* NPR Illinois…
Income of about $1.4 billion a year for Illinois workers would be generated if paid parental leave became law — that’s according to a report out today from a pair of Illinois think tanks.
Paid-leave legislation was introduced last year, and state Rep. Mary Flowers, a Chicago Democrat, told NPR Illinois she would introduce a version of that again this legislative session.
The report’s lead author Jill Gigstad says, “Ultimately, paid parental leave is first and foremost about the health and well-being of newborn children, adopted children and their parents. But it also has a lot of economic impact as well – positive impacts.”
The study comes from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the University of Illinois’ Project for Middle Class Renewal.
The study is here.
* Press release…
Last fall State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) introduced legislation (House Bill 3940) to ban so-called “sweepstakes” machines in Illinois. The legislation was filed in the wake of revelations regarding a former House Member’s advocacy for the machines. Even though sweepstakes machines look, operate, and are marketed almost exactly like legal video gaming machines, they operate outside the strict requirements of Illinois’ video gaming law.
A growing chorus of bipartisan legislators have been pressing the case for the legislation as the concerning realities of sweepstakes machines have continued to be exposed. On Friday, Butler, joined fellow State Representatives Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago) and Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) in sending a letter to House colleagues seeking to grow the number of cosponsors to ban the machines.
The letter states:
“In many instances these machines have been known to be located in businesses which have been denied a video gaming license. These machines have been located in communities which have banned the use of video gaming machines in their towns. Sweepstakes machines are even marketed as ‘slot-style games’ offering ‘jackpots’ to players… Yet, sweepstakes machines are unregulated, the owners are not subject to background checks, and the machines do not pay state or local taxes.”
“The argument that this is corollary to winning a Big Mac in a scratch-off at McDonald’s is completely bogus,” said Butler. “It is obvious to anyone that has seen one of these ‘sweepstakes’ machines that they are clearly setup as gambling machines designed to skirt the law. I find that very concerning because it puts consumers at risk. The 2012 video gaming law was setup with important consumer protections like requiring operator background checks, limits on the number of gaming terminals and guaranteed chances for players to win to ensure they are not being cheated.”
So far, HB 3940 has 27 sponsors in the House. Butler and his fellow chief sponsors hope that number will expand further, particularly in light of recent lobbying efforts in favor of sweepstakes machines despite the scandal surrounding the machines.
That last part is true. At least one sweepstakes lobbyist was at the Statehouse last week working members.
Elements of the industry tried to bribe their way in. If that isn’t a gigantic red flag, I do not know what is. Former Rep. Luis Arroyo is being arraigned today on that alleged bribery. He’s expected to plead guilty.
* Center Square…
An Illinois lawmaker is proposing an additional 10 percent sales tax on what she calls “assault weapons” but an advocate says her novel definition of the term would mean nearly all firearms would be hit with the tax.
A firearm sale in Illinois already includes federal taxes, state sales taxes, and local taxes. Chicago’s assesses a $25 per gun fee that’s long-faced a legal challenge.
State Sen. Ann Gillespie’s Senate Bill 2468 would impose a 10 percent retail sales tax on what she calls “assault weapons” and their magazines, which she refers to as a “large capacity ammunition feeding device” that would hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Her definition of a qualifying gun is anything that would accept one of those magazines, something Todd Vandermyde with the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois says would encompass the broad majority of guns sold.
“Every modern handgun that’s not a revolver or a Derringer comes into play,” he said, adding that the tax would nearly immediately face a court challenge upon passage.
* Amid corruption investigations, some look to give Illinois’ attorney general more power to investigate: Former Attorney General Lisa Madigan did look into possible criminal neglect surrounding the legionnaire’s deaths at a veterans’ home in Quincy under the administration of former Gov. Bruce Rauner. That pre-election announcement was seen by the Illinois Republican party as a political move.