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Illinois vs. Indiana – Workers’ Compensation

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Illinois is often compared to our neighbor Indiana when it comes to workers’ compensation costs for businesses. Unfortunately, it is not a fair or accurate comparison. Wages are the main driving factor when it comes to workers’ compensation costs. Workers’ compensation benefits (non-medical) are based on a worker’s average weekly wage. On average, Indiana pays its workers 27 percent less than Illinois. Illinois ranks 8th in the country for average weekly wages, while Indiana ranks 35th. Because workers’ compensation replaces lost wages, lower wages in Indiana naturally creates lower workers’ compensation costs.

Indiana businesses may have lower workers’ compensation costs for employers; however workers injured on the job have meager options for their health care under Indiana’s workers’ compensation laws. In addition, Indiana’s early return to work program often forces injured workers back to work sooner than they should be and often leads to re-injury or new injuries.

Workers in Illinois deserve better. A fair and reasonable workers’ compensation system in Illinois helps injured workers get back on their feet and back to work.
For more information on workers’ compensation, click here.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Tribune sides with ComEd despite studies to the contrary

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* From the Tribune editorial board

Wind and solar generators and a number of environmental groups are pushing for competing legislation called the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill. It would encourage energy conservation and set a target that 35 percent of the state’s electricity supply come from renewal resources. The changes in what’s called the Renewable Portfolio Standard would give a big advantage to wind and solar providers. Yes, this legislation would hike your electric bill.

* The Tribsters endorsed the ComEd bill instead

ComEd, the Exelon subsidiary that distributes power, wants to change how customers are charged for the distribution system. ComEd says rates would initially fall, then rise, and there would be a “net zero” cost to customers over 10 years. But some customers would pay more and some would pay less depending on their consumption patterns. […]

The strongest argument for a change in law rests with ComEd. It makes a good case that its investments in smart grid technology have paid off in better efficiency and fewer power disruptions. ComEd isn’t seeking a competitive edge — in this niche it doesn’t have competition. It is the only distributor of electricity in northern Illinois.

ComEd says its legislation would improve the smart grid, help apartment dwellers generate their own solar power, and create a network of electric vehicle charging stations.

* Pete Giangreco fires back…

Today’s Chicago Tribune editorial (ironically titled Power play: The battle over your electric bill) shows that went it comes to siding with the powerful, there’s no one quite like the Trib Ed Board. The piece completely ignores studies by Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and Union of Concerned Scientists that say Illinois Clean Jobs bill (HB2607/SB1485 Nekritz/Harmon) is the only one of the three energy bills that saves consumers money — $1.6 billion total or an average residential savings of nearly $100 a year going forward according to CUB. The funny part is that the Trib editorial also ignores ComEd’s own admission that their bill (as well as the one pushed by parent company Exelon) are actually the ones that raise your electric bill.

Furthermore, The Trib completely misunderstands what the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is. Like a lot of things in Springfield, it’s broken and complicated, and Illinois Clean Jobs bill is the only one that fixes it and allows the free market to operate in Illinois like it does in states like New York and Massachusetts, where solar and wind are taking off. It’s odd that the Trib is against getting government barriers out of the way of the free market that could create 32,000 clean energy jobs per year when fully implemented, but when you are in the tank, you are in the tank.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Rauner to restore “Good Friday Massacre” cuts

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* I told subscribers about the anticipated FY 15 revenue spike this morning and about these possible restorations…


- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* LA Times

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld state laws that bar elected judges from asking for money to support their campaigns.

In a 5-4 decision, the court rejected a free-speech claim brought by a Florida judge.

“Judges are not politicians, even when they come to the bench by way of the ballot,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “A state may assure its people that judges will apply the law without fear or favor — and without having personally asked anyone for money.”

The decision marks one of the few times the high court has rejected a free-speech claim involving politics and campaigning. Roberts split from the court’s four conservative justices to uphold the Florida law. […]

“Hostility to campaigning by judges entitles the people of Florida to amend their Constitution to replace judicial elections with the selection of judges by lawyers’ committees,” Scalia said. “It does not entitle the Florida Supreme Court to adopt, or this court to endorse, a rule of judicial conduct that abridges candidates’ speech in the judicial election that the Florida Constitution prescribes.”

* That’s already the case here. From the Illinois Supreme Court Rules

A [judicial] candidate shall not personally solicit or accept campaign contributions.

A candidate may establish committees of responsible persons to conduct campaigns for the candidate through media advertisements, brochures, mailings, candidate forums and other means not prohibited by law. Such committees may solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions, manage the expenditure of funds for the candidate’s campaign and obtain public statements of support for his or her candidacy.

Such committees are not prohibited from soliciting and accepting reasonable campaign contributions and public support from lawyers.

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to ban attorneys from contributing directly to judicial campaigns. However, he can’t stop them from forming a 501(c)(4) dark money group or even likely ban them from forming an independent expenditures committee. Attorneys could also contribute to the state parties.

* The Question: Should Illinois ban attorneys from contributing directly to judicial campaign committees? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


survey services

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      


Illinois again at risk of losing federal education dollars

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* Tribune

In the latest controversy over state exams, Illinois is in hot water with the federal government for not administrating statewide science tests this school year.

Failure to give the exams is a violation of the law, according to a stern letter from the U.S. Department of Education, and the Illinois State Board of Education has been placed in what the federal agency calls “high-risk status” for not complying with testing requirements.

The letter dated April 20 states that the board must come up with a plan and timeline by June 30 to come into compliance and give the science assessments in 2015-16.

“We’re working on our plan to provide a science assessment in 2015-16 and will submit it to the U.S. Department of Education by June 30, per the letter,” board spokeswoman Mary Fergus said Wednesday in an email to the Tribune.

* From the letter

Due to the significance of its non-compliance and the fact that the pilot assessments administered in 2014–2015 will not result in information about student performance that can be shared with parents and teachers to inform instruction, I am placing ISBE on high-risk status under 34 C.F.R. § 80.12.

ISBE must fully implement its new science assessments in SY 2015−16 to come into compliance with section 1111(b)(3)(A) of the ESEA and 34 C.F.R. § 200.2(a)(1). As a condition of its high-risk status, the ISBE must provide a detailed plan and timeline to the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) by June 30, 2015, in order to address this non-compliance issue for SY 2015–2016.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Today’s number: 2,591

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* The list of Rutan exempt state employees is now online. According to the list, 2,591 employees fall into that category. Have a look.

- Posted by Rich Miller   82 Comments      


It’s just a bill…

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* But it appears to be a good idea

A proposed law that would allow college students to sign off on their universities sharing mental health information with their parents cleared an Illinois Senate committee today, paving its way for a final vote in the General Assembly.

It was inspired by the Predmore family of Bartonville, who tragically lost their son Chris to suicide last year. Under current law, his college could not talk to his parents about his mental health struggles.

A number of recent studies indicate that psychological problems are a growing issue on college campuses. For example, a survey found that that 70 percent of college counseling center directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems has increased in recent years. Surveys of college students themselves have shown that depression and anxiety have skyrocketed over the past several decades – perhaps as many as a quarter or third of students meet criteria for anxiety or depression during college. […]

The legislation would give newly enrolled college students the opportunity to authorize the university to share mental health records with their parents or other trusted adults. The university would only share information when students are found to be a danger to themselves or others.

* Meanwhile, oof

In a rare open feud between two McHenry County state lawmakers, Rep. Jack Franks is asking Senate President John Cullerton to remove Sen. Pam Althoff as chief sponsor of his recently passed government consolidation bill.

The Illinois House on a 61-40 vote last Friday passed House Bill 229, a bill by Franks, D-Marengo, that would grant the McHenry and Lake county boards the same power to eliminate certain units of government that DuPage County was granted by state lawmakers. But Franks alleges that Althoff, R-McHenry, intends to either kill the bill or strip McHenry County from it.

An effort to talk Althoff into handing the bill over to Sen. Melinda Bush, a former Lake County Board member who supports it, failed late Tuesday, both Franks and Bush, D-Grayslake, confirmed. Franks said that Althoff asked for a number of concessions that he said were unreasonable because he does not want any exemptions or “sacred cows.” General Assembly rules allow the sponsor of a bill to request in writing to have a chief sponsor removed if he or she intends to kill it.

“She’s doing this purely for political reasons to protect entrenched interests and fiefdoms to keep our property taxes high. There’s no other reason. She’s supported this bill before,” Franks said, referring to the Senate’s vote years ago to grant DuPage County some ability to eliminate certain governments.

* Small, but vocal

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) riled local education activists last week for opposing a bill that would let students opt out of taking state administered tests.

HB 306 – introduced by state Rep. Will Guzzardi in January – is currently under consideration in the Illinois House. Last Monday, Currie cast one of three votes recommending against an amended version of the bill in the five-member House Elementary and Secondary Education: Licensing Oversight Committee.

More than 15 local activists led by Hyde Parker Joy Clendenning staged a protest last Tuesday in front of Currie’s Hyde Park office, 1303 E. 53rd St., after the bill lost the committee’s support.

“We feel that with 24 co-sponsors in the House – and we know a good number of legislators are ready to vote for this bill – that she is absolutely thwarting the democratic process here,” Clendenning said.

* And in other news

Caseyville Township trustees have warned citizens they’ll be forced to increase customers’ sewer service rates if two bills in the Illinois General Assembly that regulate tap-on fees are made law, but the bills’ sponsors — and local developer Darwin Miles — say Caseyville is a “rogue township” that’s been price-gouging for years.

Supporters of the new regulations say the township is using scare tactics to preserve a “cash cow.”

For example, Caseyville Township charges a tap-on fee of $2,000 per fixture to commercial businesses and non-profits, such as churches. That means a developer building a 128-room hotel in the Shiloh area served by the township would pay a tap-on fee of $260,000.

Caseyville Township trustees recently sent a letter to each of their 9,000-plus sewer customers warning that their sewer bills could as much as triple if House Bill 3309 and Senate Bill 1815 pass.

The House bill, sponsored by state Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, requires townships with their own sewer and water plants to limit the tap-on fees charged to people building new homes or businesses to 1/6 of the estimated yearly cost of sewer and water service.

Senate Bill 1815, sponsored by state Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, sets standard sewer and water tap-on fee schedules for new homes, apartment buildings and businesses based on the size of water meter they’ll use. Because state law contains no standards, townships currently can come up with their own rates and fees. For years, new businesses, non-profits such as churches, and residents building homes have complained that Caseyville Township’s tap-on fees far exceed neighboring utilities.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Caption contest!

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* Gov. Rauner at the Citizens Club of Springfield earlier this week…

- Posted by Rich Miller   113 Comments      


Lincoln’s last ride

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* From WUIS

The nation went into mourning when, just after the Civil War had finally ended, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. No one alive today can remember, but a class project may make you get a sense of what it was like, or at least what went on.

Students at the University of Illinois Springfield began “live-tweeting” on April 14 - the date that that Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater back in 1865. They’ve continued, tweeting in real time — 150 years after the fact — about the pursuit of John Wilkes Booth, and the funeral cortege from Washington, D.C. to Springfield. Amanda Vinicky spoke with UIS professor Ken Owen about the project, and his class on history in digital media.

If you want to read the “live tweets” follow @AbesLastRide… (T)he Looking for Lincoln project is doing something similar using the twitter handle @ElizaStavely (a journalist in 1865). .

* I put together a ScribbleLive feed

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Your daily “right to work” roundup

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* Nothing from the governor’s office yet. But they can take this one off the board

[Westville] Village trustees reversed their support of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed Turnaround Agenda on Tuesday night by rescinding a resolution approved at their April 14 meeting.

Just two weeks ago, the Westville village council passed a resolution supporting the governor’s proposal, which calls for changes in the state’s prevailing wage act as well as creating certain right-to-work free enterprise zones and granting local governments more authority when negotiating with government employee unions.

Mayor Mike Weese said after doing more research on the governor’s proposal and after taking several calls from residents, he just felt that there were parts of the Turnaround Agenda that he could not support.

* Meanwhile…


* Perhaps a Connecticut harbinger of Illinois things to come?

A law firm representing ex-Gov. John G. Rowland agreed to a legal stipulation which acknowledged that the “driving force” behind Rowland’s layoff of 2,500 state workers in 2003 was his “animus” toward unionized employees, state Attorney George Jepsen said Wednesday.

Jepsen said that the “highly particularized stipulation of facts” didn’t use the word “animus,” but its overall effect helped to persuade the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in mid-2013 to uphold a state employee union coalition’s claim in a lawsuit that Rowland and his budget chief, Marc Ryan, acted illegally by targeting union members for layoffs while sparing nonunion employees.

The damaging stipulation was a major factor cited by Jepsen at a press conference Wednesday in explaining why his office negotiated a settlement that’s expected to cost taxpayers at least $100 million to end a 12-year-old lawsuit filed over the layoffs by the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC).

The settlement – which would mostly be awarded to employees in the form of extra vacation and personal leave time – is preferable to the risk of the state’s being slapped with paying damages of $300 million or more, Jepsen said.

At a briefing for reporters in his office at 55 Elm St., Jepsen also said that the stipulation of facts by Rowland’s defense counsel included an admission that the layoffs didn’t save the state any money because unions had already offered contract concessions of greater value.

* Related…

* Anti-union measure fails in Mt. Vernon

* Kane County board’s draft resolution calling for reform draws critics

* Charter school teachers fight to unionize, and to win over Rahm

* Feud threatens UNO schools

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


Liberal “think tank” formed here

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* John Kamis has been planning to roll this thing out for well over a year

Leading Illinois liberals are forming a well-endowed new think tank here, hoping to offset the influence of Gov. Bruce Rauner and resurgent conservative Republicans.

The new Innovation Illinois will be led by former aides to ex-Gov. Pat Quinn with a board chaired by Christopher Kennedy, who recently stepped down as chair of the University of Illinois board. Focusing on research and public commentary, it is designed to serve as a sort of counterweight to the Illinois Policy Institute, a libertarian group that has rolled out policy papers on pensions and other items and helped staff Rauner’s administration.

“Too often in Springfield, the debates leave out the poor and the working class,” said co-founder John Kamis, a former city staffer and attorney who oversaw Quinn’s performance-based budgeting panel. “Good policy moves from the inside out. We want to provide a voice.” […]

The message the group really wants to get out is that “sometimes, government does things that are good,” Saddler said. That means talking about issues such as education, labor, health care and entrepreneurism—and most particularly about big budget cuts that Rauner has proposed in most of those areas, he said. […]

The group already has received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in financial backing, with the source of some but not all of it eventually to be disclosed, Kamis said. The group will not formally lobby or endorse candidates.

Whatever you think of the Illinois Policy Institute, you have to admit that it’s PR blitz over the past few years has been amazingly effective. Not only is the group regularly quoted in news stories and its top dogs invited onto TV and radio programs, but its free “news service” has been lapped up by papers across the state. It’s also placed a new emphasis this year on bipartisan legislation. Kamis, et al will have a lot of catching up to do.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


The FY 2016 dance finally begins

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* I told subscribers about this yesterday

With just weeks left before Illinois’ 2016 budget must be passed, Democratic leaders and GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner remain far apart on how to bridge a $6 billion revenue gap.

A memo circulated by Senate Democrats late Tuesday questions roughly $5.8 billion in savings in Rauner’s proposed $32 billion budget. The caucus suggests the proposal may not only violate a provision of the Illinois constitution, which promises employee benefits shall not be “diminished or impaired,” but also likely requires changes to state law and federal policies and requires negotiations with labor unions.

Among the senators’ concerns is that cutting $1.5 billion from the Medicaid health care program for the poor, which is funded by state and federal dollars, would require federal approval.

Lawmakers began meeting this week to work on the governor’s “Turnaround Agenda,” a set of pro-business priorities Rauner wants the Legislature to approve in exchange for consenting to new revenue to save programs near and dear to Democrats. Without that grand bargain, the governor’s proposed spending plan would balance the budget entirely by slashing spending for things like Medicaid, human services programs and state employees’ group health care. The plan also includes a roughly $300 million increase to K-12 education, which the governor has identified as a top priority.

I’ve also been telling subscribers about that Rauner threat to withhold support for new revenues unless the Dems cut a deal on his “Turnaround Agenda.” This is a very high stakes game, campers.

* The full memo

Here’s a rack up of some of the budget challenges faced by the Rauner administration as they negotiate FY16 through working groups.

Many of their plans require changes to state law, court challenges and federal approval. As you know – bills haven’t been filed yet.

Pension Reform: $2.2 billion

    Problem: Constitutional challenges.

Cut Medicaid: $1.5 billion

    Problem: Requires change in state law and federal approval.

Eliminate College Insurance Program and Teachers Retirement Insurance Program: $113 million

    Problem: Requires change in state law that anticipates litigation.

Cut Group Health: $570 million

    Problem: Subject to collective bargaining agreements.

Cut Funding for Local Governments: $913 million

    Problem: Requires a change in state law.

Cut Dedicated Human Services Programs: $492 million

    Problem: Violates consent decrees, judicial orders and some state and federal laws.

Total Hole: $5.788 billion

* The Rauner administration’s response

Rauner’s deputy chief of staff Mike Schrimpf said it’s been known for months that the governor’s budget, introduced in mid-February, is contingent on “statutory changes” to state law.

“The governor is committed to making structural changes to state government,” Schrimpf said. “The Senate Democrats have known that since February 18, as has anybody who’s been paying attention.”

The required statutory changes will make it tougher to get this budget passed because legislators will be forced to take two very tough votes - one to change state law (or the constitution) and the other on the appropriations bill.

* Speaking of the 2016 budget

Local officials from throughout Illinois descended Wednesday on the Capitol, lending their voices to the growing coalition of groups opposed to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget plan.

Along with labor unions, college students, Amtrak riders, social service agencies, and Democrats, mayors of both political stripes said the governor’s proposal for a 50 percent cut to the municipal share of state income taxes would be a devastating blow to local finances. […]

State Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, said he disagrees with Rauner’s plan to cut social service programs.

“I’m just not going to vote for that,” Arroyo told his colleagues during a House budget hearing.

Yeah, well, he’s gonna have to vote for something or we’re never getting outta here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      


Poll: Republican, evangelical opposition to same sex marriage rights plummets

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* From the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

There has been a significant increase in support in Illinois for legalizing gay marriage, according to a series of polls by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

The issue is back in the news with the U.S. Supreme Court considering marriage equality issues, and Institute polls show a dramatic evolution of support in the state during the past six years.

The most recent Simon Poll, conducted Feb. 28 to March 10, shows 54.9 percent of registered Illinois voters in support of marriage equality; 20.0 percent favoring civil unions; 18.4 percent opposed to both, and 6.7 percent unsure. The survey of 1,000 voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Opposition to gay marriage has faded across the board in the state, including among Republicans, conservatives and evangelicals.

The issue of gay marriage has appeared in nearly every statewide Simon Poll since 2009. In that time, opinion has gone from being almost equally divided between those favoring full-marriage rights or civil unions versus no legal recognition at all, also called “traditional marriage,” to a solid majority favoring full-marriage rights for the past three Simon Polls since February 2014.

When support for civil unions is incorporated, three-fourths of Illinoisans (74.9 percent) now see a place for legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

* More…

The poll also found:

    • Support for marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples is not limited to liberals and Democrats. Among Illinois Republicans, over two-thirds (67.8 percent) support some type of legal recognition with 38.0 percent of respondents in the latest Simon Poll (March 2015) favoring full-marriage equality and with another 29.8 percent favoring civil unions. Just over a quarter (27.7 percent) of GOP supporters say there should be no legal recognition for same-sex couples.

The 2015 result is notable compared to its 2009 counterpart, in which nearly half (47.7 percent) of Republicans took the no-legal-rights stance and only one in ten favored full marriage rights.

    • Opposition to legal recognition among evangelicals in Illinois has also faded. In 2009, 70.9 percent opposed any legal recognition for same-sex relationships. Today, that number is 45.7 percent. There are 49.1 percent of evangelicals who either support gay marriage or civil unions.

In 2009, only 4.1 percent of evangelicals favored full recognition. Today, that figure is 23.4 percent.

“Perhaps the most surprising development is the transforming views among evangelicals,” said Kent Dolezal, Simon Graduate Research Fellow. “Finding more in support of some legal recognition than not is a development which may have an impact going into the Republican presidential primaries.”

    • Opinion among Independents also underwent a shift between the February 2013 and February 2014 Simon Poll. Although a clear majority of Independents favored some sort of legal recognition by 2013, February 2014 saw support for full legal rights reach nearly 60 percent. In the same time frame, those favoring civil unions dropped from 46 percent to 14 percent.

    • Support is strongest among Democrats, with over 60 percent in favor of full rights since 2013, up from four in ten in 2009. From an ideological perspective, liberals currently favor marriage equality at a rate topping 75 percent. Moderates have seen their support go from just over one-third (33.6 percent) in 2009 to nearly two-thirds (65.9 percent) in the latest Simon Poll.

    • From 2010 to 2015, conservative views shifted dramatically. In 2010, 15.6 percent of conservatives supported same-sex marriage. By, this year, that figure grew to 31.8 percent. Those who opposed any legal recognition of same-sex marriage dropped from 41.7 percent to 29.2 percent.

    • At 66.5 percent, marriage equality sees its strongest support in Chicago, a nearly 30-point increase since 2009. The Chicago suburbs see majority support (55.6 percent), with Downstate residents nearing half at 46 percent. Downstate results also demonstrate the dramatic 2013-14 shift when support went from 27.8 percent to 42.5 percent.

More here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* Another session day, another ScribbleLive feed

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Good morning!

Thursday, Apr 30, 2015

* Let’s wake up with The Stooges

Freaked out for another day

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Sun-Times Editorial: Exelon’s Rate-Hike Proposal is a Bad Bill

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Newspapers are sounding the alarm about the Exelon bailout bill.

Chicago Sun-Times: “Exelon’s Rate-Hike Proposal is a Bad Bill”

    A bad bill in Springfield would raise our electricity bills to protect Exelon’s bottom line. The Legislature should either rewrite it significantly or flick the off switch altogether.

    There is a feeling here of a company trying to socialize the risks while keeping the profits private.

Crain’s Chicago Business: “THIS ‘MARKET SOLUTION’ ONLY BENEFITS EXELON”

    You know you’ve got a good thing going when profitability is only a bailout away…

    Bailouts for profitable enterprises? That’s not the kind of juice that ratepayers should be shelling out for.

Belleville News Democrat: “DON’T FALL FOR EXELON BAILOUT”

    Good old Exelon. The company has come up with legislation to subsidize its nuclear reactors, get electric users throughout the state to pay for it and claim it’s in the interest of clean energy.

    State lawmakers need to see this bill for the dirty trick it is and kill it.

Businesses and governments can learn how much the bailout would cost them at www.noexelonbailout.com/calculator.

Just say no to the Exelon bailout. Vote no on SB1585/HB3293.

BEST Coalition is a 501C4 nonprofit group of dozens of business, consumer and government groups, as well as large and small businesses. Visit www.noexelonbailout.com.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Reports of my impending demise are greatly exaggerated

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* From a subscriber…

Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


It’s just a bill…

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* But this one may be important. Lisa Ryan

A proposal in the Illinois Senate would make sure students are completely recovered from concussions before returning to athletics or the classroom.

Each year, there are 200,000 concussion-related emergency room visits for children and teenagers in the U.S. For one Chicago lawmaker, that’s not just a statistic.

Both of Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul’s kids have sustained concussions. Raoul says his teenage daughter, Mizan, is still recovering from one she received one when she was playing basketball in January. At first, nobody realized it was a concussion. […]

A proposal Raoul is sponsoring would expand high school concussion policies to elementary and middle schools. It also requires guidelines for when students can return to school and athletics after sustaining a concussion.

* Seth Richardson has more

Raoul said the legislation is not a mandate with any sort of penalties. Each district would form a concussion plan and team based on resources available.

Schools currently have to follow Illinois High School Association regulations when deciding if a player can return. However, those rules only apply to high schools, while Raoul’s bill would extend to both middle and grade schools.

IHSA associate director Kurt Gibson, who has previously said he was skeptical of the bill, said he is now a supporter since it requires each district to come up with a concussion policy based on their resources.

* This looks like a reprinted press release

State Representative Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) is sponsoring legislation that would prohibit Illinois from double taxing income that is earned in another state when the taxpayer’s home office is based in Illinois.

“Right now Illinois residents are taxed on most income received in other states, rather than just income earned in Illinois,” said Manley. “This wouldn’t be an issue if the other states didn’t also tax those wages, but they do. Our working families are being hit hard enough with the many different taxes that are imposed upon them, and the last thing we should be doing is taxing them twice on the same income.”

Manley introduced House Bill 675, to prevent the double taxation of certain income for Illinois residents. Under current law, if an Illinois resident earns income from another state then that person is required to pay taxes in both states under certain circumstances. The legislation would instead only tax the wages earned in Illinois based on the number of work days the employee is performing services in Illinois. Out-of-state earnings would be excluded from Illinois income taxes.

“We are the only state that implements this double taxation, and it hurts our taxpayers,” Manley said.

I say it looks like a press release because the bill didn’t make it out of the House by last Friday’s deadline and is now in Rules.

* Another press release

Illinois is joining several other states in passing legislation that would dramatically increase the potential liability for marketers in the event of a data breach. The Illinois Senate voted 35-13 to approve a bill (SB1833) drafted by the Illinois Attorney General that would add “consumer marketing information” to the definition of personal information under the state’s data breach law. It would require notification if there is a breach of “information related to a consumer’s online browsing history, online search history, or purchasing history.” Illinois Bill SB1833 now moves to the Illinois House of Representatives, where it will likely have substantial support.

At first blush this certainly sounds appealing considering all the data breaches that have occurred in recent times; however, for those that market products on the internet, the inconsistent laws across the country are truly a field of potential liability landmines. […]

This unprecedented expansion of the scope of the current data breach law could cost Illinois companies millions of dollars each year to protect non-sensitive information that poses no material risk of identity theft or financial harm to residents. In addition, consumers could eventually succumb to “notice fatigue” if they receive notices about breaches that involve no serious risk of harm to them.

* And moving along to Chicago

When Chicago’s most powerful alderman began pushing for legislation that could mean big money for a major industry, it seemed only a matter of time before Edward Burke got a generous campaign contribution from someone who stood to benefit.

The City Council proposal that would promote the ethanol business has not yet been approved.

But the check for Burke, the Council’s $10 million man, is not stuck in the mail.

The Archer Daniels Midland Co. — the local agribusiness giant that’s among the world’s biggest ethanol producers — recently gave $20,000 to a political committee led by Burke.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* Sun-Times

Aaron Schock once broadcast his worldly travels on Instagram for all to see.

But two weeks after a campaign donor filed a federal lawsuit against the former congressman, an attorney for the donor said Wednesday he can’t track the Peoria Republican down.

Attorney Daniel Kurowski told U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood he hasn’t managed to serve Schock with the lawsuit brought April 15 by his client, Howard Foster of Chicago, who gave $500 to Schock’s campaign in 2012. […]

Kurowski said his firm tried to serve Schock at a Peoria address that Schock previously listed on forms with the Federal Election Commission. But Kurowski said the property is now vacant. He also said attorneys who appear to have represented Schock in the past have not responded to his firm’s inquiries.

* The Question: Where in the world is Aaron Schock?

Snark is suggested, unless you actually know where he is.

- Posted by Rich Miller   108 Comments      


Strangest. Game. Ever.

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* Tribune

The game between the White Sox and Orioles will be observed, just not by paying fans.

After the Orioles announced that Wednesday’s game would be closed to the public due to security concerns stemming from this week’s violence in Baltimore, the Orioles prepared for a full press box, with 92 seats for the writing press assigned to media members and outlets.

Scouts and an undisclosed number of employees also are allowed to attend, according to an Orioles spokesman.

Grounds crew members worked on the field as usual about four hours before the game, but the videoboard and scoreboard showed blank black screens. The dry erase board in the press box sporting the day’s lineups already had an attendance of zero written in marker.

It is believed to be the first major-league game ever to be closed to the public, according to a Baseball Hall of Fame representative and an MLB historian. But the game will be televised by the teams’ local TV outlets.

The team didn’t want to divert police and military resources away from potential trouble spots.

* Sun-Times

t will look weird, to be sure, with nothing but more than 45,000 seats surrounding a major-league field, two teams, four umpires, a couple of coaching staffs and scouts. Media will be present in the press box, most of them silent — except for broadcasters such as Ken Harrelson and Steve Stone, the Sox’ TV broadcast team.

As quiet as it will be, it’s not out of the question that players will hear Harrelson making a call, especially if it’s that patented “You can put it on the board, yes!” he’s known for.

“We’re right behind home plate, so I imagine some of them will hear some things,’’ Harrelson said. “With that little circle we’re backed in now, it’s like a megaphone going out.”

Harrelson has never called a game in an empty stadium. Nobody ever has, for that matter, not in major-league baseball. After having the games on Monday and Tuesday postponed because of rioting in Baltimore, MLB and the Orioles, citing safety reasons, decided to play the last game of the series at 1:05 p.m., in daylight hours instead of at night. The game will be televised in the Chicago area on Channel 50.

* Dan Connolly at The Baltimore Sun

I drove through the city to the park and it was eerie. People were walking around the downtown streets, but there was very little traffic. It seemed like a Sunday morning, until I pulled into the warehouse lot and there were three Humvees filled with soldiers driving out of the lot.

It’s going to be a very strange day.

* More from the Sun

Baltimore continues to recover from Monday night’s riots, and on Wednesday, some normalcy may be restored.

City school students will return to class, the Orioles will play, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is holding a free concert.

Police arrested 10 people a variety of charges, including looting and disorderly conduct, including seven for breaking the newly instituted citywide curfew after it began at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said. A group faced off with police in West Baltimore. […]

The post-curfew arrests were in addition to the 235 during the riots Tuesday that prompted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to announce the weeklong curfew and Gov. Larry Hogan to declare a state of emergency and request the U.S. National Guard to assist in policing the city.

Let’s keep it civil in comments, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


The McCarter agenda

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) talks about tackling the state’s $6 billion Fiscal Year 2016 budget hole

McCarter said his focus is on eliminating waste and fraud, and believes the cost savings from those cuts will offset the pain from the budget cuts. […]

McCarter said the state can’t borrow more money and shouldn’t raise taxes. […]

As far as the students’ concerns about the impact of a 30-percent funding cut to SIUE, he said he believes more students attending will make the difference. […]

To get out of the budget crunch, McCarter said, Illinois’ culture is going to have to change. He said he believes the state should not provide welfare programs — that it is the job of churches and private organizations to care for the needy.

In Illinois, McCarter said, they have created an “entitlement culture” that has “enslaved millions.” Instead, he said, he’d like to see tax incentives for private organizations to take up the role of government in caring for the needy.

In Indiana, he said, they dealt with budget problems by shutting down all rest areas for a year and stopping all services at driver’s license facilities that could be provided via the Internet.

Undefined waste, no tax hikes, a hoped-for student population explosion, abdicating service to the most needy, and closing down rest areas.

Whew.

* Meanwhile, from the Illinois Policy Institute

A behind-the-scenes budget battle is brewing over a proposal that would limit the amount of money siphoned from Illinois taxpayers to fill local government coffers. The Local Government Distributive Fund, or LGDF, takes a portion of Illinoisans’ state income taxes and then sends it to counties and municipalities.

As a result of this system, there are some clear winners and losers. That’s because the LGDF doles out money to counties and local governments based on population. In fiscal year 2014, the state took $1.25 billion in income-tax revenues – which was the equivalent of 6 percent of total income-tax revenues – from taxpayers to send to 102 counties and 1,298 municipalities in Illinois.

The state collected almost $103 million in personal income taxes from DuPage County taxpayers for the LGDF fund. But municipal-level governments across the county plus the county government received a combined total of just under $81 million in LGDF payments, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

That means DuPage County gets back just 79 cents for every dollar it pays into the LGDF. While DuPage County receives a smaller proportion of LGDF funding than its taxpayers contributed, other counties across the state receive more than their taxpayers contributed.

The Institute’s solution? No, it’s not about basing revenue sharing on per capita revenue.

* It’s this

A recent proposal by Gov. Bruce Rauner would be an important first step in eventually doing away with this scheme and allowing Illinoisans to keep more of their hard-earned income.

The state income-tax rate is 3.75 percent (down from 5 percent in 2014) while the amount distributed via the LGDF is the equivalent of 8 percent of total income-tax revenues (up from 6 percent in 2014). Instead of putting 8 percent of state income-tax revenue into the LGDF, the governor’s proposed budget would distribute 4 percent to counties and municipalities.

No one wants to see their budget cut, but the state’s fiscal crisis is not going to leave any area of government immune from belt-tightening. This proposal represents an average amount equal to a 3 percent reduction in counties’ total general-fund budgets, but it also sets the stage for devolving power from Springfield back to units of local government.

In tandem with LGDF reform, local governments should insist upon reducing the burden of unfunded state mandates, more control over property-tax rates and other local tax rates, and generally returning more control to local governments – where they rightfully belong.

So, lemme get this straight. Slash their revenue sharing, freeze their local property taxes (as Rauner wants, but is not mentioned above), trim their unfunded mandates and that somehow means power will magically “devolve” from Springfield back to local government and they’ll have more control over their local property tax rates - which were frozen by the state?

Look, times is tough all over. I get that. Local governments may very well have to take a hit. But nobody will ever convince them that taking away their state revenue sharing dough is a good thing, long term or short term - even with the reverse class warfare rhetoric.

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Meat Loaf is state fair bound

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* Offered without comment

Five new acts have joined the Illinois State Fair Grandstand lineup, including The Fray, Meatloaf and Styx.

The Fray, a rock/pop group from Denver, will make a stop in Springfield on Thursday, Aug. 20, with opening act Andy Grammer. […]

The rock acts Meat Loaf, Styx and Tesla also are joining the lineup for the 2015 Illinois State Fair. Meat Loaf is best known for hit songs “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).” He will headline the concert Wednesday, Aug. 19. […]

Other Grandstand acts announced so far include: Sammy Hagar and The Circle with Collective Soul on Aug. 14; Justin Moore with Josh Thompson and Jon Pardi on Aug. 16; Rascal Flatts with Scotty McCreery and Raelynn on Aug. 18; Hank Williams Jr. with .38 Special on Aug. 21; Austin Mahone with Kalin & Myles and Laura Marano on Aug. 22; and Brantley Gilbert with Colt Ford and Michael Ray on Aug. 23.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


Don Moss passes away

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* From Vickie Kean…

It is with great sadness that I inform you that Don passed away this morning. Naydene, as always, was by his side.

We have lost both a leader and a friend, but he will be long remembered. Our prayers go out to his family.

Funeral services will be private but cards or letters of remembrance may be sent to Naydene at this address and I will be sure that she receives them.

    Vickie Kean
    Don Moss & Associates
    310 East Adams
    Springfield, IL 62701

May he rest in peace.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


It’s only going to get worse

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* The Fiscal Year 2015 budget fix is still reverberating

Katharine Gricevich told the Senate higher education committee Tuesday the $8.4 million cut made by Gov. Bruce Rauner as part of a budget fix means about 3,000 eligible students won’t receive grants this fiscal year through the state’s Monetary Award Program. She is the commission’s director of government relations. […]

About 128,000 students are expected to receive MAP grants this year.

* WHBF-TV

The state has slashed more than $50 million of their Medicaid funding for the rest of this fiscal year. The cuts stem from legislation that was passed to try to fill this year’s budget hole, but health care providers say federal guidelines prohibited some of the cuts to nursing homes.

“We have staffing standards from the state of Illinois, we have mandated services from the federal government that we have to provide,” said Steve Wannemacher of the Health Care Council of Illinois.

Nursing home officials said they’re scrambling to figure out how to make their funds stretch through June. They’re look to make cuts in areas like administration, transportation and dining.

* Finke

Pat Comstock, executive director of the Health Care Council of Illinois, said nursing homes expected to see a $27 million reduction as a result of what state lawmakers approved.

“Our members were prepared for that,” she said.

But when the Rauner administration announced the additional cuts late last week, the total hit to nursing homes had risen to $55 million.

The administration said that some areas of the budget could not be reduced because of federal restrictions or court mandates. As a result, other areas had to take a deeper reduction, and one of those was Medicaid reimbursements for nursing homes. Nursing homes face a 12.6 percent reduction in rates.

“Medicaid is the core of our business,” Wilson said.

None of this is welcomed news. None of this can be celebrated.

But, man, there’s a $6 billion Fiscal Year 2016 budget hole staring this state in the face. So, if you think the screaming is loud now, just wait a few weeks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Gill’s independent bid could boost Rodney Davis’ prospects

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* Tom Kacich

David Gill, who has run for Congress four times, says he’ll probably make it a fifth in 2016.

This time, he said, he intends to run as an independent, not a Democrat.

Gill filed a one-page statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on April 7.

Ironically, he probably would have been elected to Congress in 2012 if not for the candidacy of independent John Hartman. Gill lost to Republican Rodney Davis by 1,002 votes, or less than half a percentage point, in November 2012. Hartman got 21,319 votes in the race, or about 7 percent of the votes cast.

* The News-Gazette editorial board looks at the impact Gill’s candidacy could have on incumbent GOP Congressman Rodney Davis

If he stays true to his plans, it sets the stage for Gill and the eventual Democratic nominee to split the anti-Davis vote, ensuring the Republican’s re-election

Why is that a likely scenario? That’s what happened when in 2012 when Gill lost his close race to Davis. A third candidate, independent John Hartman, a liberal like Gill, collected roughly 21,000 votes in a contest Gill lost to Davis by 1,002 votes. Gill and Davis disagree about whose campaign Hartman hurt more, but Hartman’s presence on the ballot clearly had a decisive impact.

Gill, an honorable and sincere person, remains haunted by the thought of what might have been in 2012. He pines to serve in the national legislature and help promote the policies he believes to be in this country’s best interests.

But an independent candidate’s path to electoral success in a two-party system is a tough one. More likely, he will play a spoiler. That’s why Davis and local Republicans can only be pleased with Gill’s plan for 2016.

There are a ton of college students in that district and they turn out in presidential years. The News-Gazette is probably right.

* But first Gill has to get onto the ballot

Not only does Gill have to collect approximately 15,000 signatures to get on the 2016 ballot, but he’s got a limited amount of time to gather them.

“There’s a 90-day window,” said Jim Tenuto, assistant executive director of the State Board of Elections. “It usually starts sometime in September.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Frerichs releases internal audit results

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* We’re coming a bit late to this story. Sorry about that

An independent review of the Illinois state treasurer’s office released Monday found problems with internship hiring that favored those with political connections and other programs in need of overhaul.

Democrat Mike Frerichs, having reached the symbolic benchmark 100 days in office, released the results of the audit he promised after becoming the state’s chief investment officer in January. He said he will closely review the report’s recommendations and emphasized initiatives on which he has embarked. […]

The report highlighted a paid internship program that gave positions to young people with connections to influential politicians, campaign donors and lobbyists. The “clout-heavy” program had no formal procedures for how the interns were recruited or managed, the audit said. […]

The report also found that a scholarship framework funded by fees from the office’s college savings program lacks basic management rules. Frerichs’ office said 300 scholarships averaging $1,000 were awarded after 2006 without proper record-keeping, management and distribution.

* From an SJ-R editorial

Between May and September 2012, Rutherford’s office spent $158,504 to pay 51 interns. From May to September 2013, the office spent $170,936 to pay 58 interns.

Rutherford announced his candidacy for governor in June 2013. A 2014 report in the Chicago Sun-Times that looked at the identities of the interns found that many were referred by elected officials, lobbyists, donors and political workers.

Rutherford denied that clout had anything to do with who received summer jobs. Unfortunately, there was little documentation to conclude that it didn’t, either.

The same can be said for the home-based “community affairs” treasurer employees who, according to Frerichs, were not properly supervised, who cost the state more in mileage reimbursements than office-based workers would have, and who were not effectively sited around the state. Without proper recordkeeping, it’s impossible to gauge their value or to know what they were doing on state time.

* Tom Kacich

But the review also noted that Frerichs may want to consider increasing the number of employees in cash management (now one) and investment (four) “as Illinois appears to have fewer employees dedicated to these functions than other states.”

It also suggested that the office’s information technology is outdated.

“The systems in place today were created 15-20 years ago through internal staff design and development. These systems were built based on the business processes that existed at the time, were designed and developed individually, and enhanced over time as resources were available,” Plante Moran said. “This has created systems that operate in silos, do not share data, and are not allowing the business to become more efficient through the use of technology.”

* Illinois Radio Network

Frerichs says an audit – conducted by a firm which volunteered its services – showed not enough accountability in the unclaimed property program and not enough oversight of treasurer’s employees working from their homes. And then there’s another problem.

“The office was named” in the sexual harassment suit against Frerichs’ predecessor, Dan Rutherford. Frerichs continued, “I’ve inherited this. We’re working with the attorney general’s office, trying to reach a resolution soon – we’re trying to – well, that’s probably all my attorney wants me to say about pending lawsuits, litigation.”

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


The Dems need to start thinking ahead

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* Mark Brown writes about the newly revamped proposal to put a legislative redistricting reform proposal before the voters next year

(Y)ou can expect Illinois Democrats, who currently control both chambers of the Legislature, to dig in against the commission proposal.

There will be those who don’t want to do anything right now that might help new Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner tip the balance of power away from the Democrats, just as there will be those who think this is a great way to mess with House Speaker Madigan.

A redistricting commission wouldn’t even be appointed until 2021, with its first map to take effect the following year.

It would be extremely shortsighted to judge long-term structural changes on the basis of getting back at individual personalities, who may or may not still be in power then.

I would argue that the Democrats need to start thinking ahead. If Gov. Rauner is reelected, he will almost certainly refuse to sign any Democratic-drawn map. That’ll push the issue to a drawing, where each party will have a 50-50 chance of creating the new district boundaries.

* Meanwhile, from the Trib

Petition-driven efforts to ask voters to change the state’s governing document are extremely limited by the Illinois Constitution.

In striking down the redistricting proposal last year, [Judge Mary Mikva] ruled that provisions that would prevent any of the commissioners from holding various appointed or elected offices for 10 years was an unconstitutional limitation on qualifications to serve in the legislature. That provision was removed in the renewed effort.

To get on the ballot, the proposal would require the valid signatures of 290,216 Illinois voters. A State Board of Elections review of signatures in the previous effort found it likely that the proposal lacked the number needed. This time around, supporters have hired a paid petition-gathering group that has shown success in getting signatures.

“We know we’re going to have challenges in the court system on the constitutionality of the amendment. We know we’re going to have challenges to the petition signatures. We’re very confident we’ll get through that,” FitzSimons said. “Can things go wrong? Things can always go wrong. But again, building on the earlier campaigns, we definitely feel we have an advantage.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 *** Family says former Gov. Dan Walker has passed away

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* From Facebook

*** UPDATE 1 *** Bernie

Former Gov. Dan Walker, who served in the state’s top job for a single term from 1973 to 1977, died early Wednesday at a veterans hospital in Chula Vista, Calif., according to his son, Will. He was 92.

Will Walker, of Crystal Lake, said old age caught up to his father.

“Ultimately, it was heart failure that got him,” the younger Walker, of Crystal Lake, told The State Journal-Register.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Gov. Rauner…

“Diana and I are saddened to learn of the passing of former Governor Dan Walker. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Pat Quinn…

Gov. Pat Quinn has issued the below statement on the passing of Gov. Dan Walker:

“As a member of the United States Navy, Gov. Dan Walker served our country with courage and distinction in World War II and the Korean War.

“He fervently believed in the power of democracy and the importance of including everyone in our democracy. He loved his family and leaves behind many friends. His patriotism, service and compassion will never be forgotten.

“May God rest his soul.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


Creating Bright Financial Futures – A Credit Union Difference

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

With a philosophy of “People Helping People”, credit unions as not-for-profit financial cooperatives, have established themselves as trusted sources to teach members and the community about maintaining healthy financial habits.

April marks a time when Illinois credit unions ramp up their efforts — particularly with youth — about this significant need. One key example is Great Lakes Credit Union.

Via hosting creative real-world simulation financial education programs, Great Lakes in the past year reached more than 3,700 students, with the financial tools they need to succeed. And they are not alone. As a premier host of Financial Reality Fairs for more than 10 years, Illinois credit unions most recently conducted more than 350 Financial Reality Fairs involving 18,000 students. In the true sense of community, these Fairs are held at schools, churches and libraries.

Great Lakes Credit Union also partners with other local organizations to educate youth on the importance of establishing a banking relationship as part of the job search process. To further expand its impact, the credit union reaches youth where they are with self-guided online modules that help create bright financial futures.

Financial education – a vital life skill for members – and a fundamental tenet of the credit union mission.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Your daily “right to work” roundup

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015

* From the governor’s office…

Good morning, Rich!

The following have passed the resolution:

Elk Grove Village
Noble
Logan County

Best,
ck

* The Illinois AFL-CIO claims that Elk Grove Village passed a “modified version of the anti-worker resolution despite a standing room only crowd protesting the move.”

From the village’s website

Consideration to adopt Resolution No. 20-15 (attached) supporting portions of Governor Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” for government empowerment and reform.

(By approving this Resolution, Elk Grove Village is supporting certain reforms in State government that will encourage local control, reduce costs on local governments, empower local voters, and increase competitiveness in our community.)

I couldn’t find the resolution online.

*** UPDATE *** From IUOE Local 150…

Attached is the resolution approved last night in Elk Grove Village. The mayor repeatedly stated at the meeting that this was not the Governor’s resolution and that it had been substantially altered, though the portions considered to be veiled attacks on unions still appear in this version.

The resolution’s text…

WHEREAS, municipal government is the closest unit of Illinois government to their
residents and thereby the most responsive; and

WHEREAS, municipalities are front-line providers of critical government services to
residents and these services include police and fire protection, snow removal, refuse collection,
infrastructure, water, sewer and utility services among countless others; and

WHEREAS, unfunded mandates including the imposition of excessive pension benefits,
prevailing wage requirements, workers’ compensation laws, injury apportionment and
impairment laws, and certain labor laws and other such unfunded mandates have dramatically
and materially increased the costs to local taxpayers by billions of dollars; and

WHEREAS, addressing these matters will, through reducing the cost of providing local
necessary and essential government services, reduce the burden on local taxpayers, including
reducing the burden of property taxes and fees; and

WHEREAS, granting local elected officials and voters at the local level the choice to
create local empowerment zones may assist in making Illinois more attractive for future business
investment and enhanced job growth; and

WHEREAS, while local empowerment zones may not be the appropriate decision for
every community, the Village of Elk Grove is supportive of allowing voters and local officials,
who are in the best position to understand their local issues, to determine the future direction of
their community.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Village of Elk Grove Village
strongly endorses major reforms in State government achieved through aspects of Governor
Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda that will encourage local control, reduce costs on local
governments, and increase competitiveness in our and surrounding communities.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* From a union official…

Rauner resolution tabled in Mahomet — at the start of the meeting. They took public comment afterward anyway, because so many people had showed up. All speakers were opposed. I am told, “One guy in a suit signed in to speak, listing a Springfield address. After it was tabled he left without speaking. We think he was from the governor’s office.”

* From the Daily Herald

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen insisted Tuesday — again and again — that the county board committee of the whole was not discussing a resolution supporting Gov. Bruce Rauner’s turnaround agenda.

Instead, he said, he wants the board to craft its own resolution that is positive in tone, calling for changes in how the state addresses its financial problems. He said it should be built by consensus and not be divisive.

“I don’t think that it is any secret that what Gov. Rauner has proposed is controversial, but what we are doing today is very different than that,” Lauzen said.

But many of the people in the audience, which spilled out of the room and its lobby, then down the stairs, still protested. Some said parts of the proposal were code for what Rauner has proposed, such as allowing counties and towns to establish empowerment zones with right-to-work regulations and to opt out of having to pay prevailing wage rates for public projects. Both are seen as anti-labor union measures. Leadership from several unions, including operating engineers, the Fox Valley Labor Council, an AFSCME retirees’ local chapter and two local teacher unions, spoke to the board.

* Tribune

Union officials lodged their opposition Tuesday to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed right-to-work zones as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s effort to send a message to state lawmakers that City Hall opposes the idea.

The testimony came at a City Council hearing on a symbolic resolution sponsored by Emanuel to oppose the zones. It’s the latest bit of political posturing between Emanuel and Rauner on the topic. […]

After the hearing, Ald. Patrick O’Connor, Emanuel’s floor leader, said the council hopes to persuade Rauner to “rethink this.”

“Shouldn’t we all just be about creating more jobs, more good-paying jobs, more jobs that allow people to step up into the middle class, as opposed to basically saying, ‘I can offer you a whole bunch of, like, half jobs, but I can’t offer you a good job?’” said O’Connor, 40th.

The Cook County Board will take up a nearly identical resolution today.

* And from the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

The Governor got an earful during his presentation in front of an Illinois Department of Transportation listening tour stop in Springfield. Governor Bruce Rauner was addressing the IDOT gathering about his “Turnaround Illinois Agenda” when Sean Stott, the Director of Government Affairs for Laborer’s International Union, got up to say a few words. Afterwards Stott said the Governor’s statements on right-to-work zones are factually inaccurate.

“The federal government has said and the courts have ruled repeatedly for decades that local governments cannot establish local right-to-work zones as he would promote.”

But Governor Rauner says the federal law is clear.

“We’re highly confident that federal labor law allows local governments to decide for themselves labor issues if the state authorizes them to do it.”

Rauner says he’s pushing for a statewide law that would allow local governments the option of becoming a right-to-work zone and he expects any measure on right-to-work issues will be litigated. The Governor also says that he’s working with legislative leaders to hash out some of the proposals and hopes to have the package of bills introduced in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile nearly 30 local governments have approved non-binding resolutions supporting the Governor’s “Turnaround Illinois Agenda”. That’s according to the the Governor’s office. The resolution, shopped out by the Illinois Municipal League and other government association groups, includes employee empowerment zones which are also referred to as right-to-work zones. The resolutions also include proposed reforms to workers’ compensation, insurance costs, business regulations and issues concerning project labor agreements and prevailing wage. Unions oppose the resolutions saying implementation of the measures would mean disintegration of the middle class. But Governor Rauner says the reforms are necessary to make the state’s business climate more friendly.

* The Institute also published this

At Forbes, Richard Epstein, a professor at both the University of Chicago Law School and New York University School of Law, said [Attorney General Lisa Madigan] has fundamentally mischaracterized federal law.

Epstein explained that the U.S. Supreme Court generally presumes that federal law does not preempt state law unless one of three conditions exists: there is an explicit conflict between federal and state law; the state law would frustrate a federal program; or the federal government has completely occupied the field in question.

Epstein explained that “[n]one of these is remotely plausible” in the case of local Right-to-Work laws because “the federal government has explicitly recognized the state’s authority on this key point” by explicitly allowing states to enact Right-to-Work laws. So there is no conflict between federal and state law; there is no federal program that would be frustrated by local Right to Work; and the federal government has explicitly declined to occupy the entire field.

Whether a state adopts a statewide law or just allows local governments to adopt their own Right-to-Work laws is irrelevant. “In general,” Epstein wrote, “the federal government has no power to tell states how it is that they should divide up their powers of government.”

It also shouldn’t matter that Illinois has no state law specifically authorizing local governments to enact Right-to-Work laws (although Rauner wants such a law). The Illinois Constitution allows home-rule units to exercise any governmental power the state government has not explicitly reserved to itself. Therefore, because state law does not explicitly forbid home-rule units from adopting Right-to-Work laws, they may do so.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


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* And away we go with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


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