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It’s just a bill

Wednesday, Feb 19, 2020

* Press release…

State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego), has filed legislation to allow legislative assistants to unionize if they so choose.

House Bill 4587 would remove the prohibition of legislative assistants to join a union. The legislative assistants can then be free to join whichever bargaining unit they choose to join.

“I support individuals having the right to unionize and the Illinois General Assembly should embrace this for their own employees”, stated Kifowit ”I have been asked by some legislative assistants to allow them this right to collectively bargain for issues that are important to them, such as work environment and wages”.

Legislative assistants are bound to the decisions of the majority party’s leader. Recently disparity exists between the House legislative assistants and the Senate legislative assistants. Legislative assistants in the Senate have a higher starting salary and are assigned one Senator to support; whereas, the House legislative assistants have lower starting salary as compared to their Senate counterparts and are assigned three Representatives to support.

“I believe in leading by example,” Kifowit continues, “and this is just commonsense legislation that further shows our commitment to hard-working individuals that play an important role in supporting us as legislators in Springfield”.

* Press release…

Pets are part of two out of three households in America, including 72 percent of renters. Restrictions in public housing can prevent a family from keeping a pet based on its size, weight or breed. That results in pets being surrendered to already-burdened animal shelters.

Senate Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes is introducing Senate Bill 2973, which would allow any tenant living in housing acquired, constructed or rehabilitated with state funds for low-income housing to keep a pet dog or cat regardless of its size, weight, or breed.

“A leading reason pets end up surrendered to shelters is housing issues that force some pet owners into a position of choosing between keeping their pet or keeping a roof over their head,” Holmes said. “Pets are part of our families, regardless of the family’s income level.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, pets have positive effects at nearly every stage of life. They influence social, emotional, and cognitive development in children and promote an active lifestyle. They provide emotional support, improve moods, and contribute to the overall morale of their owners, including among the elderly and disabled. Studies reveal that people with pets tend to have lower blood pressure.

“There is a shortage of affordable housing for families in Illinois, and that is exacerbated for pet-owning families,” Holmes said. “On the animals’ side, in shelters they may be adopted, or they may be destroyed. And there is an emotional toll on a family if they have to give up their beloved cat or dog. With this legislation I’m seeking a way to address both sides of this situation and keep pets with their families and out of shelters.”

According to Best Friends Animal Society, renters with pets stay longer than those without; do no more damage statistically than non-pet renters; and 90% of renters have never lost a security deposit due to a pet.

Senate Bill 2973 has been assigned to the Senate Local Government Committee.

* Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line

A coalition of Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups on Tuesday introduced a package of bills aimed at reducing plastic consumption and waste, including banning Styrofoam and imposing a statewide 10-cent fee on plastic bags.

The other bills in the package would require restaurants to make single-use plastic silverware, plates, bowls and cups available to customers upon request or at self-serve stations, in addition to tweaking Illinois’ procurement laws encourage the use of recyclable and compostable materials. Another measure would make Illinois the 11th state to create a statewide bottle deposit program, giving glass, aluminum and plastic bottles, jars and cartons a 5-cent value for deposit.

State Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) said she and her colleagues introduced the bill package because “plastic never really goes away” and gets into both air and waterways, in addition to making its way into the food system.

“Based on the average of plastic particulate in our air and water and food, the average person consumes the equivalent of a chunk of plastic the size of a credit card every year,” said Williams, who is the lead sponsor of several bills..

* Marie Fazio at Chalkbeat Chicago

Backers of a bill that would establish a 21-member Chicago school board say they are building momentum again, this time in the Illinois Senate.

If the bill passes the legislature, Chicago could hold school board elections starting in 2023.

The bill has supporters, including Sen. Robert Martwick, a Democrat who represents Chicago’s Northwest Side and some adjacent suburbs. But it has had its share of detractors, too, who say that a 21-person board would dwarf that of any other major urban school district’s governing body and would be too large to govern effectively.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who currently appoints the school board, opposed the bill last year. Speaking with reporters Tuesday in Springfield, she said she briefly discussed the bill with Martwick during her visit to the Capitol and agreed to meet “at another time” to discuss it further.

…Adding… I’m pretty sure that this was last year’s plan during the veto session. The mayor’s people told me yesterday that nothing new is on the table at the moment

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot came to Springfield on Tuesday armed with a new plan to lure a big casino operator to Chicago while still helping out casinos and tracks statewide.

She proposed extending the time a casino or track would have to pay its reconciliation fee — the charge that would amount to 75 percent of a casino or track operator’s best year in gaming revenue over a three-year period. The fee could be paid over six years and without interest — instead of the current two-year payment period with interest. The casino (or track) operator still could deduct the up-front licensing fees from the payment.

How it works: If a casino in its third year has gaming revenues OF $100 million, for example, it would pay the state a fee equal to $75 million less its previously paid upfront fee over six years.

The adjustment to the current law — paying over six years and interest-free instead of two years with interest — would be available to all new casinos in the state. That includes Chicago, Rockford, Waukegan, Danville and any other town with a new casino planned or track that elects to have casino gaming.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments
  1. - Steve - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 9:42 am:

    Stephanie Kifowit has an innovative idea. Many legislators would be very happy to bring the union environment right into the state legislature . It will bring a smoother working environment because Illinois respects unions unlike other states.


  2. - LoyalVirus - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 9:48 am:

    I’m here for the Williams bill. Makes me sick seeing discarded plastic bags EVERYWHERE - especially in trees. The styrofoam ban could be challenging for some smaller business owners, but the bag fee is a no brainer to me. There are plenty of models out there in states where it all worked.


  3. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 9:51 am:

    21 person board does sound unwieldy.

    Wouldn’t 9 be enough?


  4. - Norseman - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 9:57 am:

    Having been a legislative staffer and also married to one, I don’t support unionization. These are clearly policy making and policy impacting positions. Yes, event the “secretaries” have an impact on their legislators. That’s not to say I don’t support protections for reporting improper and illegal actions. They should be treated as the MC class in the Executive Branch.


  5. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 10:01 am:

    ===The legislative assistants can then be free to join whichever bargaining unit they choose to join.===

    This is one of the best ways to make certain that legislative assistants aren’t in a position where they are required to volunteer for parties and political campaigns without payment in order to retain their position.

    It’s also one of the best ways to make sure their voices are heard on issues like sexual harassment and hostile work environments.

    Empowering legislative staff to collectively bargain would be one of the most effective ways to make sure that the culture changes that have been discussed over the last few years happen.


  6. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 10:05 am:

    Good on Rep. Kifowit. One reason why Illinois has higher incomes than many other states is because it’s full-union. Good on us to avoid racing to the bottom in a red state economic model of lower incomes, benefits, job protections, etc.


  7. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 10:17 am:

    What goal you are trying to achieve with banning plastic bags is important because some alternatives that seem greener aren’t really greener, they just have different externalities for consumers

    https://www.npr.org/transcripts/721542495


  8. - Sue - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 10:17 am:

    Grandson- perhaps you overlook those Red states you and your Holy Alliance frown down upon are the fastest growing economies with rising housing values , nearly zero unemployment and fiscally sound State budgets. Yea- unions really help us out here in the bankrupt state of Illinois. The race to the bottom is between NJ , CT and Illinois not GA, TN or FL. LOL.


  9. - MG85 - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 10:29 am:

    Workers deserve the right to organize if they choose.

    Helping policy makers in the general assembly is no different that enforcing or interpreting policy. This is integral to the public sector union experience.

    What we know is when workers aren’t allowed to organize, they are abused, women make less than men, they work longer hours for less pay, and they are usually in unsafe work conditions.

    For me, I’m not willing to make the trade of unfair worker treatment for the sake of making a policy maker feel comfortable. If the Governor has to deal with Unions, if the Treasurer has to deal with Unions, if the Comptroller has to deal with Unions, if the Secretary of State has to deal with Unions, then what makes the General Assembly so special that they should not also be subject to collective bargaining?

    Lastly, Unions ensure hiring and promotion are not based on patronage but on qualifications. The general assembly could use a little more reliance on the latter and less on the former.


  10. - City Zen - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 10:34 am:

    ==Good on us to avoid racing to the bottom==

    These aren’t new positions. The race has already been run. Welcome to the bottom.

    I have no issue with them organizing. It’ll be almost as fun as watching union staff bargain with their union bosses.


  11. - MG85 - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 10:43 am:

    ==the fastest growing economies==

    I always love these phrases as they absolutely mean nothing.

    Companies will often say this knowing that their customer base went from 1 to 5 and that means they are “the fastest growing” because they grew 500%.

    Illinois has the 5th largest GDP among the United States and 20th in the world. All of the red states you just listed would gladly trade their lot with ours even if it meant they were no longer the “fastest growing economy.”

    In Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith postulated the greatest advantage to a country was its access to water. Here are the top 5 state economies:

    1. California
    2. Texas
    3. New York
    4. Florida
    5. Illinois

    What do they all have in common? Huge access to waterways. So, stop spinning that low tax, anti-union nonsense.


  12. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 10:58 am:

    Red RTWFL states are overwhelmingly lower-income and will not surpass full-union states in median incomes. Saying they will is blatantly lying. We’ve had decades to observe this. Something like 17-18 of the bottom 25 states in income rankings are RTWFL. Full union members have consistently earned more than their non-union counterparts in or around 82% of all industries and occupations, as seen via BLS.


  13. - Sue - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:09 am:

    When I list my house for a big loss due to the success of the Illinois economy I won’t feel as bad knowing how the public sector unions in Illinois are bringing us such economic greatness


  14. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:11 am:

    === When===

    Exactly when is that? Soon, or just one of those literary licenses to complain and seem smart, but you’re not going anywhere, lol


  15. - Bourbon Street - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:22 am:

    Great bill, Senator Holmes. One of saddest experiences in life has to be giving up a pet involuntarily. The age of the person doesn’t matter. Here’s hoping this bill passes.

    A 21-member school board is absurd, especially if it’s elected. Only a small percentage of voters bothered to vote in the last Chicago mayoral election. Even if the elections are staggered (and I would hope that they would be), expecting voters to choose the best 21 people to sit on a school board is not realistic.


  16. - All This - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:30 am:

    Housing in Illinois went up 8.8% in 2018 and now is leveling off to 1% due to lack of inventory. So Sue why are you taking a loss if you are selling?
    https://www.illinoisrealtors.org/blog/whats-ahead-for-the-illinois-housing-market-in-2019/


  17. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:53 am:

    == One of saddest experiences in life has to be giving up a pet involuntarily==

    One of the most intolerable experiences in life has to be passing up, or suffering in, low income housing due to allergies. Losing a pet may be sad, losing a home is inexcusable.


  18. - Heyseed - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 1:16 pm:

    Did I read that right? One bill seeks to reduce use of plastic while another mandates that restaurants make single use plastic plates and utensils?


  19. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 1:20 pm:

    “allow legislative assistants to unionize”

    Virtually all of State Representative Stephanie Kifowit’ $25,000 campaign fund comes either directly or indirectly from unions. So the example she is following is pretty clear.

    https://illinoissunshine.org/committees/friends-of-stephanie-kifowit-20034/


  20. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Feb 20, 20 @ 2:28 pm:

    I agree that the definition of renovation is too loose, and that there’s a good case that renovating a bathroom in a wholly different part of the house with say drywall and shower stall replacement and new plumbing fixtures would trigger the requirements as written. Kitchen could easily do it too. I hope that was not the intent. A whole house renovation or a garage renovation, sure I could see that.


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