* Back in February, two Illinois legislators sponsored bills to require drug testing for new welfare recipients…
The bill introduced to the Illinois House seeks to require new applicants for Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) to undergo drug testing and subsequent substance abuse treatment if a drug test is positive. Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Freeport, introduced the measure, which also requires submission to random drug testing. Sacia’s proposal is a “pilot program” that exempts welfare recipients over age 65.
A parallel piece of legislation, proposed by Rep. Chapin Rose, R- is nearly identical to Sacia’s bill.
* However, Florida just implemented a mandatory drug test for new TANF recipients and only a tiny fraction are testing positive…
Since the state began testing welfare applicants for drugs in July, about 2 percent have tested positive, preliminary data shows. […]
The initiative may save the state a few dollars anyway, bearing out one of Gov. Rick Scott’s arguments for implementing it. But the low test fail-rate undercuts another of his arguments: that people on welfare are more likely to use drugs. […]
More than once, Scott has said publicly that people on welfare use drugs at a higher rate than the general population. The 2 percent test fail rate seen by DCF, however, does not bear that out.
According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, performed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, 8.7 percent of the population nationally over age 12 uses illicit drugs. The rate was 6.3 percent for those ages 26 and up.
* Meanwhile, I really don’t care…
Questions surrounding a gambling bill that is headed to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk have focused on regulation and on how much new casinos could raise for state coffers.
But casino industry watchers are also asking whether the gambling market will be oversaturated with five new riverboats, minicasinos at the state’s five horse racing tracks and slot machines at Chicago’s airports. Increased competition from neighboring states, an unpredictable economy and casino bankruptcies are raising distress signals for the industry nationwide.
I don’t see why the state has a moral duty to protect the monopolies of existing Illinois casinos. Some of these casinos haven’t remodeled in years. Competition is supposed to be good. Why is it so horrible in this case?
The State Senate president, John J. Cullerton, Democrat of Chicago, said he was recently approached by a lobbyist hired by a Wisconsin casino who hoped to stifle competition by derailing Illinois’s expansion of gambling sites. The fact that neighboring states are worried suggests there is a market for more, Cullerton said.
Supporters also argue that a casino in tourist-rich Chicago would keep gamblers here instead of sending them across state lines. Dozens of buses depart from Chicago and its suburbs every day for gambling venues elsewhere. Emanuel has said Illinois should not allow Indiana to get “$20 million a month while our infrastructure is crumbling.”
* And speaking of the casino bill, House sponsor Lou Lang was asked this question by NBC Chicago…
What about Gov. Quinn’s concern that there’s not enough oversight? The bill takes some of these positions out of the oversight of the Illinois Gaming Board, and he’s worried that organized crime is going to find its way into these new gaming positions.
He’s wrong. While we do create a Chicago Casino Authority, it in no way supersedes the Illinois Gaming Board. Its job is to help the city determine what to recommend to the Gaming Board. Its job is to help determine what gaming operator the city must hire. The bill requires the city hire a gaming operator, because we don’t want aldermen and ward committeemen deciding who blackjack dealers would be, and we wanted people running the casino who know about gaming. We don’t want it run by some committee of the City Council, so we created a casino authority, and yes, the people are appointed by the mayor, but they can only make recommendations. They have no force of law. They cannot tell the Gaming Board what to approve and what not to approve. Let me tell you what I told the governor. I said, “If the optics of this are such that you need different language to satisfy that, I’ll give it you.”
* Chicago-based Groupon has been taking a severe beating in the press ahead of its IPO. For instance…
Groupon’s fundamental problem is that it has not yet discovered a viable business model. The company asserts that it will be profitable once it reaches scale but there is little reason to believe this. The financial results of Groupon’s traditional business continue to deteriorate, especially in mature markets, and new ventures such as Groupon Now also have failed to drive profits. And unlike the very few successful companies that scaled before they were profitable (think Facebook or Amazon), Groupon’s business model does not benefit from significant network effects.
Could the fastest growing company in history sputter out just as quickly? At this point, the better question may be: How could it not?
* But Groupon’s CEO is now fighting back…
“While we’ve bitten our tongues and allowed insane accusations … to go unchallenged publicly, it’s important to me that you have the context necessary to brush this stuff off,” Mason addressed employees in his memo.
Mason argued that rival services were “small and not growing” and waved off accusations Groupon was “buying customers” by splurging on marketing — two key concerns on Wall Street ahead of its market debut.
“Even if we wanted to continue to spend at these levels, we would eventually run out of new subscribers to acquire,” he wrote. “The real point is that our business is a lot harder to build than people realize and our scale creates competitive advantages that even the largest technology companies are having trouble penetrating.”
[Hat tip: Sullivan]
* And a federal judge essentially just deleted a section of Illinois’ election law…
A federal judge in Chicago today ruled that candidates for Congress in next year’s election can go ahead and collect candidacy signatures after Labor Day despite a pending lawsuit filed by Republicans that challenges the Democrats’ redrawing of the state’s U.S. House district boundaries.
U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow’s order allows U.S. House candidates to gather petition signatures starting on Sept. 6 from voters who live within the Democrat-drawn districts. Under her order, if the congressional boundaries are subsequently changed by the actions of the court, the signatures of those people who find themselves in a different district will still be valid.
Lefkow’s order also said a candidacy petition cannot be ruled invalid if court action leads to a renumbering of a congressional district.
The judge’s ruling, which also ends a GOP-backed request to push back the petition-passing process, could make it difficult to challenge a candidate’s candidacy signatures if congressional boundary lines are shifted as a result of the federal court.
While that makes practical sense, shouldn’t this be for the General Assembly and the governor to decide? A judge changing state law to accommodate an undecided, ongoing federal lawsuit makes me more than a bit queasy.