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City claims it now has more magic money

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

* Greg Hinz

Due to some highly advantageous market conditions, a big refinancing of $1.5 billion in city debt last week will end up saving the city an extra $100 million in finance costs in coming years, according to Chief Financial Officer Jeannie Huang Bennett.

All the savings on debt that in some cases will extend for decades will be booked in 2021, Bennett said.

Though some would prefer that income be spread over the term of the debt rather than taken in a lump sum upfront, there’s no question the windfall will give Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration a big leg up when it moves late this year to fill what undoubtedly will be large pension-related holes in the mayor’s 2021 budget.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

It’s just a bill

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

* Cabello is a police officer

State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, has filed a bill to require all elected officials in the state to wear a body camera while conducting public business.

“Let’s look at some of the headlines throughout the last few months,” Cabello said. “All we hear about is corruption with certain lawmakers. And tell me, if they had a body camera on, do you think this would have happened?”

Cabello said he was inspired by another recent public policy push under discussion in Springfield.

“It came about with the uproar of law enforcement must have a body cam,” Cabello said, “the folks that want law enforcement to wear a body cam from the time they start work until the time they end work. You know what, if it’s good enough for law enforcement, then it’s good enough for elected officials as well.” […]

“I’d be more likely to win the lottery than have these bills see the light of day, but we’re still going to try,” Cabello said.

* Another bill that probably ain’t gonna pass

A bill filed in Springfield could allow local libraries to get a cut of the taxes on recreational cannabis sales, but it would come at the potential expense of county-level taxes.

House Bill 4135 would allow the state’s more than 600 libraries to impose a 1 percent tax on recreational cannabis sales in their jurisdictions.

State Rep. Dan Didech, D-Buffalo Grove, said the idea for his legislation came from a conversation with a local library official. […]

In exchange for the 1 percent tax, the county that the library is in would be limited to taxing cannabis sales in the library district at up to 2 percent. Under existing law, counties can tax local recreational cannabis sales up to 3 percent. Didech’s bill would essentially redirect 1 percent of that to libraries.

* If I was your king, I’d consider doing this, but I’m not and it’s not happening

Saying they have years, and, in some cases, decades of experience selling marijuana, a group of black citizens say they cannot wait on delayed government bureaucracy to establish policy for them to land jobs in the lucrative new legalized cannabis industry. They need and want jobs now.

The men and women, some ex-felons, have turned to Tio “Mr. Ceasefire” Hardiman, executive director of Violence Interrupters, to assist them in their quest to secure permits, just like food vendors, to distribute and sell marijuana legally in their neighborhoods. For those who have felonies from illegal drug sales, they are requesting that Governor J.B. Pritzker clears the road for amnesty as soon as possible.

Hardiman and those seeking permits and amnesty will hold a rally and press conference outside The Herbal Care Center, 1301 S. Western Ave., on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, at 10:30 AM, calling on Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot to assist them in getting permits.

* This one, though, is a pretty good bet

Within the Capitol Complex are reserved parking spaces for electric vehicles and disabled drivers, but Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, wants to add reserved spots for women expecting birth and parents with a newborn child.

Parents would not need a permit to hang from their interior mirror. Rather, Stuart assumes that people, “in the good nature of human beings wouldn’t take advantage of something like this.”

“A lot of these exist outside grocery stores and doctors’ offices and other buildings where people who, for whatever reason in their pregnancy, maybe need to park a little closer to access the buildings,” Stuart said. “A lot of times it’s a safety consideration, making sure that if something happens inside the building, they can get to their own vehicle quickly enough.” […]

“It’s a concept that we think is a very good idea,” said Dave Druker, a spokesman for White’s office. “It’s something we would like very much to work with Rep. Stuart on and some of the other governmental agencies involved.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

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Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

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Just 6.8 percent of House Republicans have served longer than ten years

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

* Golden Horseshoe winner…

* Zooming in…


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Southern Illinois gets Pritzker focus

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

* Setting the stage

The Illinois Senate on Sunday confirmed Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s appointees to the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees.

In March, Prizker appointed Edgar Curtis, Ed Hightower, Subhash Sharma, John Simmons and Roger Tedrick. They have been serving as board members since then, pending Senate confirmation.

The appointees were confirmed with no dissenting votes on a legislative day dominated by the selection of a new Senate president.

* And then the governor traveled to the region for a National Guard ceremony

Pam Maxey, of Texico, had tears streaming down her face as she embraced her son, Spec. Drake Hess, on Tuesday afternoon in Banterra Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale during a mobilization ceremony for Illinois National Guard soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, headquartered in Marion. […]

The soldiers are being mobilized in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and will deploy to the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility in spring 2020 after they complete additional training at Fort Bliss in Texas. […]

During the ceremony, state and military officials spoke, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, adjutant general; Maj. Gen. Michael Zerbonia, assistant adjutant general; and Lt. Col. Greg Settle, battalion commander. […]

“You have all the strength of the people of Illinois standing with you,” Pritzker said. “Godspeed, soldiers.”

More on that operation here.

* And he wrapped it up with a media-friendly project announcement

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the release of $8.3 million in funding to SIUC for renovations to the communications building at a press conference while visiting campus Tuesday.

The communications building is currently home to multiple programs at the university, including journalism, radio/television/digital media, cinema and photography, communications studies and theatre.

There were plans in place to renovate the communications building in 2015, but the process was stalled due to the lack of a state budget for the [next] two years.

During the press conference, Pritzker mentioned all the upgrades the new facility will have, including updated equipment, better auditorium space, media labs, digital post-production suites and a combined broadcast-print newsroom.

“Students who learn in this facility won’t just be prepared to meet the needs of the media industry of the future,” Pritzker said. “They’ll be prepared to lead it in its next phase.”

* More

Mackenzie Rosario is a junior at SIU. She won’t get to benefit from that major upgrade on the Carbondale campus, but she’s excited about what it could mean to future students.

“SIU is a very special school that a lot of people just don’t know about. So maybe if we have an up to date facility and a lot of students can come and actually check out what we have. They’ll decide to come, and hopefully, it will help them in their careers,” Rosario said.

The communications building was built in 1964. […]

Local representatives from both sides of the political aisle say the governor’s visit shows the needs of the region are not going unnoticed.

“Exciting day for SIU and the people of southern Illinois. To see the state of Illinois sees the needs of the university of SIU and the people of southern Illinois. So it is an exciting day for us,” said Representative Dave Severin (R-117th District).

* Heh

Republican State Senator Dale Fowler of Harrisburg said at a recent lunch with members of the SIU Foundation, the group produced a new phrase to highlight the great things happening at SIU-Carbondale.

“Somebody said, ‘absolutely!’ But, we came up with a new name, AbSaluki! So, we’re going to start using that every now and then if that’s alright.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

Advocates push for CEJA, Chamber pushes back

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

* Ted Cox at One Illinois

Lead sponsors of the Clean Energy Jobs Act touted the measure Tuesday as a way to halt an $846 million hike in Illinois electricity rates brought on by the Trump administration as “a massive bailout of the fossil-fuel industry.”

At a news conference at the Thompson Center, state Rep. Ann Williams of Chicago blamed two appointees of President Trump for a ruling last month by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that would potentially force Illinois to pay $846 million more for coal-powered energy rather than invest in its own renewable energy sources.

Pointing out that “market forces” had already prompted the announced closure of four Illinois coal-powered energy plants last year, Williams said, “It makes no sense to pay these dirty, out-of-date plants millions and millions of dollars a year when we could be developing a renewable-energy future right here in Illinois.”

Basically, the Trump appointees backed a proposal that would force Illinois to buy its energy through a federal market auction that has been weighted to prioritize fossil fuels. One of the key proposals of CEJA, Williams pointed out, is that it would assign the Illinois Power Agency the duty to buy energy to fill the capacity for Illinois consumers, independent of that federal auction. If passed, she added, the act would also set an “ironclad” reduction of 5 percent in electricity rates.

* Jerry Nowicki at Capitol News Illinois..

Illinois is part of the federally regulated PJM grid, which purchases capacity from electricity generators on behalf of all or portions of 13 states and Washington, D.C., at an auction every year.

Capacity procurement is not the purchase of actual energy, but the guarantee that the generator will be able to supply a certain amount of energy at any time — especially during the grid’s highest usage times — over a specified period of time. Customers pay for these capacity costs through the supply charge on their electric bills.

On Dec. 19, FERC voted 2-1 to change the PJM rules regarding the minimum offer price a generator can bid, noting in a news release the action was taken to “address the impact of state subsidies on the wholesale capacity market.” […]

The Clean Energy Jobs Coalition also said the ruling “directly undermines” Illinois’ 2016 passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act, which created renewable energy credits and zero emissions credits for wind, solar and nuclear power generators.

* Dan Petrella at the Tribune

The state’s last major overhaul of energy policy — the Future Energy Jobs Act in 2016 — was the result of long negotiations and compromise among ComEd and Exelon, environmental groups, consumer advocates and others. The law subsidizes a pair of Exelon’s Illinois nuclear plants while also investing in solar and wind power.

With the federal investigation of ComEd looming, it’s unclear what lawmakers’ appetite will be for taking on major energy legislation this spring. But Williams and Castro said they want to move ahead, regardless of what happens with the federal probe.

“ComEd has to provide power — that’s how we get our power. The generation that Exelon provides is necessary to turn the lights on,” Williams said. “But in terms of setting the foundation and laying the groundwork and establishing how we want our future to look, our renewable energy future in Illinois, I don’t think they are going to be part of that broader conversation.”

* Illinois Chamber…

It’s disingenuous for Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) advocates to claim with any certainty that the decision from federal energy regulators on the operation of a regional electricity market that impacts northern Illinois will significantly raise electricity rates on consumers. That true impact is still unknown and the figures being used today have been refuted. CEJA advocates should stop trying to panic the Legislature and Governor into action. We should not risk electric reliability and unnecessarily increase costs on Illinois consumers before this process plays out and we fully understand the impact on electricity prices and the competitive market.

What we do know is the passage of CEJA would result in significant increases in electricity bills for Illinois residents and businesses. CEJA’s 600-plus pages include a host of unfunded initiatives that lack budgets or cost caps. Not to mention, the bill’s solution to modify how Illinois acquires “capacity” – the issue at the center of calls to pass CEJA – could spike northern Illinois electricity prices by $414 million annually. This is not a choice between seeking lower emissions and keeping costs down. Both are necessary, achievable, and proven through innovation and competition.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

White getting heat from all sides during voter registration controversy

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

* Bernie

Politicians from both major parties sought assurances Tuesday that there would be no repeat of a programming error in the Illinois secretary of state’s office that yielded more than 500 possible non-U.S. citizens being inadvertently registered to vote.

Of those people, registered under an automatic voter registration system for people who apply for driver’s licenses or state identification cards, 16 ended up voting, including one who voted in three elections and another who voted in two, according to State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich. Combined, 19 ballots were cast statewide in the general election of 2018, the consolidated primary of spring 2019 and the consolidated election of spring 2019. None of the votes were cast in Sangamon County, where the one registration that resulted from the glitch has been suspended.

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office discovered last month that between July 2, 2018, and Dec. 13, 2019, registration information of 574 people was “improperly forwarded” to local election authorities to be registered, even though those people had indicated while at secretary of state facilities that they were not citizens. That yielded a call Monday from some House Republicans for a legislative hearing, and that was echoed Tuesday by Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, who sponsored the automatic registration bill, which was signed into law by GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner in August 2017.

* Mark Maxwell at WCIA

In at least once case, a voter who checked a box to declare they were not an American citizen appears to have done so in error. The Macon County Clerk’s Office confirmed that voter has a Social Security number and has previously attested they are an American citizen. The State Board of Elections says that individual has voted in multiple elections dating back to 1988. […]

The Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider called for a temporary suspension of the automatic voter registration program because it “compromises the integrity of our entire election system.”

“Mistakes are made, but when it comes to voting, it simply is inexcusable that non-citizens voted in Illinois and potentially affected the outcome of elections across the state,” Schneider said. “Those in the Secretary of State’s Office who allowed this to happen should be terminated from their employment with the State. Public hearings in the General Assembly should commence immediately, and the AVR program should be temporarily suspended until we get answers.”

* Jamie Munks at the Tribune

Those who were inadvertently registered received a Dec. 20 letter from the secretary of state’s office telling them, “The Secretary of State’s Office made the mistake in this matter, not you.”

The letter tells the people if they have received a voter registration card they should destroy it or return it to the election authority that issued it.

“Most importantly, you should not vote in any elections,” the letter states.

Pritzker said securing elections is a priority for his administration and “we want to fully investigate.”

* Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line

The Just Democracy Coalition, which includes organizations that pushed for the law in both 2016 — when Rauner ultimately vetoed the bill that first passed the General Assembly — and for the 2017 version that became law, put blame on the Secretary of State’s office Tuesday, calling the possibility that those who voted may be arrested and deported “sickeningly real.”

“Let’s be clear: Automatic Voter Registration or AVR isn’t the problem — the Secretary of State’s office is the problem,” the coalition said in a statement. “The agency’s massively delayed and error-riddled implementation of AVR has undermined the law’s intended purpose to make Illinois’ voting rolls more fair, accurate, and secure — a mission shared by lawmakers of both parties who passed AVR on a bipartisan and unanimous basis in 2017.”

The coalition has repeatedly criticized the Secretary of State’s efforts to implement the automatic voter registration program during the past two years. White’s office blamed old technology for missed deadlines as his office also began issuing identification cards and drivers’ licenses that meet federal standards in March. […]

Lawrence Benito, the CEO and executive director of Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights — a key member of the coalition that pushed for automatic voter registration, characterized the Secretary of State’s office’s actions as a “careless and needless set of circumstances has put so many of our neighbors at risk.”

“The Secretary of State’s office has largely declined to take up our repeated offers to improve AVR implementation through direct assistance, community forums, and outside expertise,” Benito said in a statement Tuesday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Pritzker fighting to prevent deposition on racial discrimination suit

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

* Brian Mackey at Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s personal lawyers are seeking to keep him from having to sit for a deposition in a racial discrimination lawsuit against his campaign.

The lawsuit accuses Pritzker’s campaign organization of sidelining minority workers.

Pritzker has denied wrongdoing, and in a court filing, says he delegated day-to-day campaign operations to staff.

Indeed, the governor was dismissed from the case months ago, and his lawyers say defendants just want to question Pritzker in order to “pull him back into litigation.”

The filing is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

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Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

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Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* City claims it now has more magic money
* It's just a bill
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Campaign updates
* Just 6.8 percent of House Republicans have served longer than ten years
* Southern Illinois gets Pritzker focus
* Advocates push for CEJA, Chamber pushes back
* White getting heat from all sides during voter registration controversy
* Pritzker fighting to prevent deposition on racial discrimination suit
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Rep. Feigenholtz is now Sen. Feigenholtz
* Yesterday's stories

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