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Third vaping-related death in Illinois

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the death of a third Illinois resident who had recently vaped and been hospitalized with a severe lung injury. At this time, a total of 166 people in Illinois, ranging in age from 13 to 75 years old, with a median age of 22, have experienced lung injuries after using e-cigarettes or vaping. IDPH continues to work with local health departments to investigate another 42 possible cases in Illinois.

“The unfortunate death of a third Illinois resident underscores the seriousness of these lung injuries,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “New cases continue to be reported in Illinois and across the country. IDPH is urging Illinoisans not to vape or use e-cigarettes products, especially illicit THC based products, while we continue to investigate this outbreak.”
At this time, no single compound or ingredient used in e-cigarette, or vaping products has been identified as the cause of this outbreak. The latest national and state findings suggest products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources (e.g. friends, family members, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak. More than 80% of the cases in Illinois report recent use of THC-containing products, primarily obtaining them from informal sources. Additionally, almost half of the cases in Illinois have also used nicotine-based products.

Affected individuals have experienced respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Many have also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Some patients reported that their symptoms developed over a few days, while others have reported that their symptoms developed over several weeks.

To date, IDPH has received 46 preliminary laboratory results on vaping products and devices submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Almost half of the test results were positive for THC, and of those, approximately 40% had evidence of vitamin E acetate. The FDA continues to perform additional testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) arrived in Illinois on August 20 to assist with the investigation. IDPH is also working with local health departments, other state health departments, and the FDA to investigate the names and types of e-cigarettes, vaping products, and devices, as well as where they were obtained.

At this time, health officials have not identified the cause or causes of the lung injuries with the only commonality among all cases being patients report the use of vaping products, including e-cigarettes. No one device, compound, or ingredient has emerged as the cause of these illnesses to date; and it may be that there is more than one cause of this lung injury.

Cases have been reported in 32 counties statewide. In order to protect the identity of the affected individuals, additional information is not being provided. The investigation is ongoing, and more information will be shared as soon as it becomes available.

People who experience any type of chest pain or difficulty breathing after using e-cigarettes or vaping should seek immediate medical attention. When seeking medical attention, be sure to tell the provider you have vaped in recent weeks or months. Health care providers caring for patients with unexpected serious respiratory illness should ask about a history of vaping or e-cigarette use. [Emphasis added.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Lightfoot appears open to compromise on real estate transfer tax

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Greg Hinz on a possible compromise on Mayor Lightfoot’s graduated real estate transfer tax

[Rep. Will Guzzardi’s] idea, first pitched at a Springfield press conference, is to look at New York, which has a much lower threshold for a relatively high rate, with any sale of more than $500,000 hit with a levy of 1.425 percent. That would provide both Lightfoot’s budget figure and a significant stream of new money to spur low-income housing, he said.

“It’s obvious (Lightfoot’s) bill isn’t going to pass as it is,” Guzzardi told me in a phone interview. “We can reach a deal with transfer tax that lives up to the mayor’s promise.”

Guzzardi said Lightfoot’s office has indicated it may be interested in a compromise—not necessarily his idea but different from what’s now being pitched. But raising the rate on lower-priced sales would work because it would provide more money for both sets of needs, he argued. “I’m optimistic we’ll find a way.” […]

“We’re open to having conversations,” said a mayoral spokeswoman. “We are not aware of his proposal nor have we reviewed it. But we certainly welcome the conversation.”

You’ll recall that 13 Chicago House Democrats, including Guzzardi, said this week they won’t vote for Mayor Lightfoot’s plan as-is because it doesn’t provide funds for homeless prevention and affordable housing. The mayor had pledged during the campaign to hold a referendum to pass a graduated real estate transfer tax and use the money for those two items.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


There’s the right response and then there’s this one

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Greg Bishop at The Center Square

The revelation in the federal indictment of state Rep. Luis Arroyo that an unnamed state Senator had been wearing a wire and cooperating with federal investigators since 2016 elicited a mix of reactions from lawmakers in Springfield this week. […]

State Rep. Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines, said the disclosure regarding a cooperating witness hasn’t changed the way he operates.

“Well I think you should always be cautious what you say to anybody, you know, and not do anything criminal,” Moylan said.

State Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, D-Cicero, said the idea that one of her colleagues had been wearing a wire was disappointing.

“Because for those who try and work in such a way to build that trust among the public, the unfortunate actions of a few really impact all,” she said.

🤦

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


SEC now probing Exelon and ComEd lobbying

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Steve Daniels at Crain’s

Add the Securities & Exchange Commission to the list of those wanting to learn more about Exelon and Commonwealth Edison’s lobbying.

Exelon disclosed that the agency notified the company on Oct. 22 of an investigation it had opened into Exelon and ComEd’s “lobbying activities,” according to the company’s quarterly filing today with the SEC. […]

Interestingly, the SEC probe may not be confined to lobbying in just Illinois, given that Exelon didn’t specify that in the latest disclosure. Exelon owns utilities in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., as well as ComEd in Chicago.

On the company’s quarterly earnings call today, Exelon CEO Chris Crane was asked specifically whether the investigations into Exelon and ComEd’s practices were confined to Illinois. He declined to answer that, saying the company wasn’t in a position to talk in any detail about the probes other than to say it’s cooperating with all of them.

Yeah, but keep threatening to shut down those nuke plants.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


CTU strike is over

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* More details as they are made available…


…Adding… National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter…

We want to thank and congratulate the members of the Chicago Teachers Union on their historic gains achieved in today’s announcement. Contractural gains that will have a meaningful impact in Chicago schools. The contract includes (in writing) enforceable commitments for more school nurses, and more school social workers. It includes additional case managers and workforce development funds so social workers can do the work they were trained to do and the city can recruit a diverse pool of future clinicians.

This was a great win for Chicago, but the advocacy work isn’t done.

Even with the historic five year commitments on social workers, CPS will still be understaffed to effectively address the volume of trauma our kids face. We will keep advocating for new funds not only for CPS but the entire state until mental health services for schools in Illinois reach a safe level. We ask the State of Illinois and our federal legislators to find creative ways to tackle this issue head on, to help speed up the contractural timeline and expand services to schools throughout the state. Schools should not have to go on strike to fund elementary mental health. Illinois can do better, Illinois will do better.

…Adding… Crain’s has some contract dot points

“Enforceable” staffing: 209 additional social workers; 250 additional nursing positions, 180 additional case managers; 120 new counselors, restorative justice coordinators and librarians, and a social worker and case manager assigned to every school by the end of the contract in 2023.

Recruitment: $2.5 million to recruit and train clinicians, $2 million for nurse tuition and licensure, and a 50% tuition reimbursement for English language and bilingual endorsement programs.

Class sizes: A $35 million annual allocation to reduce oversized K-12 classrooms in “schools serving the most vulnerable students.”

Coaches: A $4 million investment in a Sports Committee to hike coaching stipends and buy new equipment.

Health care: No plan changes to health insurance benefits, a cut in co-pays for mental health and physical therapy services. Teachers can now bank sick days earned after July 1, 2012, from 40 to 244 days.

Looks like a pretty good deal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   104 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Pritzker: Up yours *** Exelon threatens to shutter four nuke plants if it doesn’t get what it wants

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Steve Daniels at Crain’s

The threat is explicit now.

Springfield will have to swallow hard and agree to legislation next spring to rescue Exelon’s financially ailing Illinois nuclear fleet despite the legal cloud enveloping the company, or the company will move to close plants. That was the message CEO Chris Crane delivered on a Halloween earnings call with analysts.

For good measure, he added a fourth plant to the three the company already has said are at risk of early closure.

Now in the crosshairs: Exelon’s LaSalle power station in addition to the previously identified Byron, Braidwood and Dresden plants. Two other Illinois nukes, Clinton and Quad Cities, already are benefiting from more than $200 million a year in ratepayer subsidies, enacted in the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act.

Go read the rest. That company has the strongest sense of entitlement of any company in this state.

*** UPDATE *** From Gov. Pritzker’s communications director Emily Bittner…

If companies under a federal microscope believe it’s appropriate to make threats to get their way, they need to recalibrate their thinking and how they deal with this administration. The governor’s priority is to work with principled stakeholders on clean energy legislation that is above reproach.

…Adding… WBEZ

Reeling from a federal investigation into Commonwealth Edison’s lobbying practices, a top Exelon official on Thursday downplayed the impact of the corruption probe and any possible fallout on Wall Street.

“We’re not passing judgment on [whether there] is anything legal or illegal in some of our past practices with contract lobbyists or consultants,” Exelon CEO Chris Crane told analysts during the company’s quarterly earnings call Thursday morning. “I don’t expect [the investigation] will impede our business at all going forward.” […]

Referring to “a lot of speculation in news articles” about the investigation, Crane said Thursday, “There’s things out there that people are speculating on that — they’re guessing, to say that the best.”

It’s unclear what Crane was referring to, and he did not offer any details or clarification.

- Posted by Rich Miller   115 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Bernie

With questions of ethics swirling in and around the Statehouse, can anything get done?

It depends who you ask. And while both political parties can have ethical lapses, those caught in binds for the moment are Democrats — and their party-mates are more optimistic about being able to go on with business as usual than their GOP counterparts.

“I think that this is going to give people in the chamber pause to do anything of a significant nature,” said House GOP Leader JIM DURKIN of Western Springs. […]

But state Sen. ANDY MANAR, D-Bunker Hill, said, “It doesn’t have an impact on me.”

He noted that a bill he’s sponsoring to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin has been pushed since May — and it passed out the Senate this week shortly after we spoke.

* Yesterday, Gov. Pritzker seemed to say that alleged corruption was impeding progress

You know we have challenges in the state of Illinois. I’m disgusted by all of what’s going on in this regard, and I also view it as they’re throwing obstacles in the way of us accomplishing pension consolidation and lowering taxes, property taxes and other things in the state.

* The Question: Will the federal probe impede legislative progress? Make sure to explain your answer.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Today’s fun Illinois fact

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Sweet…


- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** A miscommunication or is somebody not telling the truth?

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* We discussed this yesterday

In a possible attempt to help end the teachers strike, both Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton on Wednesday showed their support for an elected school board — a priority of the Chicago Teachers Union.

The CTU had pushed for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to publicly back the bill as a condition of a new teachers contract. But Lightfoot had resisted the call, saying it had no place in a contract. After the show of support for the measure by the legislative leaders Wednesday, the union dropped the demand.

Madigan was the first to release a statement on the legislation, reminding the public that the House has made efforts to try to pass an elected school board and to give the CTU more bargaining power — another bill the union wanted Lightfoot to support. The speaker said he will “again give full consideration to these proposals in the upcoming spring session.” […]

“The Governor has long expressed his support for an elected school board and changes to the collective bargaining process. He looks forward to reviewing the specifics when these bills reach his desk.”

After some Democratic Senators issued a similar pledge yesterday to take up the bills next spring, the Senate President also committed to working with his members on these issues.

* The mayor was asked about the topic during a press conference last night

Reporter: [CTU Political and Legislative Director] Stacy Davis Gates has said that the CTU has been meeting with the governor, Senate President Cullerton and Madigan about an elected school board and changing the negotiations, their ability for collective bargaining rights, and that they are supportive. Have you been part of those conversations?

Mayor Lightfoot: I’ve had contact with all three of those individuals, the governor, the president and the speaker. That’s not my understanding.

…Adding… I mean, they all put out statements yesterday. It was an attempt to placate the CTU and help ease the path to the end of the strike. The mayor should’ve probably just taken the path.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Text from the governor’s comms director…

To clarify: The governor has not been meeting w the CTU.

*** UPDATE 2 *** I missed this thread until a few minutes ago about Lightfoot’s news conference…


- Posted by Rich Miller   68 Comments      


Judicial candidate slapped with emergency no-stalking order

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* McHenry County Blog

On October 25th, County Risk Manager Lisa Shamhart filed documents asking for an emergency “Stalking No Contact Order” against former McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan, now a second time candidate for Circuit Court Judge.

The petition was signed by Associate Judge Jennifer Johnson with a hearing set for 9 AM on November 15th.

Shamhart says the following occurred, including fake blood on her daughter’s front door and a beheaded duck on the front porch. Shamhart notes, “Mary and her husband Ed Gil are well known bird hunters.”

* You may recall McClellan from last year

More than 116,000 McHenry County residents voted in Tuesday’s midterm election – but unofficial election results showed about 21 percent of them did not pick candidates in statewide races.

What a mess that was.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Pramaggiore resigns from Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Wall Street Journal...

Anne Pramaggiore has resigned from her position as chairwoman of the board of directors overseeing the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the bank confirmed Wednesday.

The Chicago Fed said that Ms. Pramaggiore stepped down from her position on Oct. 25. The resignation wasn’t made public by the Chicago Fed until it was confirmed by a bank spokesperson in response to a question from The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. Federal Reserve referred questions about Ms. Pramaggiore to the Chicago Fed.

* Ray Long at the Tribune

The Exelon Utilities CEO who retired abruptly two weeks ago amid a wide-ranging federal investigation of lobbyist activities now has stepped down as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Anne Pramaggiore’s latest move follows Exelon and ComEd receiving two federal grand jury subpoenas in the probe. A source with knowledge of the case has told the Tribune that Pramaggiore is one focus of the ongoing federal investigation.

Pramaggiore released a statement on Wednesday that did not address the federal investigation, saying the Chicago Fed is “well-positioned to execute on its important mission.” A Pramaggiore spokesman said her Oct. 25 departure was voluntary. Her term as chair was scheduled to end at year’s end.

Even so, she’s leaving as federal authorities are looking into two companies where she had been a top executive.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


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Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Thursday, Oct 31, 2019

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 *** CTU House of Delegates to meet tonight to discuss strike settlement - but one sticking point remains

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* Tribune

The Chicago Teachers Union has called in its House of Delegates to vote on a tentative contract, but says the deal hinges on Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreeing to allow lost school days to be made up.

It’s unclear how Lightfoot and CPS will respond on making up school days. Lightfoot has repeatedly said the school district would not make up school days lost to the strike. Last week, Lightfoot was emphatically against the idea, saying: “I’ve been very clear from the beginning: We are not extending the school year. I typically don’t say things in public that I don’t mean.”

* Sun-Times

Makeup days a sticking point for CTU

The last day of school on the CPS calendar is June 16. If all the missed days were added to the end of the year, school would continue until June 30.

The delegates are meeting at 6 pm. This is yet another question about money. Teachers want to be paid, CPS hasn’t wanted to do that.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Tribune

Chicago Teachers Union delegates have voted to accept a new contract deal – but won’t end the strike yet because they’re still squabbling with the city over making up the days lost to the walkout.

The union says it will be at City Hall at 10 a.m. Thursday to “demand the mayor return our days.”

CPS responded a short time later by formally canceling classes again Thursday, which will be the 11th day of the walkout.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The end may be very near…


*** UPDATE 3 *** Here we go…


- Posted by Rich Miller   109 Comments      


You don’t see this every day

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* House Bill 2267, which mandates an elected school board in Chicago, passed the House 110-2 during the spring session. The bill’s chief sponsor was Rep. Rob Martwick (D-Chicago). Sen. Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) picked up sponsorship when the bill arrived in his chamber in early April.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot then persuaded Senate President John Cullerton to shelve the bill and it never made it out of the Assignments Committee.

Rep. Martwick was appointed to the Senate after Sen. John Mulroe left to become a judge.

Today, Sen. Aquino gave up his sponsorship to Sen. Martwick.

So, we now have a bill that was sponsored in the House by Rep. Martwick and is currently sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Martwick.

Martwick and Lightfoot got into a bit of a dustup during the campaign, but he has since tried to mend fences. Lindsey LaPointe, a Lightfoot ally, was appointed to fill out the remainder of Martwick’s House term.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* I’m leaving in a few minutes to have lunch with Wordslinger’s brother. I’m not sure when I’ll be back, but I’m taking my laptop just in case someone else gets raided. Please be nice to each other while I’m gone.

* The Question: Is there anything you’d like to convey to Wordslinger’s family about what he meant to you, or this website or this state?

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


Ethylene oxide phase-out bill narrowly clears House

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* Notice the “Present” votes…


Democrats killed Leader Durkin’s bill in committee this week, so he and others went “Present” on this bill.

Rep. Dave McSweeney, who has often done battle with Leader Durkin, was the only Republican to vote “Yes,” so he put it over the top.

* Illinois Chamber…

“The ability to safely sterilize medical devices and materials is vital to the health and safety of our community and to employers paying for high-quality health care in Illinois,” said Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch. “This legislation will have significant ramifications for the health care material supply chain, and could result in shortages of sterilized devices and materials, despite the fact that Illinois passed the most stringent regulatory scheme in the nation earlier this year. Last week, the FDA sent out a statement on their concerns with medical device availability due to certain sterilization facility closures, as a result of potential actions in Illinois and Georgia to limit ethylene oxide sterilization processes. Passing this legislation without a plan for how Illinois will support our health care system’s demand for life-saving medical equipment or make up for years of wasted research and development on new technologies dependent on this form of sterilization, is recklessly endangering the health and welfare of millions of people in Illinois and around the country.”

* Medline…

While we are disappointed in today’s action, we look forward to continuing conversations with legislators in the Senate regarding Medline’s exemplary safety record and the importance of ethylene oxide sterilization to Illinois hospitals.

Medline’s top priority is the safety of our employees and the communities that we operate in. We are proud that our Waukegan facility has always operated at or below federal and state emission standards.

Further, Medline is in the process of installing a series of new controls approved by the Illinois EPA that will capture more than 99.9% of all ethylene oxide used, emitting cleaner air from our facility than the surrounding ambient air.

It’s important to also emphasize what’s at stake: Medline’s 700 team members in Waukegan produce and sterilize more than 16,000 sterile surgical packs per day used by 135 hospitals in Illinois – nearly 80% of the state’s hospitals. And as the FDA stated on October 25, banning EtO for medical device sterilization could create a shortage of life-saving sterile surgical kits to treat patients. Contrary to what anti-EtO advocates suggest, EtO is the only globally accepted, FDA-approved method to sterilize many medical products that are essential to public health.

I’ll add more when I can.

…Adding… IMA…

Because the number of ethylene oxide contract sterilization facilities in the U.S. is limited, we are very concerned that additional facility closures could severely impact the supply of sterile medical devices to health care delivery organizations that depend on those devices to take care of patients. The impact resulting from closure… will be difficult to reverse, and ultimately could result in years of spot or nationwide shortages of critical medical devices, which could compromise patient care.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Cullerton, SDems concur *** Madigan defers consideration of CTU-backed bills until spring session

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* Yesterday

At a City Hall press conference, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the union’s bargaining team “continues to move the goalposts and bring in more issues that do not belong in any collective bargaining contract” by introducing issues that don’t belong in a contract and demanding a reduction in class time for students.

The union wants her to support a bill for an elected school board in Springfield that she opposed and changes to the state law that restricts what issues CTU can strike over, Lightfoot said.

As a mayoral candidate, Lightfoot promised to support an elected school board but she has opposed a bill supported by the union that would create a board that’s too large.“

Are we really keeping our kids out of class unless I agree to support the CTU’s full political agenda wholesale?” Lightfoot said. “If the CTU wants a deal, there’s a deal to be had, right now, on the table.”

* Today…

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan released the following statement Wednesday:

“The Illinois House of Representatives has long demonstrated its commitment to improving public schools throughout the state of Illinois, including reforming Illinois’ school funding formula to provide more money, equitably distributed, to schools across the state. Another part of our commitment has been our effort to support the Chicago Public Schools and ensure that Chicago’s voters, as well as Chicago’s teachers and school staffs, are treated equitably. To that end, I have supported—and the House has passed three times—a bill to bring an elected school board to the city of Chicago. Moreover, I have supported—and the House has twice passed—a bill to ensure that Chicago’s school personnel can negotiate over the same issues that educators in every other school district in Illinois can negotiate. The House of Representatives will continue to advocate for equitable treatment for all schools in Illinois, and will again give full consideration to these proposals in the upcoming spring session.”

Translation: “We ain’t passing those bills during the strike, CTU.”

*** UPDATE *** Press release…

Every student in Chicago deserves a high-quality neighborhood public school and every voter in the city deserves a direct say in school governance. In the upcoming spring session, the General Assembly will fully consider two bills to align school governance in Chicago with all other school districts in the state.

The first bill, House Bill 2267, sponsored by Sen. Robert Martwick and Sen. Omar Aquino, creates an elected representative school board in Chicago. The second, House Bill 2275, sponsored by Sen. Bill Cunningham, restores contract bargaining processes, including class size and staffing provisions, that were eliminated from Chicago in 1995.

“Chicago’s voters have spoken - they want an elected school board. And bringing an elected school board to Chicago has been a legislative goal of mine since 2015. I’m excited about taking the next step in making this bill into law,” Martwick said.

“Effective schools require real input from students and parents. Chicago’s families have not had that opportunity, and I’m determined to bring about an elected school board that includes representatives from across Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods,” Aquino said. “I thank the Senate President for allowing the bill’s full consideration.”

“Funding equity and evidence-based student supports like appropriate class sizes and staffing ratios are at the core of the State’s school funding formula. Ensuring that school personnel in Chicago can negotiate over those issues will help ensure students get what they need,” Cunningham said “I look forward to working on House Bill 2275 in the upcoming spring session.”

Sen. Omar Aquino represents the 2nd Senate District. Sen. Rob Martwick represents the 10th Senate District. Sen. Bill Cunningham represents the 18th Senate District.

* From the Senate President’s office…

The Senate President has committed to working with these members on this issue in the spring session.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** It’s just a bill

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* On to the Senate…


* On to the House

Indoor vaping would be prohibited in public indoor areas, along with tobacco smoking, under legislation approved Tuesday by the Senate.

The Senate voted 41-11 to add e-cigarettes to the Smoke Free Illinois law that outlawed tobacco smoking in indoor public places. Senate Bill 1864 now moves to the House.

As currently written, the bill would even prohibit the use of vaping products inside a store that sells them. Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, noted the Smoke Free Illinois law allows smoking inside a tobacco store. Sen. Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills, said that he wanted the Senate to act on the bill Tuesday, but if the House later changed it to allow e-cigarettes to be used inside vape shops, he would support the change.

* Also heading to the House

Illinois senators Tuesday approved legislation that would cap out-of-pocket payments for insulin for some diabetics.

The Senate approved Senate Bill 667 on a vote of 48-7. It must still be approved by the House.

The legislation caps out-of-pocket insulin payments at $100 for a 30-day supply. Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said the idea came to him after a constituent called his office and said she and her family had to choose between making their house payment or paying for insulin for their diabetic daughters.

“That’s a position no one in the state of Illinois should be in,” Manar said.

* Going nowhere for now

Meanwhile, a bill to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products still hasn’t moved forward. The Senate Executive Committee took testimony on the pros and cons of the bill, but took no action on it.

The sticking point here is the proposed ban on menthol cigarettes.

…Adding… Dead

Illinois state senators failed to override Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s veto of a measure that would have restricted the Illinois governor’s ability to unilaterally request waivers from the federal government for things like Medicaid.

Lawmakers are in Springfield for fall veto session to consider not just new legislation but also bills the governor vetoed. He didn’t veto many, but one would have put restrictions on the governor’s ability to ask the federal government for the ability to change how it administers certain programs.

State Sen. Sue Rezin’s bill, Senate Bill 2026, passed the Senate in April unanimously. It passed the House in May, 75-41. Gov. J.B. Pritzker vetoed it in July.

“While this legislation was well intended, unfortunately it does not afford the state enough flexibility to operate these programs,” Pritzker’s veto message said. “I do not anticipate any circumstances in which my administration would pursue waivers to limit Illinoisans’ access to federal programs or benefits. Nonetheless, it’s critical to retain our flexibility to innovate and be responsive to the evolving healthcare needs of the people of Illinois.”

The override vote was 27-23-1. It needed 36.

*** UPDATE *** Excerpt from Sen. Rezin’s press release…

“To say I am disappointed in the outcome of today’s vote would be an understatement,” said Sen. Rezin. “For far too long, those with pre-existing conditions have been on defense in a healthcare battle that has been playing out politically. Today, we had the chance to give those individuals the peace of mind they deserve, but instead, they will continue to worry about their healthcare coverage.” […]

“Why would we leave this decision up to the Second Floor, when we have the ability, today, to ensure that those with pre-existing conditions get the coverage they deserve and desperately need,” asked Sen. Rezin during her floor remarks. “Applying for these waivers could have a detrimental effect on people with pre-existing conditions, causing them to be denied coverage, be charged higher premiums, or worst-case scenario, lose access to health care services.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** C’mon, Bill

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* Mark Maxwell

When Governor J.B. Pritzker appointed former state Senator Bill Haine to serve on the State Board of Elections in May, the former downstate Democratic Senator had to surrender control of his campaign fund and the $286,786 in it. But now, months later, Haine controls the same money, just under a different name. […]

State election law prohibits board members, who are tasked with regulating other political committees, from controlling campaign committees of their own while they adjudicate other potential campaign finance violations. […]

In paperwork submitted to the state board in June, Haine relinquished control of the account, signing it over to his wife, Anna Haine, and effectively removing himself as chairman. The same document also changed the name of his campaign committee to the Illinois Metro East Improvement Committee with a newly defined purpose “to advance the progress of the Metro-East.” […]

Haine was sworn in as a new member at the State Board of Elections on July 1st. Two weeks later, Haine retook control of his old campaign fund, but under a new name and with a new purpose. Now, state records list Haine as the chairman of a newly formed political action committee, the “William Haine Fund to Promote Progress of Citizens of the Metro-East.” […]

Haine said he believes the law would allow him to spend money in his son’s race [for state’s attorney], or any race, if he chooses.

That’s not all. His latest D-2 filing shows his fund paid $2,588.16 to lease a car. Haine then partially reimbursed the fund $1,050 for that lease on October 24th.

Bill Haine was one of the most respected state Senators of the past quarter century. He shouldn’t taint that image now. He ought to reimburse the fund for all auto lease payments and empty the fund’s account by giving it to charity before this gets out of hand.

*** UPDATE 1 *** I just got off the phone with former Sen. Haine. He said the committee won’t have any fundraisers.

“My intent” he said, “was to give it away over time,” but added “I’m going to accelerate the depletion of the fund” and give the money to local charities. And even though he’s allowed to take some money out for personal use, he won’t do that, either.

He said he’d consulted with the Senate Democrats’ lawyer and was told to move the money into a non-candidate fund. He also said he took some of the comments here to heart.

However, he did say that if his son, a Republican, asks for a contribution, he will give him some of the money.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Matt Dietrich at the Illinois State Board of Elections…

Bill Haine also consulted with our staff before joining the board about the disposition of his candidate committee. His conversion of the committee to a political action committee puts him in compliance with board rules.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** Senate Republican proposal addresses half the problem identified by former IG

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* SB2297

Amends the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. Provides that the [Legislative Ethics] Commission shall adopt no rule requiring the Legislative Inspector General to seek the Commission’s advance approval before commencing any investigation or issuing a subpoena. Provides that any existing rule, as of the effective date of the amendatory Act, requiring the Legislative Inspector General to seek the Commission’s advance approval before commencing any investigation or issuing a subpoena is void. Removes language providing that the Legislative Inspector General needs the advance approval of the Commission to issue subpoenas.

* Press release…

The Senate Republican Caucus took action today to restore public trust in an honest and ethical state government.

At a press conference in the Capitol’s blue room, members unveiled a legislative proposal to ensure independent investigations of members of the General Assembly.

State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) filed Senate Bill 2297, which gives the Legislative Inspector General (LIG) the appropriate tools, which the current LIG has suggested, to conduct independent investigations of legislators.

“There is a cloud hanging over the capitol. Recent events have reminded the public that the Illinois legislature is incapable of policing itself,” said Barickman. “Under current law, the Office of the Legislative Inspector General isn’t allowed to have the independence necessary to do its job. It looks like the fox is guarding the hen house. Today we’re acting to change that.”

Currently, except in cases alleging sexual harassment, the LIG must get advance approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) before opening an investigation, or issuing subpoenas. Additionally, if, during the investigation, the LIG discovers wrongdoing that is beyond the scope of, or unrelated to the initial complaint, they have to go back to the LEC to get approval to investigate further.

“What we have currently is a system where politicians are being trusted to police politicians,” said State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy). “Our proposal takes politicians out of the equation and allows the Legislative Inspector General the independence necessary to do their job.”

* Sen. Tracy is a member of the Legislative Ethics Commission. She struggled with a reporter’s question today about another problem with the process. Former Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter wrote an op-ed earlier this year which complained about the item addressed in the Senate Republican bill and something else

When I agreed to serve as acting legislative inspector general in 2017, I knew that there were structural problems, but never for a minute did I believe that the commission would take any action to thwart my independence. I certainly did not think that the commission would refuse to publish one of my founded summary reports.

Sen. Tracy was on the commission when it decided to forbid Porter from publishing that report.

Thoughts?

…Adding… Senate President John Cullerton…

I welcome their ideas and look forward to working with them and others to get effective results.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) introduced an almost identical bill (the bill does not include subpoena powers) way back in January

Amends the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. Provides that the Legislative Ethics Commission shall adopt no rule requiring the Legislative Inspector General to seek the Commission’s advance approval before commencing any investigation authorized under specified provisions. Provides that any existing rule, as of the effective date of the amendatory Act, requiring the Legislative Inspector General to seek the Commission’s advance approval before commencing any investigation is void. Effective immediately.

She picked up just one sponsor, a fellow Democrat.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Here you go…


- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Fun (literally) with numbers

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* We talked yesterday about the Illinois Policy Institute’s revelation that a large number of people in the tony suburb of Wilmette will pay higher income taxes if voters approve the graduated income tax next year. One Illinois had a bit of fun with the post

(W)e’ve had the tech monkeys at One Illinois devise the Sense-Us Illinois Income Hair-Splitter (trademark), a hypermegawatt intuitive AI device that breaks down income for various demographic groups, no matter how unlikely.

For instance, an astounding 99.7 percent of people buying a Lamborghini with cash in Illinois will pay more taxes, but just 5.3 percent of those visiting a Lamborghini showroom will pay more.

An amazing 29.8 percent of Chicago Cubs full-season-ticket holders will pay more, but just 3.7 percent of those who bought one single ticket to a White Sox game this year will.

A jaw-dropping 64.8 percent of those picking up a dinner tab at Alinea in Chicago will pay more, but just 0.9 percent of those dining at Marko’s Fish House in Madison will.

A knee-knocking 94.5 percent of those openly identifying as “fat cats” will pay more, but not a single Illinois fat dog will pay any taxes at all — this year or any year.

And a not-at-all-surprising 100 percent of Richard and Elizabeth Uihleins in Lake Forest and John Tillmans who just happen to be chief executive officer at the IPI will pay more if voters endorse a change in the state constitution and a graduated income tax next year.

Which is really what the IPI’s deep dive into residential income is all about.

Ouch.

Any other examples you can think of?

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker: “I’m glad, frankly, that people are being caught and sent away”

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* Gov. Pritzker participated in a public policy conference today hosted by Axios. One of the questions was about the corruption probe

Let me be clear with you and everyone else. I’m angry, frankly, and I’m disgusted by these people who take advantage of the public, who take public office and think that this is OK. That stealing, that lying, that doing business that’s taking away from the public trough. The taxpayers and voters put elected officials in office to safeguard them, to safeguard your resources to make sure that we’re doing the right things so that you have an opportunity to succeed.

And so these people who are taking advantage as if this is all about them and not all about the people that they’re elected by… We are going to make changes in the state of Illinois. We are going to make changes in our ethics laws. We are going to root these people out.

And I’m glad, frankly, that people are being caught and sent away. It is time.

We really have to fix the system in the state. We have too many things to accomplish. You know we have challenges in the state of Illinois. I’m disgusted by all of what’s going on in this regard, and I also view it as they’re throwing obstacles in the way of us accomplishing pension consolidation and lowering taxes, property taxes and other things in the state. There is a corruption tax that sits on top of everyone in the state. We need to get rid of it.

* He was also asked if he thinks other lawmakers are wearing wires

Could be. I mean, certainly it seems like some sprawling investigation here. I mean, I’m wearing the wire you gave me, but [laughter] everyone can hear that.

*** UPDATE *** ILGOP…

At an event organized by Axios, Governor Pritzker, commenting on the recent spate of federal investigations into Democrat politicians, had this to say: “I’m angry, frankly, and I’m disgusted by these people who take advantage of the public, who take public office and think that this is OK, that the stealing, the lying, that doing businesses that’s taking away from the public trough.”

The hypocrisy from the Governor is stunning and should be addressed.

Given that the Governor is disgusted by corruption and those under federal investigation in his own party, how does he feel about himself? He is currently under federal investigation for possible tax fraud.

The Governor recently said he doesn’t believe Madigan should step down as either Speaker or Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois despite the Speaker being named in FBI subpoenas and his close allies having their offices raided by federal investigators. If Pritzker finds the Madigan Machine’s public corruption “disgusting”, why would he not call on Madigan to step aside? Is the Governor trying to have his cake and eat it too?

“The Governor’s words ring hollow. He can’t pretend to clutch his pearls about those under federal investigation when he is currently the center of a federal probe himself. Pritzker should cut the act until he calls on the Mike Madigan, leader of the Illinois Democrat Crime Ring, to step down.” - Joe Hackler, ILGOP Spokesman

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Two totally different styles

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* Let’s go back to the end of my Crain’s column from earlier this month, which compared and contrasted the leadership styles of House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, particularly as it relates to the ongoing corruption probe

When Sen. Ira Silverstein resigned his Senate Democratic leadership after allegations were made of sexual misconduct, and when Cullerton’s cousin was moved out of his Labor Committee chairmanship, the actions were portrayed as a “mutual decision.”

No way would a guy like Sandoval agree to such a “mutual decision.” And no way would Cullerton push him out under these circumstances.

Madigan’s top-down approach has caused him endless grief and even some federal lawsuits, but, for better or worse, I doubt he would have behaved like Cullerton in this [Sandoval] instance.

We saw that clearly play out this week when Madigan quickly started the process of kicking Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) out of office.

* We discussed this a bit yesterday

State Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said there are intricacies to each case, including the charges filed against Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park.

“There are issues dealing with whether or not the activity alleged directly relates to the legislature – like taking a bribe to pass a bill, something like that – as opposed to something that’s not related,” John Cullerton said.

Tom Cullerton was removed from his position the chairman of the Senate Labor Committee after he was charged with embezzling from the Teamsters union. He was made the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, a move that allowed him to keep a leadership stipend that comes on top of his base salary.

I think an argument could be made that the charges against Tom Cullerton did relate to the legislature. Would he have allegedly obtained that allegedly ghost-payroll job if he wasn’t a state Senator?

Look, I have always liked Tom. I thought he was a decent blue-collar legislator and I was pretty shocked at his indictment, as were plenty of others. But it is what it is. The Senate is the legislative branch, not the judicial branch, so things like due process don’t always translate from one to the other.

* Meanwhile

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park — who has been accused in a federal indictment of being a ghost payroller for the Teamsters — has been in attendance for veto session this week. But state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, has not shown up for session. Sandoval’s offices and home were raided last month as FBI agents sought evidence of kickbacks in exchange for official actions — as well as information related to five Illinois Department of Transportation employees and several lobbyists. Sandoval, who was a key figure in passing the capital bill, has not been charged.

As part of his bail, Rep. Arroyo was ordered not to have any contact with anyone involved with his case, including the unnamed Senator he allegedly attempted to bribe. As long as that Senator is in Springfield, Arroyo can’t show up without risking a violation. Like he would show up anyway, but you get the idea.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


“How could that be legal?”

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* Mark Brown

If this were a normal state with reasonable expectations and standards for the ethical conduct of public officials, the first reaction to the news of state Rep. Luis Arroyo’s arrest might have been: What do you mean the state legislator was acting as a lobbyist on the side? How could that be legal?

* AP on this topic

“This is just a large loophole here,” said Jay Young, executive director of Common Cause Illinois. “It’s the quintessential backroom deal where people with power are making deals to benefit themselves.”

* Back to Mark

On Tuesday, Republican state Rep. Tom Demmer of Dixon introduced legislation that would ban state lawmakers from getting paid to lobby local governments. Demmer would extend the prohibition to spouses and immediate family members.

“There is a clear conflict of interest for sitting lawmakers to perform paid lobbying work while in office,” Demmer said.

Demmer should consider amending his legislation to also bar local officials from being hired by private entities to lobby state government.

Agreed.

Rep. Demmer’s press release is here. His bill is here.

* Related

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is suggesting a joint House-Senate review of state ethics laws following allegations of bribery against a House member.

The Chicago Democrat said Tuesday the two chambers should consider repeating their combined review of ethics and campaign finance laws following the 2009 impeachment and expulsion of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

House Speaker Michael Madigan said Monday he would appoint a committee to review ethics laws after Rep. Luis Arroyo was accused in a federal complaint of trying to bribe a state senator to support legalization of gambling machines. Arroyo is registered to lobby the Chicago City Council on the same issue.

Arroyo faces expulsion from the House after Madigan started the process Tuesday to investigate Arroyo. He named three House Democrats. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin later tabbed GOP Reps. Margo McDermed of Mokena, Grant Wehrli (WUR’-lee) of Naperville and Dan Ugaste of Geneva.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Feds are also looking at the Crestwood mayor’s mileage reimbursements

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

* We already knew that the feds had interviewed Crestwood’s mayor, but we hadn’t yet seen this subpoena. Here’s Joe Mahr in the Tribune

Federal authorities sought information related to $27,000 worth of expense reimbursements to Crestwood’s mayor as part of a government corruption investigation that stretches from the southwest suburbs to the statehouse.

The subpoena to Crestwood, obtained by the Tribune through an open records request, resulted in records that touch on some of the same people and same towns that have arisen in the federal probe.

While that wide-ranging effort remains undefined for the public, the Crestwood subpoena was dated Sept. 26, around the same time authorities conducted raids at village halls in McCook and Lyons, as well as the Capitol office of Democratic state Sen. Martin Sandoval.

Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta’s mileage reimbursements show he frequently reported traveling to McCook, including for meetings with Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty. And Presta’s calendar lists a meeting with “Mr. Madigan,” though both the mayor and House Speaker Michael Madigan maintain it never took place.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


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Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

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*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019

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PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Feds recorded McClain phone calls
* Lightfoot leaves Springfield with no promises
* Question of the day
* Get ready for 2020 shenanigans, campers
* Lightfoot corrects aldermen who say she's proposing a property tax increase
* Police poison pill puts Pritzker pension consolidation bill in jeopardy
* Meh
* It's just a bill
* Caption contest!
* Sen. Martinez joins Ald. Reboyras in lawsuit threat over Arroyo seat
* All's well that ends well
* Rate the new Defend American Democracy ad
* Ban these sweepstakes machines
* Fight continues over aircraft maintenance tax forgiveness plan
* Um, no
* Welcome to Springfield, mayor. Let's see what you've got
* Huge layoffs at News-Gazette
* It's a start, but it's only a start
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* *** UPDATED x1 *** Madigan to Arroyo: Don't even try naming your replacement
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