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It Is Time To Protect The Health And Safety Of Young People

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller


State Rep. Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport), pointing to a couple of all-night sessions in 2021, is sponsoring a bill to, except when legislative leaders declare an emergency, restrict floor votes to the hours between 6 a.m. and midnight.

“I just don’t think the average citizen believes is appropriate to have a committee meeting at one in the morning and pass a $43 billion (budget) bill, say, at three in the morning,” Chesney said.

Chesney says this is intentional; an annual tactic by supermajority Democrats to tire everyone out and pass big bills when neither the public nor the media are awake and paying attention.

* The Question: Good idea or not? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…

web polls


After years of harping about credit rating downgrades, crickets from the right after upgrade

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Policy Institute, April of 2020

Two major credit ratings agencies, Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service, have dropped Illinois’ credit outlook to “negative” from “stable” on expectations that economic fallout from COVID-19 will strain state budgets.

Both currently rank Illinois bonds just one notch above non-investment grade debt, also known as “junk” status, while the third major agency, Fitch Ratings, puts Illinois slightly higher at two grades above junk. The Prairie State has the lowest rating among states across all three agencies.

* October 8, 2020

A public finance watchdog said the latest report on Illinois’ finances from Fitch Ratings is evidence the state is on the verge of having a junk credit rating.

Fitch gave $850 million of borrowing the state issued a BBB- rating. Some of that borrowing is for the state’s pension buyout program, the rest is for capital projects.

Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said the pension buyout program is a distraction and not providing real savings. He said the Fitch report shows state’s politicians are running out of options and are costing taxpayers more by borrowing more money.

* House Republican Leader Jim Durkin in 2019

S&P called the Pritzker budget “dubious” and said enacting it could ”weaken the state’s credit trajectory,” which is already at a junk-bond-skirting BBB- in the S&P credit-rating table. Fitch Ratings explicitly warned Illinois that enactment of the Pritzker budget will place the state in risk of a credit downgrade.

A third major credit-rating office, Moody’s Investors Service, has also ranked the State of Illinois only one notch above junk-bond level.

The Illinois Republican Party also warned in 2019 that Gov. Pritzker could drive the state into junk bond territory.

* The ILGOP has often used downgrades to whack Democrats. A sampling…

* And, of course, there’s the Tribune editorial board…

And now that Illinois has earned its first credit rating upgrade in 21 years? Nothing. Zip. Nada. Nix, nein Frankenstein, as we used to say in Germany.

It’s not that I expected any joyous announcements, but I did expect something. Must take awhile to reprogram their talking points software. Or maybe their unified system was hit with a ransomware attack.

…Adding… Eleni Demertzis with the HGOPs…

The Democrats’ ransomware attack upon the US Treasury was successful, and the state has been able to pass a budget with the bailout cash. We are all old enough to remember a time when Governor Pritzker told us a graduated income tax was needed to save our state’s finances. Seems like he might still have retrograde amnesia.

The federal aid to the state was not used to balance the budget. And the governor said accurately yesterday that the state’s structural deficit remains, although it was pared back with $655 million in corporate loophole closures.

…Adding… For those either deliberately or ignorantly unclear on the concept in comments, what I meant was that I expected responses like this one from IPI after a 2013 California upgrade

California’s fake reforms yield credit upgrade

I mean, at least give us a little grumpiness or something. Instead, crickets. By the way, those “fake reforms” led directly to California’s very real budget surplus of $80 billion today.


*** UPDATED x3 *** Pritzker administration tries addressing IDOC criticisms

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Background is here if you need it. WBEZ

Lawmakers and advocates are calling for outside oversight of the Illinois Department of Corrections after a WBEZ investigation revealed a pattern of alleged beatings by guards in an area of Western Illinois Correctional Center where there was no video camera coverage.

The investigation documented nine people who separately accused a group of officers of beating them in the same area. Prison records show staff were aware of a blind spot that lacked cameras and of repeated accusations of violence, but the violence persisted until guards allegedly beat a prisoner named Larry Earvin to death in that same location. Federal prosecutors have charged three guards for the beating.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has declined multiple requests to comment on WBEZ’s investigation or the repeated allegations of abuse. Pritzker’s silence continues a pattern in which his director of prisons has refused to do an interview about staff abuse and accountability despite requests over two-and-a-half years.

State Rep. Anne Stava-Murray said she was “horrified” by WBEZ’s findings. “The fact that somebody had to die before that was adequately taken care of, I think is atrocious,” Stava-Murray said. […]

“It’s not just how many cameras are there and where are they placed. It’s who’s reviewing the footage? How often is the footage being reviewed? Is it made publicly available? Is it being shared? Is it being reported?” Jennifer Vollen-Katz [the executive director of the John Howard Association] said.

* So, I checked in with Jordan Abudayyeh…

Protecting the safety of staff and individuals sentenced to IDOC custody is the highest priority of this administration. Under the leadership of Acting Director Rob Jeffreys, we have increased security measures statewide. These measures include, but are not limited to:

    • The installation of 79 new cameras at Western Illinois Correctional Center over the last year.

    • The institution of a unit management system at several facilities, including Western Illinois, to create greater contact between counselors, security staff, and people in custody. This approach increases opportunities for communication and improves the Department’s responsiveness to the concerns of incarcerated people.

    • The hiring of an attorney to serve as Chief Inspector. Chief Latoya Hughes is charged with providing oversight of the statewide grievance system and identifying needed reforms to ensure the process is fair, consistent, and responds to the needs of the incarcerated population.


*** UPDATE 1 *** I missed this one earlier in the week. Holy moly

Three Choate Mental Health administrators have been indicted on felony charges related to their work at the state-run facility. […]

All are accused of violating the Department of Human Services investigating protocol, his office stated in a news release.

Tripp alleges these violations started a chain of events that impeded an active investigation by Illinois State Police-Division of Internal Investigation of a staff member battering an individual served at the facility. Felony charges are pending in this case. […]

The indictments come after a string of other arrests last year tied to the institution. In all, eight current or former employees were arrested on charges connected to their employment at Choate.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Rep. Deb Conroy…

Rich, the Choate situation is a huge red flag to our state that we must prioritize mental Heath and SUD. This is absolutely unacceptable that the very inadequate facilities we do have are not safe. It is long overdue, but today I submitted language to require Illinois to have a Mental Health and SUD Czar. We are at a crossroad of crisis and opportunity with a moral responsibility to act.

…Adding… Sen. Fowler…

State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) issued the following statement regarding the indictment charges:

“The abuse that came to light in 2018 at the Choate Mental Health facility was disturbing. To know that staff tasked with the care of some of the most vulnerable in our state were capable of such mistreatment was unsettling. Now we have three administrators, who should have worked to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the residents within this state-run facility and held their staff accountable for their actions, accused of misconduct and violating proper investigative protocol in regards to those abuse allegations. It is deplorable.

“As administrators, these individuals had a responsibility to protect those entrusted with their care. If it is proven that these officials ignored their duty and acted in any way to prevent justice for the residents harmed within Choate, they should be held accountable for their actions.

“Under the circumstance of the situation and with the seriousness of the charges, I urge the Administration to place all three individuals on administrative leave immediately.”

On June 28th, the Union County State’s Attorney announced that Bryant T. Davis, Teresa A. Smith and Gary K. Goins have all been charged with official misconduct, a Class 3 felony.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Sen. Bryant…

Three Choate Mental Health administrators are actively employed with the Illinois Department of Human Services despite being recently indicted on felony charges stemming from the abuse accusations of 2018 at the state-operated developmental center in Anna.

State Senator Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro), who serves as the Minority Spokesperson of the Senate Behavioral and Mental Health Committee, issued the following statement:

“It is unconscionable that the individuals charged with covering up and interfering with an investigation into the abuse of residents are continuing to actively work and have access to the staff and facility—the very facility in which they failed to properly protect the vulnerable residents under their care. It’s simply inexcusable.

“These individuals must immediately be put on administrative leave until these allegations are thoroughly investigated.

“As we’ve seen with the recent tragedy at the LaSalle Veterans Home, failure to take the appropriate steps necessary to ensure the safety of residents and our most vulnerable have serious consequences.”

On June 28th, the Union County State’s Attorney announced that Bryant T. Davis, Teresa A. Smith and Gary K. Goins have all been charged with official misconduct, a Class 3 felony.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Rep. Delia Ramirez takes brick off Chicago elected school board bill

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Assistant House Majority Leader Delia Ramirez has withdrawn her motion to reconsider the vote on HB2908, the Chicago elected school board bill.

Ramirez had put a hold on the bill to allow Mayor Lori Lightfoot a chance to make her case for what to include in the coming trailer bill. Ramirez and Lightfoot met last week to discuss the issue, but Ramirez has said all along that she wanted the bill on the governor’s desk by the end of June.

This post may be updated.

*** UPDATE *** From Leader Ramirez…

State Representative Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, has lifted her motion to reconsider HB 2908. The legislation that creates a path to a fully-elected school board for Chicago Public Schools will now be sent to the governor’s desk. This action comes after meeting with stakeholders to begin discussing outstanding issues that may be addressed in trailer legislation during the fall veto session.

“Parents should have a voice in their children’s education and now Chicago will be in line with the rest of Illinois on this issue. Returning this right to Chicago parents, the overwhelming majority of whom support this measure, is an honor. Their participation in this process was invaluable and shows that they will be active participants in the electoral process which begins in 2024.

“I appreciate the support I’ve received from my fellow legislators, especially state Senator Martwick, who shepherded this measure through the state Senate. As a long time supporter of an elected school board, it is my hope that Gov. Pritzker will sign this measure into law expeditiously.”

…Adding… Apparently, it’s Lift the Brick Day in Illinois…

That was also expected.


Illinois Supreme Court to restart speedy trial time restrictions on October 1

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

The Illinois Supreme Court today issued two new orders which will resume statutory time restrictions for speedy trials on October 1 and relax social distancing requirements in courthouses. Both orders are effective immediately.

“It is important to note that our courts remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic and thousands of court proceedings have taken place via both in-person and virtual hearings,” Chief Justice Anne M. Burke said. “However, conducting criminal jury trials has been very difficult. These two orders will help our courts prepare for a return to a full slate of jury trials.”

M.R. 30370, In re: Illinois Courts Response to COVID-19 Emergency/Social Distancing, states that “Chief Circuit Judges of the State are permitted to relax or eliminate social distancing requirements,” and notes that the decision to do so should be based on local conditions.

M.R. 30370, Illinois Courts Response to COVID-19 Emergency/Speedy Trial, states that statutory time restrictions will no longer be tolled and that “all days on and following October 1, 2021, shall be included in speedy trial computations contained in section 103-5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 and section 5-601 of the Illinois Juvenile Court Act”. This provides the chief circuit judges at least 90 days to prepare for the tolling to be lifted.

The order also states the days prior to March 20, 2020, and April 3, 2020, when the Court put out orders tolling the statutory time restrictions for section 103-5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 and section 5-601 of the Illinois Juvenile Court Act, will be included in speedy trial computations.

The orders are here.

* Context from a few days ago

(T)he court’s suspension of speedy trial rules has contributed to a growing backlog in the Cook County criminal court, leaving thousands of mostly Black and Latinx people locked in the Cook County Jail and on electronic monitoring for more than a year awaiting trial. Experts worry that the backlog will worsen throughout the summer, when shootings and other types of violent crimes normally increase.

Defense attorneys who spoke with Injustice Watch said the justices have to do a better job balancing public health needs with defendants’ rights to a speedy trial.

“It is our contention that not enough of these [backlogged] cases have resolved, and much of that has to do with the fact that there are really no speedy trial rights available,” said Cook County Public Defender Sharone Mitchell Jr. “The need to resolve these cases is great for our clients. The mental trauma, anxiety, anticipation is overwhelming.”


Campaign roundup: Davis, Kinzinger vote to remove Confederate statues; Laborers’ Union backs Giannoulias; Mazzochi gearing up

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Lynn Sweet

Illinois GOP Reps. Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger — both being mentioned as potential 2022 governor candidates — joined with Democrats on Tuesday to approve a measure to remove statues of Confederate leaders from the U.S. Capitol.

The move would, among other things, take down a bust of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, who in 1857 authored the Supreme Court Dred Scott decision that said people of African descent brought to the U.S. were not citizens. The plan is to install a bust of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court justice, in his place.

The measure passed the House on a 285 to 120 roll call. A similar piece of legislation was advanced last by the Democratic-controlled House only to stall in what then was a GOP-run Senate. Now the Democrats run the Senate.

Kinzinger and Davis were among the 67 Republicans joining Democrats in backing the measure. Freshman Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., did not vote.

Rep. Miller did vote “No” on ordering the previous question before she took a walk on the actual vote.

* Rachel Hinton

Democratic Illinois secretary of state candidate Alexi Giannoulias added another union to his growing list of supporters, garnering the endorsement of the Laborers’ International Union of North America a little less than a year before the June primary.

That endorsement spans the union’s 15 locals and nearly 23,000 members as part of the labor organization’s Cook County base as well as an additional 26 local chapters and 17,000 members downstate.

A spokeswoman for Giannoulias’ campaign said employees from 16 different unions, including the laborers, work in the secretary of state’s office.

* I told subscribers about this development last week. Notice that Rep. Mazzochi doesn’t say what office she is running for

Illinois Democrats targeted Republican state Rep. Deanne Mazzochi for termination with extreme prejudice — in other words, political oblivion.

But the Elmhurst Republican has decided she won’t retire quietly to the sidelines. In fact, once she makes up her mind which direction she’ll go, Mazzochi said she plans to fight hard to maintain her place in the political arena.

“I certainly will be a candidate in the 2022 elections,” said Mazzochi, an Illinois House member since 2018. […]

Regardless of what happens, however, Mazzochi is running — for something. Although she recently contributed $150,000 to her campaign fund, Mazzochi said she doesn’t have “an established timeline” to make a decision on how or where to proceed because the situation is so fluid.

…Adding… Young Democrats of Illinois…

On June 26th, with a keynote from Dr. Robin Kelly the Young Democrats of Illinois held their convention to elect the new Executive Board. Quinne Welter will succeed Arielle Maffei as President, Saghi Sandra Hosseini will step in as the Executive Vice President with Dan Asonye, 1st Vice President, Bobby Mannis, 2nd Vice President, and Akanksha Balekai, 3rd Vice President. Followed by Marla Johnson as Secretary, Anthony Vega as Treasurer, and Izzy Dobbel and Thomas Maillard as the National Committeepeople. They will expand on the groundwork laid by the previous Executive Board, grow the organization, and represent Illinois at the Young Democrats of America convention in August.


What will the Tribune editorial board look like now?

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I haven’t talked much about the buyouts at the Tribune, but that paper’s editorial page continues to have an outsized influence on Illinois politics (deserved or otherwise) and there are some major changes afoot. Robert Feder

The buyouts may be over but the bleeding hasn’t stopped for the Chicago Tribune. On Tuesday Kristen McQueary, editor of the Tribune’s editorial page, announced that she’s quitting too. “After nine years on the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board and page editor since March of last year, Friday will be my last day at the paper,” McQueary tweeted. “I applied for the buyout, but my application was not accepted. I’ll be pursuing other opportunities. Stay tuned!” It’s not known why McQueary’s buyout bid was rejected but her departure leaves the Tribune minus another stellar talent. “To be sure, she and I differ on quite a few issues, but I have no doubt of her integrity and her heart,” newly departed Tribune columnist Eric Zorn said of McQueary. “She ran the Edit Board with grace, energy and humor during a very difficult year and has the affection and appreciation of the liberals, the moderates and the conservatives whom she supervised.” McQueary joined the Tribune in 2012 from Chicago Public Media and the Chicago News Cooperative. The Rockford native and graduate of Illinois State University and the University of Illinois at Springfield previously worked for the Daily Southtown and Peoria Journal Star.

With much of the Chicago Tribune newsroom already being gutted under the new management of Alden Global Capital, it’s all hands on deck these days. In a surprise plot twist, Chris Jones, who’s been the Tribune’s esteemed theater critic for 20 years, is the favorite to replace McQueary as editorial page editor, sources say. It’s hard to imagine Jones bowing out as Chicago’s preeminent drama critic just when theaters are opening again. But it’s been hard to imagine a lot these days. Come to think of it, other than making money and wrecking newspapers, does Alden Global Capital even have an editorial philosophy?

* And Jones did, indeed, get the gig

In announcing Jones’s appointment, effective July 12, Par Ridder, general manager of Chicago Tribune Media Group, wrote in an internal email: “As Chicago’s pre-eminent culture critic, he has a deep understanding of the city, his home for 30 years, and has built a reputation as frank, fair-minded and scrupulously accurate. Can there be more important attributes for an editorial page editor?

“Chris is committed to upholding the Tribune’s leading citizen status, and its statement of principles, which include the newspaper’s commitment ‘to inform and lead public opinion, to foster commerce and industry, and to furnish that vital check upon government which no constitution can.’”

Jones, 57, joined the Tribune full-time in 2002. A native of Manchester, England, he was educated at University of Hull and The Ohio State University and taught at Northern Illinois University and DePaul University. He also wrote about theater for Variety.

“Today, the Tribune announced me as the new editorial page editor, meaning that I will be in working with a variety of opinion columns and joining an editorial board that is smaller than in the past. But, I hope, mighty in the city,” Jones wrote on Facebook Wednesday.

“I’m still the theater critic, which is important to me and the paper, and I will review the major shows as I have for the past 20 years. It is my hope that other, diverse, freelance voices will also join our theater coverage, going forward. While these are very challenging times at the paper, there remains a strong commitment to the Chicago theater.”

Personal attacks will be deleted.


Remember: Fossil Fuel Companies Prefer The Status Quo, Don’t Want An Energy Bill To Pass

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Last week, a comprehensive climate and equity deal was within reach.

Then, fossil fuel companies tried to kill it. Again.

The truth is, fossil fuel companies don’t want any climate legislation. They like the status quo, which lets them pollute our planet, harm our communities, and pad their profits.

The stakes are clear. Without action, thousands of union workers and solar installers may lose their jobs, while the climate crisis worsens and BIPOC communities continue to have limited access to clean energy opportunities and the jobs they create. That’s why it’s so important for legislators to stand with the people, not fossil fuel companies.

At a press conference last week, Governor Pritzker made it clear that he “will not sign a bill that doesn’t meet the gravity of the moment.” The legislature should take this opportunity to return to Springfield and pass the most comprehensive and equitable climate and energy bill in the country as soon as possible.

Learn more at

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Our sorry state

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This is a very well-written piece by Joe Mahr at the Tribune. Here’s an excerpt, but you should read the whole thing

Records obtained by the Tribune show the flood of fraud happened after IDES failed to follow federal recommendations to adopt free fraud-fighting tools that were made available in 2019. Only recently did the agency begin using those tools. A separate process to help identify problematic claims also didn’t become fully functional until February, nearly a year into the pandemic.

At the same time, Illinois has not joined some other states in implementing safeguards meant to detect and stop sketchy claims at the door, before they are accepted into an overburdened system. Though critics say these methods can cause problems by interfering with legitimate claims, some officials in other states credit them with significantly decreasing fraud.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security has yet to report how much money it believes was siphoned away. But if the amount tracks with national estimates, it could involve billions of dollars.

In Illinois, the fraud became so rampant last year that it overwhelmed IDES as its top leadership was undergoing a transition. Five months into her new job as IDES’ top administrator, Kristin Richards lamented to her staff in a December email that she was “stunned by fraudsters’ tenacity.”


Moody’s upgrade roundup

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* More background is here if you need it. Bond Buyer

Illinois won a one-notch upgrade Tuesday from Moody’s Investors Service, action that turns the rating tide for a state stung by more than a decade of downgrades that left it one cut away from a speculative grade.

Moody’s moved its general obligation and Build Illinois sales tax-backed ratings up one level to Baa2 from Baa3. It continues to assign a stable outlook.

Illinois’ management through the COVID-19 pandemic and prudent actions with its rosier revenue projections and $8.1 billion in new federal relief from the American Rescue Plan Act drew Moody’s praise.

* Bloomberg

“Just a little over six months ago, there was a raging debate over whether Illinois would be able to hold onto its investment grade rating,” Ty Schoback, a senior municipal research analyst for Columbia Threadneedle Investments, which owns Illinois debt as part of $17 billion in muni assets, said in an interview.

“It’s truly just a night and day situation and outlook for the state,” Schoback said. “To Illinois’s credit, despite their reputation and their history with fiscal decisions, they’ve made highly prudent choices.”

Illinois finances have been buoyed by the economic recovery as revenue exceeds expectations and the state receives $8.1 billion in aid from President Joe Biden’s rescue plan. The state is paying back the outstanding portion of the $3.2 billion it borrowed from the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending facility last year with higher-than-anticipated tax collections. The state has cut its unpaid bills to less than $3 billion. That backlog had reached more than $16 billion in 2017 during the state’s budget impasse.

“They need to just not mess it up,” Schoback said. “They need to maintain their discipline on pensions, moving to structural balance.”


* NPR Illinois

Moody’s said Tuesday it upgraded Illinois’ bond status due to “material improvement in the state’s finances,” specifically the $42 billion budget Democrats pushed through the legislature last month. The agency said the budget repays emergency federal borrowing the state did in the depths of COVID last year and will keep the state’s bill backlog “in check” without dipping too far into the $8 billion in federal funds coming to Illinois from the American Rescue Plan.

Moody’s also gave the budget credit for increasing contributions to the state’s five pension systems, though it acknowledged Illinois’ pension debt — $144 billion in unfunded liabilities at last calculation — is “unusually large” and poses a long-term challenge to the state and could “exert growing pressure” on the state as “federal support dissipates,” barring new revenues or reductions in spending, the analysis said.

Still, Democrats were in a self-congratulatory mood Tuesday. In a statement, Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) obliquely referred to the budget impasse and those who cheered Rauner on during the standoff with Democrats from 2015 to 2017.

“Stability and responsibility produce results,” Harmon saiid. “You don’t need to ruin people’s lives to have sound fiscal policies and positive outcomes.”

* Sun-Times

Laurence Msall, the president of the Civic Federation, said the governor deserves credit, but the state is not yet out of the woods.

“From a fiscal analysis standpoint, this is positive news — it’s reflective of a more conservative budget approach that he has taken in the last year,” Msall told the Sun-Times. “It’s a step in the right direction, but much heavier lifting, and much harder work is needed, if we’re going to move from being barely investment grade to an A-rated credit or ideally a double A or triple A, which 13 other states are.”


Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the change a “major milestone.”

“I say with full certainty, Illinois’ fiscal situation is heading in the right direction for the first time in the 21st century,” the Democrat said. […]

The state’s general obligation rating — now Baa2, up from Baa3 — is still relatively low, but moving up a notch means Illinois should save money when it goes to the bond market; Pritzker estimated those savings will be worth tens of millions of dollars.

The upgrade will also give Pritzker something to boast about as he’s expected to soon begin campaigning for another term. Pritzker has thus far evaded saying whether he’ll run again, but with the June 28, 2022 primary now a year away, decision time should come soon.

* Tribune

While the upgrade from Moody’s is welcome news, it only returns the state’s rating to where it was before the last of three downgrades during the tumultuous tenure of Pritzker’s predecessor, former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

* And sour grapes in Center Square Land

Bill Bergman, director of research for Truth in Accounting, said credit ratings can be misleading.

“The rating has turned positive for some reason, the outlook anyway, which doesn’t mean much since they are borderline junk anyway in Illinois,” he said.

Womp womp. Bergman was wrong about state spending just a few days ago in the same outlet.


State’s economy grew at a 6.4 percent annual rate during first quarter

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Capitol News Illinois

The Illinois economy showed strong signs of recovery during the first quarter of 2021 as businesses continued to reopen from the pandemic and direct government payments flowed to businesses and individual consumers.

Data released last week from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis showed the state’s economy grew at an annual rate of 6.4 percent during the quarter as its gross domestic product – the market value of all goods and services produced by labor and property – approached its pre-pandemic level.

That growth rate was on par with the rest of the nation and slightly ahead of the pace set by most of Illinois’ surrounding states. But the state’s total GDP, at just under $770 billion annually, remained below where it was two years earlier, before the pandemic. […]

The most improved sectors of the Illinois economy were also among the hardest-hit by the pandemic – arts, entertainment and recreation, which grew at a 38.6 percent annual rate, followed by accommodation and food services, which grew at an 18.4 percent pace.

Durable goods manufacturing also showed strong improvement with a 13 percent growth rate, as did the information sector, which includes the media, which grew at a 14 percent rate.


Open thread

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* What’s up?


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Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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Remember: Fossil Fuel Companies Prefer The Status Quo, Don’t Want An Energy Bill To Pass

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Last week, a comprehensive climate and equity deal was within reach.

Then, fossil fuel companies tried to kill it. Again.

The truth is, fossil fuel companies don’t want any climate legislation. They like the status quo, which lets them pollute our planet, harm our communities, and pad their profits.

The stakes are clear. Without action, thousands of union workers and solar installers may lose their jobs, while the climate crisis worsens and BIPOC communities continue to have limited access to clean energy opportunities and the jobs they create. That’s why it’s so important for legislators to stand with the people, not fossil fuel companies.

At a press conference last week, Governor Pritzker made it clear that he “will not sign a bill that doesn’t meet the gravity of the moment.” The legislature should take this opportunity to return to Springfield and pass the most comprehensive and equitable climate and energy bill in the country as soon as possible.

Learn more at

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Illinois bond rating upgraded for the first time in over 20 years

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Moody’s

Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the State of Illinois’s general obligation (GO) rating to Baa2 from Baa3. In connection with this action, ratings on Build Illinois sales tax revenue bonds were upgraded to Baa2 from Baa3, and annual appropriation bonds issued by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority Ratings were upgraded to Baa3 from Ba1. Total debt affected amounts to about $33 billion, including $27.7 billion of general obligation bonds, $3 billion of Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority bonds, and $1.9 billion of Build Illinois bonds. The outlook remains stable.


The upgrade of Illinois’ GO rating to Baa2 from Baa3 is supported by material improvement in the state’s finances. The enacted fiscal 2022 budget for the state increases pension contributions, repays emergency Federal Reserve borrowings and keeps a backlog of bills in check with only constrained use of federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act. Illinois still faces longer-term challenges from unusually large unfunded pension liabilities, which are routinely shortchanged under the state’s funding statute. These liabilities could exert growing pressure as the impact of federal support dissipates, barring significant revenue increases or other fiscal changes.

* Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker hailed the state’s improved bond rating from Moody’s Investor Service on Tuesday, the first such rating upgrade from a credit rating agency in more than 20 years. Since taking office, Gov. Pritzker has tirelessly focused on strong and responsible fiscal management, working with the General Assembly to hold the line on spending while making key investments to strengthen Illinois’ outlook.

Moody’s last upgraded the state’s bonds in June of 1998 and today’s upgrade credited “material improvements,” with only “constrained use of federal aid,” including increased pension payments, repayment of federal borrowing and keeping the bill backlog in check.

“I promised to restore fiscal stability to Illinois, and Moody’s ratings upgrade demonstrates that Illinois’ finances are heading in the right direction for the first time in two decades. A ratings upgrade pays momentous dividends for taxpayers, and the people of Illinois deserve credit for their incredible resilience and determination,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This upgrade is the result of many leaders working together on a strong fiscal plan and putting that plan in place, and I would like to especially thank Speaker Welch, President Harmon, Leader Greg Harris, Senator Sims, Comptroller Mendoza and Treasurer Frerichs for their partnership. I also applaud Moody’s for answering our request to take a fresh look at the State and their willingness to listen to our progress and our plans.”

Moody’s upgraded Illinois’ rating on its General Obligation bonds from Baa3 with a stable outlook to Baa2 with a stable outlook, and also upgraded the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority ratings to Baa3 from Ba1 based on the state’s support. Build Illinois bonds were upgraded to Baa2 from Baa3.

* Some recent history

On June 1, 2017, Standard and Poor’s Global Inc. and Moody’s Investors Service, credit rating agencies, downgraded Illinois’ credit rating. S&P also said that it might downgrade the state’s credit rating further if the state failed to adopt a budget. The downgrade placed the state’s credit rating at one step above a junk rating (a low rating which indicates the state is a high risk investment). At the time of the downgrade, the state had not passed a budget in two years due to disagreements between the Democratic state legislature and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. According to S&P analyst Gabriel Petek, “the rating actions largely reflect the severe deterioration of Illinois’ fiscal condition, a byproduct of its stalemated budget negotiations, now approaching the start of a third fiscal year.” Prior to this downgrade, Illinois’ credit rating was the lowest in the country. If downgraded again, Illinois would become the first state to receive a junk rating from a credit agency.

…Adding… Daily public schedule update…

What: Gov. Pritzker to address Moody’s upgrade of the state’s bond rating, the first rating upgrade from a credit rating agency in more than 20 years.
Where: Illinois State Capitol, Governor’s Office, Springfield
When: 4 p.m.
Watch live:

…Adding… Speaker Welch…

There’s consensus—not only have all three rating agencies upgraded our state’s outlook, but now Moody’s has given Illinois a full credit upgrade. Thanks to responsible and balanced budgets, as well as sound economic policy decisions, we continue to move our state toward financial stability. This is yet another example that we can support all Illinois families, invest in our communities, provide high-quality state services to those in need, all while improving our fiscal health.

…Adding… Historical chart…

…Adding… Comptroller Mendoza…

“I couldn’t be happier that our hard work is producing results: the first rating upgrade for Illinois in two decades from Moody’s Investor Services,” Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza said. “This means lower costs for Illinois taxpayers. As you have seen in recent months, even in the middle of a global pandemic, my administration has successfully paid down a backlog of bills that just four years ago hit $16.7 billion — down to $2.9 billion today — and did so while prioritizing the most vulnerable people in our state.

“As your state Comptroller, I vowed to stay laser-focused on paying down the backlog of bills and earning a credit upgrade. Governor Pritzker, leaders of the General Assembly and I all agreed to use better-than-expected revenues this year to pay down bills and we did not over-commit the federal stimulus funds which – it should be noted here – have not yet arrived and are not the reason we were able to pay down these bills.”

As Moody’s said in its announcement today that it was raising the state’s status to Baa2 from Baa3, “The enacted fiscal 2022 budget for the state increases pension contributions, repays emergency Federal Reserve borrowings and keeps a backlog of bills in check with only constrained use of federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act.”

…Adding… Senate President Harmon…

Stability and responsibility produce results. You don’t need to ruin people’s lives to have sound fiscal policies and positive outcomes.

I want to thank Governor Pritzker and Speaker Welch for their teamwork in helping us find a better way forward.

…Adding… Senate GOP Leader McConchie…

“The change is encouraging but claiming victory with federal money is misleading the people of our state,” said Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods).

“Like someone trying to hide a hole in the wall by covering it with wallpaper, the governor and Democratic majorities are trying to ‘paper over’ the state’s ongoing systemic budgetary and economic issues. For example, we still have over $140 billion in unfunded liabilities for the five state retirement systems. The Chicago pension system is still projected to run out of money in six years. Meanwhile, state pension payments continue to consume a quarter of Illinois’ operating budget, which is billions of dollars that can’t be used to fund schools, increase public safety, or improve our transportation systems.

“Illinoisans deserve systemic, structural changes to our long-standing issues - not lies about our financial status. The truth is, that without the influx of federal aid, our state would very likely be looking at yet another credit downgrade.

“When the federal money dries up, as it will, the governor and his party will no longer be able to pretend that there’s no hole in the wall.

“Today is a positive step, but there will come a day when the governor and his party run out of other people’s money. Unfortunately for the people of Illinois, that day is coming sooner, rather than later.”


State’s child care program enhanced with lower co-pays, higher income levels and increased reimbursement rates

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The governor was asked today if the state can pay people to stay home (via unemployment insurance), then why can’t the state pay people to go back to work. His response…

The government’s not paying people to stay home. In fact the vast majority of people who are getting those benefits are not staying home because they’re lazy, because they don’t want to get a job. They’re staying home in part because they can’t get child care, in part because there is a fear of either the situation at the workplace where they may get COVID or, very importantly in many families, a concern that they may bring COVID home to family members who are vulnerable. So we’re working very hard to try to help them mitigate those challenges.

The first and foremost thing that we’re doing here is, as you know, 60-plus percent of the people who were out of work as a result of COVID-19 were women. Lost their jobs, or they had to stay home because their kids were at home, they need to take care of their own. They can’t go to work because they have children at home … And so we’re trying to mitigate that in every way we can. We’re doing it in our Department of Aging in elder care, we’re doing it for childcare here.

I think it is a Republican, right wing talking point that says that people are just choosing to be lazy, to stay home to get the extra few hundred dollars while they can.

As always, please excuse any transcription errors.

* Hopefully, this helps people get back to work. Press release…

Building on his commitment to making Illinois the leading state in the country for families raising young children, Governor JB Pritzker today announced a significant expansion of financial assistance for both families and providers that allow children to return to quality, affordable child care programs. Eighty percent of families will pay less for child care under this latest round of changes, to be administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).

“When I took office, I said that we are aiming to make Illinois the best state in the nation for families raising young children. Today, I’m proud to announce another important step in that direction. We are making a series of new investments to make childcare more affordable for Illinois families, and deliver more dollars to providers,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We’re ensuring quality childcare is accessible for more people – allowing more people to return to work without worry about where their kids will go during the day and helping Illinois’ childcare network rebuild after the last 16 months.”

Beginning July 1, DHS will facilitate the following improvements:

    • Reducing family payments: Family payments or copayments — the monthly amount parents are required to pay to childcare providers for the cost of their child care — will be permanently lowered to $1 per month for families with incomes at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL). 80% of all families will see a reduction in their monthly co-pay.

    • Preserving co-pay percentage limits: Family payments will remain permanently capped at 7% of family income, with co-pays for 80% of families falling below that rate.

    • Helping families as income grows: Going forward, CCAP families will now remain eligible until the family’s income surpasses 250% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), instead of the current cap of 225%. The income thresholds to be eligible for and to remain on the Child Care Assistance Program have been updated to current FPL and State Median Income (SMI) amounts. Payments will increase from there on a sliding scale based on family income. These improvements allow families more flexibility as people begin to return to work and rebuild from the financial impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.

    • Increasing reimbursement rates by 3.5% for all CCAP providers to help providers keep their doors open and fully recover from the pandemic.

    • Improving predictability for providers: If a child receiving CCAP attends at least 70% of eligible days in a month, providers will be paid for the full month. The previous policy required an 80% attendance rate. This change will allow for more stable payments for providers in the event of occasional absences.

“The COVID-19 pandemic triggered an acute child care crisis. Working parents lost care and child-care workers found themselves without jobs. Parents, mostly mothers, left jobs or reduced hours to fill the gap. Child care is the work that enables all other work; child care allows parents to work while their children experience the myriad of benefits that come from high-quality early care and education and I’m pleased to work with Governor Pritzker to provide this much needed relief,” said Grace B. Hou, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services.


Pritzker signs Student-Athlete Endorsement Rights Act into law

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Today, Governor JB Pritzker signed SB 2338, the Student-Athlete Endorsement Rights Act, into law, making Illinois a national leader in granting student-athletes the ability to sign individual endorsement deals while enrolled at a college or university. The innovative legislation will grant student athletes control over their name, image, likeness, or voice for the first time, undoing the antiquated practice of banning students from earning money despite the hours they commit to their sport.

“With this law, Illinois will lead the United States in giving student-athletes the opportunity to sign endorsement deals of their own, joining a growing coalition of states leading the fight for innovation in our modern collegiate sports system,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Let me be clear. Illinois is now at the forefront of this movement, yet another reason student-athletes should choose Illinois for college. Beginning July 1st, Illinois collegiate student athletes – no matter the sport and no matter the division – can take control of their destiny when it comes to their own name, image, likeness, and voice.”

The legislation alleviates financial pressure faced by student athletes who too often have to weigh the decision of finishing their degree or joining a professional sporting league to earn a salary. Going forward, any student athlete can enter into a partnership with either community businesses or large corporations and earn compensation.

“I am so proud of the work that went into passing this legislation to ensure student athletes receive the recognition and compensation they deserve,” said Speaker Chris Welch (D-Westchester). “As a former college athlete myself, I understand firsthand how this will benefit our student athletes, who often balance a full schedule of schoolwork with their sport, as well as their families. We’ve watched universities and coaches profit off of the talents of these young adults, and it is time we allow them to earn their fair share too.”

“As a former collegiate student athlete, this legislation is extremely personal to me, I am proud to see Governor Pritzker sign this bill to ensure student athletes are able to earn income from their likeness, name and image,” said Representative Kam Buckner (D-Chicago). “This is the kind of tangible change we mean when we talk about equity, especially since many of these students come from underserved communities. This will directly help students and their families, which also makes it easier for them to stay in school and finish their degree.”

“Finally student-athletes will receive some financial benefit for the use of their names, images, and likenesses,” said Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey). “Their schools will no longer receive all the financial benefits. The students deserve compensation from the hard work of being a college athlete and making their schools millions of dollars.”

Higher learning institutions, such as the University of Illinois and DePaul University, are establishing programs to help students take advantage of this new law, further cementing Illinois colleges and universities as a top destination for both in and out of state students.

“This legislation establishes Illinois as a thought-leader in the evolving landscape of collegiate athletics by ushering in one of the most transformative changes to college sports we have seen in generations,” said UIUC Athletics Director Josh Whitman. “The new NIL paradigm in our state will allow great freedoms to our student-athletes while upholding the core tenets and educational mission of our universities and our athletic programs. Our thanks to Governor Pritzker and our state’s lawmakers for their innovation, open-mindedness, and leadership in this exciting new area.”

“On behalf of DePaul University, I want to thank Governor Pritzker and members of the Illinois General Assembly for their leadership on SB 2338,” said DePaul University Director of Athletics DeWayne Peevy. “This landmark piece of state legislation paves the way for the modernization of the collegiate athletics model, while ensuring our student-athletes remain at the center of these efforts. It also further guarantees Illinois colleges and universities are at the forefront of an increasingly competitive college athletics landscape. Today is a historic day for student-athletes across the state of Illinois.”

SB 2338 takes effective on July 1, 2021.




Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Center Square

Pritzker warns about Delta variant, expert says time to learn to live with virus

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the Delta variant of COVID-19 will be the dominant strain in Illinois by this fall, but one expert said it is time for residents to learn to live with the virus.

Pritzker took time during an appearance in Lawndale on Monday to urge Illinoisans to get vaccinated. He said the pandemic is not over. […]

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, said people may have to learn the Greek alphabet all the way to Omega.

“Every time there is a new variant coming out, there will be more panic, which gives more reason for the government to lock us down and take control of our business and our family,” Orient said. […]

Orient said people are going to have to learn to live with the virus.

“Learn about preventive measures like adequate vitamin D and about early treatment options instead of saying we are just going let our lives be controlled by this,” Orient said.

Notice she didn’t say anything about vaccines.

* Wikipedia

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is an ultra-right-wing non-profit association that promotes a range of scientifically discredited hypotheses, including the belief that HIV does not cause AIDS, that being gay reduces life expectancy, that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, and that there is a causal relationship between vaccines and autism.

* The Atlantic

Though AAPS often takes positions that are associated with conservative groups, it sometimes goes even further, pushing fringe views that most mainstream conservatives do not endorse, such as the belief that mandatory vaccination is “equivalent to human experimentation” and that Medicare is “evil.”

* WaPo

Orient is the editor of an AAPS quarterly journal. Its articles, which she said are peer-reviewed, do not necessarily reflect the group’s positions. Over the years, some have asserted that the “gay male lifestyle” shortens life expectancy and that disabled babies of undocumented immigrants are “valuable” for generating welfare benefits for their families. In spring 2015, one contended that the research establishing that HIV causes AIDS “is proving to be a substantial fallacy of modern medicine.”

* The group has also referred to board certification as a “corporate cult.” But this is from last October

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is pleased with the recent ruling of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division dismissing with prejudice the lawsuit filed by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) in April 2013. For a second time, the Court dismissed this case on the pleadings, though it has now barred AAPS from refiling a new lawsuit based on the same erroneous claims. ABMS has consistently maintained that the allegations of AAPS in its lawsuit, both in the original and amended complaints, were without merit and the Court’s findings support this position.

The Court’s ruling validates the importance and value of board certification in supporting physicians throughout their careers, ensuring they have the knowledge, skills and proficiency to provide high quality specialty medical care. Moreover, the ruling rejected the claim that ABMS had engaged in an illegal conspiracy with hospitals or others with respect to their use of board certification. Instead it observes there are legitimate, alternative reasons for hospitals and insurers to require board certification, most notably the provision of useful information to the physician community as well as the patients, families, and communities we collectively serve.


Groups reach settlement with SoS over AVR problems

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Six advocacy groups representing the steering committee of the nonpartisan Just Democracy Illinois coalition have reached a legal settlement with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to fix key problems with the rollout of Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) in Illinois.

“This agreement means that a lot of voters across Illinois who’ve been left out of the process will be able to access the ballot,” said Jay Young of Common Cause Illinois. “It strengthens our democracy at a time when many states are attempting to weaken it.” […]

Voting rights advocates have repeatedly raised alarms about state agencies’ failure to timely implement AVR since it was signed into law in 2017. After multiple elections had passed without AVR fully in place, the groups filed a lawsuit in February 2020 setting forth violations by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office under the National Voter Registration Act and the federal Voting Rights Act. For example, earlier that year, the Secretary of State’s office revealed that for a period of time it mistakenly sent information on a number of non-citizen community members and age-ineligible individuals to Illinois State Board of Elections, who then sent it to local election authorities.

“For us community advocates, AVR still represents an opportunity to narrow Illinois’ persistent racial gaps in voting access and voter registration. If we want to increase civic engagement, we need to fix the law’s implementation right away,” said Stevie Valles of Chicago Votes.

The settlement streamlines the voter registration process and includes:

    • Language assistance: The agreement requires Illinois election authorities to comply with Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, which mandates language assistance in areas with high numbers of non-English speakers. For example, Drivers Services Facilities in Cook County must display instructions for registering to vote in Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, and Urdu. Additionally, state election authorities must submit language translations for community review before finalizing through specialized vendors.

    • Protections for age-ineligible and non-citizen community members:The settlement requires the Secretary of State’s office to screen out any individuals who are not U.S. citizens or are age-ineligible before their information is sent to the State Board of Elections. It also requires that applicants who decline to register to vote be notified that their decision will remain confidential and will be used only for voter registration purposes, among other disclosures required by the NVRA.

    • Community engagement: The Secretary of State’s office will provide regular updates to the advocacy groups, answering questions and considering the groups’ input on the implementation of the settlement and AVR processes.

“These may seem like technical fixes, but they add up to countless eligible voters who will now be able to register and cast their ballots in Illinois – if implemented correctly,” said Abe Scarr of the Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

The settlement language is here.


It Is Time To Protect The Health And Safety Of Young People

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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Best of luck, Phil Ponce!

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Chicago Tonight’s Phil Ponce had big shoes to fill when he replaced John Callaway, who was without a doubt the best live TV interviewer and debate moderator I ever saw. But he made it work well and the venerated show didn’t lose a step. I was a semi-regular when I lived in the city, so I was privileged to watch Phil up close and personal. He was always prepared and always tough but fair. I hate to see him go, but I wish him all the best in the world. Phil Ponce rocks and Paris Schutz did a fine job with this sendoff in the Tribune

He has been Chicago television’s premier interviewer and debate moderator for the better part of 30 years. I have watched him shift into a second gear when a public officeholder or a policymaker avoids a direct answer. Without changing his calm and measured tone, Ponce will follow up with laserlike precision until he has unearthed some nugget of truth or until the subject has coiled themselves into a knot of words and contradictions. […]

The key to a good interview, Ponce often says, is preparation. When he is moderating a political candidate forum, Ponce will begin doing his homework weeks in advance, filling a binder with research and highlighted notes. This frees him up to be in the moment, to listen to what the guests are saying, and to probe deeper. Anyone can ask questions written on a sheet of paper. A true journalist has to respond to what they hear so they can truly elicit the best information for the viewer.

Ponce has always approached his job humbly and as a vital public service. He puts in the work and fearlessly questions his subjects because he believes he is doing his part to help make the city that he loves better.

Ponce followed the examples of the late, great founder of “Chicago Tonight” John Callaway, as well as the late, great founder of the “PBS NewsHour,” Jim Lehrer. Callaway identified Ponce as the eventual successor to the franchise he created, but not before Lehrer noticed his significant skills and called him up for a stint as NewsHour’s national correspondent. […]

On Tuesday, Ponce steps away from his twice-weekly appearances on “Chicago Tonight” and into a new role as a correspondent on special assignments. He leaves a proud legacy as the face of news and public affairs on WTTW, and assumes his mantle next to Callaway on the Mt. Rushmore of “Chicago Tonight.” Chicagoans are better off because of his dedication to intelligent, public affairs journalism. Convicted ex-office holders, not so much.


“What you will see is a change in the culture”

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Amanda Vinicky

Major changes to Illinois’ criminal justice system that passed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder will begin to take effect Thursday, including a requirement that police track and report to the state incidents in which officers use a gun on someone, when use of force results in death or serious injury, and when they’re dispatched to deal with someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

“Most folks, when they think about the SAFE-T Act, all they think about is the end of cash bail and that is just one segment of the overall plan,” said state Sen. Elgie Sims, a Chicago Democrat and attorney who was a lead negotiator on the omnibus law.

Cash bail won’t be abolished until 2023, and all police officers in Illinois have until 2025 to be equipped with body cameras.

Sims said the timeline was purposefully staggered to give state’s attorneys, courts and local police departments time to get up to speed on those changes.

“Change takes time … while you may not feel an immediate impact on day one, what you will see is a change in the culture,” Sims said. “We wanted to face these items head-on. We have for far too long legislated around the margins, for far too long we have not addressed these issues head-on.”

Go read the rest.


It’s almost a law

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Public Radio

The General Assembly on Monday sent Gov. JB Pritzker a bill that would allow pharmacists to hand out hormonal birth control to a patient who has not seen a doctor.

State Rep. Michelle Mussman (D, Schaumburg) sponsored the measure, which she said would boost access to birth control and limit unintended pregnancies. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and advocacy organization supporting access to contraception, in Illinois, 41 percent of pregnancies in the state are unintended.

“It certainly opens up a lot more pathways than having to go see a doctor, which we know can be quite an obstacle,” Mussman said. “Even if you have insurance, sometimes there are delays in your ability to make an appointment. It can be a bigger hurdle than many people realize.’’

The lack of access can be particularly difficult in some underserved areas, said Brigid Leahy, senior director of public policy with Planned Parenthood Illinois Action.

* Hospice News

The Illinois State Assembly has passed a bill to create an in-home palliative care benefit for children facing life-limiting conditions. The legislation will now go to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) for signature. Stakeholders told Hospice News that the measure could signal advancement on establishing a national palliative care benefit.

The Pediatric Palliative Care Bill (SB.2384) aims to make community-based, interdisciplinary palliative care services more accessible to patients and reimbursable for providers. Patients would be able to receive curative treatments in tandem with these services.

The bill would allow more families in Illinois to get benefits sooner rather than later, according to Laurie Mungoven, pediatric team coordinator and registered nurse for Lightways Hospice and Serious Illness Care. Formerly the Joliet Area Community Hospice, Lightways rebranded this May to reflect the organization’s growth plans and expanded range of services, including pediatric care.

* People Magazine

The couple now live in Chicago where, until only recently, insurance law dictated that fertility treatments are only covered for women who are unable to conceive after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse. That stipulation leaves out many Illinoisans - including gay couples and single women - who are trying to welcome a child.

After researching the issue, Marcus says he came to realize that the cost for him and his husband to have a child via surrogacy would be roughly $150,000, including genetic testing, fertility drugs, compensation for the woman who would carry the child and the costs of in assistive reproduction.

Insurance, he tells PEOPLE, would pay for none of it - which wouldn’t have been the case if he were straight.

“I looked into what my insurance coverage was at my employer and if I were straight, it wasn’t not great coverage [for fertility treatments] but since I was gay, I didn’t even have access to sub-par coverage,” he says.

With no solution in sight, he called his representative: a freshman state representative named Margaret Croke.


City governments currently need to go to court to take over abandoned properties, but they are one signature from the governor away from being able to take these properties into their own hands much quicker.

“It reduces abandoned and neglected neglected homes by helping cities intervene earlier to the court system to save these properties, instead of let him just let them sit there vacant,” Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) said.

Jordan Creek is a property manager in Rantoul. His company, Patriot Square LLC, bought a chunk of untended land in the city, and has spent months cleaning it up.

“We’ve been going six months, almost seven months now,” Creek said. “Really doing a lot of TLC, removing a lot of landscape that’s been growing up for years used to not be able to see anything back through here. Ten foot tall weeds, cleaned up trees, cleanup property, all sorts of stuff.”

If the governor signs the bill, it could give counties and cities much more leeway in maintaining improving or even demolishing abandoned properties. Residents here in Rantoul feel that the extra power for the community could really help improve the city.


Pritzker says state not looking at Bears stadium funding

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Daily Herald

In his first public comments about the possibility of the Chicago Bears’ moving to Arlington Park, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday the future of the racetrack is a private business matter and state funding for a potential suburban stadium isn’t being considered.

“That’s not something we’re looking at right now,” Pritzker said when asked about whether his administration would commit taxpayer money to help build a stadium in Arlington Heights, which could easily cost more than a billion dollars.

“I think obviously there are private business decisions that are being made,” he continued, referring to the NFL franchise’s bid for the 326 acres Churchill Downs Inc. put up for sale in the Northwest suburb. “I’ve enjoyed many years of seeing the Bears at Soldier Field, and so you know, the determination about what will happen to that property is a matter of private concern by the sellers. But for me anyway, I have spent my adult life going to Soldier Field to watch the Bears and have enjoyed that, and I hope that I’ll be able to continue to do that.”

“But again, these are private decisions by private companies, and I think that the mayor (Lori Lightfoot) will have much more direct input in that than I will,” Pritzker said.



Pritzker warns about the fall

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday urged unvaccinated Illinoisans to roll up their sleeves and get the shots, warning of a “growing presence” of a highly contagious COVID-19 variant that he and the state’s public health officials expect to dominate cases statewide by the fall.

Wearing a face mask before he spoke, Pritzker made his plea at an unrelated news conference on the West Side, telling residents not to let their guard down in the face of the expected spread of the Delta variant in Illinois.

“The lessons here at home and across the world are a harbinger of what could happen here, particularly in low vaccinated areas, if we don’t see a higher uptake of the vaccine across Illinois,” Pritzker said.

“This is very real. I implore all residents: If you have friends and family on the fence, share with them the life-saving benefits of these free vaccines and encourage them to remain masked until they are fully vaccinated.”

* Capitol News Illinois

IDPH had identified 9,697 COVID-19 variants in the state as of Monday. That includes 84 instances of the Delta variant, which prompted a high-ranking official at the World Health Organization to warn this week that vaccinated individuals should still be wearing face coverings to protect against community transmission.

“Vaccine alone won’t stop the community transmission. …People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, the physical distance, avoid crowding,” Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said according to transcripts of a news briefing.

Pritzker said his administration expects the Delta variant, which has proven more transmissible and dangerous to unvaccinated individuals, “to dominate our cases statewide by the fall.” He and others appeared masked at a news conference in Chicago that was called to celebrate the opening of a business center in the North Lawndale community.

* Related…

* 6 facts about the Delta variant in Illinois


Caption contest!

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From Darren Bailey’s Facebook page

I am honored to accept the endorsement of the Central Illinois Republican Warriors. Tonight was full of good friends, hugs, prayers, and patriots fired up and ready to take the fight to the establishment and out of touch billionaires like JB Pritzker. He can spend his money, but he will never match the momentum of our movement. Together we will fire him next November and get Illinois growing again. #standingwithyouin2022 #baileyforillinois

Accompanying pic


Open thread

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* RIP…

What else is on your mind?


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* Isabel’s afternoon briefing
* Beyond the horse race
* Cannabis baron ridicules equity programs: "We’re going to give these assets to felons and people that have two heads and all this kind of stuff"
* IEPA says it won't do anything about polluting refineries
* Pritzker stands behind his messaging, claims support for candidates
* A quick Illinois history lesson
* Vallas gets out in front of attacks
* Following the money
* A massive failure
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* Laurence Msall
* Yesterday's stories

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