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It’s just a bill

Thursday, May 13, 2021

* Capitol News Illinois

As Illinois lawmakers continue to push for the passage of an energy overhaul this spring, the Illinois House Energy and Environment Committee discussed the latest proposal to enter the discussion – Gov. JB Pritzker’s Consumers and Climate First Act.

House Bill 4074, sponsored by Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, was brought before committee for discussion only. Pritzker’s 900-page proposal was released at the end of April with the goal of transitioning Illinois to 100 percent carbon-free energy – including nuclear power – by 2050. […]

Deputy Gov. Christian Mitchell, who also presented the bill in committee, said many of the ideas in Pritzker’s proposal align with the goals of other energy bills, especially the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Sponsored by Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, CEJA was initially introduced to the General Assembly in spring 2019 and has been one of the most publicized bills amid ongoing energy negotiations. […]

No action has been taken on Pritzker’s proposal yet, but as the General Assembly reaches their final stretch of session, negotiations on a compromise measure continue. Mitchell said Pritzker’s administration is willing to continue to work on a final product.

Lots more in that story, so click here if this topic is of interest.

* Looks like the governor could be put on the spot

Senate Bill 1965 lead by Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, and Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, would make June 19 an annual state holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The holiday is celebrated on June 19 as the day when slaves in Texas found out they were free in 1865, over two years since they had legally been granted freedom.

This version of the bill would take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature. If passed by the House and signed by Gov. JB Pritzker by June 19, this year’s Juneteenth would be an official state holiday. Because the holiday falls on a Saturday this year, Monday would be the day off for state workers. The bill already passed unanimously in the Senate.

Ford and Lightford are leading another version of the bill that is currently in the Senate. House Bill 3922 already passed the House unanimously. However, if this version was sent to the governor, Juneteenth would not be a state holiday until 2022. It also would not give state workers the following Monday off should the holiday fall on a weekend, which makes it less costly than the Senate bill.

* NPR Illinois interview with Comptroller Mendoza

NPR Illinois: Your office has one initiative, House Bill 571, which would call for municipalities…to report more details about tax increment financing districts. Could you just first tell me a little bit about what that bill would accomplish? And also because such a big portion of education dollars are wrapped up in property taxes, do you believe that school districts should have a say on whether a TIF is created in their district or whether or not their dollars should be allocated to go towards a TIF, especially since not all TIFs, you know, lead to a return on investment?

Mendoza: Well, look, I feel that transparency has been the hallmark of my administration, and I think that it’s also the road to restoring trust in government. When people believe that all of the decisions related to their school district or in any environment, right, are done behind closed doors without input by the people that are actually toiling away at this endeavor, it creates distrust and animosity towards the process…What happens is that all of these dollars are being generated and districts are missing out on money because it’s going to investments on potential job creation or economic development. But we’ve also seen that a lot of, they’re supposed to be going to blighted areas, and a lot of these TIF dollars are not in what we would consider by any stretch of the imagination blighted areas.

The other issue with the TIFs is that, interestingly enough, the developers are the ones who choose the consultants who determine whether or not this TIF is meeting its expected goals or deliverables in a return on investment for those tax dollars. Which is an inherent conflict of interest…So, we decided to at the very least, as part of our big reform here, is that the city would be responsible for choosing their consultant because they want somebody who will advocate for the city’s position here, not the developer’s position in this deal. Of course, the consultant’s always going to say, “This is going to pay off great in 10 years,” and it usually never does, right? So moving forward, these TIFs will have a lot more transparency and they’re going to have to report to my office whether or not they’ve met their deliverables and what their expectations are for meeting them, their timeline, and most importantly the city will now have a vested interest in choosing a consultant that will make sure that these deliverables are legitimate. And then that gives the constituency a much greater voice.

* Press release…

House Bill 12 passed out of committee and is now poised for passage in the Senate. The legislation was drafted by the Illinois Education Association (IEA) and would expand coverage of the Family and Medical Leave Act to thousands of education support professionals across the state.

“This bill would help those who need it the most. HB12 will lift up our education support staff, knowing they have access FMLA without the risk of losing their job and health insurance,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “Supporting working families is important. FMLA is not just for pregnant mothers. It can also be used if an employee needs time to recuperate from a serious health condition, care for a family member with a serious health condition or care for a family member who has sustained injuries while on active service duty for the military.”

Currently, to be eligible for FMLA an employee must have worked 1,250 hours during the previous year. Unfortunately, this disqualifies many of our educational support staff from meeting the requirements of FMLA due to the limited number of days they are able to work during a school year. HB 12 reduces the minimum threshold to 1,000 hours, so that more education support professionals would qualify for FMLA. Education support professionals are support staff in schools like secretaries, teachers’ aides, paraeducators, maintenance workers, school bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

“We currently have a shortage of education support professionals in our schools. COVID helped to exacerbate the problem. These support staff are so important to our children’s education. They support our students every day, some working with our most vulnerable students,” Griffin said. “We should be doing everything in our power to attract new hires to the profession and to keep the talented professionals we already have on staff.”

HB12 now moves to the Senate.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Huh? - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 12:40 pm:

    “holiday falls on a Saturday this year, Monday would be the day off for state workers”

    No. When holidays fall on Saturday, the State employees have the Friday before off.

    When holidays fall on Sunday, State employees have the following Monday off.

  2. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 1:16 pm:

    Re TIF reform.

    It’s a start. The state can and should do more to address the often abused loophole for the blighted classification to gain TIF status for a parcel or parcels. When acres of wide open farm fields are considered blighted there’s a problem with the TIF laws as they currently exist.

    I do like the increased reporting. That may help a little bit.

    A few years back a local village attempted to use TIF funds to pay for road salt with the justification that some of the salt would be used in the TIF area. That’s just flat out misuse of municipal finances, and likely wasn’t even legal. But since nobody enforces anything these days is it really illegal?

  3. - DuPage - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 1:28 pm:

    To bring in more renewable wind power, they should fast track permit approvals for power line projects to bring in wind power from Iowa and South Dakota.

  4. - H-W - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 1:52 pm:

    On Mendoza: I have never been a fan of TIFs. As noted in the statement above, they rarely if ever have any positive impact on the local community. In essence, the represent collaborations between the local Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor, and the business community to find ways for businesses to avoid paying local taxes. While they are extremely successful from the stand point of the businesses and the politicians, they do not serve the local communities or their interests at all.

    As to the bill, allowing the local politicians to choose the consultant (as opposed to the developers) is just another way of doing the same thing - allowing local businesses to avoid paying taxes for a decade. Either way, the community loses out.

  5. - Union thug - Friday, May 14, 21 @ 12:46 pm:

    As a state worker, I will not complain about a day off but I’m fine if it isn’t. I would rather see something useful like election day for more than just state workers.

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