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It’s just a bill

Thursday, Mar 16, 2017

* But it may be a good idea…

The Illinois House approved legislation State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) is sponsoring to eliminate the requirement for the Secretary of State to do a statewide mailing with information about proposed changes to the Illinois Constitution.

House Bill 348 directs the Secretary of State to publish a proposed Constitutional Amendment, the explanation of the amendment, the arguments for and against the amendment, and the form in which the amendment will appear on the ballot on a website controlled by the Secretary of State when the amendment is published in newspapers. The bill eliminates the requirement to mail the information to people. Newspaper notices about the constitutional amendment would still be required.

“Eliminating the requirement to mail voters about proposed changes to the Constitution would save taxpayers about $1.3 million each time the Legislature approves a Constitutional Amendment to appear on the ballot,” McSweeney said. “I believe advertising a proposed Constitutional Amendment in newspapers and putting information on a central website is sufficient to get information to the public about the proposed changes. There is no need to add more cost to this process by sending information in the mail.” […]

House Bill 348 passed the House on a vote of 108-0 and now moves to the Illinois Senate. State Senator Tom Cullerton is lead sponsor of the legislation in the Senate.

* Perhaps a wee bit of self-interest contained in this newspaper editorial

llinois state Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, decided to celebrate Sunshine Week, when open government and open records are celebrated, by co-sponsoring a bill that would allow local school boards to be less open.

House Bill 3660 would allow school districts to avoid printing a summary of their statement of affairs in local newspapers. Schools would still need to publish a notice saying the full statement was online, but none of the details that would tell taxpayers if something were amiss and worth further investigation.

The first problem is that not everyone has internet access or the ability or time to navigate to the information.

Second, public bodies are notoriously bad at following dictates to put public information online.

The Citizen’s Advocacy Center surveyed 750 public body websites in Illinois to see how many were complying with state law to post meeting notices, agendas and minutes. Only 73 percent were posting meeting notices, 57 percent posted proposed agendas and only 48 percent posted minutes after the meetings.

* Related…

* Mitchell: Bill aims to address mental health crises and guns

* Manar advances measure to address shortage of nurses in Illinois

* Close call prompts Stadelman to introduce emergency prescription refill legislation

* Plan would make changing birth certificates easier for transgender people

- Posted by Rich Miller        


19 Comments »
  1. - My New Handle - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 2:29 pm:

    I disagree with the bill. Voters should be actively communicated with via these mailers. Newspapers are not nearly as well read now as even a decade ago. And requiring someone to have a computer to look for a website is unfair to many who don’t have computers. And then, how does anyone know that he or she should even look for an amendment. Nope, send out the mailers to ensure as many people as possible have the info. It’s not like constitutional amendments come up every year.


  2. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 2:31 pm:

    –“I believe advertising a proposed Constitutional Amendment in newspapers and putting information on a central website is sufficient to get information to the public about the proposed changes.–

    Shorter: I am old and utterly clueless as to how the world works today.


  3. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 2:31 pm:

    In another edit, the BND came out against a railroad bridge over the Mississippi as a hazard to steamboat navigation.

    Is the BND giving away free copies of its print edition? If not, then not everyone has access to that vital information taxpayers are forced to pay for to get in its pages.


  4. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 2:41 pm:

    Nice that the GA cares about saving $1.3 million in mailing costs, but doesn’t seem to worry about $700 million in interest costs on unpaid bills.


  5. - Nothin's easy... - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 2:42 pm:

    No way. $1.3 million is not enough savings to attempt to change the constitution without wide distribution to Illinois citizens. Newspapers are no longer a “widely read” form of communication. In fact, many have been reduced to partisan hacks making them not trustworthy.


  6. - jimk849 - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 2:45 pm:

    It’s tax filing season. Not a good time to make citizens feel like they are not worth a postage stamp.


  7. - anon - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 2:45 pm:

    Tribune on the birth certificate bill:

    “Advocates said people can be denied coverage for preventive care like pap smears and prostate exams if their birth certificates and identities don’t match.”

    Not sure how the transition for transgender people works, but i’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve growing a prostate. And even if it does, both these procedures indicate the person has had transgender surgery, the current birth certificate standard they’re advocating against… Maybe i’m reading it wrong?


  8. - Reired - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 2:49 pm:

    I don’t get a print newspaper. Can I be certain any amendments would be fully printed online?


  9. - The Dude Abides - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 2:49 pm:

    There are too many uninformed voters now. Many voters won’t bother to go to the SOS website to look at the proposed Amendments or even know that they are supposed to. Believe it or not there are people out there, particularly the elderly, who do not have computers or internet access. 1.3 million in savings isn’t worth it. The budget impasse is costing 11 million per day and the Administration is in no hurry to get a budget done. This does not make sense but is typical of our Legislature. I guess they think saving a little bit of money will play well with the average voter.


  10. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 2:51 pm:

    A better idea would be to also have access to the amendment at the DMV and local libraries.


  11. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 2:58 pm:

    As others have noted, not everyone gets a newspaper. If you want to save money, eliminate the requirement the amendment be advertised in the newspapers.


  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 3:07 pm:

    This isn’t about saving money.


  13. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 3:28 pm:

    David actually does something.


  14. - illini - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 3:37 pm:

    At one time, I was getting two daily papers and two county weekly papers, but no more.

    Most of the info I was getting daily was at least 24 hours old. I now read the BND, Southern and SJR and News Gazette online, get my daily crime reports from a radio station website and a half dozen local funeral homes sent me their obits. I have no need for a daily paper.

    Without this site, and the internet in general, I would be as clueless as probably many voters are.

    These notices still need to be sent out - a false savings at best and a perpetuation of voter illiteracy at worst.


  15. - Skirmisher - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 3:42 pm:

    Another ploy to try to sweep skullduggery under the rug.
    .


  16. - Frombom - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 4:41 pm:

    Seems to me the more prudent response would be to continue the statewide mailing and eliminate the newspaper publishing…wonder what that cost savings would be? I for one am solely dependent upon the mailing to get the basic information and initial notice that an amendment is proposed. Seems more like an attempt to dis-inform the public and remove a seemingly objective source of important information.


  17. - Daniel Plainview - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 5:04 pm:

    I’d be more ok with this if the sponsor was more honest about his intentions and called the bill the “Let’s just drop the charade of wanting an informed citizenry” act.


  18. - Ward Heeler - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 5:57 pm:

    Apart from the regulars at this web log, how many voters actually read the mailers on proposed amendments from the Secretary of State? Most people probably treated it as junk mail.


  19. - PDJT - Friday, Mar 17, 17 @ 7:58 am:

    “The first problem is that not everyone has internet access or the ability or time to navigate to the information.”

    This argument against HB3660 also works against HB348. Not everyone subscribes to a newspaper either. If one of the 3 should go, I would keep the mailing and ditch the newspaper. That is, if the intent is to actually make the information available to the voters.


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