Legislation commonly referred to as the “ComEd bill” that would help roll out a sophisticated smart grid program but alter the way electricity rates are decided is on its way to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk.
The controversial legislation, backed by Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison Co., has been staunchly opposed by consumer advocates and others who call it is a “Trojan horse” meant to pad the utility’s bottom line by removing regulatory obstacles in place for 100 years.
Quinn has repeatedly vowed to veto the legislation, and a maneuver by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) stalled the bill’s delivery to Quinn. Friday, Cullerton withdrew the motion in place since June, so the General Assembly has 30 days to send the bill to Quinn, who would then have 60 days to sign or veto it.
ComEd and its lobbyists have been using the time to meet one-on-one with legislators to try to win enough votes to override a veto.
The utility has been pushing hard for veto override votes. AARP is a staunch opponent. From a press release…
As Senate Bill 1652 has finally been released by the Illinois Senate, AARP urges Governor Pat Quinn, on behalf of our 1.7 million Illinois members, to come through on his promises and veto this awful legislation that would allow utility companies like ComEd and Ameren to hit the wallets of millions of consumers with higher rates while guaranteeing their own profits.
SB1652 narrowly passed both chambers in Springfield during the Spring session as ComEd and Ameren heavily lobbied legislators to approve a bill that would allow them to impose nearly automatic electric rate hikes, while securing company profits and diminishing needed regulatory oversight.
Yet SB1652 did not garner a veto proof majority, and Governor Quinn has promised to veto the bill joining with Attorney General Lisa Madigan, AARP, the Citizens Utility Board and many other consumer advocates and watchdogs in their stern opposition to the legislation.
SB1652 is bad news for consumers as it writes utility company profits into state law guaranteeing ComEd and Ameren a return on equity of over 10% or even higher. Additionally, SB1652 creates a formula rate and shortens the rate review process effectively tying the hands of the Illinois Commerce Commission. Through this bill, ComEd and Ameren are taking the voice of the consumer out of the ratemaking process and paving the way for even higher profit margins.
Now that the bill is finally on its way to the Governor’s desk, we urge him to step up to the plate again for millions of consumers as he had done so often in the past, and use his veto powers to kill this legislation as he has promised numerous times.”
Illinois residents who repeatedly make open-records requests to their towns, school districts and counties could face new restrictions that would keep them from getting information quickly under legislation Gov. Pat Quinn signed Friday.
His decision unleashed sharp criticism from government watchdog groups that accused Quinn of eroding the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and retreating from earlier statements in support of open government.
For the first time, local governments could characterize anyone who files more than seven FOIA requests in a week or more than 15 in a month as a “recurrent requester,” giving the public bodies unlimited time to provide documents. Media, academics and researchers are exempt from the new standard.
Current law gives those governments five business days to answer a records request, with the option of an additional five-day extension.
“It is disappointing that Gov. Quinn, who once cultivated an image of himself as an advocate of open government, has approved a bill that takes Illinois’ FOIA law backward,” said Whitney Woodward, a policy associate with the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, which opposed the bill.
Gov. Pat Quinn is calling for a two-minute timeout before a motorcycle driver or bicyclist can proceed through a stoplight that appears stuck on red.
The Democratic governor used his veto power on Friday to rewrite legislation that would have allowed a motorcyclist idling at a seemingly interminable red light to proceed after a “reasonable period of time.”
Quinn maintains that a specific time period is needed or riders would come up with different standards of what’s reasonable. As written, the measure is “too subjective and will result in confusion amongst law enforcement, the judiciary and motorcycle operations,” the governor explained.
A two-minute wait won’t confuse law enforcement? Who’s gonna run the timer?
In 2007, the state spent $13.2 million to buy the former Franklin Life Insurance building in Springfield to serve as a new headquarters for the Illinois State Police, as well as a workplace for employees of other state agencies.
Four years later, State Police still are the only tenants. That’s led some officials to question whether space in the massive building is being used properly and whether the state is wasting money by continuing to lease offices when it could move people into a state-owned building.
“It is being totally underutilized,” said Ed Bedore, a member of the state’s Procurement Policy Board, which oversees state leasing. “It will cost some money to do some rehabbing, absolutely. But that will certainly be made up in a matter of months when you consolidate some other leases.”
“There’s some available space there,” agreed David Vaught, Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget director and chairman of the procurement panel. “If we have that available space and we have an appropriate agency that does not impair the security needs of the State Police, it’s an opportunity to save some money.”
Local mental health officials are hoping that new legislation signed by Gov. Pat Quinn will be a true victory for the community – though some have their doubts.
Quinn signed House Bill 1530 at the Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health in Hoffman Estates last week. The bill prevents insurers from including additional barriers within a policy – such as financial requirements, treatment limitations, lifetime limits or annual limits – to treatments for mental, emotional, nervous and substance abuse disorders if no such stipulations exist for other health conditions, according a release from the governor’s office.
Sandy Lewis, executive director of the McHenry County Mental Health Board, said this is an important step for mental health care.
“For too long, individuals and families have not had the opportunity to get the help that they needed when they’re insured by group health insurance because mental health and substance abuse weren’t covered the same way.”
If Governor Pat Quinn ever wonders why the public, the press and the legislature find his approach to governing to be incoherent and frustrating, and at times cynical, he needs only to consider his recent whiplash-inducing turn on behavioral health care policy.
Last week Quinn held a bill-signing ceremony at the Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health in Arlington Heights, and he issued a press release that stressed the importance to “improve behavioral health care throughout Illinois.” […]
[However] The governor proposed a Fiscal Year 2012 budget, which began on July 1, 2011, that sought to cut $33 million from mental health care, depriving care to approximately 20,000 individuals, principally the working poor. He also sought to cut all state funding, $63 million, for substance prevention and treatment, a move that would have eliminated care to 55,000 people out of the 69,000 currently served.
Additionally, Quinn had sought in March to drastically cut funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment in the last quarter of the 2011, throwing behavior healthcare providers into chaos. They turned away new patients and cut services to others.
By now, most people know Quinn has a tendency to ramble in his public comments. Well, the ramblin’ man was in full voice at a bill signing last week.
Quinn started the ceremony by making some unprepared remarks that lasted about five minutes. During that time, Quinn said he once lived in a mobile home in Madison County, that state and local governments work together, Illinois believes in transportation, the state has the fewest traffic fatalities since 1921, it’s a tough economy, we’re Americans, his favorite words are “made in America,” 9/11, the state fair, Gold Star families, he’s been to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Old State Capitol, Abraham Lincoln and proclaiming America as the first democracy on planet Earth.
Quinn then signed the bill. It allows overweight trucks to drive short distances on some state roads.
*** UPDATE *** It gets better. With thanks to a commenter, here’s the video in all its rambled, messy glory…
Pay special attention to the beginning of the video when Gov. Quinn announces that his “very good friend” Rep. Dan Beiser couldn’t be at the event. Beiser is standing less than two feet from Quinn at the time.
I just called Beiser and he said he was trying to think of what he was going to say when it was his turn and didn’t hear Quinn announce that he wasn’t there. He had a good laugh about it, however.
…Adding… A persistent commenter prompted me to give it a re-watch, and Quinn could very well be speaking of Sen. Bill Haine, who was, indeed, absent.
I’m an ardent supporter of Illinois’ FOIA and I find that local governments regularly go out of their way to prevent and stall disclosure of clearly public records, and I believe that most of local goverments criticism of the new FOIA are disingenous and an affront to democracy. All that being said, these changes to the FOIA, signed by Quinn, will impact so few people, if any. You really have to be filing a HUGE number of FOIA requests to the same public body in order for this to impact you.
There’s a youtube of the ramble on the gov’s web page, surprised you didn’t link to it. I thought the bigger story on that was that this bill was written specifically to help Olin’s spin-off World Brass operation. Wasn’t Olin threatening Quinn just months ago with some relocation talk?
“next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ’tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”
All of us who support open government should applaud this adjustment to the FOIA law. When an individual chooses to obviously abuse this valuable right, as a way to harass local government units, they put the whole system at risk for the rest of the requesters, including the press.
Mock Quinn all you want…I’m glad he’s going to veto the ComEd bill…after the crappy non chalant “service” they have provided ratepayers this summer, I can only say bite me to this utility company that never saw an improvement to service that they wanted to pay for themselves out of their enormous profits…
I can’t find this all that funny. Sure, if this were a SNL sketch written to skewer blowhard politicians it would be a brilliant laugh riot. But it’s not a sketch and it’s not made up. This is our governor. And this is obviously a window into how his brain operates as he is trying to arrive at decisions and evaluate policies and legislation. Not good. Not good at all.
- thechampaignlife - Monday, Aug 29, 11 @ 2:53 pm:
On running a red light, I’d like to see the time and vehicle type references eliminated altogether. If I’m in a car and approach a red light, I should be able to check for cross traffic and proceed across the intersection if safe. This is no different than approaching the same crossroad a block away where it would be a two-way stop. If it works there, I fail to see why it wouldn’t work at a red light.
@ thechampaignlife agree completely.
If an accident would occur, driver ignoring light would be liable. Traffic lights enforcement is necessary when there are multiple cars: when there are only one or two cars involved, “right of way” laws should cover situation.
Got a ticket years ago for running a red lite at 2:00 a.m.. Half asleep, (going home from girlfriend’s) stopped, no cross traffic in sight, went ahead. $15 ticket (but gas was a quarter)…
I am not for cutting Quinn any slack, but he is clearly talking about Haine not being there.
…”and he can’t be here today I guess his son was married over the weekend, but my good friend Bill Haine..and he and his wife and the family are at the wedding…”
That is the problem when you speak in a constant runonsentencestreamofconsciencesometimespeoplemisunderstandwhatyouaresaying.
The rest of the video is priceless. Illinois should be proud.
The Village of Wapella has a FOIA (http://villageofwapella.org/foia.htm) and financial (http://villageofwapella.org/villagefinancial.htm) website that would put many state governments to shame … . This is all to forestall numerous and duplicate FOIAs, but in the process we now know how much a Village of Wapella employee pays for child support … (was THAT really the intent of FOIA?).
The guv hasn’t been whacked good enough for this one. I can wait to see how many requesters are turned down because of this one. The phrase “commercial purposes” in this bill is very broad.
@ Franklin Life
Wasn’t there a story a few days ago about ISP’s concerns about sharing the building with other tenants? I can understand their concerns about sharing with other agencies. Sensitive information would be more exposed.
Somewhat off topic, but I just got the guv’nah’s schedule. Is he totally blowing off the Du Quoin State Fair this year? He was supposed to be there this weekend but canceled at last minute to be at the National Guard deployment to New York.