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Tazewell County Clerk slams Dems in Washington Post voting rights op-ed

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman, a Republican, in the Washington Post

The Democratic Party and national news media have been propagating for months the fiction that election reforms in more than 20 states, especially in Florida, Georgia and Texas, are racist efforts to restrict voting rights. President Biden last week encouraged this gross misrepresentation, denouncing the laws as “21st century Jim Crow” and demanding of Republicans, “Have you no shame?”

The only shamelessness at work here is that of Democrats and their media allies.

As an Illinois election official, I would like to explore how some of the widely attacked Florida and Georgia election measures, and those pending in Texas, hold up when compared with current law in Illinois, a heavily Democratic state.

* Ackerman starts with Georgia and the notorious ban on handing out drinking water at the polls. He claims that in Tazewell County, “if you’re not there to vote and you’re not an authorized person, you’ll be asked to leave,” even if you’re standing outside the 100-foot electioneering border.

But if Ackerman really does that, then he’s not following state law. I asked the governor’s office for a response to Ackerman’s op-ed…

This Republican election official seems to be deliberately misinterpreting the laws in Illinois. The recent laws passed in Georgia and Florida, as well as those pending in Texas, revitalize long-standing disenfranchisement of marginalized communities, specifically Black people and people of color. States justify these restrictive actions by claiming they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, which is, in reality, a figment of their imagination.

    1. Georgia’s new law criminalizes offering food and water to voters waiting in line to vote, regardless of how long the line is. In Illinois, food and water can be provided to those more than 100 feet from the polling location.
    • This Republican election official’s choice to prevent people from receiving water if they are thirsty is not one that is required by law, but is instead his own interpretation that runs the opposite of the law’s intention.

    2. Florida’s new law requires voters to request vote-by-mail ballots every two years rather than every four years.

    3. Texas is proposing to legally limit early voting hours, increase voter ID requirements and banning drive-thru voting and 24-hour policing places.

In contrast, Illinois is expanding access to the ballot box by:

    1. Allowing election officials to create a permanent vote by mail registry
    2. Allowing for optional drop-off boxes for ballots
    3. Allowing for curbside voting

The administration welcomes ideas from local officials on ways to continue improving voter access and will continually work to ensure voters are able to exercise their rights in an easy and efficient manner.

* I think Ackerman does make a few good points about the oftentimes over the top reaction to some of this stuff, particularly among national reporters who don’t know the first thing about state laws, so it’s worth a full read.

But, the most important thing to remember is that the states in question claimed they were reversing or tightening up their laws to prevent fraud, but nobody could prove that the fraud actually existed. So, if they were trying to prevent an imaginary thing from happening, then one can justifiably conclude that their stated purpose was a lie, no matter how much one can nitpick.

Also, Illinois has clearly been going the opposite direction of those other states. The new option to be included in a permanent VBM registry is just one of them.

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150: “An attack on Scabby the Rat is an attack on workers’ right to free speech”

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* NLRB yesterday

In a decision issued today in Lippert Components, Inc. 371 NLRB No. 8 (2021), the National Labor Relations Board found that a union did not violate the National Labor Relations Act by displaying a 12-foot inflatable rat with red eyes, fangs, and claws (“Scabby the Rat”) and two large banners, one targeting a neutral employer (Lippert Components), near the public entrance to a trade show. The prior General Counsel had alleged that the display of these items was unlawfully coercive, arguing that the Board should overrule precedent. The Board had earlier issued a notice and invitation to file briefs on that question.

Three members of the Board joined in an opinion dismissing the complaint. In her separate concurrence, Chairman McFerran expressed her belief that the outcome of this case was required by Board precedent. In their separate concurrence, Members Kaplan and Ring agreed that the complaint must be dismissed here to avoid creating a possible conflict with the First Amendment, but expressed disagreement with some aspects of prior precedent. Member Emanuel, dissenting, would have found the banner and rat display to violate the Act.

The decision is here.

* The case was filed against Local 150 of the Operating Engineers. From the union…

Wednesday afternoon, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released a 3-1 decision dismissing the Lippert Components lawsuit that sought to limit unions’ use of “Scabby the Rat” and other inflatables in labor disputes.

The case initiated over the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150’s use of an inflatable rat to protest Lippert’s Components at the entrance of a trade show in September 2018. An NLRB administrative law judge dismissed the case in 2019, but former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb intervened, believing that the use of inflatable rats is unlawfully coercive and that NLRB and court precedent should be overturned to restrict their use. Robb, appointed by former President Trump, initiated and revived several lawsuits against unions who had used inflatable rats in strikes and public demonstrations.

Wednesday’s decision upheld Scabby’s longstanding free speech protection, stating that Lippert’s opinion that the display was “embarrassing does not outweigh the First Amendment rights of the union.” Over the past 20 years, federal courts and the NLRB have found that inflatable rats are protected tools of free speech and are afforded First Amendment rights.

“We are pleased with this decision, and have believed since the outset that Scabby’s rights would be affirmed, as they have been time and time again for 20 years,” said James M. Sweeney, President-Business Manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. “An attack on Scabby the Rat is an attack on workers’ right to free speech, and we must all stand united against such attacks. The use of these rats draws public attention to employers’ crimes and mistreatment of their employees, and so it is no surprise that powerful interests would want to ban their use, but we will never stop fighting to protect workers’ voices – or Scabby’s.”

Local 150 pioneered the use of the inflatable rat, commissioning the very first one in 1988. Local 150 member Lou Mahieu was awarded a jacket for submitting the name “Scabby” in a 1989 naming contest, held by the union in its member newspaper.

* Scabby…


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*** UPDATED x1 *** New laws: OTC birth control; Telehealth access; Help for homeless college students; Media literacy

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller


Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed HB 0135 into law Thursday, granting Illinoisans access to birth control over the counter.

According to state officials, the legislation removes barriers to care that may have previously prevented residents from accessing hormonal contraception, including lack of access to a physician willing to prescribe birth control.

State officials stated HB 0135 also expands Medicaid to cover over-the-counter birth control costs for plans that currently cover physician-prescribed birth control. And to ensure the price of contraception remains feasible, HB 0135 includes mandates for insurance policies regulated by the State to cover birth control that is dispensed by a pharmacist.

* Press release…

Joined by healthcare leaders and elected officials at Mount Sinai Hospital, Governor JB Pritzker today signed HB 3308 into law, increasing access to telehealth services in communities across Illinois. The new law builds upon ongoing efforts to ensure that all Illinoisans have uninterrupted access to telehealth, which they received from trusted health care providers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. […]

The legislation prevents insurance plans from requiring a patient to attend an in-person visit before a telehealth service. It also expands the early intervention services that can be provided through telehealth. To protect confidentiality, the bill bars insurers from requiring patients to provide a reason—such as proof of hardship or an access barrier—for choosing a telehealth visit over an in-person consult. Additionally, an insurer cannot require patients see a healthcare provider virtually if they prefer an in-person visit, nor can an insurer mandate that physicians offer telehealth.

* NPR Illinois

Starting next August, under a law passed unanimously in the General Assembly and signed last week by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, all public and private post-secondary institutions – two and four-year colleges and vocational, technical and business schools — will have to designate someone as a liaison to assist homeless students.

High school districts in Illinois have had liaisons to help homeless kids under a 1987 federal law — the McKinney-Vento Act — with issues like enrollment, access to resources and transportation. There was no such no requirement to help college students in Illinois. The new law changes that situation.

State Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton, a lawmaker from Chicago suburb Western Springs, said she was eager to take on the legislation because she remembers hosting homeless student friends of her then-college age children.

* Center Square

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed legislation that amends the state’s school code to include a media literacy unit in the existing computer literacy curriculum.

State Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, a Democrat, filed the bill. Some Republicans opposed the bill, concerned that it would lead to school boards picking what media outlets are reputable.

House Bill 234 requires school districts to add media literacy instruction to the computer literacy curriculum.

State Sen. Karina Villa, a Democrat and chief Senate sponsor for the new legislation, said that while students are online more than ever, they are still vulnerable to misinformation.

*** UPDATE *** ISBE…

Hi Rich.

We noticed that you published an excerpt from a publication yesterday re: a media literacy law, describing it as being incorporated into the computer literacy portion of the school code. Computer literacy was incorporated into Article 10 of the school code. Once media literacy is enacted, it will be incorporated into Article 27 of the school code. The two measures are unrelated. The Public Act associated with HB234 does not even contain the word “computer.”

Thx. Hope all is well your way.

Januari Trader
Communications Specialist
Public Relations
Illinois State Board of Education

* More…

* Another Round Of Illinois Equal Pay Act Amendments

* Legislation would require some landlords to accept more pets

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Vaxed Pritzker to attend Lollapalooza

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From today’s media availability with the governor…

Q: Lollapalooza is next week. Would you recommend your friends, your family, your teenagers to attend Lolla in the midst of this?

Pritzker: It’s an outdoor festival, as you know, when it’s safer outdoors than it is indoors. And so I know lots of people will attend. I think, again, it’s up to individuals to make a decision about whether they want to be in a large group. And by the way, I would recommend to people that if they’re going to be jammed together, please wear a mask. We encourage you to do that if you’re going to be in large crowds. But if you feel comfortable and you can put a little distance between yourself and other people and if you’re vaccinated, I might add, it’s safer. Just a little distance, and if you’re vaccinated, it’s safe for you to attend something like this.

I intend to go to Lollapalooza. I’m bringing my wife and a few friends to Lollapalooza. So I think it’s okay.

But again, people need to be aware that we are not past this pandemic. It is with us you’re talking about a gamma variant. Just want to be clear, vaccinations keep you safe. But we all need to keep our communities and our friends and neighbors and our family members safe. Wear a mask if you can when you feel like you should.

The governor and his spouse are both vaccinated.

There’s been lots of criticism in the media about allowing the unvaccinated to attend. Those folks are supposed to get tested 72 hours in advance if they have no shots, but that seems like quite a lag time to some. Plus, Lolla always has gate crashers.

Also, as someone who just bought Rolling Stones tickets for the St. Louis show, I won’t be throwing, um, stones on this one.

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Campaign update and other stuff

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Asked about White House ambitions, Pritzker says “I have no plans”

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From Dave Dahl’s interview with Gov. JB Pritzker

DD: I’ve got one minute left. You don’t get to be JB Pritzker without having a long-term plan. You’re running for re-election now. But you know, you can walk and chew gum at the same time. What about the longer game, should you be so fortunate beyond the second term?

JBP: Don’t you think thinking about the next four years is a fairly long term to think about?

DD: Not at all.

JBP: It’s an awful long time to think about. We have a lot of challenges in the state of Illinois that I want to work on and overcome. And so I’m gonna continue to do the job and do it well for the people of our state. And that’s really what I’m focused on.

DD: Washington? Maybe even Pennsylvania Avenue?

JBP: I went to Washington. I went to Pennsylvania Avenue and met with President Biden. I think we’re getting things done for our state as a result of a good relationship that I have with him. And we’ll continue to work on that. But I have no plans myself.

DD:Not even in the long, long game?

JBP: [Laughs] Thanks for asking, Dave. I’m flattered by the question.

My own opinion is that those who constantly claim he’s setting up a White House bid are the same folks trying to undercut him here at home. Not talking about Dave here. He just asked a question. After my own interview, I regretted not asking the governor if he’d commit to serving all four years if reelected, just to get him on the record. Then again, the last time I put him on the spot like that (regarding fair maps), he flip-flopped on his response.

…Adding… Good point in comments…

Everyone knows that Kamala Harris will be running after Joe Biden - either in 24 or 28. You really think JB’s going to get between the possibility of the first black woman president and the White House? Ummm, ok.

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Giannoulias campaign proposes “Skip the Line” reservation program

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Democrat candidate for Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias announced a new program designed to cut wait times at Illinois driver’s license facilities.

Giannoulias wants to implement an online booking system so Illinoisans who need to make in-person visits to renew their driver’s licenses or obtain other services can make an appointment and avoid the lines.

His “Skip the Line” program would be available at every driver’s license facility across the State and allow drivers to schedule an appointment by visiting the Secretary of State’s website or, for those who prefer, calling the office. Walk-in customers would still be welcome.

“The pandemic has taught us that we need to rethink how government provides services, and we need to employ innovative strategies and programs to make it easier and more convenient for people,” Giannoulias said. “Skip the Line will reduce wait times, increase efficiencies, curb redundancies and adhere to protocols and precautions to ensure the health and safety of customers.”

After scheduling, residents will receive a text message confirming their appointment with a link to check in upon arrival, allowing them to enter at the scheduled time and skip the line. Seniors and others with special needs would be given priority, regardless of whether or not they schedule an appointment. In addition to making the process more convenient for customers, the scheduling component will also make it easier and more efficient for employees.

The pandemic shutdown and the Real ID surge has resulted in long lines and wait times at driver’s license facilities and DMVs across the country as people have experienced delays in obtaining basic services, like renewing an expired driver’s license or vehicle registration or getting a Real ID or commercial driver’s license.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has already started a pilot at some suburban facilities, and Giannoulias wants to adopt a statewide program using sophisticated software to secure appointment slots.

The “Skip the Line” program is the first component of Giannoulias’ overall effort to modernize the office. Giannoulias also plans to offer more services online and over the phone so residents don’t have to make a special trip to a driver’s license facility. Giannoulias intends to roll out additional modernization plans throughout the campaign.

Your thoughts on this?

Also, I need a new plate sticker. Best place in Springfield to get that done?

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Illinois to get as much as $790 million from $26 billion national opioid settlement

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Reuters

Drug maker Johnson & Johnson and three opioid distributors have agreed to pay $26 billion to settle thousands of government lawsuits blaming them for helping create a public-health crisis tied to their mishandling of the painkillers.

The deal—years in the making—calls for McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. to pay almost $21 billion to resolve allegations they turned a blind eye to suspiciously large opioid shipments, the companies and state attorneys general said Wednesday. J&J will pay $5 billion to settle claims it illegally marketed opioid medicines, which it stopped making last year.

The settlement marks a major step forward in litigation over the highly addictive drugs, which have been blamed on more than 500,000 deaths over two decades. States, cities and counties filed more than 3,000 suits against drug makers, distributors and pharmacies seeking compensation for billions spent battling the U.S. opioid epidemic.

The state of Illinois will be signing on to the settlement, Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement today. If the agreement is finalized and there is full participation by all local governments, Illinois will get approximately $790 million, the statement says. The substantial majority of the money is to be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.

* From Attorney General Raoul’s office…

The agreement would resolve the claims of states and local governments across the country, including the nearly 4,000 that have filed lawsuits in federal and state courts. Following today’s agreement, states have 30 days to sign onto the deal, and local governments in the participating states will have up to 150 days to join to secure a critical mass of participating states and local governments. States and their local governments will receive maximum payments if each state and its local governments join together in support of the agreement.

The state of Illinois will be signing on to the settlement, making local governments eligible to participate. If the agreement is finalized nationwide, Illinois – if there is full participation by all local governments – will receive approximately $790 million.

Funding Overview:

    • The three distributors collectively will pay up to $21 billion over 18 years.
    • Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.
    • The total funding distributed will be determined by the overall degree of participation by both litigating and non-litigating state and local governments.
    • The substantial majority of the money is to be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.
    • Each state’s share of the funding has been determined by agreement among the states using a formula that takes into account the impact of the crisis on the state – the number of overdose deaths, the number of residents with substance use disorder, and the number of opioids prescribed – and the population of the state.

Injunctive Relief Overview:

• The 10-year agreement will result in court orders requiring Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen to:

    o Establish a centralized independent clearinghouse to provide all three distributors and state regulators with aggregated data and analytics about where drugs are going and how often, eliminating blind spots in the current systems used by distributors.
    o Use data-driven systems to detect suspicious opioid orders from customer pharmacies.
    o Terminate customer pharmacies’ ability to receive shipments, and report those companies to state regulators, when they show certain signs of diversion.
    o Prohibit shipping of and report suspicious opioid orders.
    o Prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders.
    o Require senior corporate officials to engage in regular oversight of anti-diversion efforts.

• The 10-year agreement will result in court orders requiring Johnson & Johnson to:

    o Stop selling opioids.
    o Not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids.
    o Not lobby on activities related to opioids.
    o Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.

This settlement is a result of investigations by state attorneys general into whether the three distributors unlawfully failed to refuse to ship opioids to pharmacies that submitted suspicious drug orders, and engaged in deceptive and unfair conduct in violation of state law. Raoul and the attorneys general also investigated whether Johnson & Johnson marketed its opioid products in a deceptive and unfair manner and engaged in other fraudulent and unfair conduct in the sale of opioids.

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Open thread

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Anything state-related bouncing around in your head on this lovely summer day?

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

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Thursday, Jul 22, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Today’s post is sponsored by the Association Of Illinois Electric Cooperatives. Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* Pritzker signs unemployment insurance agreement into law
* Respiratory viruses leading to highest hospital bed usage since January, but ICUs not yet flooded
* Unfunded pension liability rose, but state payments still scheduled to fall slightly
* Afternoon news roundup
* Sen. Bennett hospitalized
* Poll: Large majorities of Illinoisans support assault weapons ban, increasing FOID card age to 21
* Stop pointing fingers and do better now
* Question of the day: 2022 Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Local elections news coverage roundup
* Republican state central committee member says Gay Pride tree is a "sex tree," calls Black legislators "idiots"
* GOP pollster: "The Republican strategy of screaming 'the sky is falling' and 'all is lost' is clearly not working"
* Rate the new Lightfoot TV ad
* State's attorney says he may drop out of lawsuit challenging SAFE-T Act
* Morning briefing
* Open thread
* Live Coverage
* Yesterday's stories

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