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It’s just a bill

Thursday, Jan 23, 2020

* Press release…

State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego), the only US Marine Corps female Veteran in the IL House of Representatives, has filed legislation that will mandate Memorial Day be recognized in the Illinois House of Representatives. House Bill 4214 and its companion House Resolution 671, amends the General Assembly Operations Act and creates a new House Rule 9.5 to mandate that the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall not convene the House of Representatives in regular of perfunctory session after 4:00 pm on the day before Memorial Day or before 4:00 pm on Memorial Day. It further mandates that the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall include in the business on the Daily Calendar for the House of Representatives for that session a remembrance ceremony for Memorial Day.
“For many years, I have been forced to be absent from my seat on the Illinois House Floor in order to honor the men and women who lost their lives in service to our country in cemetery visits the morning of Memorial Day. It is time for all members of the Illinois House of Representatives to be able to be in their hometowns and to honor those who gave so much” states Kifowit. “The Illinois House of Representatives should recognize that nothing is more important than honoring those that have lost their lives in defense of our freedom and liberties”.

“The Department of Illinois Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) supports this legislation, which aims to shut down session for a 24-hour period to allow Illinois lawmakers time to convene with the Veterans in their home districts, and to pay tribute and high honor to the Veterans whose lives were lost in combat operations on behalf of a grateful nation” stated Jay Hoffman, Legislative Director of the Department of Illinois Veterans of Foreign Wars. “This would allow our legislators the ability to briefly break from the business of state government to reflect and respect the reason why we are able to have duly elected officials that are able to conduct state business, and that reason is our Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice”.

Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day, was a day to honor union soldiers who had died in the Civil war. After WWI, it was expanded to honor all men and women who died in any war or military action. WWII, it was formally renamed Memorial Day and was designated in 1971 to be observed on the last Monday in May.

“On this one day of the year, we are to collectively pause in remembrance of the supreme sacrifice made by ordinary Americans in service to our Nation” writes Denise Williams, President, Department of Illinois American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. Proud mother of PFC Andrew Meari, KIA 11/01/10 Afghanistan. “This is a day of somber reflection of their gift to us all, and of joyous appreciation of what they have secured for us with the most selfless sacrifice”.

There is no record of a remembrance ceremony for the fallen service members in the Illinois House of Representatives and committees began meeting at 9:00 am on Memorial Day for 2019. The Illinois State Senate does not indicate Memorial Day as a session day on their calendar for 2020.

This became an issue when the spring session was shortened to the end of May, from the previous end of June deadline. It’s another example of an unintended consequence from a well-meaning change. This year’s Memorial Day is May 25th, so session may not be needed unless they find themselves with a bigtime crunch issue like they did last May.

* WBEZ

A state lawmaker wants to restrict who can access I-Pass information on drivers who use the pass on the Illinois Tollway.

Last year, WBEZ reported that the Illinois Tollway is regularly subpoenaed by law enforcement agencies and even divorce attorneys for an individual customer’s I-Pass data.

In one troubling instance, the Tollway turned over a customer’s travel information, cell phone number, email address and vehicle information to her ex-boyfriend whom she felt was stalking her. The woman had a restraining order against the man at the time he was able to obtain her personal information by filing a subpoena to the Illinois Tollway for her I-Pass records. The practice raised concerns from privacy advocates.

State Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, recently introduced a bill that would prohibit the Tollway from releasing such information via subpoena in civil cases — whether it’s for use in a divorce case, a car accident lawsuit or to potentially stalk someone. McDermed’s bill would also require law enforcement to first obtain a warrant from a judge before asking the Tollway to release someone’s I-Pass records.

From her press release…

Rep. McDermed’s legislation, House Bill 4006, would prohibit the Tollway from releasing personally identifiable information, except to a law enforcement agency with a search warrant. The Tollway must notify a person within 5 days that their information has been obtained and must provide them with the name of the law enforcement agency and a copy of the search warrant.

That notification could be a problem.

* Center Square

An Illinois lawmaker wants to realign Illinois’ tax on inheritance to federal thresholds, something long sought by family farmers.

Currently, Illinois imposes an estate tax, sometimes called a “death tax,” of up to 16 percent. Combined with a top federal rate of 40 percent, some heirs face a tax of up to 56 percent, but the federal estate tax kicks in at just under $12 million while Illinois’ estate tax applies to any inherited value above $4 million.

That’s why state Rep. Mike Murphy said he wants to bring Illinois back to using the same estate value threshold as the federal government.

“The estate tax is one of the reasons we’re losing the family farm,” he said.

Farm families, if they haven’t spent the money on an estate tax attorney, can be forced to sell off a portion of the family farm or take out loans to pay off an estate tax bill. A 500-acre farm valued at $10,000 an acre would, according to the Illinois Attorney General’s calculator, pay an estimated $285,714 in taxes to the state. Because inherited farms often come with other assets such as farm implements and structures that all carry value, the effect would be greater or be triggered at a lower acreage. The average land price for high-productivity soil is more than 10,000 per acre in central Illinois, according to the Illinois Farm Bureau.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

28 Comments
  1. - NIU Grad - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 10:41 am:

    “name of the law enforcement agency and a copy of the search warrant.”

    I imagine a few law enforcement groups will have an issue with this.


  2. - ChicagoVinny - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 10:50 am:

    Isn’t that $4 million not just a threshold but an exemption as well - i.e. the 16% is only applied only to the value above $4mil?

    If so raising that exemption seems like a handout to wealthy business owners at the expense of everyone else.


  3. - Say What? - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 10:55 am:

    The amount of time wasted, and the number of days with next to nothing on the calendar throughout the Spring is enormous.

    It has always been obnoxious to have Legislators miss Memorial Day services when the above statement is the gospel truth.

    Good on Rep. Kifowit. The GA has nothing but “time” throughout the Spring. The last minute “crisis” in terms of passing Legislation is artificial and has been manufactured for years.


  4. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:00 am:

    If would behoove Rep. Murphy to drop the velvet gloved misinformation campaign and instead pay attention to the facts. Specifically, Iowa State University Ag Econ Prof (and lawyer) Neil Harl has never found a farm that was sold to pay estate tax. Anywhere.


  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:03 am:

    Wasn’t there talk of eliminating the estate tax altogether if the progressive income tax passes?


  6. - Say What? - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:07 am:

    =If would behoove Rep. Murphy to drop the velvet gloved misinformation campaign and instead pay attention to the facts. Specifically, Iowa State University Ag Econ Prof (and lawyer) Neil Harl has never found a farm that was sold to pay estate tax. Anywhere.=

    Abject nonsense.

    Thousands of production farms are transferred from generation to generation via arrangements supported by life insurance and last to die types of arrangements that are funded for decades prior to the generational transfer. Why? So the tax burden will not break up the farm as it is being passed on to the next generation.

    Call Country Financial. They specialize in this and have for decades. Failure to disclose the huge premiums paid to underwrite these complex arrangements is simply leaving out a huge part of reality.


  7. - Cheryl 44 - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:08 am:

    If lawmakers are working on a federal holiday it’s their own fault.

    Why can anyone see someone else’s I Pass records? Should vwe even be keeping that information?


  8. - Occasional Quipper - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:09 am:

    == The last minute “crisis” in terms of passing Legislation is artificial and has been manufactured for years.==

    Amen (banned punctuation). I’ve heard that the legislators do this to hold out for better deals, which seems plausible given how much they finally do get done at the very end, including a budget in a matter of hours.


  9. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:18 am:

    “Decoration Day” is also a great Drive By Truckers song.


  10. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    ===is artificial and has been manufactured===

    Humans tend to put off difficult things until the deadline.


  11. - Been There - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:34 am:

    While I agree with Kifowit about Memorial Day the way she has it worded would be a problem whenever it falls on May 31st. And probably tough if its on May 30th. But otherwise its a good idea.


  12. - Say What? - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:42 am:

    Respectfully - the first business day of the year for the rest of planet earth was January 2nd, and the first business Monday was January 6th. The House meets for the first time on January 28th. 16 DAYS in January alone not accessed.

    There is a two WEEK break scheduled in March. The notion that a part of Memorial Day cannot be set aside is silly.

    Is there a single member of the GA past or present that wouldn’t acknowledge that the time wasted doing nothing in Springfield is enormous? Most newer members find it startling.


  13. - Fav human - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:44 am:

    “need a judges warrant”

    Don’t subpoenae come from judges?

    Why is a warrant from a judge more difficult than a subpoena?


  14. - CubsSox - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:47 am:

    Kifowit is using this as an opportunity to present she cares about veterans after being made into a national embarrassment with her death wish.


  15. - Say What? - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 11:52 am:

    Kifowit IS a Veteran. That she cares about Veterans is not a huge leap of faith.


  16. - Jack Ryan - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 12:11 pm:

    Kifowit should take it a step further and require that Veterans Day be observed by all. My kids school just started observing Veterans Day. All schools and businesses should observe this day.


  17. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 12:20 pm:

    Say What?
    “Abject nonsense.” If you have facts, send them to Neil Harl ( harl@iastate.edu ). He has publicly asked for YEARS for proof of a farm being sold to pay estate taxes. No one can.


  18. - Lord Farnsworth - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 12:26 pm:

    The estate tax is the main reason why we don’t have an aristocracy in the US.


  19. - Say What? - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 12:37 pm:

    I outlined in detail how production farmers pass the farm from one generation to the next. I personally know of 50 farming families engaged in this exercise and paying enormous premiums to avoid having the farm split two or three ways upon their death. This is entirely connected to the estate tax.

    This is common knowledge in the ag community. The statement that you cite is disingenuous at best, and entirely incomplete.

    If this guy cannot track down a single example of a farming family selling off land to cover the estate tax ramifications, he is a fraud as it is commonplace.


  20. - Say What? - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 12:43 pm:

    =The estate tax is the main reason why we don’t have an aristocracy in the US.=

    Just got off of the phone with J.B.’s accountant. . . . .he couldn’t stop laughing.


  21. - Ken_in_Aurora - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 12:52 pm:

    Say What? is completely on point regarding the life insurance method used by family farmers to fund the estate tax. I’m a (very) former agent for the company he mentioned, and that was a big part of our life book.


  22. - Tom - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 1:11 pm:

    Say What?
    Neil Harl is one of, if not the preeminent ag economists and tax export in the county and has been for 30+ years. If you don’t know who he is then I question your actual knowledge on the subject. T


  23. - Say What? - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 1:24 pm:

    Feel free to challenge anything I have said on the subject matter. As Ken in Aurora has suggested, this is what happens.

    Good luck.


  24. - ChicagoVinny - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 3:08 pm:

    Life insurance policies for owners are used by non-farm businesses as well. It’s a common strategy if you need to cash a deceased owner out for the estate without crippling the business, or cover costs for a sale, etc. This isn’t some “burden” unique to farming, it’s cost of doing business.


  25. - Streamwood Retiree - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 3:54 pm:

    Re using life insurance to avoid selling or breaking up a farm: this is entirely consistent with ” has never found a farm that was sold to pay estate tax” Because steps were taken to avoid that, obviously. I have, however, seen many farms sold by heirs to real estate developers to build tract houses. That shouldn’t be taxed?


  26. - Simply Sayin' - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 4:10 pm:

    Fav human–
    “Don’t subpoenae come from judges?”

    Not if there is a pending lawsuit — the attorneys for the parties can issue subpoenas.

    “Why is a warrant from a judge more difficult than a subpoena?”

    Because it would require approval of the judge who may not think the request is reasonably related to the pending case.


  27. - Bourbon Street - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 4:46 pm:

    The I-Pass bill is way too restrictive. Criminal defense attorneys do not seek warrants from judges, so this bill (as presently phrased) would prohibit a defense attorney from gaining access to potentially exculpatory information while at the same time allowing the prosecution to get as much information it needs (via a warrant) for its case. Not fair. Also, prohibiting the Tollway from responding to a subpoena in a civil case deprives the litigants of potentially relevant information. As bad as the alleged stalker case may have been, that situation does not justify depriving others of information they may need to pursue their cases.


  28. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Jan 24, 20 @ 5:54 pm:

    ===I have been forced to be absent from my seat on the Illinois House Floor in order to honor the men and women who lost their lives in service to our country in cemetery visits the morning of Memorial Day.===

    Memorial Day is important, but no one forced her to do anything. Memorial Day is a Holiday. She is welcome to honor the hallowed fields of our dead on any day of the year of her choosing.

    My only opposition to this law is that it is a bad idea to tie the hands of a chamber of the Illinois legislature to a federal holiday when it is impossible to know what reasons the legislature may have to be in session on Memorial Day.

    I find the use of her language distasteful as Memorial Day is also the day in which honoring our dead involves appearances in parades or as a “dignitary” to the dedication of a park, all of which assist with name recognition and earned media.

    Our dead (except for the dead Confederates) fought in service to our democratic constitutional republic and I do not find it inappropriate to honor their sacrifice in service to our country to spend the day in service to the constitution(s) enacted by it’s people.

    Our legislature is important. It represents the will of 12 million people and our legislators are never forced to serve.

    If she believes it is more important to sit on a podium at a dedication or more important to walk in a parade or more important to lay a wreath on an arbitrary day than to conduct the business of the people as a part of the institution they died for, then she is choosing to abandon her duties as a legislator. She should be honest in her rhetoric.

    She has never been forced to serve and has never been forced to mourn.

    She just rightfully would prefer to not have to skip out on her duties to engage in activities that are important for candidates to be seen at.


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