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Morning shorts

Wednesday, Nov 14, 2007

* Champaign Co. Clerk on new state election bill

* Rep. Fritchey: You gotta keep ‘em separated

The moral of today’s stories is that like it or not, if they are sincere in trying to accomplish the goals that they claim to be seeking, both the Administration and the proponents of damage caps are going to have to find legal and constitutional means to reach those goals.

* ‘Tort reform’ law struck down

* Jury award law called unconstitutional

* Illinois caps on some malpractice awards declared unconstitutional

* Judge strikes down malpractice caps

* Bethany Jaeger: Med Mal returns

* Illinois law shielding doctors is rejected

Doctors and insurers blamed lawyers, particularly the active plaintiffs’ bar in the Metro East area, saying lawsuits drove up rates. Lawyers said the courthouse was becoming a scapegoat as the insurance industry chased profits.

But dozens of doctors retired or left the area rather than pay continually rising insurance rates, and in some instances hospitals and patients were left scrambling to find a physician. The issue became a political firestorm as hundreds attended meetings around the state to complain. President George W. Bush came to Collinsville in January 2005 and told an audience of doctors that medical litigation was tilted in favor of plaintiffs’ lawyers.

* Expanding casinos a gamble for Joliet

This could be the year that the state really does put a casino in Chicago. But at what expense to Joliet casinos?

State legislators at least broach the subject of a Chicago casino almost annually. But talk has seldom been as intense as it is this year, with legislators and the governor looking at a casino in Chicago and at least one other undetermined location to fund future roads, bridges and other infrastructure work.

* Editorial: Hasty state construction plan could hurt more than help

This state has a long enough history of construction programs with catchy names that broke the bank, from Jim Thompson’s Build Illinois to George Ryan’s Illinois FIRST. We don’t need another one with wastefulness similar to those.

Instead, the state needs a plan that helps finance projects based on need, not political favoritism or vote-trading.

State Sen. Dan Rutherford has outlined three elements that must be part of the capital bill and we agree: Any plan must identify a reliable revenue stream to pay for it; include a list of projects on which the money will spent, not a lump sum allotment to leaders; and specify when money would be released.

* Chicago Public Radio: Mayor tightlipped over casino locale

* Legislators thwart Blagojevich’s health care end run

* State group votes down health plan expansion

* Governor’s ‘emergency’ health care rule is rejected

* Panel derails governor’s ‘end run’ to expand health insurance

State Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, who also voted against the change, said a significant expansion of health care might be a laudable goal, but it shouldn’t be put in place without more debate from the legislative branch.

“Yeah, but go through the process,” Rutherford said.

The governor’s proposed emergency rule would provide discounted health care benefits to about 147,000 Illinois residents with incomes up to 400 percent of the poverty level.

State Sen. Brad Burzynski, R-Clare, said the change could mean a family of four that has a family income of at least $80,000 would be getting health care from the state.

That’s not an emergency, Burzynski said.

* Panel kills health care move

“Should those 20,000 people find themselves without health coverage, it would be because of the inaction of the administration, not the actions of [this committee],” Fritchey said.

Ottenhoff said the administration is “working on ways to make sure the 20,000 parents do not lose coverage,” but she did not offer details.

* Tribune Editorial: Another vote, another ‘No’

Blagojevich may portray this as another “up” for his agenda. He’s evidently trying to convince people that he’s a man of compassion who won’t let stingy legislators stop him from giving taxpayer-funded health coverage to middle-income families. He says he’s “simply doing my job and setting the right priorities.”

But the people of Illinois, through their elected representatives, are talking back. They’re unequivocally, and repeatedly, saying to Blagojevich: Don’t write a blank check and create debts that will come due for generations.

So what now? Well, the governor can attempt another end run. Or he could sue.

* Wisconsin supporting Illinois for FutureGen plant

Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky have also backed Illinois’ bid. But it’s unknown what influence other states will have on the final decision.

Both Illinois and Texas have offered substantial financial incentives to help try to charm decision-makers. And Illinois officials have gone has far to spend more than $300,000 on a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm.

* Quinn calls for assistance to veterans laid off from state jobs

* Editorial: Teen advice good, but licensing rules are working

There is hope, however. The American Academy of Pediatrics last year cited a study of graduated licensing programs in 13 states that found the programs reduced crashes by as much as 41 percent. Illinois recently toughened its graduated licensing by lengthening the learner’s permit period to a minimum of nine months from three months; moving up curfew; and making teens wait a full year until they can have more than one nonfamily teen passenger in their car. The waiting period is now six months.

* Illinois math and science scores compare favorably with the world

“Most states are performing about as well or better than most foreign countries,” said Gary Phillips, who wrote the report. “We’re kind of in the middle of the pack. However, our highest-achieving states are significantly below the highest-achieving countries. There was no state that did as well as the highest-achieving countries.”

* Schools look at power by wind

* McCain picks delegate candidates for primary

- Posted by Paul Richardson        

17 Comments
  1. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 10:03 am:

    Schools powered by wind.

    A good idea, although I thought from Paul’s header that we might be talking about intra classroom generated wind.

    Solar and wind provide good alternatives, especially when it can be sold sholesale to the utilities.


  2. - GettingJonesed - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 10:07 am:

    The Milwaukee JS version of the FutureGen endorsement said Blaggo was headed for Cheeseland today to talk with Doyle about global warming.
    Hopes he does not cut the RTA Summit short.


  3. - Guess this is off, huh? - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 10:13 am:

    We need to work more quickly to provide certainty for the people who use the buses and trains every day. With your participation, we can move this process along, and reach a solution in short order. Accordingly, I invite each of you, along with the Mayor, to a meeting in my Chicago office at 10:00 a.m. this Wednesday, November 14th to work through any differences. We have promised the people a capital bill and a long-term funding source for mass transit. - Blago
    So much for BLAGO’S DEADLINES!
    Blagojevich is a true professional, not sure what.


  4. - MOON - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 10:19 am:

    Blago’s greatest contribution to this state would be allowing all “his hot air” to be harnessed and use for creating energy. Beyond that, he has nothing more to contribute.


  5. - Levois - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 10:34 am:

    A lot of stories on the governor’s health care expansion being derailed.


  6. - Angry Chicagoan - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 10:37 am:

    Illinois FIRST was a good scheme — pity that the mossbacks at the Pantograph are dissing it.

    However they do have a point in that, rather with feeding a starved patient, too much too fast would overload our system for procuring infrastructure here in Illinois. In this case, too much too fast would strain the capacity of our now-shrunken construction industry to do work and would result in excessive cost per project. Gradually working up to Illinois FIRST levels over several years is a more cost-effective approach because it gives contractors time to adapt and boosts the likelihood of competitive bids.


  7. - Cold Fusion - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 10:44 am:

    If anyone thinks the Illinois Tollway built the new extension I-355 extension using the competitive bid process better think again.
    Alot of Blago’s pals got very rich and are continuing to do so.


  8. - Larry McKeon - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 11:25 am:

    As a former member of JCAR the majority of members were frustrated by the Governor’s repeated attempts to side-step the legislative process to implement his failed legislative initiatives.

    Two tests must be met for JCAR to approve proposed rules.

    First, is the program contained in the proposed rules authorized in statute by the legislature; and second (the and is a very important conjuction; it means both requirements must be met), is the proposed program appropriated in statute, i.e. budget.

    The Governor has repeatedly attempted to legislate through the rule-making process. In addition, the Governor has taken months to develop rules and then submit rules under the emergency rule-making authority. The supposed emergency was created the Governor’s own failure to formulate rules timely. I personally believe that in many cases this was a deliberate strategy to bypass the legislature.

    I have said before we have three branches of government for a reason.

    I commnd my former colleagues for having the courage to hold the Governor to these requirements. Particulary given the Governor’s attempt to buy votes from JCAR members with big dollar projects in their districts. I expect, given this vote, that the dollars for those projects will never be released.

    I hope JCAR members will continue to insist that the program addressed by the proposed rules legislatively “authorized” and legislatively “appropriated.”


  9. - DC - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 11:43 am:

    After all the focus on JCAR the past few couple of years, I would strongly suggest that political writers stop referring to it as an “obscure” panel. I’ve never - in nearly 20 years of being a part or witness to state government- seen as much emphasis and attention to the rulemaking process. JCAR is officially “non-obscure”. Add that to Governor Chucky’s legacy.


  10. - DC - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 12:30 pm:

    Strangely, there’s nothing on the Governor’s website criticizing JCAR for its vote to uphold the constitution and state law…


  11. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 12:51 pm:

    I am sure that his handlers have an entry prepared regarding JCAR, probably lauding bi-partisan support.


  12. - DC - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 12:54 pm:

    Rausch and company will be spinning this as “we’re happy to have elevated this important issue and urge Speaker Madigan to work together with us to make sure 20,000 people are not denied their God-given right to health care.”


  13. - Captain America - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 3:34 pm:

    Ditto on the Tribune editorial and on Larry Mckeon’ s comments.

    The Governor seems to have very linmited undertanding of the Constitution and almost no respect for separation of powers and checks and balances. He seems to be operating on a unitary executive theory popularized by Cheney-Bush, et. al. (No Vanilla Man, I am not blaming Republicans or Cheney-Bush for Blago’a acts and omissions.)

    Governor, the executive proposes and the legislature disposes. The legislature authorizes programs like health care expansion and appropriates funds for authrorized programs. The Governor is supposed to not supoposed to be a bully, he’s supposed to use his office as a bully pulpit.


  14. - Captain America - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 3:37 pm:

    Addendum/Correction: The Governor is not supposed to be a bully, he’s supposed to use his office as a bully pulpit.


  15. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 6:12 pm:

    Cold Fusion-

    Yes, there were competitive bids on 355, and a creative design-build bid on the Des Plaines river crossing that saved $5 million over the next low bidder. However, it’s not the type of project that mom & pop construction firms can qualify for, so some firms are naturally cut out of the action. The tollway did slice the job into smaller segments than were originally planned in the 90’s, allowing mid size contractors to get in on the bidding action.

    355 and open road tolling are good accomplishments of the administation, whatever you think of the rest of it.


  16. - DuPage Dave - Wednesday, Nov 14, 07 @ 6:41 pm:

    The 355 extension and open road tolling were well into planning before Blagojevich was elected. So other than his name on the toll-taking archways, he made no contribution…


  17. - Truthful James - Thursday, Nov 15, 07 @ 7:31 am:

    If I only had the paint, the time and the nerve I would shinny up those posts and replace the message with

    “Open Toad Rolling…” [:–0]


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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