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Statehouse roundup

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009

* I didn’t realize it when I wrote the subscriber edition, but around midnight last night this provision was removed from the cemetery regulation bill

Strict new regulations would be placed on most Illinois cemeteries following the Burr Oak Cemetery scandal under legislation a House panel approved [yesterday] following heavy debate from Catholic officials. […]

Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, testified in opposition. Among other things, the legislation appears to be written so strictly that even the cardinal of the archdiocese of Chicago would need to get a license, he said.

Gilligan and Roman Szabelski, the executive director of Catholic Cemeteries appointed to oversee Burr Oak at the height of the scandal last summer, said they hoped changes could be made before lawmakers vote again on the issue.

Szabelski said he oversees 2.4 million graves and that data on the burials that would meet the legislation’s standards are only about 60 percent completed. They suggested a deadline for compliance for all records would be difficult and costly to meet within only a few months.

Those provisions were seen as a poison pill designed to kill the legislation, but they were taken out of the measure late last night.

* Meanwhile, the sponsor of a controversial bill has doubts that it can pass this time around…

One of the sponsors of a bill that would create sales tax revenue bonds in Illinois is not sure whether it can be passed at this point in the General Assembly.

Rep. Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville, said he and other supporters of bringing STAR bonds to the state were negotiating with Gov. Pat Quinn’s office Wednesday and will continue through the end of the veto session Friday. […]

Holbrook said Wednesday that if the measure passes during the current session, it will be as an entirely new bill. He said he expects to know for sure by today.

“We think there is an opportunity for this to be a huge economic development tool, but we’re not sure it will be,” Holbrook said.

* Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) says he’s now open to far more drastic school reform ideas

We must also decide whether Mayor Daley should continue to preside over the Chicago schools. Since he assumed control of the district in 1995, the Blackhawks have had nine coaches, the Bulls have had eight coaches, the Cubs have had five managers and the White Sox have had three managers.

For the first time in my personal and political career, I am exploring the idea of vouchers and charter schools to help facilitate choice and enhance academic performance. Why should we continue to make investments in a system that is bankrupt and weighed down with bureaucracy?

We must begin making decisions that are in the best interest of children, such as mandatory teacher evaluations. Since the will to change the system is nonexistent, we should allow students the flexibility to attend schools outside their district. What once worked before, such as the local school councils, may have run its course in today’s competitive environment.

They say the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. We can no longer afford to have the blood of every child on our hands.

* In other Statehouse news

The state house executive committee [yesterday] decided, unanimously and without debate, to roll back the controversial senior free ride program so it only applies to low-income seniors. according to Diane Palmer, spokeswoman for the Regional Transportation Authority.

Other committee action

–Change to three-fifths the number of Cook County commissioners it would take to override the board president’s veto. Currently, a four-fifths vote is required. That margin has helped board President Todd Stroger fight off attempts to repeal his sales tax increase. It’s now before the full Senate.

–Require prison time for gang members caught on the streets with a loaded weapon. The action gave Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis a victory because current law allows for probation. Last summer, a gang member on probation in such a case allegedly shot and killed Chicago police Officer Alejandro Valadez. The bill goes to the full Senate.

* Related…

* Lawmakers reconsider free rides for seniors

* Free bus rides for all seniors could end

* Quinn touts new lottery game that helps veterans

- Posted by Rich Miller        

9 Comments
  1. - Captain Flume - Thursday, Oct 29, 09 @ 10:32 am:

    Free rides for seniors is a legacy of Governor Blagojevich, as a sort of poison pill on an AV. Maybe the political risk of shedding such a legacy is less potent that keeping it.


  2. - OneMan - Thursday, Oct 29, 09 @ 10:35 am:

    == For the first time in my personal and political career, I am exploring the idea of vouchers and charter schools to help facilitate choice and enhance academic performance. Why should we continue to make investments in a system that is bankrupt and weighed down with bureaucracy?==

    So if he were to run as a third party candidate for governor when would he have to pull that trigger?


  3. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 29, 09 @ 10:36 am:

    That’s quite a fight Meeks is picking there, not so much with Daley, but with the CTU and the central bureaucracy, many of whom are probably members of his congregation and base.

    If I recall correctly, Edgar, Pate and Lee Daniels engineered transferring control of the CPS to Daley during the couple of years the GOP ran the show.

    I’m not certain Daley actually wanted that responsibility at the time, despite what he was saying. Blaming the school board for Why Johnny Can’t Read was a time-honored tradition of Chicago mayors.


  4. - The Doc - Thursday, Oct 29, 09 @ 12:08 pm:

    Word, not sure I agree - it gave Daley the ability to consolidate more power at City Hall, which was more critical in ‘95 than present day. Considering the lack of meaningful improvement and regular budget deficits since, he probably is suffering from an acute case of buyer’s remorse.

    I see many potential problems with Meeks’ proposal, among them allowing CPS students to attend schools outside their district. A logistical nightmare.


  5. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Oct 29, 09 @ 1:45 pm:

    Mr. Meeks needs to run for governor.


  6. - Anon - Thursday, Oct 29, 09 @ 2:39 pm:

    == Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) says ==

    See SB 2494, 2495 and 2496. Looks like he is doing more than “exploring” these ideas. Bravo for him!


  7. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 29, 09 @ 3:51 pm:

    Doc, I’m just going by memory, but I seem to recall Daley talking tough about how he couldn’t be blamed about the CPS because he didn’t have control.

    At the time, besides the school board, there was an additional, “independent” school finance authority that controlled their money.

    I recall it as Edgar and the GOP giving him what he claimed he wanted, but maybe not so much.

    Edgar was a tough guy with Daley, and Madigan. Voters might want to keep that in mind when considering Dillard.


  8. - TheTruthWillSetUFree - Thursday, Oct 29, 09 @ 5:45 pm:

    Talk about a poison pill.

    HR 736 calls for the Auditor General to examine if there are any advantages to a state takeover of Video Gaming. Current law authorizes an operator owned system that promotes small business across the state.

    A 150 day study will stop all progress toward the current vendor owned system established in law. Few will invest in new machine start-up costs
    if they potentially might be put out of business by a state owned system. This at a time when proponenets are spending money educating the public on the facts of the legislation. Who could expect these small businesses to go all in with the prospect of the state taking the system over after they help get the system running?

    Only one state, Oregon, has moved to a state owned system.

    Oregon has only a 36% of the eligible locations participating – other operator owned states vary from 78 - 85%.


  9. - Will County Woman - Thursday, Oct 29, 09 @ 8:33 pm:

    “Edgar was a tough guy with Daley, and Madigan. Voters might want to keep that in mind when considering Dillard.”

    Dillard might want to make voters aware of this so that they can consider it.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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