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Question of the day

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

* I’ve seen Senate President Pro Tempore Don Harmon play guitar. I’ve gone to several gigs by Reps. Mike Tryon and Chad Hays (although I missed last night’s performance). I didn’t know that Rep. Martwick played in a band, however

Robert F. Martwick, Illinois House of Representative, 19th District, sported a different persona Sat., Apr. 27, when he and the Chris N group rocked in Phyllis’ Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division St.

While Martwick tucked the guitar away when he was close to 9-years-old and when years later he told his bride that he wasn’t going to run for a political office again, Saturday night was proof that life can take unexpected turns.

The photo…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


This just in… Madigan files pension reform proposal

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

* 11:58 am - House Speaker Michael Madigan has filed a pension reform proposal. I’m still going through it, but I’m sure our pension experts out there can help figure out what’s in it. Click here to read the amendment (which was tacked onto Senate President Cullerton’s SB1) and make sure to comment below.

* 12:17 pm - I was given a quick briefing on the bill. Here are some of the highlights, but overall it’s somewhat pretty close to the Nekritz/Cross bill…

* The Tier 3 and cost shift language from Nekritz/Cross are out;

* COLA change is a “bit less onerous.” Instead of basing compounded COLA on only the first $25K of salary at retirement, this would provide a formula of $1k per year of service. So, if somebody worked 30 years, then the first $30K would qualify for compounded COLAs;

* The proposal’s Social Security wage cap is slightly lower than Nekritz/Cross. The cap is tied to the Tier 2 level. So, now the cap is $109k, which is a few grand lower and will grow more slowly;

* Retirement age, employee contribution levels are the same as Nekritz/Cross;

* State funding guarantee language is stronger than Nekritz/Cross - basically the same commitment as made to the bond houses.

- Posted by Rich Miller   107 Comments      


Fuel taxes and speed limits

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

* Tom Kacich reports

Facing dwindling revenue from the state gasoline tax, the Transportation for Illinois Coalition will propose new motor fuel fees in May, an official with the group said Monday.

Among the possibilities being considered, said Jennifer Morrison, managing director of the coalition, are a surcharge on electric and hybrid vehicles and moving away from a per-gallon tax (now 19 cents a gallon) to a percentage-based tax that would bring in more money as the price of fuel increases. Morrison’s organization is a coalition of business, labor and transit groups interested in transportation funding issues.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now program is winding down, Morrison said, and the motor fuel tax, which funds state and local road projects, “is stagnant and declining, and at the same time, there is a dramatic increase in the cost of construction. That terrible dynamic (causes) … the incredibly diminished purchasing power of the motor fuel tax.

“Obviously, that’s not sustainable going forward. Cars are going to get increasingly fuel-efficient and are mandated to do so. We need to do something to fix that structural problem and investment in transportation.”

Switching the motor fuel tax to a percentage tax from a gallonage tax is a huge ask, to say the least. A couple of reacts

In order to afford those projects, lawmakers will look for places where the state is losing revenue. Representative Mike Bost says truckers are avoiding Illinois because of its higher gas tax and the state needs to try other techniques to bring in their business.

“That’s why we still need to maintain a sensible, competitive rate, for encouraging travel through the state of Illinois and we are losing a lot of those dollars that way,” explains Bost.

Representative Brandon Phelps says Chicago lawmakers want a bigger portion of the state’s transportation fund. Right now, it’s a 55/45 split favoring downstate projects. He says Chicago lawmakers want a 50/50 split.

“We can’t afford to let that happen,” says Phelps.

Translation: No higher taxes.

* Meanwhile, AAA is opposed to raising the speed limit to 70 mph

“The Illinois legislature should not ignore the enormous speeding problem Illinois already has on its roadways,” said Brad Roeber, president of AAA Chicago. “Speeding accounts for more than half of Illinois’ over 900 roadway fatalities, and this problem cannot be fixed by letting cars and trucks travel faster.”

The data on speeding are clear. From 2008-2011, Illinois’ roadway fatalities dropped 12 percent; but those fatalities due to speeding rose nearly 14 percent. Furthermore, in 2010 and 2011, Illinois speed limits for large trucks were raised to 65 mph. Over this time, there has been a 39 percent increase in fatalities involving large trucks.

* But the SJ-R argues that “There is no good argument for keeping Illinois’ speed limit at 65 under the parameters outlined in the bill”

Well, on Illinois’ rural interstates, the majority of drivers actually are traveling well over 65 mph — more like 70 to 75 mph. We’ve all seen it. Drive 65 or slower on I-55 and you run the risk of being blown off the highway, honked at or rudely gestured to. […]

Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, who sponsored the bill, said he doesn’t believe people who already speed now will just drive even faster if the limit is raised.

“I really don’t think so,” he said. “In fact, I would be willing to support a tighter enforcement of the speed limit.”

We agree with Oberweis. If officials are concerned about excessive speeding and the possible repercussions, we encourage the Illinois State Police and other law enforcement agencies to crack down on speeding on the interstates and send a message that flouting the state’s speed limit won’t be tolerated.

The speed limit is almost always the minimum speed. Of course people will drive faster. Ever been to a state with higher speed limits than Illinois? People in state’s I’ve visited tend to drive faster than their posted speed limits. Also, is Oberweis OK with cutting other budgets to beef up ISP speed enforcement? Where and how?

Also, the SJ-R editorial cited as an authority the National Motorists Association, which is offering a $20,000 cash reward to anyone who can substantiate the stats in this National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statement

Despite the tireless efforts of thousands of advocates, impaired drivers continue to kill someone every 30 minutes, nearly 50 people a day, and almost 18,000 citizens a year. NHTSA and its partners are working together to put a stop to these deadly statistics.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Protect Jobs for Illinois Veterans: Pass SB 1665/HB 2414

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

In April 2012, Peoples Gas established the Utility Workers Training Program (UWTP) for military veterans—a $3.5 million multi-partner and union-backed training-to-placement program for those who have honorably served our country. To date, 60 veterans have completed the program and 42 have started a career as a gas utility worker at Peoples Gas.

Through this program, veterans develop the skills they need to enter Illinois’ natural gas industry. The curriculum of core classes has enabled each student to earn 52 college credits toward an AA degree. The new employees have also earned their Gas Utility Worker Advanced Certification at Dawson Technical Institute, a satellite site of Kennedy-King College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago.

The UWTP was created to support Peoples Gas’ Accelerated Main Replacement Program (AMRP) to replace 2,000 miles of cast and ductile iron mains in its distribution system. This project has already created over 1,000 jobs, including UWTP graduates.

The Natural Gas Modernization, Public Safety and Jobs Bill (SB 1665/HB 2414), is needed to allow natural gas utilities to confidently invest and continue hiring in Illinois. If it is not passed, Peoples Gas will be forced to slow or halt its pipeline modernization project, which would threaten the jobs that are putting Illinois veterans to work.

Members of the General Assembly: vote YES on SB 1665/HB 2414.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Show me the money

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

* There appears to be a real need for this program

State lawmakers are considering legislation that encourages witnesses to cooperate more with police. The bill that already passed the House would provide more funding to protect, and in some cases, relocate witnesses of gang-related crimes. […]

Law enforcement officials say their investigations are often hampered by witnesses who are reluctant to testify. Yet some programs designed to coax them into working with prosecutors can barely keep up with demand.

“I could double the staff and keep everybody busy all the time,” said Lori Smith, head of Cook County’s victim witness assistance unit. “Every year funding shrinks and we are always subject to what’s going to happen with the county budget.”

Smith said last year the unit had 52 employees handling about 13,000 cases. […]

A similar witness protection program was launched in 1996 and administered by the Illinois State Police. The state appropriated $666,000 for the Gang Crime Witness Protection pilot program, but two years later the program was eliminated due to lack of funding.

No doubt, this is a good idea.

But the actual bill doesn’t “provide more funding.” It merely creates a new fund and specifies how the cash will be distributed, if there ever is any cash.

Unless and until there’s an official appropriation, or unless the controlling agency somehow finds some grant money, this bill means nothing. It’s just a well intentioned feel-good measure, which is why it passed unanimously.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Raoul points to Indiana law

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

* Very interesting

A copy of Sen. Kwame Raoul’s proposed [conceald carry] legislation that was obtained by The Associated Press indicates the plan would require an applicant to not only be free of a criminal record and pass a background check, but provide a “proper reason” for wanting to carry a gun and be “of good moral character.”

Those are hallmarks of laws in states such as New York, where police have wide latitude to deny applications. But Raoul said it was lifted from neighboring Indiana, whose concealed carry law dates back decades.

Raoul said a staff member told him that verbiage came from neighboring Indiana, which has been considered a conservative “shall issue” state for at least 25 years.

“I’ve never heard anybody characterize the state of Indiana as having a super-liberal approach to guns,” Raoul said.

“Proper reason” is stated plainly in the Hoosier state’s law: It is “for the defense of oneself or the state of Indiana.”

* From the Indiana statute

(d) The superintendent may make whatever further investigation the superintendent deems necessary. Whenever disapproval is recommended, the officer to whom the application is made shall provide the superintendent and the applicant with the officer’s complete and specific reasons, in writing, for the recommendation of disapproval.
(e) If it appears to the superintendent that the applicant:

    (1) has a proper reason for carrying a handgun;
    (2) is of good character and reputation;
    (3) is a proper person to be licensed; and
    (4) is:
    (A) a citizen of the United States; or
    (B) not a citizen of the United States but is allowed to carry a firearm in the United States under federal law;

the superintendent shall issue to the applicant a qualified or an unlimited license to carry any handgun lawfully possessed by the applicant.

So, Indiana also has a “good character” test.

* “Proper reason” defined

Sec. 8. “Proper reason” means for the defense of oneself or the state of Indiana.

* “Proper person” defined

“Proper person” means a person who:

(1) does not have a conviction for resisting law enforcement under IC 35-44-3-3 within five (5) years before the person applies for a license or permit under this chapter;
(2) does not have a conviction for a crime for which the person could have been sentenced for more than one (1) year;
(3) does not have a conviction for a crime of domestic violence (as defined in IC 35-41-1-6.3), unless a court has restored the person’s right to possess a firearm under IC 35-47-4-7;
(4) is not prohibited by a court order from possessing a handgun;
(5) does not have a record of being an alcohol or drug abuser as defined in this chapter;
(6) does not have documented evidence which would give rise to a reasonable belief that the person has a propensity for violent or emotionally unstable conduct;
(7) does not make a false statement of material fact on the person’s application;
(8) does not have a conviction for any crime involving an inability to safely handle a handgun;
(9) does not have a conviction for violation of the provisions of this article within five (5) years of the person’s application; or
(10) does not have an adjudication as a delinquent child for an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, if the person applying for a license or permit under this chapter is less than twenty-three (23) years of age.

Discuss.

* Related…

* Raoul seeks ‘middle ground’ with new concealed-carry plans

* Allow concealed carry except in Cook County?

* Senate gun-carry bill to get overhaul

* Lisa Madigan asks U.S. Supreme Court for extension on concealed carry

* Dozens Pack Illinois Concealed Carry Classes

- Posted by Rich Miller   72 Comments      


A tale of three headlines

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

* The heds…

* Tribune: ComEd rate hike request would add $6 to monthly bills

* Crain’s: ComEd wants $311 million rate hike in 2014

* Sun-Times: ComEd wants rate hike but says bills will be lower

* The Tribune explains the reasons behind the higher rate

Commonwealth Edison said Monday that it will charge $6 more per month on average to deliver electricity to utility customers beginning in 2014 as a result of higher transmission costs and expenses it has incurred to modernize the electrical grid.

In a filing with the Illinois Commerce Commission Monday — its third under a new formula-based rate making system devised in 2011 — the utility requested $311 million in additional revenue from customers in 2014 for its role in delivering electricity, maintaining electrical lines and improving the electrical grid. That increase would amount to about $5 per month for the average electricity customer and must be approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

* Crain’s breaks down its $311 million number and provides some context

ComEd filed for a $311 million increase in the revenue it receives from ratepayers, a figure that ComEd executives said will be more like $335 million once recently passed legislation by the General Assembly to increase the utility’s revenue becomes law.

Under the controversial 2011 “smart grid” law, enacted over Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto, ComEd is permitted to increase delivery rates annually over a decade to finance a $2.6 billion grid modernization program that includes the installation of “smart meters” in every home and business in northern Illinois.

After the ICC reduced ComEd’s rate hike last year, the utility delayed the planned installation of the meters for what it said were lack of funds. Executives said today that, if the bill just passed becomes law by June 15, the company will begin installing meters in the fourth quarter of this year and aims to install 60,000 in 2013.

Mr. Quinn is expected to veto that bill, but there are sufficient margins in both the state House and Senate to override a veto.

* And the Sun-Times explains its headline

Despite the request, the average electric bill for a residential customer will fall from about $81 monthly to about $66, beginning in June — thanks to falling energy prices.

If the higher delivery rate is approved, bills will rise in January to an average of about $72 monthly — still about 10 percent below the current rate.

Bills will fall even with the higher delivery charges because power suppliers are producing energy more cheaply, ComEd officials said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


NRCC tries another reboot

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

* From USA Today

House Republicans are targeting popular “mommy blog” websites in a digital ad campaign beginning Tuesday as part of an ongoing effort to repair the GOP’s image with certain voting blocs — in this case swing female voters — who have sided decisively with Democrats in recent elections.

The banner ads will be featured on over 100 websites popular among women and geo-targeted to be viewed by residents in 20 Democratic-held congressional districts targeted by the GOP for 2014. The House Republican campaign operation is increasing its use of niche digital ad marketing for the upcoming election cycle. They used a similar strategy targeting Democrats on the unpopular automatic spending cuts known as sequester in March.

The $20,000 ad buy, running on sites including Ikeafans.com and MarthaStewart.com through Friday, will call on Democrats to vote with House Republicans next week on a bill to give hourly private sector workers more flexibility to choose between compensatory time and cash payment for overtime work. […]

The legislative effort is not expected to garner much Democratic support because it has long been opposed by labor unions and Democratic interests who argue it is a backdoor attempt to weaken workers’ rights to overtime pay.

* The NRCC sent along a sample ad…

The ads link to an online petition.

* NRCC statement…

“It’s a shame that Bill Enyart is willing to play politics while working moms and their kids need a voice to fight for them in Congress. It’s time for Enyart to stop forcing women to choose between work and family and start protecting the needs of all Illinois families.” – NRCC Spokeswoman Katie Prill

Think it’ll make any difference?

* But this may be a more important issue for Enyart

The federal government won’t make a decision for years on whether to close Scott Air Force Base, but leaders in southwestern Illinois fear growing budget pressures in Washington could affect the facility’s future.

Illinois’ congressional delegation has vowed to work to keep the base open, even though the next round of closures won’t begin taking place until at least 2015.

U.S. Department of Defense officials have said the military has more infrastructure than needed, and Illinois lawmakers fear the base will stay on the chopping block as the costs of Medicare and other government-funded social programs continue to soar, forcing spending reductions in other areas of the federal budget.

“If we don’t reform our entitlement programs, discretionary dollars will continue to get cut, which puts Scott more at risk,'’ Republican U.S. Rep. John Shimkus told the newspaper.

* More

U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, who replaced Costello in January, is seen as a strong voice for Scott. A former commander of the Illinois National Guard, Enyart serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
Enyart spoke optimistically of community-wide efforts to protect Scott. It’s a campaign bolstered by the fact the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command cited the St. Louis region’s strong support for military personnel at Scott Air Force Base as the reason for awarding the region the prestigious Abilene Trophy. The trophy is to be awarded officially in June.

“The folks are pulling together because they know how important it is,” Enyart said. “We’re going to be working very diligently to make sure that Scott isn’t impacted by BRAC … This is not a partisan issue. This is our region, our economy, and we’re all working together.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


*** LIVE *** SESSION COVERAGE

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

* Blackberry users click here

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition and a Statehouse roundup

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Tonight’s events

Monday, Apr 29, 2013

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Bill would remove limit on abuse suits

Monday, Apr 29, 2013

* From the Senate Democrats

Victims of childhood sexual abuse would no longer face legal deadlines regarding how long they have to seek damages from their abusers, under legislation state Sen. Terry Link passed out of the Illinois Senate this week.

“I don’t know how you put an expiration date on being scarred for life,” Link said after his legislation, Senate Bill 1399, was approved 48-4. It now advances to the Illinois House for further consideration.

Current state law imposes a 20-year deadline for a sexual abuse victim to file a lawsuit against the abuser. More specifically, the victim has 20 years from the date that he or she knew of the abuse to go to court.

Link’s plan simply eliminates that deadline so a victim could sue for damages at any time.

The bill is here.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Madigan asks for extension on gun case

Monday, Apr 29, 2013

* Attorney General Lisa Madigan has asked the US Supreme Court to grant an extension in the concealed carry case. Read the filing by clicking here.

Madigan has to file her petition for certiorary by May 23rd, while the spring session is still in session and several days before the June 9th appellate court deadline is imposed on the state. She’s asking for a 30-day delay.

Gov. Pat Quinn is listed on the request as a petitioner. Quinn has publicly urged Madigan to file an appeal.

From the AG’s office…

The June 9 deadline still stands for the legislature to act. This filing doesn’t impact that.

What this filing does is allow us more time to prepare a petition, and to the extent the legislature takes action before June 9, it allows us to take that action into consideration as we draft a petition for review as the Attorney General continues to assess the appropriate next steps.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Justice Harrison

Monday, Apr 29, 2013

* Former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Moses Harrison passed away last week. This is his career defining quote

“People often ask how I see my role as a judge. It is to protect ordinary citizens against wrongdoing by the government, large corporations and powerful individuals.”

* Here’s another one

In a 2002 Supreme Court news release announcing his retirement, Harrison said his small-town upbringing in Collinsville instilled within him a philosophy that “the reason for our existence is to help other people.”

* And he championed the end of the death penalty

One of the more well-known dissents Harrison delivered came in November 1998, when he wrote that the state’s death penalty was unconstitutional because “the execution of an innocent person is inevitable.”

About three months later, according to the court’s 2002 release, Death Row inmate Anthony Porter was exonerated and released after someone else admitted to the murders that put him behind bars.

“There are some who say Chief Justice Harrison was the first to call for a stop to executions in Illinois,” the court’s 2002 release states.

Not even a year after Harrison issued a public statement in 1999 that said the governor had the constitutional power to stop executions, the release notes that former Gov. Ryan issued a moratorium on the state’s death penalty.

* Where to give

Memorials may be made to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 111 O’Fallon Troy Road, O’Fallon, IL, 62269, or the Justinian Society of Lawyers Scholarship Fund, 734 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL, 60610.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Gill mulling another run as Dems turn to Callis

Monday, Apr 29, 2013

* Democrat David Gill on his loss to Republican Rodney Davis last November

“When you look precinct by precinct, you see the impact that John Hartman had,” Gill told me last week. “I would have won by at least a point and a half had there not been a John Hartman.”

Yeah, and if Davis wasn’t on the ballot, Gill would’ve won by a landslide.

Whatever.

He was a weak candidate. End of story. If Gill runs again and wins the primary, he’ll be a weak candidate again.

* As I told subscribers last week, the DCCC is pinning its hopes on the chief judge of the 3rd Judicial Circuit Ann Callis

Callis was in a similar situation before. Two years ago Democrats tried to talk her into running in the 12th Congressional District, for the seat that had been held by former U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville. She took a pass that time — “I came to the conclusion that at this time, I could not leave a community that I love, employees and colleagues of Madison County Circuit Court that have become like family to me,” she said — and the seat eventually went to Rep. William Enyart, another Democrat.

But Democrats now want her to run in Davis’ 13th Congressional District, even though her home outside of Troy is in the 15th District represented by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville. […]

As the chief judge in the 3rd Judicial Circuit, she has name recognition in several counties in the southern end of the district, she has contacts and money (she self-funded her campaign for judicial retention last year and her father, Lance Callis, is a Granite City trial lawyer who made millions by investing in the Argosy Casino in Alton, then selling his shares in 2005) and she has a good reputation.

Callis can self-fund, which is a big plus for the DC folks. Expect an announcement soon.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Apr 29, 2013

* From WUIS

The governor’s latest tax returns also show he gave $7500 to charity.

That’s about $4000 less than he gave in 2011.

* The Question(s): Which charities do you usually contribute to, and what percentage of your income goes to charity?

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Meeks appears in another round of anti gay marriage robocalls

Monday, Apr 29, 2013

* Former state Senator Rev. James Meeks appears in a new robocall aimed at African-American voters. Meeks encourages people to call their Illinois House members and demand they vote against the gay marriage bill. Listen

* Sun-Times

“The [African-American Clergy Coalition] has begun distributing fliers to Cook County African American Churches,” a release from the AACC said today. “African American Clergymen have now taken the AACC flier and began instructing their Congregations to call their legislators.”

The fliers contain a list of African American House members with their phone numbers.

Direct lobbying by pastors in their churches seems pretty darned close to the line. Click the fliers for a larger view…

* In other news, Carol Marin writes about House Republican Leader Tom Cross’ stance on gay marriage

Inside Cross’ caucus of 47 Republicans, David Harris and most others will vote “no” when the time comes. Only two Republicans, Ron Sandack of Downers Grove and Ed Sullivan of Mundelein, have publicly voiced support for same-sex marriage. And they’re reportedly taking a huge amount of heat from some GOP brethren because of it.

Enter Cross.

“I’m trying to balance . . . and respect the wishes of a whole caucus . . . at the same time trying to remind everybody in our caucus that there are folks who are for this. You have to respect them,” he said by phone on Friday.

The ironies abound.

Some of the downstate members of Cross’ caucus who invoke their conservatism in opposing gay marriage don’t seem very conservative at all when it comes to pension reform. On that issue, they seem to have found common ground with their liberal Democratic colleagues, dependent as many of them are on the support of public employee unions.

* Related…

* New conservative lobbying push for gay marriage: The group has spent $500,000 on lobbying since last month, including efforts in Rhode Island, Delaware, Indiana, West Virginia and Utah.

* Rhode Island Beats Illinois To Gay Marriage: The risk of a black lawmakers losing his seat seems minimal, though. They can’t lose their seats to Republicans, and in 2014, is any Democrat going to run a primary campaign on the issue of opposing same-sex marriage? The winner wouldn’t have a lot of friends in the House Democratic Caucus. More likely, a black legislator trying to move up to alderman, county board, state senate or Congress would be denied a Sunday appearance at a conservative black church. That’s a valuable endorsement in the black community, so that may be enough to make a politician hesitate before pressing “yes.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      


Credit Union (noun) – an essential financial cooperative

Monday, Apr 29, 2013

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Cooperatives can be formed to support producers such as farmers, purchasers such as independent business owners, and consumers such as electric coops and credit unions. Their primary purpose is to meet members’ needs through affordable goods and services of high quality. Cooperatives such as credit unions may look like other businesses in their operations and, like other businesses, can range in size. However, the cooperative structure is distinctively different regardless of size. As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions serve individuals with a common goal or interest. They are owned and democratically controlled by the people who use their services. Their board of directors consists of unpaid volunteers, elected by and from the membership. Members are owners who pool funds to help other members. After expenses and reserve requirements are met, net revenue is returned to members via lower loan and higher savings rates, lower costs and fees for services. It is the structure of credit unions, not their size or range of services that is the reason for their tax exempt status - and the reason why almost three million Illinois residents are among 95 million Americans who count on their local credit union everyday to reach their financial goals.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


A very long to-do list

Monday, Apr 29, 2013

* As Doug Finke points out, there’s an awful lot to do in the next five weeks

The deadline has now passed for the House and Senate to act on bills that started in their respective chambers, marking the halfway point in the process. Let’s see where some big things stand.

The state budget? It’s not May yet, so of course it’s nowhere to be seen. Outside, that is, of Gov. PAT QUINN’s budget that was outlined in March and hasn’t been heard of since. Even Quinn’s budget probably wouldn’t be out there if the state Constitution didn’t force him to do it. Bzzzt. (Cue the penalty buzzer).

Gambling expansion with its lure of easy new millions for the state? Hasn’t’ passed either chamber. Bzzzt.

Concealed carry seems headed toward the state in one form or another after a court-ordered deadline of June 9. Surely the legislature has acted to put its stamp on that, right? Nope. The House has debated and voted on two concealed-carry bills — one restrictive, one not — and rejected both of them (guess they get points for consistency). That still puts the House ahead of the Senate, which has yet to publicly debate and vote on any concealed-carry bill. Bzzzt.

Compared to all of that, there’s been an explosion of activity on pension reform. The Senate actually passed a reform bill (on the second try) dealing with one of the five systems. The House has passed three reform bills over to the Senate.

Unfortunately, none of that stuff is the final version of pension reform. Plus, it all passed before the spring break that ended April 5. Since then, nothing

* Add Rep. Adam Brown’s bill to the list

Brown, in his second term in the House, is sponsor of HB 2496, a bill to provide state incentives to help lure a $1.2 billion fertilizer plant to Tuscola, a project that would be an economic boon to East Central Illinois. Iowa also is competing for the plant.

Brown had lined up two dozen co-sponsors for the measure, met with House leaders, the governor and others, got the bill out of committee unanimously and thought it was in good shape for passage.

“It was getting extremely close to being called. We had a meeting with Speaker (Michael) Madigan, (Democratic Leader) Barbara Flynn Currie and (Republican Leader Tom) Cross where we sat down and discussed all the issues at hand. They indicated they were supportive,” Brown recalled.

“And then a couple days later, John Bradley filed Amendment 3.”

Amendment 3 forgives a $15 million state loan to the Chicago Port Authority that was made 25 years ago.

The odd thing is that Rep. John Bradley is from Marion, about 310 miles from the offices of the Chicago Port Authority. But Bradley is also among Madigan’s assistant leaders.

The amendment was approved in a voice vote on the House floor, so now it’s part of Brown’s bill for the Tuscola fertilizer plant, a bill that was seemingly headed for approval. Now his bill is on hold.

“I tried to remove it,” Brown said. “But it turned out that wouldn’t work out.”

A pattern is developing in the House of holding off on all the goodies until the hard stuff is passed. Brown is a conservative, but he’s against pension reform. He’s also a likely “No” vote on the budget. The thinking may be to not give him what he wants for his district until after the hard stuff has passed.

But that means a ton of legislation (far more than listed above) is backlogged. It’s gonna be a crazy May. Either that, or nothing will get done.

* Related…

* Editorial: Don’t give state more money to throw away

* Vendors step up to pay Illinois’ bills

* Editorial: Illinois road paved with patronage

* Economic development, Texas-style: What Illinois can learn

* Bost: Link Card abuse out of control

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Poll: Downstaters don’t care about Chicago concealed carry

Monday, Apr 29, 2013

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

A new statewide poll shows a majority of Illinoisans favor concealed carry. But an overwhelming majority in every area of the state also say it’s OK with them if Chicago and Cook County police have additional authority over who gets to carry in their own jurisdictions.

The Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of 1,284 likely voters found that 52 percent say they approve of allowing concealed carry.

“Illinois lawmakers are debating proposed laws that would allow some citizens who are properly licensed to carry concealed firearms,” respondents were told. “In general, do you approve or disapprove of allowing licensed citizens to carry loaded, concealed firearms?”

The poll, taken April 24th, found that 46 percent disapprove and just 2 percent were neutral or had no opinion. The poll had a margin of error of +/-2.7 percent. 26 percent of the numbers called were cell phones.

Geography breaks down pretty much how you’d expect. Chicagoans staunchly opposed concealed carry 69-29, while suburban Cook County voters opposed it 52-46. Downstaters strongly support the proposal 67-32 and collar county voters support it 53-46.

Women disapproved of the idea 55-43, while men supported it 64-34. Republicans backed it 72-26, Democrats opposed it 65-34 and independents favored it 61-36. African-Americans opposed the idea 61-36, but whites backed it 56-43, as did Latinos, 56-43.

The results for the poll’s second question were even more interesting.

The Senate is currently considering a plan that would allow Chicago police and the Cook County Sheriff to reject State Police-issued concealed carry permits if they have questions about the applicants’ character. The plan stalled last week when Republican Senators balked after strong National Rifle Association opposition and Chicago-area Democrats demanded more restrictions in the rest of the bill.

But the voting public absolutely loves this idea, with a whopping 73 percent voicing their approval. “I can’t get 73 percent of people to agree that it’s dark at midnight,” joked We Ask America pollster Gregg Durham last week.

“If a concealed carry law is passed, Chicago and Cook County law enforcement officials want the right to stop a permit being issued to any individual in Chicago or Cook County when there is a concern about the applicant’s character,” respondents were told. “Do you think they should be able to stop a permit in Chicago or Cook County under those circumstances?”

A mere 22 percent disagreed with the proposal and only 5 percent were neutral or had no opinion.

The results didn’t surprise Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), who is attempting to craft a compromise bill. Raoul said he believed that Downstaters don’t care what happens in Chicago or anywhere else as long as they get their right to carry. And Chicagoans are so concerned about guns that they want their local cops to have an extra say.

According to the poll, a hugely strong 71 percent of likely Downstate voters said they approved of the plan, while 25 percent were opposed. The NRA has threatened legislators with retaliation if Chicagoans don’t end up with the same access to concealed carry as everyone else, but that particular message may not fly as long as Downstaters get what they want for themselves.

Even so, Downstaters seem to be sticking with the NRA. “I am working to pass a Concealed Carry law that specifically says it SHALL apply to all counties in Illinois,” state Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) wrote on his website last week. “The Second Amendment of the Constitution applies [to] all citizens, including those in Chicago.”

But a sky-high 80 percent of likely Chicago voters approved of the proposal, as did 72 percent of suburban Cook voters and 71 percent of collar county voters.

Support was also very high across all demographics. Women were 80-14 in favor, and men were 62-32 in favor. Black voters backed it 75-16, whites supported it 65-34 and Latinos approved of it 75-18. Republicans supported it 64-30, Democrats favored it 82-13 and independents backed it 67-23.

Results like that could make you think this ought to be a no-brainer issue. But the NRA is bringing all of its considerable might to the table here, and that muscle is, so far, outweighing overwhelming public opinion.

Subscribers have crosstabs.

* Related…

* Quinn: Cities, not state, should approve concealed guns: Sen. Tim Bivins of Dixon, the Republican negotiator on the issue, supported Raoul’s idea of a “compromise” giving Chicago more authority if carry permits were more readily available to lawful gun owners in the rest of the state. But he was much more cautious late last week after seeing the proposed language. A more widespread local option is out of the question, the former Lee County sheriff said.

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