, we start session next week, so let’s take it easy.

* The Question: What is your favorite local band? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Mark Kirk health update

Friday, Jan 27, 2012

* The Daily Herald just ran a statement from Sen. Mark Kirk’s neurosurgeon

“Senator Kirk is doing quite well this morning. He is alert, responding more rapidly to questions and the swelling in his brain has stabilized. While he remains in serious but stable condition, we are pleased with his continued progress,” said Richard Fessler, MD, PhD, neurosurgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and professor of neurological surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Sen. Kirk knows we’re all hoping for the best. I’m told your well-wishes this week did him some good. Keep thinking positive thoughts.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Calm down, it’s just a bill

Friday, Jan 27, 2012

* Umm, actually, not true

* From the bill in question

Provides that if an Internet dating service does not conduct criminal background screenings on its members, the service shall disclose, clearly and conspicuously, to all Illinois members that the Internet dating service does not conduct criminal background screenings.

You may disagree with the bill, and the online dating industry most certainly does, but the proposed legislation wouldn’t mandate criminal background checks. It would just let consumers know that these online folks they’re chatting with haven’t been vetted beyond some questionnaire, if that.

* And keep in mind, this is only a bill. Just because a bill is introduced doesn’t mean it’s gonna pass

Six years ago, a similar push to provide a modicum of regulation to online dating sites passed the Illinois House and then stalled.

Thousands of bills are introduced in the General Assembly, a tiny handful actually become the law of the land.

Still, I wasn’t aware how big this particular business is

Nearly one in three Web users isn’t looking online for bargains or jobs.

Some 30% have romance in mind and are surfing the Internet for a boyfriend or girlfriend, according to a new poll.

* Meanwhile, what do you think would happen if a new product was released and we soon found out this horror?

According to the World Health Organization, [using his product] before the age of 30 increases the risk of skin cancer by 70 percent. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average age of most [product] customers is between 16 and 24.

If a new product caused a 70 percent cancer risk increase for those under 30, the uproar would be tremendous. And that age range on the product’s principle users would freak out moms everywhere.

But this isn’t a new product. The product in question is tanning booths. So, of course, a big deal is made about Big Brother because those alarming statistics caused some legislators to file a bill

Banning tanning? Some Illinois law makers want to make tanning beds illegal for anyone under the age of 18.

It’s hard to worship the sun when you haven’t seen it in what seems like weeks.

So high school seniors Madison Meyer and Danielle Angevine are working on their tan the same way they have since age 14.

Again, this is just a bill. It ain’t a law. Not even close. Another bill like it was introduced last year. It went nowhere. No panic needed.

* True?

The number of people licensed to own guns in Illinois jumped by more than 78,500 last year, possibly fueled by a belief the state was poised to legalize the concealed carry of weapons.

According to figures provided by the Illinois State Police, nearly 1.4 million people had Firearm Owner Identification Cards as of Jan. 1, compared with just over 1.3 million the year before.

Go to the bottom of the story

Todd Vandermyde, who lobbies in Illinois on behalf of the National Rifle Association, said along with the concealed carry issue, economic instability may be leading people to feel more exposed to violence.

“You can’t put it on any one issue,” Vandermyde said.

It’s just a bill.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


The horror

Friday, Jan 27, 2012

* I thought I read somewhere that the governors of New Jersey and Wisconsin were making huge strides toward improving their states’ business climates? And didn’t I also read somewhere that those two governors were courting Illinois companies by bad-mouthing this state’s business climate?

Yeah, I’m sure I saw something on those topics. I’m positive, in fact.

Well, the widely esteemed Tax Foundation just unveiled its 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index. Here are the ten worst states

41. Iowa
42. Maryland
43. Wisconsin
44. North Carolina
45. Minnesota
46. Rhode Island
47. Vermont
48. California
49. New York
50. New Jersey

Well, slash my pension and call me Ty. I thought for sure that his holiness Chris Christie and his trusty sidekick Scott Walker would have done better than this. Guess I was wrong. Dangit. I just hate being wrong.

According to the new report, Illinois is in the middle of the pack, at 28th place. That’s down from 16th the previous year, but the tax hike is done so Illinois won’t plummet much more unless the Christie/Walker biumverate actually does something about their states’ absolutely horrible business tax climates. The Tax Foundation also noted this

However, the [Illinois] legislature spent considerable time in 2011 dealing with the fallout from the increases, and the situation may change again before the automatic rate reductions take effect in four years.

* I’m really not being serious here. Govs. Christie and Walker both have their good sides, although Christie’s side is far bigger than Walker’s, but I digress. They’re both doing what they think is right, even if it grates on some of us that they appear to believe they have to tear down Illinois to make themselves look better.

And, really, are these reports worth anything? I mean, Iowa’s unemployment rate is just 5.7 percent, yet the state was just ranked 41st worst in the nation, mainly due to its 12 percent corporate income tax rate. Maybe taxes don’t mean as much as Christie and Walker keep saying, even though taxes do appear to have played at least some role in our state’s unemployment rate last year.

The bottom line is surveys like these don’t tell us a lot about what’s really going on with business development.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Not gonna happen

Friday, Jan 27, 2012

* If Gov. Pat Quinn sticks to his guns, this request won’t be fulfilled

The Illinois State Board of Education is asking for $265 million more in state funding next year. The board approved its budget recommendation Thursday.

The $6.9 billion being sought for fiscal year 2013 is a 3.9 percent increase over the current budget.

Education officials stress that it’s still $426 million less than the funding received in 2009, the year with the highest level of school funding.

They say the increase is needed to cover costs associated with reform and growing numbers of low-income students.

As you already know, Gov. Quinn’s three-year budget projection includes no increase at all for education during the next three fiscal years. That funding level in 2009, by the way, was heavily augmented by the federal government. The cash has since disappeared.

* Meanwhile, you could probably safely bet big money that this proposed fee increase won’t pass in an election year

A state panel is suggesting a $1 increase in Illinois license plate fees to encourage usage of electric cars.

The recommendation is included in a report forwarded to members of the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. Pat Quinn by the state’s Electric Vehicle Advisory Council.

The panel suggests the money raised be used to help pay for rebates and grants for alternative fuel vehicles.

The $1 increase would bring Illinois’ standard license plate renewal cost to $100 annually.

The Democratic majority already has enough problems with the income tax hike. I highly doubt they’ll up the plate fee again. Yes, it’s only a buck, but it’ll get a lot of press if it passes.

* Related…

* Report card changes don’t impress official - 205’s Joel Estes says school funding inequity more important: Some of the changes mandated by the new law include curriculum information — the availability of advanced placement classes, availability of foreign language classes, school personnel resources and dual credit enrollment — student outcomes, including percentage of students meeting and exceeding state standards; graduation rates and percentage of college-ready students, as well as numbers relating to student progress and school environment.

* Illinois revamps School Report Cards

* Funding In IOUs: Throughout the 2009, 2010, and 2011 fiscal years, state payments to the universities were less than expected. The 2011 fiscal year, which started on June 30, 2010 and ended on July 1, 2011, was the worst for Illinois universities. That year, Eastern Illinois was appropriated $47.8 million. By June 30, 2011, the state still owed the university about $20 million. It would take until Dec. 6 for the state to pay out the full appropriation for the previous fiscal year.

* IHSA opposes bill on football practice waiver: The Illinois High School Association objects to proposed legislation that would give high school football players who have gone through military basic training waivers if they have not completed the minimum required 12 practices. The association, which governs high school athletics in Illinois, wants lawmakers to kill Senate Bill 2550, proposed by state Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga. The association requires high school football players to go through 12 practices before participating in a game. Cultra’s bill would allow coaches to evaluate players and recommend to local school boards whether the requirement could be waived if the student had been serving in the military.

* State legislators seek more detail on JDC closure plan: However, panel co-chairman Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, said he’s not sure the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability will hold more extensive hearings or again vote to recommend against closing JDC.

* House Speaker Spreads Blame for State’s Mess

* State of the States in Online Gambling

* Illinois nursing homes to get $110M in federal aid

* DuPage mayors: Make cops, firefighters part of pension reform

* Editorial: Time to reduce or even ground state’s aircraft

* Gov. makes appointments to work injury panel

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Quinn does what he can for his president

Friday, Jan 27, 2012

* Gov. Pat Quinn sent out a press release late yesterday to announce that he was heeding President Barack Obama’s call to raise the school drop-out age to 18

Gov. Pat Quinn today announced his support for raising the minimum attendance age of students in Illinois schools to age 18.

As part of his ongoing commitment to reform education in Illinois, Quinn said he will propose legislation to the general assembly during the annual State of the State address next week to achieve this goal this year. By answering President Barack Obama’s State of the Union call for states to encourage students to complete their high school education by age 18, the governor said he is taking another step to improve education in Illinois.

“Every child in Illinois deserves a quality education that will serve them throughout their lives,” Quinn said. “The best way to ensure that our children have the chance to achieve and succeed is to make sure they stay in school long enough to earn their diploma.”

With a current minimum dropout age of 17, Illinois is one of 29 states that allow students to drop out of school before they turn 18. President Obama said in his address, when students are not allowed to walk away from school, they are more likely to walk across the stage to receive their high school degree. Research shows that increased educational achievement is not only positively linked to higher lifetime earning potential and stronger economies, but also to lower crime rates.

Quinn said under his proposal, Illinois will take another step toward the goal of increasing the state high school graduation rate. He said, as a result, more students will be better prepared for college or to join the workforce, which will help create jobs and strengthen Illinois’ economy for the future.

Thoughts on this idea?

* Quinn also appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program today with other Democratic governors

Quinn said Republicans need to put politics aside and work with the president.

“Some of the Republicans need to work with the president for the good of the national economy,” he said.

Quinn cited the payroll tax cut, which will expire in February. In December, some members of the GOP House revolted against a temporary extension of the tax cut, arguing that a full year deal should be negotiated before members left for the holiday.

The Democratic Governors Association is meeting in New York this week. Quinn is the group’s chief fundraiser.

* But all did not go smoothly for Quinn on the cable show

[Quinn] he couldn’t steer clear of the narrative that he raised taxes on all Illinoisans, then let a few big companies off the hook when they threatened to leave.

That was essentially how host Joe Scarborough framed the issue, asking whether Quinn’s administration was going to bow to Republican pressure to scale back the 67-percent income tax hike the state imposed last year as it struggled with a crushing budget deficit.

“No, we’re not,” Quinn answered, then veered into what the state is doing to invest in new manufacturing jobs. Scarborough pressed back at the tax point—politely, but still—asking if it was fair to say that Quinn gave “big corporations sweetheart deals” in last month’s targeted tax rollback

“I don’t think it’s fair at all” to put it that way, Quinn answered.

The video isn’t online yet. I’ll try to update the post when the vid becomes available.

* Once again, let’s make sure to keep DC bumper-sticker slogans out of comments. There are plenty of websites where you can go all hyperpartisan in comments. This is not one of them. First and final warning.

*** UPDATE *** Oops. I forgot to post the video…



Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


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Friday, Jan 27, 2012

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Friday, Jan 27, 2012

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