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It’s just a bill…

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

* But I like it

State Representative Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) has filed legislation that would give entrepreneurs and startup founders a kick-start into the market. House Bill 3091 allows the use of intrastate crowdfunding, a new investing concept that is capable of generating greater access to capital, allowing for entrepreneurs with ideas to make them into reality.

“Crowdfunding will be the way of the future and is the next step in evolution for startups and small businesses,” said Rep. Demmer. “There are a lot of entrepreneurs out there who have great ideas to start a business, but have no capital. This bill will give those people the opportunity to bring new and innovative business ideas to Illinois.”

The legislation creates an exemption from certain filing and registration requirements under the Act for intrastate securities offerings that meet certain conditions.

“We have to be competitive with surrounding states,” said Rep. Demmer. “Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan have already enacted this legislation, while Missouri and Kentucky currently have bills drafted. We have the opportunity to join these states to spur innovation, economic activity, and small-business job creation.”

The legislation is here.

…Adding… Some folks are a bit unclear on this concept. Currently, startups can only legally raise donations through online services like KickStarter. This bill allows contributors to become investors.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

* The third chapter in this extraordinary Illinoisan’s public life is about to come to a close

Winston & Strawn announced Tuesday that former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson will step down in early 2016 after 25 years with the high-powered law firm. The 78-year-old Republican served four terms as governor before joining Winston & Strawn after he left office in 1991. […]

Winston & Strawn says Thompson, as a chairman, played key roles in its expansion in the U.S. and abroad. Thompson will continue to work as a consultant for the law firm for two years after his retirement.

US Attorney, popular and accomplished four-term governor and then one of the top lawyers in the state.

* The Question: Your fondest Big Jim memory/story?

- Posted by Rich Miller   92 Comments      


What would toys be like without the civil justice system?

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Since 1974, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued more than 850 recalls for toy products, many for hazards like magnets, lead and other dangers hidden in our children’s toys. In the face of such risks, and with so few resources at hand, American parents have come to rely on consumer groups and the civil justice system to serve both as an early warning system and an enforcement mechanism against negligent corporations.

Between 1990 and 2007, 196 children died from choking on toy parts, small balls and balloons. Nearly a quarter of a million children are treated at U.S. emergency rooms for toy-related injuries every year. A series of lawsuits in the late-2000s not only helped remove lead-tainted toys from store shelves, but also helped establish quality assurance programs overseen by the courts. A lawsuit filed by the family of a toddler who died after ingesting tiny magnets brought awareness to the hidden dangers of magnetic toys.

Civil actions by parents across the country have consistently forced corporations and regulators to take action. For more information, click here.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


EXELON 2014 Profits: $236,000/per HOUR and THEY WANT A BAILOUT???

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

While the state budget crisis increasingly hits struggling Illinois families, Exelon demands a corporate bailout. This is exactly the wrong thing for Illinois’ citizens and businesses.

Exelon is a successful, profitable company. While we appreciate success, when they claim they need more of OUR MONEY, it’s time to be skeptical.

EXELON 2014 PROFITS: $2,068,000,000.00

That’s two BILLION with a B. And yet this wildly profitable company is asking US for a bailout while Illinois struggles. So let’s review:

In 2014, EXELON made $5,665,753 per day or $236,073 per hour

When legislators are being asked to slash everything from education to healthcare to mental health services, and when Crain’s Chicago Business says Exelon actually MADE money from its Illinois Nuclear Fleet, how can anyone think having struggling Illinois businesses and families bail out a highly profitable company is a good use of OUR money?

It just isn’t fair.

Just say no to the Exelon Bailout.

www.noexelonbailout.com

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Dueling press releases

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

* From the Exelon folks…

A bipartisan group of legislators, along with business, labor and community leaders, today announced their support for legislation creating a state Low Carbon Portfolio Standard that establishes Illinois as a national leader in efforts to reduce carbon emissions with minimal consumer impacts.

Introduced in both the Senate as SB 1585 and the House as HB 3293, the legislation would help reduce carbon emissions, increase renewable energy and maintain affordable, reliable electricity for consumers and businesses. In addition, the measure will ensure continued operations of the state’s nuclear power plants, which are responsible for nearly half of all electricity produced in Illinois. The market-based solution is modeled after findings from a recent HR 1146 report prepared by four state agencies that analyzed the economic, environmental and reliability impacts of premature nuclear plant closures in Illinois.

Under the proposed legislation, certain electric utilities would be required to purchase low-carbon energy credits to match 70 percent of electricity used on the distribution system from qualified sources, which include solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, tidal, wave and clean coal. The legislation includes safeguards to protect consumers similar to those for Illinois’ other clean energy programs. For example, a consumer price cap would limit the impact to a 2.015 percent annual increase compared to 2009 rates, or about $2/month for the average Illinois residential electricity customer, less than the increase customers would face if the nuclear plants close early. In addition, if wholesale electric prices exceed a certain level, any excess revenues would be rebated to all Illinois electric customers on their bills.

* The opposition responds…

AARP Illinois and the BEST Coalition are urging state lawmakers to reject legislation written by Exelon Corporation lobbyists that would increase electric bills in order to bail out Exelon’s nuclear plants. Introduced Thursday, Exelon’s “Low Carbon Portfolio Standard” would force ComEd and Ameren customers in Illinois to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in additional charges on their electric bills.

The legislation is opposed by many groups including AARP Illinois and the Better Energy Solutions for Tomorrow (BEST) Coalition, a grassroots coalition advocating for smart energy policy in Illinois.

“This bill rewrites Illinois energy policy to increase costs for public and private entities statewide and benefits only Exelon,” said Steve Davis, Legislative Co-Chair for Illinois Association of Wastewater Agencies, a BEST Coalition member. “Policy like this will increase the cost of doing business in Illinois and make Illinois less competitive.”

“Exelon made more than $2 billion last year, and here they are begging for a bailout on the backs of working Illinoisans,” said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois State Director. “This bill would increase rates for older adults living on fixed incomes, working families and small businesses in order to pad Exelon’s profits. We will work on behalf of our 1.7 million Illinois members to urge legislators to vote ‘no’ on this bill.”

An analysis by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2014 found that Exelon’s Illinois nuclear fleet is profitable. Despite seeking a bailout, Exelon has refused to disclose any data to verify its claims that the company’s Illinois nuclear plants are suffering unsustainable losses. In recent earnings announcements, Exelon CEO Chris Crane stated “Exelon had a strong year, both operationally and financially…our generation fleet and utilities continued to perform at high levels.”

“It’s unfortunate that Exelon has chosen to scare local communities by threatening to close Illinois nuclear plants when in fact those plants are profitable and about to get a huge infusion of additional ratepayer money from struggling Illinois consumers and businesses. Exelon simply does not need a bailout,” said Dave Lundy, spokesman for the BEST Coalition. “Exelon claims they’re not asking for a bailout. But you know what they say about a duck. If it looks like a bailout and acts like a bailout and quacks like a bailout, it’s a bailout.”

Even if Exelon has financial issues with its Illinois nuclear fleet, which is contrary to publicly available information, those issues will be resolved when Exelon begins receiving hundreds of millions more ratepayer dollars each year because of changes in grid regulation pushed by Exelon. Additionally, a recently approved rate increase for Exelon’s subsidiary ComEd took effect in January 2015 that will increase ComEd revenue by approximately $232 million.

The groups also have a fact check that you can read by clicking here.

* Crain’s tries to sort it out

The new low-carbon credits would establish a revenue stream between $200 million and $300 million, or perhaps more, according to sources who have been briefed. That would aid operators of existing plants like Exelon’s that are seeing revenues decline due to persistently low natural gas prices. Wholesale power prices correlate strongly to natural gas costs, particularly now with gas accounting for a greater percentage of power generation in the regional grid in which Exelon competes.

DISTRIBUTION COSTS INCLUDED

Utilities would be charged with collecting the surcharge for generators like Exelon on the portion of the electric bill that covers distribution costs. That would be a marked contrast with the set-aside for renewables, the cost of which is embedded in the part of the bill that covers the cost of energy itself.

That distinction has crippled the effectiveness of the renewable law. The Illinois Power Agency is supposed to ensure that increasing percentages of consumers’ electricity come from clean sources. But with a majority of households getting their power from suppliers other than Commonwealth Edison or other utilities, the IPA has been unable to spend much on renewable purchases.

In recent years, renewable energy companies have pushed for a change in the law to have the money collected via distribution charges the same way Exelon is proposing to collect the new funds for low-carbon sources. But those bills died, largely due to opposition from politically potent Exelon and its Chicago utility, ComEd.

…Adding… From the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition…

“There is only one comprehensive energy bill that costs less to consumers, promotes a cleaner environment and will create tens of thousands of new jobs in every part of Illinois — that’s the Illinois Clean Jobs bill. Introduced by Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Elaine Nekritz with bipartisan support, when fully implemented the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will create 32,000 new clean energy jobs per year by growing renewable energy and raising energy efficiency while giving Illinois a greater set of tools to help consumers, including the option of market-based strategies to reduce carbon pollution.

“The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill sets a long-term clean energy policy that creates jobs — rather than sunsetting soon, missing opportunities to create jobs and raising the risk that consumers will again be asked to pay more in just a few short years.

“We look forward to reading Exelon’s proposed bill more closely. But mostly, we look forward to discussing this issue in the months ahead, and we will continue to urge lawmakers to join their colleagues from both parties who have sponsored the bipartisan Illinois Clean Jobs Bill to enhance our environment and to create 32,000 new jobs per year.”

They also have a video. Click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Hello, I must be going…

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

Illinois’ new Governor is sending a strong message to his cabinet, saying they have a moral obligation to report problems to his office. During a cabinet meeting at the capitol Wednesday afternoon Governor Bruce Rauner said the challenges facing Illinois are enormous and he encouraged department heads to look outside the box for solutions. Rauner says the team he’s put in place must report to him things previous executives may not have wanted to hear.

“You have a strong feeling in your heart as what’s right, you say so. You do not hold it back. And if you see something going on that you know is wrong you have a moral obligation to say so and bring it up. Don’t hold it back, bring it up. Let’s fix it. I can’t fix a problem I don’t know about. And I want to empower you. I’ve got your back. We’ve got to break some china, we’ve gotta change some things.”

Rauner said he wants his cabinet members to bring their disagreements forward so they can work through the problems facing the state. He also reiterated that he wants to reward employees who find taxpayers savings. The Governor says his job is to make his cabinet more effective and that in two years the state will be on a different trajectory.

* Tribune

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday convened what was billed as the first meeting of his Cabinet, telling agency leaders that they’ll be asked to do more with less, but that he’s willing to “take the arrows” along the way.

“I wish this year was going to be all happy, and you know, happy feet. This is not going to be a happy feet year,” Rauner told the group of about 50 officials gathered in a Capitol meeting room. “This is going to be pretty rough, but we’re going to get through it. And I tell you, in 24 months we’re going to be on a very different trajectory as a state.” […]

“I’ve got your backs,” Rauner said. “You do what’s right, you take tough decisions, you do what you know in your heart is in the best interest of the people, I will protect you. I will work for you. I will make sure you get support, and in time, resources.”

Rauner spoke for about 10 minutes with cameras rolling but then left the meeting, which was taken over by his deputy governor, Trey Childress.

* WUIS

At the end of his nearly ten minute, unscripted speech, the officials applauded. Then Rauner took off — more meetings, he said.

What the cabinet talked about next is hard to say.

Upon exciting, one of the attendees said they’d just been “instructed not to talk to the media.”

* Give the governor credit for generating positive media coverage of that dog and pony show. And ordering his cabinet members to keep quiet meant that nobody stepped on his message.

But, geez, that whole thing was nothing but a bunch of empty staged hype. Have a look

I want to listen. Come to me with your problems. I’m here for you, except I gotta split without taking any questions. Now, turn off the cameras and be quiet while my guy tells you what’s what.

- Posted by Rich Miller   85 Comments      


Digging into the mayoral numbers

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

* Our old pal Scott Kennedy looks at the mayoral results

* In majority AA wards (by census) Emanuel (42%), Garcia (26%), Wilson (22%), Walls (6%), Fioretti (5%). In wards with an AA majority 32% of the vote went to candidates that will not be in the runoff so it will be interesting to see where these voters fall.

* In majority Hispanic wards (by census) Garcia (52%), Emanuel (37%), Fioretti (7%), Wilson (3%), Walls (1%). Only 11% of this vote went to candidates not in the runoff.

* In wards with a white majority (by census) Emanuel (52%), Garcia (34%), Fioretti (10%), Wilson (4%), Walls (1%). 15% of this vote went to candidates not in the runoff.

* In wards with no majority (by census) Emanuel (49%), Garcia (35%), Fioretti (9%), Wilson (5%), Walls (1%). 15% of this vote went to candidates not in the runoff.

* Reminder, the “2011” numbers in my tracker were reconfigured to match the current ward maps. In the majority AA wards the 2015 numbers for Emanuel were about 12-20 points lower than 2011.

* It was harder to draw conclusions about the Hispanic majority wards, some showed Emanuel improvement (10/13/14/31), others big drop (22/25/33/35).

* In only a very few wards did Emanuel improve over his 2011 numbers but somehow in the 13th ward he did almost 15 points better. Interesting.

* It appears that 19 aldermanic races are headed to an April runoff (2, 7, 10, 11, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 24, 29, 31, 33, 36, 37, 41, 43, 45, 46). So while the overall numbers were Emanuel (45%), Garcia (34%), Wilson (11%), Fioretti (7%), Walls (3%), if my math is correct in just the 19 wards that are headed to aldermanic runoff the numbers were Emanuel (46%), Garcia (31%), Wilson (12%), Fioretti (8%), Walls (3%). The Mayor did slightly better than average in these 19 wards but there is also 23% of the vote in these 19 wards that went to candidates that won’t be in the runoff so it will be interesting to see where those voters fall. Obviously these 19 wards are likely to have higher turnout in April than the wards without Aldermanic elections.

Speaker Madigan didn’t work his 13th ward for any of the mayoral candidates four years ago, but he pushed hard for Emanuel this year, which explains hizzoner’s much-improved result. I’m told, however, that Madigan’s captains had to practically beg for sign placements. That wasn’t in any way an easy get for an organization which is accustomed to easy gets.

* More

There has been a lot of attention given to the fact that turnout last night was significantly lower than four years ago, which is true, however that year was a bit of an outlier and this year’s numbers track pretty closely to the 2007 and 2003 Chicago Municipal elections:

With some valid late arriving vote by mail ballots left to be counted the total votes in the Mayor’s race last night currently stands at about 466K (very close to my projection last night) and a participation rate of a little under 33% on about 1.4 million registered voters. You can see that over the last four cycles the number of citywide registered voters has stayed within a band of 30,000 so it’s held pretty flat. The total vote last night held remarkably similar to 2003 and 2007. In other words last night’s election was nothing special, wasn’t a big turnout like 2011 and wasn’t a horrible one either, it just tracked well with other recent elections with an incumbent Mayor.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


Caption contest!

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

* From the Twitters…


- Posted by Rich Miller   118 Comments      


*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

* Watch the bouncing balls via ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Today’s quotable

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

* For whatever reason, Gov. Rauner repeated his claim yesterday that a fix for this fiscal year’s problems was just days away. He was promptly disabused of that notion, however

Gov. Bruce Rauner said again Wednesday that he is very close to reaching an agreement with legislative leaders to give him emergency powers to plug holes in the current state budget.

However, a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said there are still “major issues” that must be resolved with the administration before the Senate will cede power to the governor to rearrange the current spending plan. […]

“To a large extent, the governor is asking for us to simply trust him,” [Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon] said. “That is a relationship that is going to have to be built.”

After Rauner’s budget speech last week, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said an agreement with Rauner on giving him emergency budget powers was days away. On Wednesday, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown referred to that statement, but he added, “No one has defined how many 24 hour segments that is.”

Emphasis added for obvious reasons.

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      


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Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

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* Question of the day
* Job gains flatten in third quarter
* Musical interlude: Mercedes Marxist
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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Rumor patrol
* Because... Madigan!
* War of words intensifies between Ives and McCann
* *** UPDATED x1 - Bodyman responds *** Rauner's "one-day bodyman" resurfaces
* Two more big holes blown in discrimination lawsuit against Pritzker
* Pritzker campaign claims lawsuit doesn't get its facts right
* Republicans demand Madigan speak out, while lead plaintiff tells his story
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