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A big thank you

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013

* I received this e-mail today from Lutheran Social Services of Illinois…

Rich,

I cannot thank you enough for lifting up the work of LSSI again in association with your birthday. So far you have raised $1,320!

Again, thanks for lending your support to our work. You know that many human service organizations across Illinois are experiencing extreme stress because of the continuing erosion of the state’s ability to fund services. Even large providers like LSSI—organizations that for years now have made significant adjustments to try to preserve vital human care services—have gotten perilously close to the brink.

At LSSI, we appreciate your personal commitment to us and your willingness to advocate for us among your followers. We also appreciate your professional awareness of the stress under which the whole human care delivery system in Illinois is laboring.

Daniel Schwick, M. Div.
Vice President for Church and Public Engagement
Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

That’s pretty good. Many, many thanks to all who donated. But I think we can do better. Click here and donate if you can. Thanks again!

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


DON’T TAX SATELLITE TV!

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

The satellite television industry serves a crucial role in connecting Illinois to the rest of the world with content that informs, entertains and educates – in many instances it’s the exclusive broadcast service provider available to Illinois homes. In addition, the satellite TV industry is an important economic driver creating hundreds of jobs in our state.

Facts About Satellite TV in Illinois:

    • Serves 1.3 million households in Illinois (almost a third of homes that subscribe choose satellite)
    • Employs over 790 people, plus more than 1,000 technicians at 481 local retailers
    • Rural Illinois depends on satellite TV since cable does not often provide service to their area
    • Satellite TV offers a wider range of foreign language programming in comparison to cable

Lawmakers continue to be prodded by the cable TV industry to place a NEW 5% monthly tax on satellite TV service. Previous versions of this discriminatory tax proposal have been defeated in Springfield—and similar bills are regularly defeated in other states including three times in neighboring Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota. This revenue generator needs to be clearly labeled what it is: An unfair tax increase on the 1.3 million Illinois families and businesses who subscribe to satellite TV.

TELL YOUR LAWMAKERS, “DON’T TAX SATELLITE TV!”

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Reader comments closed until Tuesday

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013

* That’s it for me. Just about everybody else I know is on spring break, so I’m gonna take a pause as well. Maybe I’ll see you at opening day.

Thanks to all those who donated to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois this week. If you haven’t done so yet, please click here and help ‘em out. Thanks in advance.

* I get ideas

And there’s fire
In every finger

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013

* Should the state keep the portion of all new income tax revenue growth that is traditionally transferred to municipalities?

Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Projecting the future

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013

* From New York Times polling analyst Nate Silver

In the past, we have sometimes considered the possibility that support for same-sex marriage is increasing at a faster rate than before. The data seems to suggest, however, that the increase in support has been reasonably steady since about 2004.

The national polling graph…

* And using a model based on polling and demographic analysis, Silver projects the future

I assume that support for same-sex marriage will continue to increase by one and a half percentage points nationally per year, which reflects the recent historical trend from both polling and ballot-initiative data. (The way that the model is designed, support might be projected to increase slightly faster or slower than that in individual states based on the number of swing voters.) Thus, we can extrapolate the results forward from 2008 to 2012, and to future years like 2016 and 2020.

* Some of his projected support results for same sex marriage in ballot initiatives. Note Illinois…

Illinois doesn’t have binding ballot initiatives, of course, but you get the idea.

* Meanwhile, the Sun-Times looks at the prospects for the gay marriage bill

While Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan said the legislation is 12 votes shy, quiet momentum continues to build among Illinois lawmakers – including Republicans – who believe now is the time to embrace the issue.

“The margin is smaller than what the Speaker had stated,” said one state legislative source who asked not to be named.

Several sources said a small group of Illinois Republicans are considering voting in favor of the bill, which would almost certainly give it the 60 votes needed to advance. “There’s some indication that there’s more than one Republican supporting this bill,” said one of the sources.

As I told you yesterday, Madigan overstated the margin. Right now, there’s only one Republican openly supporting the bill, Rep. Ron Sandack. There may be another out there, but so far, not much more than that.

* But GOP Chairman Pat Brady is standing firm

“Whether you agree or disagree with particular Republican beliefs … we have to be gracious in a diversity of opinions,” Brady said. “I think that’s the way we can get more people to support our candidates.”

If Silver’s projections are even close to accurate, then Brady has made the right decision: Get on the bus before it runs you over.

But Brady is also giving the GOP cover in case the Republican House vote for gay marriage is as low as it was in the Senate, which is also pretty smart.

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


DON’T TAX SATELLITE TV!

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

The satellite television industry serves a crucial role in connecting Illinois to the rest of the world with content that informs, entertains and educates – in many instances it’s the exclusive broadcast service provider available to Illinois homes. In addition, the satellite TV industry is an important economic driver creating hundreds of jobs in our state.

Facts About Satellite TV in Illinois:

    • Serves 1.3 million households in Illinois (almost a third of homes that subscribe choose satellite)
    • Employs over 790 people, plus more than 1,000 technicians at 481 local retailers
    • Rural Illinois depends on satellite TV since cable does not often provide service to their area
    • Satellite TV offers a wider range of foreign language programming in comparison to cable

Lawmakers continue to be prodded by the cable TV industry to place a NEW 5% monthly tax on satellite TV service. Previous versions of this discriminatory tax proposal have been defeated in Springfield—and similar bills are regularly defeated in other states including three times in neighboring Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota. This revenue generator needs to be clearly labeled what it is: An unfair tax increase on the 1.3 million Illinois families and businesses who subscribe to satellite TV.

TELL YOUR LAWMAKERS, “DON’T TAX SATELLITE TV!”

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Cook County judge rules gun law unconstitutional

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013

* Donta Mosley, 20, was convicted in Cook County of two charges of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He had an uncased, loaded and immediately accessible gun without a valid FOID card. Not good.

But Cook County Judge Michael Brown recently declared the Aggravated UUW law unconstitutional and tossed out the felony charge against Mosley.

* Part of the problem for Mosley, as outlined by Brown, was that he was ineligible to obtain a FOID card. From the opinion

Thus, an offender under the age of 21 cannot independently obtain an FOID card. An offender cannot compel his parent or guardian to consent to an FOlD card application. Further, even if consent would be availing, the status of the parent/guardian could prohibit the offender from obtaining the FOlD card. The FOID Act requires the parent/guardian, under pain of perjury, to claim they are themselves eligible for a card. Neither can the underage offender be held legally accountable for the failure of a third party to give consent to an FOlD card. See 720 ILCS 5/5-2.

15. Thus, first-time underage offenders subject to the non-probationable sentence provision under 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(d)(2) face a juridical impossibility. Simply put, the FOlD Card Act prohibits 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds from individually complying with the very law that prevents the imposition of a nonprobationable sentence.

16. Further, in this particular case according to the presentence investigation, the defendant’s parents had been incarcerated. They were legally prevented from providing the consent that defendant required to obtain a FOlD card.

17. In the court’s view, this juridical impossibility offends due process as enumerated in the United States Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment and Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois. For these reasons, the court finds 720 ILCS 5/24-1. 6(d)(2) to be unconstitutional.

* The judge also found an inherent contradiction in the UUW law

Thus, a person carrying an uncased, loaded, immediately accessible weapon without a FOlD card can be charged and convicted under either statute, the misdemeanor UUW statute or the AGG UUW statute. The greater punishment required for a violation of the AGG UUW statute can only be justified under the proportionate penalties clause if the statute requires the State to prove different or additional elements to convict a defendant of AGG UUW; however, contrary to McGee, the statute makes no such requirement. The elements of the two offenses are identical. The AGG UUW statute is therefore unconstitutional under the proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois Constitution because it fails the identical elements test.

The full opinion is here. One of the better explanations I’ve seen in the online message boards is from a commenter who also posts here

Imagine you had 2 Speeding laws. one said 30 MPH over you get a ticket and the other says felony and 1 year in jail. Same act, nothing else. just two state laws and is arbitrary which one the cop or prosecutors charge you with.

Which law did you break? If both, and they are both identical how can one be a simple ticket and the other a mandatory year in jail?

That is what he pointed out here. You have two laws and can be charged with either one, but very different penalties and no difference in why you get a Mis A or a Felony.

This is a lower court, so the opinion is not binding outside the case itself. But the UUW laws regarding public carry have already been declared federally unconstitutional by an appellate court, so the gun folks now have a little more ammo.

*** UPDATE *** Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) saw today’s post and sent me a note..

Rich, I was made aware of the Mosley ruling last week. As it potentially affected one of my bills, I asked for an opinion from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office on Judge Brown’s ruling. Below is their Appeal’s chief’s response.

Thanks for letting me respond.

* The analysis…

The trial court in the Mosley case ruled that misdemeanor UUW and Aggravated UUW are the same offense with two different penalties, and can be charged either way at the sole discretion of the State’s Attorney. The obvious problem with this conclusion is that it is directly contrary to long-standing Illinois law. As the Illinois Appellate Court ruled over 10 years ago inPeople v. McGee, 341 Ill. App. 3d 1029, 1035 (1st Dist. 2003), when it specifically rejected an identical argument:

    “[T]he aggravated UUW statute contains nine aggravating factors, at least one of which must be present for the felony charge to succeed. Of particular interest to this defendant are factors (A) and (C). That is, he was charged with carrying or possessing a weapon that was ‘uncased, loaded and immediately accessible,’ and with possessing or carrying concealed the firearm without having been issued a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. Those factors are not required for the misdemeanor UUW offense. The misdemeanor does not require that the gun be loaded. Nor does it require that the defendant had not been issued a valid FOIC. Further, if the weapon is loaded and enclosed in a case, it does not come within aggravating factor A of the felony charge; it still may be charged as a misdemeanor, which excepts “unloaded and enclosed in a case” firearms. 720 ILCS 5/24-1 (a) (4) (iii)(West 2000).

    We also note that none of the other seven aggravating factors’ is a required element of the misdemeanor offense. These aggravating factors thus narrow the universe of persons subject to felony penalties for UUW. In, short, the felony charge applies to more serious conduct. They are not the same.

    We see no disproportionality here.” (emphasis added).

As McGee makes clear, Aggravated UUW is the appropriate charge when a person engages in the “more serious conduct” of possessing a loaded, uncased and immediately accessible firearm while in public, and when no currently valid FOID card has been issued. This is precisely what the trial court found that the State’s Attorney proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The trial court was bound to follow that decision and erred when it refused to.

Furthermore, McGee is entirely consistent with the concept that more serious conduct is punished more severely. Just as robbery is based on the same conduct as armed robbery, armed robbery is properly punished more harshly because it poses a greater risk to the public.

Aggravated UUW works the same way, when a person who does not possess an FOID card and has never even attempted to obtain one, carries a loaded, uncased and immediately accessible gun into a public park, he is not a law-abiding citizen and poses a greater risk to the people around him. He should be punished more severely.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Explanations and theories

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013

* I asked Bruce Rauner’s campaign spokesman just what the possible GOP gubernatorial candidate meant yesterday when he issued this press release

Yesterday, Governor Pat Quinn announced his support for a guarantee of pension payments to be added to the overall pension reform bills. Bruce Rauner released the following statement:

“After years of continued mismanagement, Governor Quinn continues to reveal his true colors: a lackey to the government union bosses.

“Governor Quinn’s giveaway to government unions will only make our pension crisis worse. Because of years of bad deals and poor decisions in Springfield, we have $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.

“It’s clear that career politicians in Springfield don’t have the backbone to stand up to the union bosses they depend on for re-election and are willing to sacrifice Illinois taxpayers for their own political needs.”

* The reply…

It’s a bad idea for today’s governor and legislature to hold future governors and legislatures responsible for pension payments that ramp up without bold reforms.

* Then again, Rauner won’t say what “bold reforms” he wants. Daily Herald

(W)e asked spokesman Chip Englander what [pension reform] plan Rauner does back. Perhaps one from state Rep. Tom Morrison, a Palatine Republican, that does not include the guarantee Quinn backs?

Englander took a broad swipe at the efforts at the Capitol. Then he said Rauner isn’t officially running yet, so he doesn’t have a plan yet.

    “Springfield politicians don’t have the nerve, backbone, or fortitude to do what needs to be done. It’s going to take more than introducing a bill and leaving it up to legislators and bureaucrats. A governor who’s willing to put solving a major problem over their desire to be re-elected, be bold and facts-based, engage and educate the public, and charge forward is the likely prescription. None — I repeat — none of that exists in Springfield today. Should Bruce run for governor he’ll have a plan. But the right first step is listening and learning and that’s what he’s doing now. “

Um, yesterday’s press release didn’t sound like he was “learning.” It sounded like he was “teaching,” without saying much at all except that guaranteeing state payments is the worst idea ever.

* A longtime reader/subscriber mused yesterday in an e-mail about what he thinks is going on. He noted that the Chicago Tribune editorial board agrees with Rauner that pension benefits should not be guaranteed…

I think the Trib was singing Dan Biss’ glory because they thought his pension plan would pave the way for the tax hike going away.

But if you ask him, he will tell you the savings are not enough. His savings make the payments manageable going forward while diminishing the pain in the rest of the budget.

My guess is the Tribsters only recently learned that, at which point they were like, waiiiiittttt a minute. So the tax hike doesn’t go away with this?

Hmmmm … well what if we told lawmakers they shouldn’t be bound by those onerous pension payments?

I think they want to be able to say in a year or so that enough progress has been made that the mistake of a tax increase should roll back and they’re even willing to redo the ramp to make it happen.

I think Bruce is hopping on board in an effort to disrupt an actual solution and try to guarantee this continues until 2014 gov race.

Meanwhile, Bill Brady is smiling. He’ll campaign across downstate that the pension payments must be made and he’s the one willing to be honest with the hard working teachers and state workers.

* There are more nefarious theories out there. For instance, this one is from comments yesterday

Rauner is parroting the Tillman/Proft talking points verbatim. Their attacks on the Nekritz-Biss-Cross bill were nearly entirely based on their opposition to requiring the state to make payments into the pension systems.

Why? Because they want the ability to not make pension payments in order to extract huge concessions from the unions. In short, they want to bust the unions by withholding the pension payments.

* And then there was this comment

Business groups already condemned the guaranty provisions, which are patently absurd. They would delegate to courts the right to seize state cash in “reasonable” amounts, would be litigated forever if they aren’t voided for vagueness on their face. Skipping payments to the system has already been upheld as constitutional. Funding should be redirected to a sensible alternative system.

That last sentence “Funding should be redirected to a sensible alternative system” is the most interesting. This may very well have something to do with crashing the system and creating something new.

- Posted by Rich Miller   75 Comments      


Quote of the day

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013

* From an interview of Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who announced earlier this year that she won’t be Gov. Pat Quinn’s running mate

Will you vote for Gov. Quinn?

Sheila Simon: Way too early to say. We don’t even know who’s running for governor.

No respect.

* But it wasn’t all bad

Why does Pat Quinn poll so badly? Jim Warren, writing in Chicago magazine, called him “the Rodney Dangerfield of Illinois politics.”

Sheila Simon: He is just what we needed; totally honest. This is a really challenging time for our state. Anyone who’s involved in government is not going to be particularly popular.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


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