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Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

[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.

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- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

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

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* 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.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

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

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Pritzker signs Student-Athlete Endorsement Rights Act into law

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* 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.


- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Groups reach settlement with SoS over AVR problems

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

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

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Best of luck, Phil Ponce!

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

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

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

It’s almost a law

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

Pritzker says state not looking at Bears stadium funding

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* 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.


- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Pritzker warns about the fall

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* 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

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Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* 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

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- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      

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Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

* RIP…

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Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

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* Question of the day
* Remap, East St. Louis, Politics, Supreme Court and 2022
* COVID-19 roundup
* Pritzker to travel to London and Glasgow next week for economic development trip, climate change conference
* Organizations Call For Repeal of PNA
* Newly revised amendment introduced to Health Care Right of Conscience Act, no immediate effective date
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* Senate votes to repeal Parental Notification of Abortion law, bill moves to House
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