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Sunlight Foundation tags the wrong Michael J. Madigan

Friday, Jul 29, 2016

* From the Sunlight Foundation

Since February, Sunlight has pored over hundreds of names and affiliations of DNC superdelegates from all over the country. Our methodology included going state by state to the respective lobbying registration database, as well as using data from OpenSecrets.org, to see if an individual was ever registered as a federal or state lobbyist.

At least 64 superdelegates have registered as a lobbyist at the federal level or state level at some point.

* That number isn’t 64, it’s 63 because the crack reformers who’ve supposedly been working hard on this project since February listed Speaker Madigan as a DC lobbyist for Akin, Gump. That particular Michael J. Madigan lobbied for a private corrections company in 2007 and formerly served as US Sen. Fred Thompson’s chief counsel.

Madigan’s spokesman says his boss has never been registered as a DC lobbyist and has never been on Sen. Thompson’s staff.

Oops.

…Adding… They corrected it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Rauner vetoes bills pushed by disability advocates, first responders, unions

Friday, Jul 29, 2016

* And now, on to the vetoes…


* From his veto message…

Today I veto House Bill 4351 from the 99th General Assembly, which would amend the Illinois Act on Aging to restrict the State’s flexibility in how we assess and serve Illinois’s elderly and physically disabled residents.

This bill is very similar to House Bill 2482, passed by the General Assembly last year, and which I returned with an amendatory veto for many of the same concerns I raise today. Although well intentioned, this bill would lead to serious unintended consequences.

First, this bill would lock into statute that an individual with a particular threshold score on the Determination of Need (DON) assessment tool would be eligible for both institutional and home and community-based long term care services. Instead, an individual with the threshold score should be entitled to institutional or home and community-based care. Many members of the General Assembly have long worked to transition the state from a reliance on institutional-based care to a focus on community care options that improve patient quality and cost efficiency. However, House Bill 4351 inhibits this transformation in the way the State delivers services for the elderly and disabled.

Second, to the extent that a motivating factor behind this legislation is to preclude a raise in the minimum DON score used to determine eligibility—as originally contemplated under the SMART Act (Public Act 97-0689)—I have no intention of raising the DON score. In light of this commitment, there can be no good reason to unnecessarily restrict the State’s ability to move from institutional-based care to community-based care through this legislation.

Finally, this bill would inhibit the Illinois Department on Aging from creating a new program, the Community Reinvestment Program (CRP). This program is designed to provide a multitude of flexible services for non-Medicaid individuals currently being served under the Community Care Program (CCP), and it furthers the State’s commitment to serving individuals in their own home and community rather than in nursing homes. CRP is also projected to produce savings of nearly $200 million during the next fiscal year. By precluding the launch of CRP, this bill would prevent the State from managing ever-rising costs and jeopardize our ability to ensure that essential community services remain available for the approximately 44,000 non-Medicaid persons now served by CCP.

…Adding… SEIU press release…

House Bill 4351, sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) would have prevented Rauner from manipulating the Determination of Need (DON) Score and limiting eligibility to seniors, which Rauner attempted last year. This is in addition to a proposed $200 million cut to CCP, which, in early talks, Rauner is proposing to replace with for-profit ride sharing vouchers, food vouchers and dry-cleaning services as an untried, unproven way to eliminate the in-home caregivers represented by SEIU Healthcare Illinois.

As a result of Rauner’s risky proposals, some 44,000 seniors are at risk of forced institutionalization.

Following is the response of Rep. Greg Harris:

“Sadly this veto by Gov. Rauner is another in his ongoing campaign targeting childcare, people with disabilities and senior citizens. We should be encouraging seniors to remain in their own homes and low-cost community settings instead of driving them into more costly institutions and nursing homes.”

* Other bills were also vetoed today…

Today I return Senate Bill 1059. This bill would allow retired state university employees who return to work after receiving a lump-sum retirement distribution to receive additional health benefits without making additional contributions to the retirement system.

Under current law, state university employees have the option to receive a one-time, lump-sum payout from the State University Retirement System upon retirement. A retired employee who elects to accept the lump-sum payout is not eligible to participate in the State’s health care program. If a retired employee later returns to work for the State after accepting a lump-sum payout, he or she no longer contributes to the State Retirement Systems and, therefore, is ineligible to receive additional future retirement benefits.

Senate Bill 1059 would allow a retired employee who accepts a lump-sum payout and then returns to work to participate in the State’s employee health care program, even though he or she would not be required to contribute to the State’s retirement systems going forward. The bill would establish an unequal benefit distribution and expose the State to unforeseen, unfunded costs to the historically underfunded State Employee Group Insurance Program. Rather than increasing retirement-related costs to the State, I urge the General Assembly to work with me on comprehensive pension reform.

* And…

Today I veto Senate Bill 2439, which amends the Illinois Pension Code to impose additional pension liability for police and firefighters on local governments, despite a local referendum rejecting such an expansion. It is identical to Senate Bill 763, which I vetoed last year.

Public safety workers deserve the right to earn good pension benefits. However, current law already provides a mechanism by which a municipality can provide pension benefits to police officers and firefighters. Benefits are mandatory in municipalities with the population of at least 5,000 people and can be created by referendum in those with fewer than 5,000 residents. Thus, in smaller municipalities, the decision rests directly with the people who will have to pay for additional benefits through higher property and other taxes.

This veto is necessary because Senate Bill 2439 would allow municipalities an end-run around local referendum results. If this legislation becomes law, a municipality could impose new pension obligations by a resolution of its governing body even if residents overwhelmingly reject the same by referendum. At a time when local governments in Illinois are struggling to make ends meet, we should not stifle direct democracy by permitting local governing bodies to ignore taxpayer’s wishes.

* And…

Today I veto Senate Bill 2531 from the 99th General Assembly to prevent yet another hindrance to economic development in Illinois.

The bill requires an economic development council that receives public money to include members of a labor council and persons from minority groups on its corporate board. Diverse representation, particularly minority representation, on corporate boards is an admirable goal and one every corporation should seek to attain. However, corporate boards should also be representative of the constituencies they serve and need flexibility to ensure that representation. Mandating certain representation on every economic development corporation that receives public monies is a one size fits all approach that ignores that many of these local and regional councils may be best served with different representation that reflects their specific mission.

Further, the vague drafting of this legislation is likely to have unintended consequences. For example, “economic development corporation” is defined as “an organization that receives public money that promotes the development, establishment or expansion of industries.” This broad definition will likely lead to the inclusion of corporations whose works bears no relationship to traditional economic development. In addition, many corporations that would fall within this definition are dedicated to representing the interests of the management side of business. Forcing the inclusion of the labor representatives on such a board is in direct conflict with such a corporation’s interest.

This bill is one of three pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly this year that impose arbitrary mandates on groups trying to further economic development in Illinois. Last year Illinois lost thousands of jobs, and I continue to hear that businesses are leaving our State. Rather than imposing inflexible requirements on entities trying to bring jobs to the Illinois, I encourage the General Assembly to focus on passing legislation designed to further economic development.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Whatever the number is, it’s still pretty darned high

Friday, Jul 29, 2016

* Twitters…


* From that link

Political contributions and transfers in Illinois for 2016 have now surpassed $100 million, nearing total amounts contributed in previous Presidential Election years.
In 2012 and 2008, there were $171 million and $151 million in contributions and transfers respectively. Years with Gubernatorial Elections tend to see more state level contributions, with over $340 million in 2014 and over $277 million in 2010.

The Illinois Republican Party spent over $130,000 on independent expenditures during the last two weeks. The money went towards advertisements for 11 challengers of Democratic incumbents in the House and Senate. No independent expenditures have been made on behalf of the Democrats in those races.

The Citizens to Protect Transportation Funding, a ballot initiative committee,
continued an upward fundraising trend this week. On Monday, the committee received $300,000 donation from Excavators, Inc and a $50,000 donation from Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program. Those donations alone doubled the committee’s total funds from two weeks ago when there was a pick up in their fundraising. The group, which was founded in late June, already has $827,000 in available funds. They support an amendment that would create a lockbox for transportation funds.

The key word here is “transfers.” Transfers are just what they sound like: One campaign committee transfers money to another campaign committee. So, most transfers aren’t really “new” money. It’s money already in the system being moved around.

* So, I asked for the breakdown and here’s their response…

Since January 1st of 2016, there has been just over $54 million in contributions, $38 million in transfers, $6 million in loans to committees, and $4 million in in-kind contributions. That’s how we arrive at the total of roughly $102 million as of today - an updated number from yesterday’s $1.7 million.

So, the “new” money total is more like $64 million, including contributions, loans, and in-kinds.

* But look at how this year - so far - compares to previous presidential election years…

2012

    - $38 million in individual contributions
    - $17 million in transfers
    - $4.7 million in loans
    - $3.5 million in in-kinds

Total of $63.2 million

2008

    - $36 million in contributions
    - $16.8 million in transfers
    - $5 million in loans
    - $3 milion in in-kinds

Total of $60.8 million

It’s a whole new world, campers.

*** UPDATE ***  Missed this one

The House Republican Organization got another $500,000 from the Illinois GOP — money from a $5 million contribution from Gov. Bruce Rauner back in May.

The HRO has now received $3.5 million from the state Republican Party since May 10 as it continues a concerted cable TV advertising campaign targeting potential Democratic incumbents. House Republican leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, is trying to cut into Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan’s supermajority.

In addition to the HRO campaign operations, the state Republican Party last week also reported spending an additional $132,526 on legislative campaign mailings supporting 11 candidates against many of the same targeted Democrats.

The Democrats being challenged by Republicans in the mailings are Reps. Michelle Mussman, of Schaumburg; Sam Yingling, of Grayslake; Kate Cloonen, of Kankakee; Andy Skoog, of LaSalle; Mike Smiddy, of Hillsdale; Daniel Beiser, of Alton; John Bradley, of Marion; Brandon Phelps, of Harrisburg; and Sens. Tom Cullerton, of Villa Park; Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, of Shorewood; and Gary Forby, of Benton.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Is it over or not?

Friday, Jul 29, 2016

* We talked about this yesterday, but here’s the AP

A settlement in the workplace retaliation lawsuit against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth is final and the plaintiffs can’t back out even if no paperwork was signed, the Illinois attorney general’s office said Thursday.

One of two women who sued Duckworth said Wednesday they wanted out of the agreement because they felt the congresswoman was tarnishing their reputations by still calling their allegations false. They said they also were upset that Duckworth’s campaign referred to their lawsuit as frivolous shortly after the agreement was announced last month. […]

Butler did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday. The attorney for her and Goins, Matthew Ferrell, did not respond to a message relayed to him by his office.

Randall Schmidt, a law professor at the University of Chicago, said the general rule is settlement agreements are enforceable even if they’re not put in writing.

“The fact that it’s not reduced to writing isn’t in and of itself enough to back out,” he said.

* Daily Herald

Goins and Butler, speaking with the Daily Herald again on Thursday, said that throughout settlement conferences this spring, they had been assured by their attorney that until the paperwork was signed, they had not committed to anything.

The women met again with their attorney Tuesday night. “We told him we wanted to continue to trial. He never said that wasn’t possible. He said we would still be proceeding to trial unless an agreement was signed.”

The attorney general’s office said Thursday that while it views the agreement as final, that no settlement agreement had yet been submitted to the courts.

A spokeswoman at the Union County courthouse confirmed an Aug. 15 trial date for the case remains on Judge Mark Boie’s docket.

* Sun-Times

Still, Kirk’s campaign on Thursday called the settlement news a “Duckworth implosion.” Campaign manager Kevin Artl said information given by the attorney general’s office about the settlement last month was “clearly misleading.”

The plaintiffs told the Daily Herald the settlement was about $40,000, with $21,000 of that amount paying for attorney fees and another $9,000 for each plaintiff.

The attorney general’s office, however, disputes that claim, saying the $26,000 settlement covered all costs, including damages paid to each client.

Bottom line: The judge in this case is going to have to decide what the heck to do.

*** UPDATE *** NBC 5 clears up the point about the docket

“We’ve obviously seen the stories, but that doesn’t change that we have a settlement agreement,” Attorney General’s office communications Director Maura Possley told Ward Room. […]

Possley told Ward Room that there is no scheduled trial.

But, according to the Union County Clerk’s office, the case is still on the docket because a settlement order to remove it hasn’t been received. Possley claimed the case is simply still on the docket from May.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Remap reformers say recordings of Con-Con debates support their case
* Question of the day
* Sunlight Foundation tags the wrong Michael J. Madigan
* Rauner vetoes bills pushed by disability advocates, first responders, unions
* Independent Maps has appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court
* Rauner signs three controversial bills: Marijuana decriminalization, Contraception coverage; "Right of Conscience Act"
* Republicans "pledge" not to vote for Madigan for Speaker
* More on the Lottery announcement
* Caption contest!
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Whatever the number is, it's still pretty darned high
* Careful what you wish for
* Duckworth speech focused on Trump as new ads slam her
* Just legalize it, already
* Today's number: 32 percent
* Cullerton repeats demand that Rauner will decide tax hike
* One way 2016 could impact 2018
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Is it over or not?
* Yesterday's blog posts

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