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Off the top of my head

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2013

* This seems like a good idea

A suburban lawmaker’s plan to let 17-year-olds vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 before the November election won preliminary approval Monday.

State Rep. Carol Sente’s plan would apply only to elections in even-numbered years, not local elections like the one earlier this month.

She argues that if young voters are going to vote in a November election, they should get a say in who the candidates are in the primary. […]

Illinois wouldn’t be alone if the state allowed 17-year-olds to vote in primaries. Twenty other states already do, and a couple others are weighing the idea.

I don’t see how it could hurt and it appears to make sense.

* I don’t necessarily agree with this

There ought to be a law against your property tax bill increasing when the value of your home decreases. […]

I wrote about House Bill 89 last year. It would have amended the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), commonly known as the “tax cap,” to freeze the amount that a taxing district can raise its annual tax levy if the collective value of homes in the district has decreased during the previous year.

“In Illinois, more than 28 percent of homes were underwater as of Jan. 1, yet taxing bodies act as though they are victims and continue to ask for more every year,” Franks said in a statement. “In fact, homeowners are being victimized by an unfair and outdated system, and it is driving people out of the state.”

Property taxes aren’t like sales taxes. When sales drop, those tax receipts also drop. But property taxes are supposed to be a more stable revenue source, so if your home value drops, that doesn’t mean local governments and schools need less money. It’s the only “elastic” tax in existence, I think. But people are definitely struggling and the property tax is not based on the ability to pay. So, I’m kinda torn.

* While many people hate double-dipping, the General Assembly is supposed to be a part-time citizens legislature, so it takes all kinds. But I can see both sides of this one

House Bill 3250, the Public Service Act, would place limits on the number of elected offices a person can hold.

It states that an elected official may not hold more than one public office simultaneously and specifies that the limitation applies whether or not elected officials receive compensation for a public office. […]

The Illinois attorney general’s office has issued opinions about certain public offices having a conflict of interest with others. But those are very narrowly defined, and the problem comes up often. […]

It concerns me that legislators have also held the post of township supervisor in the Southland.

State Rep. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island) is supervisor of Calumet Township and state Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields) is supervisor of Rich Township.

Bridgeview Mayor Steven Landek is also a state senator. He replaced Lou Viverito in the Senate. Viverito is the longtime Stickney Township supervisor.

* The Illinois Policy Institute hates this bill, but a pause might be prudent while this concept is checked out a bit and regulations considered

As local school boards rejected [last’] week a request from a proposed online charter school that would draw students from its schools, state lawmakers appear poised to slap a hold on the creation of virtual schools until regulations and guidelines to govern them can be crafted.

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, introduced legislation Thursday to place a one-year moratorium on web-based virtual charter schools. […]

“This is the first time Illinois has ever seen anything like this,” Chapa LaVia said. “And I’m not willing to risk something that would be detrimental to our children and our schools.”

Chapa LaVia’s legislation has passed a state House committee, and is headed to the full chamber for a possible vote.

The legislation arose in response to a proposal from Illinois Virtual Learning Solutions to open the Illinois Virtual Charter School at Fox River Valley.

The online school was proposed to include students from 18 school districts in Kane, DeKalb, DuPage, Kendall, McHenry and Will counties, and would be funded by local district funds, estimated at up to $8,000 per student.

While the nonprofit Illinois Virtual Learning Solutions would govern the virtual school, it has said actual operations for the school would be handled by Virginia-based, for-profit company K12 Inc.

The virtual school concept is in place in other states, including Tennessee and Florida. But officials in those two states have raised questions over the virtual charter school operations, noting participating students’ low test scores, among other issues.

* Roundup…

* RTA claims companies running ’sham’ offices

* Proposal would keep 17-year-old felons in juvenile court

* House passes bill to ease juvenile court age limit

* Illinois House approves bill to keep more juveniles out of adult court

* Lawmakers Strengthen Child Pornography Prosecutions

* Illinois House approves fine for tossing cigarettes

* ComEd urges Quinn to sign bill to help smart meter project

* Does it matter if districts cover teacher pension contributions?

* Editorial: Tanning salons no place for teens

* Bahamas Foreign Affairs Minister remarks to Illinois House of Representatives: So against this background, we are looking at the possibility of appointing an Honorary Consul, with residence in Chicago, to assist with enhancing the bilateral relationship between our two peoples. We have asked a Chicagoan with Bahamian roots Michael Fountain if this is something he would consider and of course this is subject to your governmental approvals at the federal level. I seek your support in this. We think Mr. Fountain would do an excellent job.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - titan - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:28 am:

    Illinois Constitution, Article 3
    Every United States citizen who has attained the age of 18 or any other voting age required by the United States for voting in State elections and who has been a permanent resident of this State for at least 30 days next preceding any election shall have the right to vote at such election.

    Wouldn’t a statute allowing 17 year olds to vote in primaries run afoul of the Constitution?

  2. - Mason born - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:29 am:


    I think you and i look at the property tax side from different perspectives. I see why the local units want to increase taxes despite home values decreasing. However isn’t property tax based of x percent of my homes value. Then if the value of my home goes down shouldn’t the tax bill? Otherwise i could be taxed on a 500k house that i could only sell for 250k. Seems unfair to the tax payer.

  3. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:30 am:

    I’ll teach kids online for $8,000 each. Where do I sign up for this payday?

    Nice scam they’ve got going there at K12 Inc.

  4. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:31 am:

    Let’s slow down a bit on taxpayer funds for virtual online schools.

    Having said that, can we work a little harder to establish online networking among existing schools? Bring some of the course offerings of wealthier suburban districts to schools around the state?

  5. - Leave a Light on George - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:33 am:

    In little ole Calhoun County the sheriff is also the county coroner.

    By statute guess who is the only person able to arrest a county sheriff?

  6. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:34 am:

    ===isn’t property tax based of x percent of my homes value===

    Yes, but it depends on how much of that is captured.

  7. - MrJM - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:34 am:

    vir·tu·al adj. being such in power, force, or effect, though not actually or expressly such.

    Illinois already has plenty of “virtual” schools.

    – MrJM

  8. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:35 am:

    ===By statute guess who is the only person able to arrest a county sheriff? ===

    Correct. And Cook Co. has no elected coroner. lol

  9. - Downstate Illinois - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    It doesn’t surprise me that a Democrat who is likely owned and operated by the teacher unions be opposed to charter schools. Illinois law is already stacked against their creation by requiring local board approval - something that is an impossibility outside of Chicago.

    This online proposal looks interesting, though I know nothing more than what was quoted.

    As to her quote, “I’m not willing to risk something that would be detrimental to our children and our schools,” clearly shows her hypocrisy. I assume she supports funding the Chicago Public Schools system. Considering their graduation rates, that system’s continued operation clearly represents a detriment to Chicago’s students.

    We have public funding of education to support the education of students, not systems. Until lawmakers put students first they will continue to suffer.

  10. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    I’m not a constitutional scholar but it seems to me all that language says is that you shall have the right to vote when you reach 18. I don’t see it as being prohibitive of letting younger people vote.

  11. - Shemp - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:48 am:

    Our property tax rate has increased almost solely to continue funding police and fire pensions. Those pensions are imposed by the state who then gives non-home rule cities almost no other way to fund them. That leaves locals to either cut police and/or fire employees or increase pension levies, yes, they are a separate levy within the city tax levy, to pay for them. For the State to say freeze rates, but fund these systems we’ve created, is putting cities in more than a bit of a pickle.

  12. - Esquire - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:49 am:

    Seventeen year olds voting?

    I have only three words to say to you as to what I think of that proposal: Governor Jesse Ventura.

    Nuff said!

  13. - shore - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:50 am:

    Don’t like the 17 idea. We have laws for reasons, you make them too complex defeats the purpose and makes it confusing. 18 is easy.

  14. - archimedes - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:51 am:

    On line schools/teaching has a place - but needs to be thoughtful and thorough. Residing in one of the 18 school districts that Illinois Vitual Schools (K-12, Inc.) has applied for a charter - I have seen a presentation that was ill prepared, poorly presented, and incomplete at best. The representative had no clue what Illinois requirements are, could answer maybe 5% of questions asked, and IVS (K-12) never did respond to any concerns. The one year hold is there so IVS (K-12) doesn’t, having blown off the school districts in their application, go directly to the Charter School Commission and receive a charter without doing more homework and planning.

    Illinois Virtual Schools is a non-profit corporation created January 8, 2013 (Illinois law requires charter schools to be non-profit). The application for charter school was filed with the 18 school dsitricts in February.

  15. - Earnest - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:52 am:

    Property taxes in our county are based on home values over the three most recent completed tax years, so changes run behind any upward or downward trends in home values by that amount of time and evened out by the averaging.

  16. - cynical - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    Regarding property taxes, if they go up when the property value increases, then they should also go down when the property value decreases. It shouldn’t just always go up. That’s just wrong!

  17. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 10:59 am:

    titan, that just sets the age floor.

  18. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 11:05 am:

    - can we work a little harder to establish online networking among existing schools? -

    There’s currently a big project underway to expand the Illinois Century Network, which does just that.

  19. - ZC - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 11:05 am:

    What Rich said. People often think the 26th Amendment sets the national voting age at 18, too. It doesn’t, it just says the age can’t be set any higher. 17 has some practical advantages if you think the kids should be voting more. At 17 they’re more likely to be in school where their teachers can encourage them to get in the habit of registering. By 18 they’re often out of school and if they’re not heading to college they’re way harder to find.

  20. - John Galt - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 11:16 am:

    Illinois Constitution, Article 3
    Every United States citizen who has attained the age of 18 or any other voting age required by the United States for voting in State elections and who has been a permanent resident of this State for at least 30 days next preceding any election shall have the right to vote at such election.

    The way I read it is that if you meet those conditions, you SHALL have the right to vote. Nothing in there states that somebody who does not meet those conditions shall NOT have the right to vote. So in theory, a law could be passed liberalizing the voting eligibility. Same holds true for the US Constitution. It talks about who shall not be DENIED the right to vote….

    That being said, we generally hold out age 18 as one of adulthood and consent for a whole lot of things, under the theory that the human brain is still maturing and is not fully capable of weighing important decisions with regard to health, civic duty, etc. Arbitrary? Yes. Lots of mature 15 year olds could handle adult behaviors. lots of adults are incapable of handling adult behaviors. But the line has to be drawn somewhere. We can’t have case by case maturity evaluations or other subjective measures–that would be even more arbitrary in the results, depending on who does the evaluating and what criteria are used.

    The reason we hold 18 as the voting age is that presumably people are not capable of making mature or wise decisions until that point. Yes, primary winners show up on general election ballots. But if somebody is 17 during the primary election, the presumption is that they are not mature enough to make that determination, whereas at 18 when they vote in November, presumably they have “matured” over that time period. Otherwise why not let people who turn 18 the day after a general election vote in the general election since they are “almost there” anyway?

    The same holds true for circulating petitions. I’m pretty sure you need to be 18 years of age to help a candidate qualify for the ballot. It’d be a strange thing indeed to allow a 17 year old to vote, but not allow that same 17 year old to petition signatures for that same candidate. Or if you want to get really strange, in theory a kid could have an early November birthday and be 16 years old during the earlier phases of petition circulating in the run-up to the primary. Wouldn’t it then be unfair for a 16 year old not to be able to collect petition signatures if he or she will be eligible to vote in that particular election?

    Is this stuff arbitrary? Yes. But if we start messing with it, there would be a ton of unintended consequences….

  21. - Darienite - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    If the 17 year old is voting in a primary, they will need to declare a party to vote. How many have made up their political minds at this time (unless you live in Chicago)?

    And you are asking them to register prior to 18, but only every other year………….

    More headache than it’s worth.

  22. - Mason born - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 11:25 am:


    ==Yes, but it depends on how much of that is captured.==

    I know that that is why i used x. My point was if the formula for the tax is based of the value of the house then if the value goes down so should the taxes. Kind of like if you payed 20k in taxes last year on 100k and made 80k this year you shouldn’t have to pay 20k.

  23. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    ===then if the value goes down so should the taxes===


    It works like this: the taxes required to fund your town, your school district, your county, etc., equals the total tax bill for the county’s property. Then each home or property is assessed to calculate what percentage of the total bill a particular property owes in taxes.

    In other words, the tax is NOT based on the value of your home. The tax is based on the amount of money needed to fund local government divided by all of the taxable property (as assessed). When property values fall, that doesn’t mean the cost of government goes down. In fact, it often means the costs go up.

  24. - Mason born - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 11:45 am:


    Thanks for educating me on the way it is calculated. It is nice to know that my personal wealth is merely being loaned to me by the government. Here i thought i earned it.

  25. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    Your personal wealth is protected by the local police and fire departments, along with your county’s circuit court system. Your personal wealth is enhanced by good local schools and roads.

    You don’t think you should help pay for that?

  26. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    Mason, it’s a big country, and there is quite a range of taxation and government services. Now, whether you can make as good a buck in a low-tax, low-service area is another question.

    People come together in metro regions for many reasons.

  27. - Mason born - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 12:01 pm:

    47th and Word

    I would prefer that my municipality plan ahead and use reasonable analysis to give themselves some cushion to handle spikes in costs. That being said i have a municipality which is managed quite well.
    As for whether i should pay for it or not the problem is the very definition implies that the personal circumstances of the person paying is irrelevant the municipality should take what it wants. It comes down to reasonableness. If you prefer more services then enjoy, myself i’m good out in a rural county where i volunteer to keep our little Fire department going.

  28. - Stuff happens - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 12:13 pm:

    If everybody’s property values went down, then their contribution towards the total pot should stay the same. If only a few peoples’ property values went down, then their contribution should be reduced accordingly and everyone else’s raised.

    In my experience, they’re very quick to raise your property taxes if your home value has gone up. You have to bring the issue up yourself in the opposite situation.

  29. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 12:17 pm:

    ===If only a few peoples’ property values went down, then their contribution should be reduced accordingly===

    So, you’re saying that if my neighbor lets his house become a dump he should pay less property taxes?

  30. - Stuff happens - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 12:28 pm:

    The city codes should prevent it from becoming a total dump. And there is an obvious floor for a tax decrease because of the value of the land, etc.

  31. - Chris - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 12:35 pm:

    “So, you’re saying that if my neighbor lets his house become a dump he should pay less property taxes?”

    Well, Rich, if the neighbor house turns into a crack den, *you* are the one ‘using’ the police services, not the owner of the house who let it fall into disrepair.

  32. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 1:20 pm:

    If the state is going to cut funds for local govt AND not pay its bills owed/promised appropriations to the locals on time then the state legislature should stay out of local property tax issues when that flexibility is one of the few ways locals have breathing room while our state finances are so dysfunctional. If some locals get out of line on property taxes let jack franks campaign to get those individuals out office instead of taking away local control of govt services the state refuses to fund.

  33. - Judgment Day (Road Trip) - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 1:27 pm:

    Re: Property Taxes

    Since virtually all of Northern IL is under Tax Cap [except for many Grundy County tax districts and some districts in LaSalle County], welcome to one of the unanticipated ’side effects’ of tax caps in a ‘down’ real estate market.

    If you are a ‘capped’ tax district, you get a tax extension [amount to be collected] not less than the amount of the highest of the previous three years. Plus the rate of CPI [inflation] or five percent, whichever is less.

    So, the short story is, as people’s homes [real estate] goes down in value, the tax rates for the different ‘capped’ tax districts increase. So, practically, if my assessed value on my house has gone down 25 percent over the last 3 years, those tax rates for the ‘capped’ tax districts have likely increased over the same period, so the end result is the dollars stay the same, if not even a little higher. Nice, huh.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of property taxes here in Illinois.

  34. - Judgment Day (Road Trip) - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 1:35 pm:

    Re: “Web-based virtual charter schools”

    Look into the Kahn Academy.

    IMO, these are the folks who are really going to get it done. And it’s all Open Source (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License).

  35. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 1:55 pm:

    =It is nice to know that my personal wealth is merely being loaned to me by the government. Here i thought i earned it. ==

    That’s just nonsense. And, your volunteer fire gig is funded by taxes (just in case you weren’t aware). I get so sick of this garbage. If you don’t like the government then go find someplace and hole yourself up and live off of the grid.

  36. - Verbal Kint - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 2:09 pm:

    It would have been nice to have that rule that property taxes can’t increase if assessed values decrease 3 years ago. Most signs are indicating that values for the most part have bottomed out.

    I’m guessing now would be the time to start arguing to re-establish the so called “7% cap” which limits the amount that your home’s value can increase annually.

  37. - Amalia - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    would love to see the Legislature look at the pension issue re part time elected positions. why should officials get to add credit for years to some other job with the years and very small pay from a part time elected position?

  38. - Irish - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 2:33 pm:

    47th - The ability to raise a target amount is what drives property taxes Correct? If the assessed value of all of the properties in an area does not meet the required revenue then the multiplier for that area is increased which increases your taxes but not your assessed value. Taxing bodies must go through a process if they raise their levy by more than a nickel but there is no required warning for an increase in the Multiplier. Correct?

  39. - capncrunch - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 2:35 pm:

    “In other words, the tax is NOT based on the value of your home.”

    It has to be!

    My property tax bill IS based on the value of my home. The TAX RATE is adjusted to produce the required amount of revenue. If property values decline and the same amount of revenue is needed the rate is increased. The local government cannot arbitrarily set the market value of your home. The assessor applies a multiplier to the assessed valuation to keep the assessed value to sales ratio equal to 33.33%. This multiplier is determined by looking at the sales of property in the neighborhood over the past few years. I think that 33.33% assessed value to market price is a state requirement.

  40. - capncrunch - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 2:49 pm:

    “Your personal wealth is enhanced by good local schools and roads.”

    I guess my net worth has declined because the roads are in need of repair and the local schools aren’t doing a good job

  41. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 6:12 pm:

    Sorry but I don’t agree with this one. Living with two 18 year olds, and an older sib. before them 18 is a decent age to empower them with this powerful right, but to could start making endless exception after exception.

  42. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Apr 17, 13 @ 6:16 pm:

    To finish last comment, “…but to start making endless exception after exception is just not the best way to go when it comes to one’s age in voting. When I first voted, I had no control over who’d been previously elected up for re-election or nominated for me to vote as to before the big day. But I had at that point in time–now finally being roughly mature enough to decide–the options placed before me. So it goes…

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* Resign.
* Don't Let The Turkeys Get You Down
* “The Driver’s Side” – News From The Motorist’s Perspective
* IDOT Debuts Winter Weather Driving Tips Video
* Pot Dangerous? Mother's Testimony Says Yes [video]
* Happy Thanksgiving
* It seems like it’s everywhere, that video of the final moments of Laquan’s life

* Emergency Management Officials, National Weather Service Encourage Winter Preparedness - November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois
* Keep Your Family Safe This Winter - November through February are leading months for carbon monoxide related incidents
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

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