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Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* I have a ton of personal errands to run this afternoon, so blogging could be light. Talk amongst yourselves, but try to keep it Illinois-centric and be nice to each other. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


An Illinois beverage tax would cut jobs and raise costs on working families

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Last year, the City of Philadelphia passed a beverage tax similar to a tax plan introduced in the Illinois General Assembly this year. The negative effects of the tax have been devastating for employees and the economy. Layoffs, cuts in employee hours, depressed revenue and massive price increase have consumers and small businesses outraged.

Illinois lawmakers should reject new beverage taxes and protect hard-working men and women, small businesses and family budgets. Philadelphia sales are off by up to 50% as people have fled to the suburbs to do their shopping and escape the tax. That not only hurts restaurants and grocery stores, it dramatically increases prices for families.

If similar sales declines as those seen in Philadelphia occur here in Illinois, it could mean more than 19,000 lost Illinois jobs, $875 million in lost wages and nearly $1.6 billion in lost economic activity. Oppose the beverage tax – learn more at www.NoILBeverageTax.com.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* Earlier today, some Democratic legislators announced a new set of policies that they hope their party and voters will support. From their new website

Priority Legislation: SJRCA 1 — Amends the Illinois Constitution to allow us to tax billionaires at a higher rate than janitors.

Principles

    * Big corporations shouldn’t get huge tax breaks from the state that aren’t available to small businesses

    * Stock market income shouldn’t be taxed at a vastly lower rate than income from working a job

    * The highest earners should pay more than working people and the poor to stabilize our budget

    * We should expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to support low-income working families

Emphasis added because I thought stock market income was taxed in Illinois like all income.

* So, I asked for clarification…

Yes, but it’s taxed at a vastly lower rate at the federal government, so we propose raising the rate in Illinois somewhat to bring it closer to parity.

* The Question: Do you support raising the state’s personal income tax rate on investment income? Click here to take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* Press release

Illinois requires less accountability be a gun dealer than a dog groomer, Senator Don Harmon said Tuesday while defending a commonsense proposal to license gun dealers at the state level in an effort to curb Chicago violence.

Harmon’s Senate Bill 1657 would allow Illinois to license gun dealers and encourage better business practices while holding corrupt dealers accountable as authorities try to get a handle on the violence epidemic that continues to plague Chicago neighborhoods. Gun dealers also must be licensed by federal authorities.

The proposal passed out of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee Tuesday in a 7-5 vote after a great deal of debate about whose responsibility it is to monitor gun dealers and find solutions to gun violence.

“Gun violence in Chicago is a huge problem. For people to sit around in the Capitol and say, ‘Let someone else take care of it and enforce the laws on the books,’ is incredibly frustrating,” said Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat. “Twenty-six other states license gun dealers. This is not breaking new ground. It’s a modest proposal. It’s harder to be a dog groomer or a hair stylist in Illinois.”

Senate Bill 1657 would establish two types of licenses: dealer and dealership. A dealer would be any person engaged in the business of selling, leasing or otherwise transferring firearms; a dealership would be a person, firm, corporation or other legal entity that does the same.

Applicants for each license would have to meet a series of requirements before receiving a state license. Violating the terms of the license can resulting in penalties.

The legislation also would establish a gun dealer licensing board to recommend policies, procedures and rules under the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which would license gun dealers.

“I want to be clear: There is no evidence that the gun violence problem is being caused by law-abiding gun owners. We need to focus on the real problem, which is illegal guns getting into the wrong hands,” Harmon said. “Somewhere between a gun manufacturer and a crime scene is a person who is pretending to be a law-abiding gun owner but is not. That is the problem this legislation seeks to address.

“Senate Bill 1657 does nothing more than impose industry standards for best practices that should be observed by every gun dealer already but unfortunately aren’t.”

A recent study showed that 40 percent of guns used in crimes between 2009 and 2014 came from Illinois and that nearly 17 percent – or roughly 3,000 – of all guns used in crimes in Chicago were sold by just three of the Illinois’ more than 2,400 gun dealers. All three are near Chicago.

* AP

Two state senators are co-sponsoring legislation they say would stop Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration from outsourcing additional medical and mental health service jobs from state prisons.

This past week, 124 nurses employed at 10 state prisons learned that they were being laid off and their jobs privatized. In Southern Illinois, that includes 13 nurses employed at Menard Correctional Center, and 13 at Vienna Correctional Center.

They were notified by Illinois Department of Corrections that their jobs will end on June 15.

* Press release…

The Lincoln Land Chapter of ABATE of Illinois has several concerns with HB2747, the Safe Autonomous Vehicles Act being considered in the Illinois House of Representatives today.

The bill as proposed does not have any requirements for independent testing of the systems used by autonomous vehicles to detect and avoid other vehicles. It also does not address different vehicle sizes, such as motorcycles, and testing of the systems to detect those as well.

Recently, there have been several incidents with Uber’s fleet of autonomous Volvos operating in the Bay area and in Arizona. Uber was caught operating without proper permits in San Francisco after footage of their autonomous vehicle running a red light was posted online. An eyewitness account states that the vehicle was in auto driving mode and took off across the intersection after initially stopping at the red. It is believed fog was a factor in the incident. Uber vehicles have also been spotted weaving across bicycle lanes, endangering those riders. In Arizona, an Uber autonomous vehicle was unable to avoid collision with a wayward driver. Even though the other vehicle was at fault, Uber grounded their fleet. This raises questions about the autonomous vehicle’s ability to account for abnormal traffic situations.

A 2013 NHTSA study shows that 51% of fatal motorcycle crashes involved collisions with motor vehicles, and 74% of collisions are front end collisions. Too often motor vehicles pull into the path or turn in front of motorcyclists often with fatal consequences. This is the cause of the “Look twice, save a life” campaign for motorcycle awareness throughout Illinois.

Uber’s current fleet meets the requirements of HB2747 as written. Given the documented incidents that have already occured with these vehicles, and the safety risk posed by faulty detection systems to motorcycles, ABATE insists that these vehicles be able to detect motorcycles from all directions, in traffic situations, and at various speeds before being allowed on Illinois roadways. We further insist on requiring independent testing to verify that these systems are able to meet these requirements. Additionally, ABATE would like to see the operator and owner of the vehicle liable for any traffic incidents that occur while the vehicle is in autonomous mode.

* Tribune

As pork producers exploit weak laws to build and expand large hog confinements across rural Illinois, neighboring farmers have complained their rights are being trampled while waste spills poison local streams and sickening gases ruin families’ lives and property values.

But after years of frustration and legislative inaction, lawmakers on Tuesday announced four new bills that would tighten Illinois’ lax environmental protections and give local citizens more input in the permitting process, as well as standing to challenge the massive facilities in court.

The bills, proposed in response to the Tribune’s August investigation, “The Price of Pork,” would represent the first significant reforms to Illinois’ 1996 Livestock Management Facilities Act, which has been criticized for failing to keep pace with the dramatic growth of swine confinements. Holding thousands of pigs and sometimes producing millions of gallons of manure annually, the operations now account for more than 90 percent of Illinois’ $1.5 billion in annual hog sales.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


King Coal is no more

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* According to this SJ-R story, coal industry employment in Illinois last year was 3,600. Natural gas is a big price competitor, of course, and the coal industry has greatly enhanced its productivity, so employment will never recover its losses since 1990, when the industry employed 10,000 people here

Even if coal sales improve, mining techniques require ever fewer miners for increased production. The 3,600 miners required to produce 43.3 million tons of Illinois coal in 2016 was approximately the same number required to produce 33.4 million tons in 2010, according to coal association figures.

Meanwhile, according to the article, Illinois had 3,700 jobs in the solar industry alone last year, up 7 percent from the year before. And then there’s all those wind power jobs.

* Tribune News Service

President Donald Trump campaigned on putting coal miners back to work, and on Tuesday, he gave the impression he was delivering. But he wasn’t.

Trump rolled back Obama administration regulations considered detrimental to the industry. But the president’s actions will bring minimal benefit to the coal-producing regions that helped him win the White House, according to the government’s own projections.

At best, according to government data, coal production will increase by about 5 million tons a year by 2040 out of 800 million tons overall under Trump’s order.

Not all coal-producing regions will see an increase. Western and Appalachian coal are still forecast to decline. Only Illinois Basin coal will increase over time.

That’s a mere 0.6 percent production gain over 23 years - at best - although Illinois will apparently do slightly better.

* As another article points out, it’ll now be easier to open mines, but the industry still faces serious market challenges.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Illinois sets new voter registration record

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* From the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform

According to the US Census Bureau, there are 9.02 million eligible voters in the state of Illinois. As of the November 2016 election, 8.14 million of those are active, registered voters with the state.

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, a registered voter is reported as “active” by the voter’s local election jurisdiction if they have registered or voted within the past 2-4 Presidential Election cycles, or if they confirmed their registration address within a short time after that period. This means that 90% of eligible voters in Illinois are registered and active in the state. […]

The largest group of new registrations (30%) came from 18-24 year-olds. These new registrations make up 2.8% of all active, registered voters in Illinois. Additionally, 53% of new registrations were made by women, roughly matching the 52% of eligible voters in Illinois who are female.

Turnout of Newly Registered Voters

Of the 762,546 people who registered to vote between the Primary and General Election, 73% (559,019) actually turned out to vote in the election. Below is a breakdown of voter turnout:

    75% of women who registered in this period voted in the election
    71% of men who registered in this period voted in the election
    The highest turnout among new registrants was among voters aged 55-64, with 79% voting
    The lowest turnout among new registrants was among voters aged 18-24, with 66% voting

These numbers include the voters who registered at their polling places on Election Day. About 80,000 of the over 5.6 million voters in the General Election registered same-day. This equates to:

    1.4% of all Illinois voters in the 2016 election
    11% of all new registrations between the 2016 Primary and General Election

About 5.3 million total voters turned out for the 2012 election in Illinois, and 5.5 million voted in 2008.

Conclusion
Overall, new registrations account for 9% of the total active, registered voters in Illinois. This large increase in voter registration has led to the highest number of registered voters Illinois has ever seen.

* Some charts

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** What’s on tap today?

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* Tribune

Senate leaders this week are hoping to revive their sweeping budget proposal, which has stalled after the governor weighed in on the plan.

The latest talks center on a potential tax hike, with negotiators saying Rauner is pushing to make any income tax increase temporary. They say his office wants that hike to be limited to five years and paired with a five-year property tax freeze.

Some Democrats are worried about a temporary hike, saying it would create a funding “cliff” in the future (that’s what happened when the 2011 temporary income tax hike expired in 2015). They also are concerned about extending a property tax freeze for that long. They instead want a two-year freeze that would allow local voters to say if they want to extend it for three more years. […]

Senate lawmakers plan to meet behind closed doors Wednesday, when they are likely to decide whether to move ahead with another round of voting on the plan, which is being negotiated by Senate President John Cullerton and Republican leader Christine Radogno.

* But

Senator Bill Brady, (R)-Bloomington, has introduced 7 budget bills he says will create the first balanced budget the state has seen in years.

The Bloomington Republican announced his package of bills Tuesday afternoon, which he says contain $5 billion in cuts. “Cuts are never easy, and I don’t anticipate the cuts outlined in this budget will be well received by everybody, but given the situation that our state is operating at a court ordered spending plan, with billions of dollars of deficit spending it’s time to fix Illinois fiscal crisis.” he said.

Senator Brady says his proposal provides for selling revenue bonds totaling $6 billion to reduce the state’s backlog of unpaid bills and save the state millions of dollars in interest costs.

“The state’s unpaid bills now total almost $13 billion, or $1,000 for every man, woman and child in the state. If we do nothing, our unpaid bills, what we owe to medical providers, social service agencies and other vendors, will grow to move than $20 billion over the next two years. That’s not the message Illinois out to be sending to the world, and it’s not the kind of system we should ask Illinoisans to accept.” he said.

Senator Brady says this budget package is not being proposed as a replacement for the Grand Bargain, rather a supplement to it. “I have always said that a balanced budget must be an integral part of the grand compromise that the Senate has worked on. While I appreciate the hard work and progress that has gone into some of these proposals, nobody has been talking about a budget. What I’m proposing is a balanced budget that takes into account the new revenues from that compromise but also includes more than $5 billion in general revenue fund spending cuts, adjustments and cost savings, including 5 percent across-the-board cuts for most of state government outside elementary and secondary education.”

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Ugh…


From the story

“Now that I’ve read it, what I see is that there’s a significant departure from our agreement,” he says. “There’s a lengthy list of things that do not reflect our agreement. Some of those are things we discussed and I thought we had an agreement on, but the amendment doesn’t reflect that. Others are concepts that were never discussed that are being introduced now in this amendment.” […]

But after actually reading Manar’s plan, Barickman asked for lots of big changes. Manar points out that Senate Republicans have never filed a school funding reform bill, and suggests it’s time for them to do so. If they do, Manar says, “I guarantee I will have it heard in the Senate education committee.”

That bill is an integral part of the grand bargain. No SB1, no grand bargain.

…Adding… Barickman did sponsor an education funding reform bill and Manar was a co-sponsor. So it has been done before. Click here.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Yep. Subscribers know more…


- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Munger responds *** Mendoza files intent to appeal legislative pay ruling

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* From the comptroller’s office…

A notice of intent to appeal was filed Tuesday in the Legislator Pay case. Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office filed the notice on behalf of Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza with the First District Appellate Court in Chicago.

Comptroller Mendoza believes there is a sound policy reason, given the absence of a balanced state budget, to prioritize payments to the state’s most vulnerable – hospice care; child care; meals on wheels for seniors – ahead of paychecks for elected officials.

The motion is here.

They should appeal this case, if for no other reason than we ought to know once and for all if the executive branch has the constitutional authority to starve out legislators.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Press release…

Deputy Governor Leslie Munger released the following statement on Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s decision to appeal the judge’s ruling on lawmaker pay.

“We appreciate that Comptroller Mendoza will appeal the Court’s ruling, but frankly, it’s too little too late. Before the ink was dry on the judge’s order, she expedited payments for all eight months of lawmaker back pay costing taxpayers more than $8 million and causing more delays for human service organizations. She had the chance to ask the Court to keep politicians, including herself, from being prioritized for payment from the state but she declined. It’s clear that Comptroller Mendoza’s priorities are to help herself and her friends in the legislature at the expense of those most in need.”

Deputy Governor Munger will be available for interviews. Please contact Eleni Demertzis for availability.

And, yes, I put that response on the wrong post earlier. Weird day.

* Related…

* Mendoza, Munger and Rauner locked in endless campaign: It’s been nearly five months since Democrat Susana Mendoza defeated the governor’s hand-picked candidate Leslie Munger in the state comptroller’s race – but it’s almost as if the campaign never ended. Mendoza again lashed out Tuesday at Gov. Bruce Rauner, criticizing his “inability” to propose a budget, while dubbing him “the worst governor that’s ever served this state.” In response, Munger, whom Rauner appointed deputy governor with a $138,00 salary after her defeat, urged her former competitor to look in the “mirror,” instead of point fingers over who’s to blame for the “sorry condition of our state.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 ILGOP responds *** Kinda like kiddie soccer

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* Tribune

A group of House and Senate Democrats on Wednesday are scheduled to unveil what they’re calling the “Illinois comeback agenda,” a five-point plan to try to counter Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s “turnaround agenda.”

Rauner has made parts of his economic plan prerequisites for a full budget deal, which hasn’t yet been struck during his first term. While the governor’s plan has continued to morph, key pillars include a property tax freeze, changes to the state’s workers’ compensation system and term limits on elected officials.

Details of the Democratic plan were still being worked out Tuesday. Details of the Democratic plan were still being worked out Tuesday but could include five legislative measures dealing with the budget, campaign finance, criminal justice, education funding and health, said Ryan Keith, an adviser helping to organize the announcement. The group also will unveil a new nonprofit called Reimagine Illinois to help push the proposals.

The effort comes as some rank-and-file Democrats grow increasingly frustrated by what they view as a lack of a strategy to fight back against Rauner. They want to present ideas to counter accusations that they are simply acting as obstructionists. [Emphasis added.]

Big presser today and yet they admit they hadn’t worked out the issues by the day before. Yep. They’re experts at that messaging stuff, those Dems.

*** UPDATE 1 *** From the ILGOP…

The Illinois Republican Party issued the following statement regarding the Chicago Tribune’s report this morning that Democrats will announce a new legislative agenda focused on campaign finance, criminal justice, education funding, health care and the budget.

“While it’s nice to see Democrats join the Governor on criminal justice reform and improving schools, it’s alarming that their agenda appears to include nothing to lower property taxes or increase jobs throughout the state. And any effort to fix the political system that doesn’t include term limits or redistricting reform isn’t a serious one. Illinoisans want a balanced budget with real spending caps, a true property tax freeze, and economic reforms to grow jobs. Democrats should add these key items to their agenda if they are serious about improving Illinois.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


It is time to reform civil asset forfeiture

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Paper calls Mendoza “another slave to Madigan’s Chicago Democrats”

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* From the ILGOP

Quad-City Times: “Mendoza ditched campaign pledge”
She’s revealed herself to be “just another pawn of the Democratic machine”

From the Quad-City Times Editorial Board:
Like a good Illinois Democrat, state Comptroller Susana Mendoza rolled over.

Mendoza had two choices last week after a court ordered her to pay state lawmakers when no budget exists: Appeal or cave. She chose the latter.

Mendoza immediately started issuing lawmakers’ paychecks following a ruling in Cook County ordering the release of lawmakers’ paychecks. Mendoza didn’t come up with the idea to withhold paychecks for the very people responsible for Illinois’ two-year fiscal dumpster fire. Her GOP predecessor, Leslie Munger, died on that hill.

Click here to read the rest.

* Here’s a passage the state party didn’t quote from the editorial, however

Mendoza’s lack of action so far suggests she’s just another slave to Madigan’s Chicago Democrats.

Appeal the decision, Ms. Mendoza. Anything less will verify our suspicions.

Whew.

…Adding… Newspaper editorial boards are committees of people who make their living writing. So, every word matters in editorials because those words are published with an explicit intent to persuade an audience. And I gotta say, the use of the word “slave” in this context is repellent.

This isn’t some random person calling into a radio station talk show, or a nasty person on Twitter. These words were written by professionals and presumably approved by the entire board.

Also, if she’s “just another slave,” who are the others? Does that include black legislators, too?

That edit board has some explaining to do.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Where do the candidates stand on marijuana?

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* We already know where Gov. Rauner stands on legalizing marijuana. He doesn’t like the idea. At all.

But I wanted to know where the Democratic candidates stood on the issue, so I reached out to the campaigns yesterday.

* Ameya Pawar has already made it clear (click here) that he supports full legalization. This is from Sen. Daniel Biss…

Thumbs up on the Cassidy-Steans bill. It’s the right criminal justice policy, it’s right from the point of view of fairness, and it’s right for the state’s bottom line.

He’s not yet a co-sponsor of Sen. Steans’ bill, but he’ll be voting for it if it ever reaches the floor.

By the way, this is a great issue to help candidates raise small-dollar grassroots contributions from legalization proponents, not only in Illinois, but across the country.

* From the Chris Kennedy campaign…

Chris supports decriminalizing marijuana in Illinois. He believes we should not be prosecuting and crowding our jails over simple possession of marijuana. He is reviewing studies done on the effects of legalization in other states before determining if legalization would be right for Illinois.

* Bob Daiber campaign…

Dr. Daiber is strongly in favor of medicinal marijuana in Illinois.

As this current time, he is still researching the legalization of marijuana recreationally and cannot weigh in on one side or the other.

He does say he is in favor of a ballot initiative to allow voters to legalize marijuana of their own free will, similar to what had occurred in Colorado and Washington.

When I pointed out that we don’t have binding initiatives in Illinois, I received this response…

Daiber feels that even though it would be non-binding, he would base his decision to pass legislation legalizing recreational marijuana based on the will of the people.

* I haven’t yet heard back from the Kurt Summers people, but I might’ve used the wrong e-mail address. I’ll let you know what he says.

Also, JB Pritzker hasn’t yet answered any policy questions ahead of his possible announcement and it was clear yesterday that the campaign didn’t want to establish a new precedent when I asked for his position.

* Related…

* Illinois Policy Institute News Service: Meet Democratic candidates for Illinois governor

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Kennedy has hereditary disorder

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* Subscribers were told about this yesterday morning

Calling it “more of a nuisance than a disability,” Chris Kennedy on Tuesday acknowledged that he suffers from a hereditary disorder that causes tremors — a day after the Sun-Times reported that the gubernatorial candidate’s hands were shaking during a meet-and-greet with Cook County Democratic leaders.

“I wanted to set the record straight. The shaking is a condition I’ve lived with my whole life called familial [tremors.] It runs in the family. Doctors don’t know what causes it other than it is hereditary and does not cause impairment — more of a nuisance than a disability. In fact, many of my family members live with it. It doesn’t limit any of us in any way,” Kennedy wrote in a statement on Facebook.

“I don’t talk much about it, not because I’m ashamed of it, but because having dealt with it my whole life, it’s just not that big a deal to me. The fact is millions of people live their lives with far, far great challenges than an occasional handshake.

“The fact is improving the health of this state is a whole more important to me than talking about a minor condition. Once in a while, my hand will shake whether I like it or not. But regardless, most of the time, the kind of handshakes you’ll see from me will be on the campaign trail, earning the votes of the people of Illinois who believe in our quest to restore the promise of our state,” he wrote.

* As noted above, he has what’s known as “familial tremor,” which is a subset of “essential tremor.” Here’s the definition

Essential tremor signs and symptoms:

    Begin gradually, usually on one side of the body
    Worsen with movement
    Usually occur in the hands first, affecting one hand or both hands
    Can include a “yes-yes” or “no-no” motion of the head
    May be aggravated by emotional stress, fatigue, caffeine or temperature extremes […]

About half of essential tremor cases appear to result from a genetic mutation, although a specific gene hasn’t been identified. This form is referred to as familial tremor. It isn’t clear what causes essential tremor in people without a known genetic mutation. […]

Essential tremor isn’t life-threatening, but symptoms often worsen over time.

He has it in both hands.

It’s really not a big deal for an average person. The problem for Kennedy is that the shaking can sometimes become more prominent during times of stress, like, perhaps, during an important debate or TV appearance. Again, physically, it’s not a big thing, but people just don’t pay a lot of attention to state politics, so they can be very shallow when making their judgements about candidates.

This game, whether we care to admit it or not, is a lot about show business. It doesn’t affect his brain, but it could affect the perception of him.

…Adding… As a commenter notes below, one possible irony here is that Kennedy’s uncle, JFK, won a presidential debate and maybe even the whole campaign because Richard Nixon looked horrible on TV.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

* Today’s post is sponsored by the American Heart Association of Illinois. Follow everything in real time right here with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017

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« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Rauner vetoes second bill to address gender wage gap
* Munger moves to DCEO
* Preckwinkle mayoral announcement roundup
* Follow the money
* Empty threat? Or does somebody know something we don't?
* A couple of quick debate clips
* Supremes side with hospitals on property taxes
* Report: IEPA stonewalls AG until HGOP leader steps in
* A TIF primer
* Raoul's new ad blasts Harold over abortion rights
* Debate coverage roundup
* Question of the day
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