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Bills, bills and more bills

Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014

* I doubt this’ll pass any time soon, but we’ll see

Despite warnings that more than $2.3 billion must be cut from next year’s state budget, the largest state employee union is renewing its call for money to be set aside to pay back wages owed to union workers.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is again calling on lawmakers to approve one of the bills pending that would allocate $112 million to pay the wages owed to workers from as far back as 2011.

AFSCME has begun calculating how much is owed to workers in various parts of the state based on the number of workers in legislative districts. In the Springfield area, AFSCME says more than $17 million is owed to about 4,600 unionized state workers who did not get raises owed to them under previous union contracts.

“They do their jobs every day,” AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer said in a statement. “It’s illegal and wrong to withhold wages for work performed.”

* Meanwhile, Exelon’s recent Statehouse maneuvering is more than a bit sketchy. They are worried that municipal aggregation, low natural gas prices and late night wind turbines (which are driving down rates to almost zero) are badly hurting their nuclear power plants’ ability to compete. But they won’t just come out and say what, exactly, they want to do about it

State lawmakers say shutting the Byron station down would be a major loss.

“It would be a significant negative impact both in jobs and funding for community services, for school districts, many of the services that Byron area residents have come to rely on.” -says 90th District State Representative Tom Demmer.

Exelon representatives say they are in constant contact with state lawmakers, but the company is only making legislators aware of hardships.

“We haven’t asked any officials from Illinois to do anything regarding current market conditions. Right now we’ll just continue to operate safely here at Byron and see what the next few years brings for us.” -Dempsey says.

* They have floated some ideas, however

Crain’s reported that Exelon lobbyists have floated the idea of a clean energy standard or credit that would provide extra payments for the plants. A company statement, though, denied it has asked for legislation that would change market conditions and did not provide further details on potential plant closures.

But do they also want to give wind turbines a bigger break? Doubtful.

* Seems like a dose of overdue common sense

The Illinois Senate has advanced legislation making it a crime for 911 dispatchers to tip off criminals when law enforcement is nearby. […]

State Sen. Dave Koehler is the bill’s sponsor. He says the legislation is necessary because in 2010 the Illinois Supreme Court ruled nothing in Illinois law made it illegal for a dispatcher to alert a drug dealer that police were in the area. […]

In 1998 a dispatcher in the Chicago suburbs was convicted of official misconduct after she tipped off a local drug dealer that police were near his house. The dispatcher appealed.

* This is a polite way of saying the bill is deader than a rock on a stump

Illinois lawmakers have mixed thoughts on a proposal that would allow communities around the state to install speed cameras, which are only allowed in Chicago.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports the measure by Collinsville Democrat Rep. Jay Hoffman is generating discussion among legislators.

Murphysboro Republican Rep. Mike Bost calls the devices a “cop-in-a-box,” and says his constituents think they harass drivers.

* Passing a committee does not mean it’ll become law. Just sayin

A bill that would make smoking in a car with a minor present a petty offense is one step closer to becoming law.

The Senate Public Health Committee Tuesday voted 5-2 to send SB2659 to the full Senate. If passed, motorists found in violation of the law would have to pay fines of $100.

“There are very serious health effects associated with exposure to second-hand smoke, especially for minors. This plan is aimed at reducing that exposure,” Chicago Democratic Sen. Ira Silverstein, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement Tuesday.

According to a provision in the bill, police officers who notice someone smoking in a vehicle with a minor in it cannot stop that vehicle solely for that reason, drawing criticism from some committee members during a hearing last month.

Occupants of motorcycles and convertibles with their tops down would be exempt. Illinois would become the sixth state to have such a law. Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, Oregon and Utah have enacted similar legislation, and another 14 states are considering measures.

* Not a bad idea

Those who wait to renew their registration through CyberService or the mail until the last days leading up to the expiration of their current registration will now be provided a way to avoid being issued a ticket for driving that vehicle if the sticker doesn’t arrive in time.

“There should be no more worrying about the possibility of being forced to drive illegally without an up-to-date sticker,” said Van Pelt. “Now all you need is a receipt from the Secretary of State while you wait.”

The legislation provides that this new printed receipt proof of registration is only valid for 30 days from the expiration of the previous registration sticker’s date, giving Illinoisans plenty of time to receive and attach the registration stickers. Senator Van Pelt hopes to avoid future instances of responsible drivers being punished because of the length of time it takes to acquire a current sticker.

* From a press release…

State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) is holding a press conference to discuss Senate Bill 3138, a measure that would allow Illinois to opt into the Do Not Adopt Registry administered by Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). The registry aims to protect animals from being adopted by convicted animal abusers by providing shelters, stores and organizations with access to a nationwide searchable database.

Sen. Rezin will be joined by Chris Green, Director of Legislative Affairs with ALDF; Jason Helland, Grundy County State’s Attorney; and other guests.

I didn’t know such a registry existed. Interesting.

* Other stuff…

* Kadner: The south suburban casino lottery: Local mayors can’t get together on a single site for a gambling casino in the south suburbs, and there also seems to be wide disagreement on a revenue-sharing plan if a casino eventually is built.

* Committee to hold hearings on raising Illinois minimum wage to $10.65: The first hearing is 2 p.m. Wednesday in Room 413 of the Stratton Office Building in Springfield. Hoffman said it will be the first of several public hearings on the issue. “These hearings are opportunities for folks on all sides of the debate to engage the legislature, and help impact our decisions if a minimum wage bill is called for a vote,” Hoffman said.

* Proposed Legislation Asks State To Study Interest-Free College Loans

* Bill to support levee fix advancing

* Illinois House panel passes Poison Center bill

- Posted by Rich Miller        


15 Comments
  1. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    The clean energy standard idea floated by Exelon could be interesting, as long as it is broad and encompasses a common goal - like cleaner power. If it’s just nukes, I suspect it may not fly.


  2. - circularfiringsquad - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 11:59 am:

    Amd we are minutes away from GOPie Leader Durkie on some new whiz bang idea


  3. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    ===Occupants of motorcycles and convertibles with their tops down would be exempt===

    It’s hard enough to strap a carseat to a motorcycle, let alone drive with knees while you light up going 70. /snark

    If there’s an exclusion for convertibles, wouldn’t all windows down be almost the same thing?


  4. - Anon - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    The last time the bill to ban smoking in cars with kids came up was about 5 years ago when Rep. Boland brought it to the floor. He barely escaped being put on the Century Club trophy.


  5. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    ==(which are driving down rates to almost zero)==

    I am on RRTP (residential real-time pricing) for electricity and several times over the past few months, the cost has fallen below zero…they were paying me to take the electricity! On the other hand, several times the price has spiked at over a dollar for a Kwh. They don’t seem to be complaining about that.

    When the price falls, the natural gas plants and wind turbines go off-line (or they can). The nukes provide the base supply, they cannot be turned on and off to match supply. However, there are technologies that Excelon could put in place to store that excess energy during times of low demand. Perhaps they should be encouraged to invest in those technologies.


  6. - RetiredArmyMP - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    Hmmmm . . . $112 million for back wages owed to state employees since 2011 and which courts have ordered must be paid vs. Madigan wanting to spend $100 million for a presidential library. Anyone want to guess which one will win out?


  7. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    However, there are technologies that Excelon could put in place to store that excess energy during times of low demand. Perhaps they should be encouraged to invest in those technologies.

    It takes energy and incurs other costs to store energy. As long as there isn’t a negative tradeoff, I’m all for it. If it was cost effective as a business, they’d probably be doing more of it.


  8. - Snopes - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 3:59 pm:

    Maybe Dillard can lead the charge for AFSCME pay raises. Kind of a coincidence that Afscme’s support for Dillard coincides with their push for pay raise money. Or maybe Henry’s just been asleep and has awakened from a long slumber. Runnin’ a little late, Henry.


  9. - Senator Clay Davis - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 4:07 pm:

    Exelon’s argument about wind energy is a red herring. Their overwhelming problem is cheap natural gas and low power demand. They can’t do anything about the gas bubble or the dreary economy, but they can blame wind.

    In real-time power markets, wind often under-bids other more costly (and dirtier) sources, which lowers the price of power. However, wind is rarely a “price-setter” so it’s rarely the sole cause of negative pricing. The primary causes, of course: cheap gas and low demand.


  10. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 4:11 pm:

    “Despite warnings that more than $2.3 billion must be cut from next year’s state budget, the largest state employee union is renewing its call for money to be set aside to pay back wages owed to union workers.” Interesting how the only time you ever hear a past debt mentioned as a drag on a current budget is when it comes to paying employees for work already performed (back pay, pension). How come no newspaper suggests that the State paying past due bills for goods and services rendered by corporations reduces the budget for current services? It really is all about pension/paycheck theft.


  11. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 4:43 pm:

    On another front, what is the point of this trial balloon to add 5,000 seats to Soldier Field?

    You’re still short of the minimum the NFL sets for a Super Bowl. And after dodging a bullet in Jersey this year, there’s no way the NFL will take a risk again with a Northern open-air stadium.

    You know what the high temperature in Chicago was on Feb. 2, the date of the Super Bowl? 23F. Game time? 10F. You think corporate America wants to shell out millions for that party?

    Renovated Soldier Field is a $600 million disaster, 30 years in the making.

    Rahm must have found Daley’s Olympics crack pipe in a desk drawer.


  12. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 5:09 pm:

    word, I could be completely wrong but I figured he was trying to change the subject away from his flailing pension bill or that CNN thing that didn’t turn out as puffy as he expected?


  13. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 5:24 pm:

    –CNN thing that didn’t turn out as puffy as he expected?–

    You might be on to something there.

    The reviews are pretty rough on Emanuel, especially as it relates to closing schools.

    Kogan’s review is angry, and that’s not his style: Scene of little girl crying because she’s scared crossing gang lines walking to a new school, cut to Rahm whooping it up courtside in a Jack Nicholson-seat at a Bulls game.

    I think Ari might have outsmarted himself here.


  14. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 6:07 pm:

    Been retired since Jan.2013. I am owed $12,000.00 in back pay. Due to this not being calculated into my final average comp. my retirement check is shorted every month. Also the 7% interest that is supposed to be paid. Do the math. What do you think the odds of ever receiving this is? This is thanks for 30 years of service.


  15. - low level - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 7:33 pm:

    “Cop in a Box” — Rep. Bost.

    I love these “law and order” Republicans


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