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Friday, May 3, 2013

* I posted a link to this story earlier today

Four country music stars are announcing their support for legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois.

“Big” Kenny Alphin of the musical duo Big & Rich, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell signed an open letter released Thursday.

They say “gay or straight, when two people are lucky enough to find each other and want to commit their lives to one another, it is nothing less than a blessing to us all.”

* Here’s Emmy and Rodney

I hope that I find what I’m reaching for
The way that it is in my mind

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

*** UPDATED x1 - Callis resigns to run for Congress *** Quinn makes Gill an assistant director

Friday, May 3, 2013

* From a Gov. Pat Quinn press release announcing various appointments…

Dr. David Gill, of Bloomington, received his bachelor’s and medical degrees from the University of Illinois and has served as a family practice doctor and emergency room physician for more than 20 years. Most recently an emergency room doctor at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Gill has been named Assistant Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Gill is just one of several failed Democratic candidates to land a gig in the Quinn administration. Two 10th Congressional District candidates - Dan Seals and Julie Hamos - got state jobs after their 2010 defeats. 2010 US Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias was appointed chairman of the Community College Board. And then there were all the legislators who got slots after voting “right” during the lame duck session.

But this appointment, as with Seals before him, may take the perennial candidate Gill out of the 2014 congressional race, which would be good news for Democrats. He’s just not a good candidate.

*** UPDATE *** This Gill job doesn’t appear to be a coincidence

David Hylla is the new chief judge for the Third Judicial Circuit. He replaces Ann Callis, who broke the news Friday morning at the Madison County Judiciary Committee.

Callis also announced at the meeting that she is stepping down to run for a seat in the new 13th Congressional District. She will make a formal announcement on Monday.

As we’ve already discussed, the DCCC has courted Callis to challenge Republican freshman Rodney Davis. Their work paid off, and Gov. Quinn looks to have gotten Gill out of the way.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

Question of the day

Friday, May 3, 2013

* Worst bill of the year to date?

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Murphy has surgery to repair knee damage

Friday, May 3, 2013

* From the Des Plaines Patch

State Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) is going into surgery this morning for a dislocated knee cap; Murphy was injured during the annual softball game between Illinois house and senate members on Wednesday in Springfield.

“Senator Murphy sustained the injury and was taken away from the field by ambulance,” said Patty Schuh, press secretary for Illinois senate Republicans. “We’ve had injuries before, but it was clear to bystanders and folks at the game his injury was serious.”

Murphy had an MRI on Thursday, which determined he would need surgery, Schuh said.

Murph’s knee cap ended up a few inches above his knee. This was no little injury.

*** UPDATE *** From the Senate GOP…

Sen. Murphy had surgery today at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. He had extensive surgical repair for a torn patellar tendon. He is recovering at home and plans to be back at work as soon as possible.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Rep. Ford’s defense

Friday, May 3, 2013

* Earlier this week, state Rep. LaShawn Ford’s attorney filed a response to the charges against him. Ford has been indicted for fraud and lying to a bank

Ford’s attorney, Tom Durkin, said in a new court filing that Ford was indicted because he was elected.

“He is the only person, to my knowledge, to ever get charged with anything out of the whole ShoreBank collapse,” Durkin said in a phone interview Tuesday. “Which I find odd.”

ShoreBank provided loans to low income parts of Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. It shuttered after the housing collapse.

Durkin wrote in his court filing that Ford was a long-time customer of ShoreBank. The former head of the bank’s loan committee once said of Ford, “when an individual [like LaShawn Ford] is a well known customer of the bank, the paperwork may be more relaxed and not completed as thoroughly as by newer customers.”

Durkin also requested that prosecutors identify the expenses that were allegedly unrelated to the rehabilitation of Ford’s properties before trial.

Durkin said prosecutors wrongly charged Ford with 17 counts. He said some of those counts are duplicative, and could be in violation of double jeopardy standards.

The original indictment is here.


- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

What’s in a name?

Friday, May 3, 2013

* Back in January, KPLR TV in St. Louis led off a report with this

It would be hard to find anybody against the idea. Missouri U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin are behind the move in Washington to get the bridge named after the late Cardinal hall of famer [Stan Musial].

Not so fast. There have been a large number of disagreements over a new bridge between Illinois and Missouri over the years, and naming it is no different. KMOV TV St. Louis was indignant this week

Illinois lawmakers turned their backs on the wave of support to name the new Mississippi River Bridge after Stan “The Man” Musial.

Instead the Illinois House unanimously voted this week in favor of a resolution to dub the Interstate 70 span the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

* The resolution was co-sponsored by all Metro East Democrats

[Rep. Jay Hoffman’s] resolution… is co-sponsored by Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton; Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton; and Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson, D-East St. Louis.

“By naming this bridge in memory of the men and women who have served our nation, we are honoring them on a daily basis. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this measure to honor the sacrifices our military veterans have made,” Hoffman said. “I look forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of veterans across our state.”

* Back in April, the Missouri legislature voted unanimously to name the bridge after Musial. The US Senate did the same in March

Matching legislation is now pending in the U.S. House, sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, and co-sponsored by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.

* Hoffman, who has been a Cardinals season ticket holder, explains

Hoffman was asked by KMOX’s Mike Kelly that since Stan Musial was a veteran, why not name the bridge after veterans and Musial?

“There are some that have suggested that. I can tell you that, personally, I’m not totally opposed to doing that. However, we here have given our word that we’re going to name it the Veterans Memorial Bridge but if that’s what comes of it, I could certainly be in support of it,” he said.

* Some history

As part of a lingering squabble over how to finance the bridge, Missouri insisted that it be a tollway - a notion flatly rejected by Illinois as potentially onerous for tens of thousands of its residents who commute daily to St. Louis and its Missouri suburbs.

Illinois later proposed a sister bridge to an existing span, calling it affordable at $450 million. Missouri said it wasn’t a long-term solution.

Both states ended the impasse in early 2008, announcing a compromise after Missouri relented on the tolls.

And then there’s this

The bridge naming has not come without some controversy. The widow of a worker who fell from the bridge wants it named after him. Andy Gammon, 35, fell off the bridge in March 2012. “We love Musial, but we would like Andy to be remembered, ” Tracy Gammon said.

* Other stuff…

* Hastert goes to the mat to reinstate Olympic wrestling

* Country music stars back gay marriage in Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Madigan talks about his pension bill

Friday, May 3, 2013

* House Speaker Michael Madigan talked to reporters about his pension bill yesterday. Video

* Transcript

Q: Did you have a harder time getting members to come on board as Senate President John Cullerton was working on a separate plan with union leaders?

A: “That wasn’t our experience as we worked through the roll call. It was a difficult roll call to work but not because of action in the Senate. The difficulty would relate to opposition from unions and from teachers unions and from citizens who have already retired and are drawing their pension. But none of it related to the Senate.”

Q: You vowed to do whatever you can to get the bill to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk. What does that mean now that it’s in the Senate?

A: “Well, I’m committed to the bill. I’m committed to solving the issue. I’ve spoken to this publicly that the state’s fiscal problems are so bad that they require radical surgery, and this is the first step. We’ve taken that first step in the House. My expectation is that the Senate will approve this bill.”

Q: Have you been briefed at all on Cullerton’s negotiations with the unions?

A: “I could clearly see the fine work of Mr. Henry Bayer, who is an expert at delay. I think this is a continuation of what we experienced a year ago from Henry Bayer and the We Are One coalition where day to day they simply want delay. Delay. Delay. Because maybe the problem will go away. It’s precisely what they did on the collective bargaining. And they only came to a conclusion on the collective bargaining because they knew there would be action in the Legislature.”

Q: Will this action in the House spur unions to greater heights with the Senate?

A: “I really don’t know what they’ll do, but I don’t expect that they’ll be able to come to an agreement such that people would be prepared to back away from this bill. There’s two chambers here, and both chambers have to pass the same bill. The House has passed a bill and so whatever the Senate does, I don’t think it will achieve the cost savings that the House bill will achieve.” […]

Q: What was the tipping point in passing today’s pension reform bill?

A: “I think it was the vote that we took about two weeks ago simply on the COLA adjustment where it got 66 votes. I think that told the tale, and then we put the bill together. Today, we were four votes short of that, but it was a good roll call.” […]

Q: What are the bill’s chances in Senate?

A: “My expectation is the bill will pass the Senate.”

Q: Have you spoken to Cullerton about it?

A: “I have. On several occasions.”

Q: Cullerton hasn’t committed to working a roll call though. So what makes you so confident?

A: “Maybe it’s that 43 years around this building.”

* Meanwhile

Twenty-two House Republicans sided with Madigan’s push, with Democrats accounting for the rest of the “yes” votes. Among the Republicans backing the plan was House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego), who signed on to Madigan’s legislation as a co-sponsor.

24 HGOPs voted “No.” A majority of the caucus.

* Roundup…

* Public Pensions’ Fate Rests Largely With Divided Democratic Leaders: CULLERTON: “The fact that the president of the Senate and the unions are putting their full weight behind something means something too. So if we’re able to get our caucus to support a position the unions are for, that would be significant as well.”

* Madigan’s Pension Bill Passes A Full House Vote: The We Are One Coalition has released the following statement in response to the House’s passage of the bill: Senate Bill 1 is unfair to the active and retired teachers, nurses, police, and other employees who paid out of every paycheck to fund their pensions, even as the state shorted its share. On top of that, it is blatantly unconstitutional and thus saves nothing. It simply exacerbates Illinois’ fiscal problems. In contrast, our coalition had a productive meeting today with President John Cullerton, and we hope to be able to continue the dialogue.

* House passes comprehensive pension changes: Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said she expects Republicans to support SB 1 if it is called for a vote in the Senate.

* In a tight vote, House OKs Madigan pension-cut package

* Illinois House OKs Madigan pension reform plan

* Illinois House passes sweeping pension fix in close vote

* Illinois House OKs Madigan pension-reform plan

* Quinn seeks a balance on latest pension reform and gambling expansion packages

* Editorial: Pass this pension deal — and stick to it

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

This just in… Supreme Court grants AG Madigan extension on concealed carry case

Friday, May 3, 2013

* 9:59 am - This notice has been posted on the US Supreme Court’s website

Apr 26 2013 Application (12A1053) to extend the time to file a petition for a writ of certiorari from May 23, 2013 to June 24, 2013, submitted to Justice Kagan.

May 2 2013 Application (12A1053) granted by Justice Kagan extending the time to file until June 24, 2013.

More in a bit.

* Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson recently had this to say about Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s request…

I have had several calls and emails asking what I think the result of Lisa Madigan’s request for an extension of the deadline to appeal the Seventh Circuit’s decision to the United States Supreme court will be. In my opinion it does nothing. The clock is ticking toward the June 9th deadline.

* 10:29 am - Response from AG Madigan’s office…

The extension allows for additional time to prepare a draft petition to allow the Attorney General to make a final decision on whether to seek cert, as the legislature continues to work toward the June 9 deadline set by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 180-day clock does not stop as a result of this extension.

It also doesn’t delay or impact when the case might be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, if the Attorney General ultimately decides to seek cert.

* 11:49 am Rep. Brandon Phelps reacts

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

On the General Assembly’s “police powers”

Friday, May 3, 2013

* One of the arguments being made in support of Speaker Madigan’s pension reforms is that the General Assembly has certain “police powers” in the event of a crisis. The GA has long had the latitude to pass bills which, um, stretch the limits, shall we say, of the Constitution when a crisis is at hand.

The Illinois Supreme Court has addressed police powers in quite a few cases, and talked about that history just three years ago when ruling on a lawsuit that sought to overturn a comprehensive medical malpractice reform law

In a related vein, the Attorney General posits that section 2–1706.5 is but one part of a massive “multidimensional” response to the health-care crisis which requires all interested parties–insurers, medical professionals and health-care consumers–to make tradeoffs and sacrifices. According to the Attorney General, the Act, through a number of interrelated measures, constitutes an equitable means of ensuring that everyone who stands to benefit from a resolution of the health-care crisis contributes to its resolution.

The Attorney General cites to the Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West 2008)) as an example of a multidimensional exercise of the General Assembly’s police power which, although modifying the common law, has been upheld by this court in a long line of cases. See Duley v. Caterpillar Tractor Co., 44 Ill. 2d 15 (1969); Moushon v. National Garages, Inc., 9 Ill. 2d 407 (1956); Grand Trunk Western Ry. Co. v. Industrial Comm’n, 291 Ill. 167 (1919); Matthiessen & Hegeler Zinc Co. v. Industrial Board, 284 Ill. 378 (1918). The Attorney General argues that section 2–1706.1, like the Workers’ Compensation Act, constitutes a legitimate exercise of the General Assembly’s police power.

* But the Supreme Court ruled against the police powers argument in the med-mal case. A couple of prominent medical malpractice defense attorneys penned this analysis

The Lebron Court also addressed the argument posited by the State Attorney General in an amicus curiae brief that the legislation amounted to a proper exercise of the state’s police power because it appropriately balanced the benefits and burdens of resolving the health care crisis among multiple stakeholders, including insurers, health care providers and patients.

The Court was not persuaded. Instead, the Court noted that because it was not resting its decision on the special legislation analysis of Best, the fact that the act may have served to address a legitimate legislative goal or may have addressed that goal in a balanced and equitable manner would not cure the statute of the constitutional infirmity.

The Court also noted that while the legislature is permitted to alter the common law and change or limit available remedies, that power is not absolute and must be exercised within constitutional bounds. [Emphasis added.]

This is just one more reason to exclude judges from the pension bill because including them could easily prompt a separation of powers argument similar to the med-mal case.

But, more importantly, the Lebron decision gives opponents of Madigan’s pension bill a very powerful argument.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

End in sight

Friday, May 3, 2013

* I told subscribers about this development a few weeks ago

Governor Pat Quinn is expected to fill a couple of empty seats on the board of trustees for Southern Illinois University. Quinn is reportedly expected to name former Illinois National Guard chief Randal Thomas and former SIUE history professor Shirley Portwood as early as today. The Illinois Senate rejected three of Quinn’s earlier appointees who were expected to support the naming of trustee Roger Herrin as board chairman.

Herrin has clashed repeatedly with SIU President Glenn Poshard. Controversy has surrounded the board recently, as three members with ties to Edwardsville - Edwardsville School District Superintendent Ed Hightower, Alton attorney John Simmons, and businessman Mark Hinrichs of O’Fallon - were not retained by Quinn in February.

This was the most easily avoidable problem Quinn has ever created for himself. All he had to do was work with the Senate from the beginning. He refused to even meet with Senators.

So, not only did Quinn damage himself in the Senate, he hurt himself politically in the Metro East, which views SIU-E as its crown jewel. I’ll never understand this as long as I live.

* More

State Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, praised the nominees, saying he worked with the governor to find new members after threatening to push legislation through the Senate that would have limited who Quinn could have appointed.

“I appreciate very much the governor engaging in a colloquy with us in the legislature,” Haine said.

State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, who represents the university’s Carbondale campus, said he is anxiously awaiting Quinn’s pick to fill the final vacancy on the board.

“SIU-Carbondale is the most important entity in my district. If it succeeds, then Carbondale succeeds. And it has struggled lately,” Luechtefeld said. “We have to get this thing fixed. The board has to work with the administration. The sooner that happens the better.”

Thomas and Portwood are expected to join the board at its meeting on Wednesday.

Haine praised the nominees because his chamber’s chief of staff is the one who first floated the idea. That chief of staff, by the way, used to work for Glenn Poshard as his legislative liaison - just one more reason why this was a stupid, stupid move by Quinn.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

State revenues skyrocketed, but there’s a catch

Friday, May 3, 2013

* From the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability

Monthly income tax revenues leaped in April, growing by $1.521 billion. The infusion of cash into the State’s coffers allowed for the repayment of a voluminous amount of overdue Medicaid bills. That action subsequently generated a massive amount of federal sources over $1 billion during a single month.

That’s fantastic news.

* And now the bad news. You knew there had to be bad news, right? This is Illinois, after all

(P)reliminary Commission assumptions are that gains are strongly related to final and estimated payments stemming from actions taken by taxpayers in efforts to minimize the tax consequences of the higher 2013 federal tax rates. As such, they are not repeatable in future fiscal years, and should be viewed more in terms of a “one-time” event.

As will be discussed in a following section, Illinois’ employment situation is dominated by less than positive news, offering little in the way of argument for sustainable higher expectations.


- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

About that “guarantee”

Friday, May 3, 2013

* From yesterday’s floor debate on Speaker Madigan’s pension bill

“We do not have a real guarantee,” said Rep. Michael Fortner (R-West Chicago), who voted against Madigan’s legislation. “The fact we can change it through our budget implementation process gives me concern a future Legislature will do very much the same things we’ve seen happen all too many times during the past decades under a variety of different administrations.”

There are no absolute guarantees in life, and that’s particularly so when you’re talking about the General Assembly.

The guarantee in the Madigan bill is pretty darned solid. But Fortner is right that it could simply be undermined.

* So, I suppose that Madigan could propose a constitutional amendment guaranteeing that the state funds the pension systems.

Then again, there’s already a rock solid pension guarantee in the Illinois Constitution right now

Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.

That benefits guarantee was thought by the framers to be etched in stone. Not so, according to Madigan and everyone else who voted for (or cheered on) the pension bill yesterday.

* There really is no way to forever guarantee anything. Using the lack of a guarantee as a reason to vote against the bill is just as illogical as claiming that the guarantee will definitely lead to assured state fiscal disaster if and when Wall Street crashes again. So, Bruce Rauner is wrong as well.

…Adding… Eden Martin uses the “The guarantee will ruin Illinois” argument in the Sun-Times today. It’s just not a very good argument at all.

All you can ever do to deter human beings is construct a high wall and hope they don’t decide to build a longer ladder.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Caption contest!

Friday, May 3, 2013

* House Speaker Michael Madigan gave a double thumbs up at the House Personnel and Pensions Committee hearing this week…

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


Friday, May 3, 2013

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* Afternoon updates
* Hospitals back removal of income tax sunsets
* The other strategy
* *** UPDATED 1x *** Quinn onboard; Rauner latches onto term limits proposal
* Because Illinois is a real battleground state
* Quinn dodges Rahm question on "Morning Joe"
* Morning Shorts
* Yesterday's blog posts

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        * Harmon To Push For Graduated Tax Vote Next Week
        * Madigan blames Tea Party for $100M Obama Library re-vote
        * Oberweis remains committed to border security, immigration law enforcement
        * One In Ten U.S. Bridges In Urgent Need Of Repair: Report

        * Cases of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and HIV on the Rise Nationally - Residents Are Encouraged to Get Tested for STDs
        * State Insurance Regulators Urge Property Owners to Review/Add Coverage to Protect from Floods & Water Damage - Most homeowners’ policies do not cover flood damage
        * Governor Quinn Statement on New Proposal to Enact Term Limits for Constitutional Officers
        * Statement from Governor Quinn on the Passing of Dr. Jerry Umanos
        * Governor Quinn Proclaims “Wrigley Field Day” - Home of the Chicago Cubs Turns 100 Years Old Today

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