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Programming note and a quick session update

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

* Keep an eye on the live coverage post the rest of the day and into the evening if necessary. As I told subscribers earlier, special session is morphing into veto session while talks continue…



- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

* Excerpt of the full Gov. Pritzker quote I posted earlier today

But new hospitalizations just recently started flattening, which is great. And again, I’m very hopeful, and I pray for it every day that we can head back down and fewer mitigations and everybody getting back to a more normal way of life.

But I do want to encourage anybody that’s not been vaccinated, now is the time to do it. This variant is more dangerous than any other that we’ve seen during the COVID 19 pandemic.

* The Question: Are you hopeful about the future? Please make sure to explain your response. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Session update

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Caption contest!

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

* Big crowd…


- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      


Catching up with some new laws

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

* My in-box is filled with bill signing announcements, so let’s try to clear some of them out today. The governor signed this bill into law on Friday

Prior to the 2017 tax law changes effectuated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), an individual could take an unlimited deduction on its federal income tax return for SALT payments. However, the TCJA capped such SALT tax deduction at $10,000 for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026.

Senate Bill 2531, [signed] by Gov. Pritzker, provides owners of partnerships or S corporations with a workaround to the federal $10,000 SALT deduction cap effective for tax years ending on or after December 31, 2021, and beginning before January 1, 2026.

Under the legislation, a partnership or S corporation (each a “pass-through entity”) may elect to pay Illinois income tax at the entity level (which will be allowed as a deduction by the pass-through entity on its federal income tax return), and each owner of the pass-through entity may claim a credit on its Illinois individual income tax return equal to its share of the amount paid by the pass-through entity, effectively bypassing the $10,000 SALT deduction cap.

The IRS issued a notice in 20201 blessing this type of workaround late last year. Approximately a dozen other states have enacted similar workarounds.

* More from Crain’s

“The IRS came out with guidance last year that basically blessed the concept,” [sponsoring Sen. Win Stoller, R-Peoria] said. “It evens the playing field with C-Corps”—or big corporations.

Since the IRS gave the green light, at least 20 other states have enacted or proposed similar steps, including not only New York and Connecticut but our neighbors Wisconsin and Minnesota, said Keith Staats, executive director of the chamber’s Tax Institute. He pointed to a national group, Main Street Employers, that has been actively tracking the introduction and passage of such workaround legislation

The legislation passed both houses of the Illinois Legislature unanimously, a tribute to the fact that shorting Uncle Sam has bipartisan appeal.

Stoller said Illinois now receives about 400,000 individual returns a year that potentially would qualify for the higher deductions on companion federal filings. If each of those can deduct an additional $10,000, they’d save about $80 million in taxes, by one off-hand accounting rule that deductions reduce tax liability by about 2 percent.

* Sun-Times

Legislators and advocates of removing the state’s lead service lines said Monday a newly signed law moves the state closer to removing that “toxic infrastructure” and ensuring all Illinoisans have clean water to drink.

State Sen. Melinda Bush, a lead sponsor of the legislation, said the lines are a “health threat that not only costs us billions of dollars, but poisons our children and undermines our residents’ confidence” in their water supply.

“Passing this bill with strong bipartisan support demonstrates a fundamental truth about lead in our drinking water — it affects all of us, and every single one of us, especially our children, deserve clean, safe drinking water,” the Grayslake Democrat said.

* Scott Reeder

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation allowing terminally ill or incapacitated inmates to be released early from prison, after their case is assessed by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

It’s a measure that can be best described as merciful. Illinois is the 49th state to enact such legislation, leaving only Iowa without such a provision in its statutes.

“Unfortunately, so many of these people lose their lives, locked away behind bars without being able to spend their last moments with their family,” state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, told me Monday. “And so many of those folks, especially the people who have been very sick, or are permanently disabled are people who don’t pose any kind of public safety risk to their community.”

Guzzardi was the House sponsor of the legislation. I confided in him that I was stunned that it passed. After all, for most of the time I’ve covered politics a majority of legislators have had a lock ‘em up and throw away the key mindset.

* Press release…

Residents in nursing homes across the state who have not been able to connect with their loved ones or join religious events during the COVID-19 pandemic must now be given a virtual visitation option, thanks to a measure signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker Friday. Senator Donald DeWitte (R-St. Charles) was the leading Senate Republican sponsor of the bill.

Senate Bill 2137 includes a provision that allows nursing home residents to connect virtually with family members, loved ones, and to religious or recreational activities when in-person visits are prohibited or restricted due to federal or state rules or guidance. Prior to its signing into law, SB 2137 passed with unanimous, bipartisan support in the Senate and House.

“The passage of this bill represents bi-partisanship at its best,” said State Sen. DeWitte. “This last year-and-a-half has been incredibly difficult for seniors who have been largely unable to touch or hug their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic, and SB 2137 will ensure that moving forward we place more of a balance between physical and social-emotional health.”

The law comes in the wake of 2020 research that shows that the harsh consequences of isolation and loneliness on a resident’s quality of life are alarming: 50 % increased risk of developing dementia, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a nearly fourfold increased risk of death among heart failure patients.

* Press release…

On Friday, August 27th Governor Pritzker signed Representative Eva-Dina Delgado’s bill into law to open up opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses by cutting red tape on state projects.

Currently, entrepreneurs need to certify with the State of Illinois that their business is minority- or woman-owned, even if they are already certified with the City of Chicago or Cook County. This needless, intrusive paperwork has closed the door for thousands of businesses from working on State or public university projects. Today, with HB132 signed into law, all businesses certified by Chicago or Cook County are automatically eligible to work on State or public university projects as part of their minority participation program.

* Press release…

Illinois today became the first state in the United States to place modest guidelines on how law enforcement can access personal information captured by so-called “smart devices” in our homes after Governor JB Pritzker signed the Personal Household Privacy Act (PHPA) into law. The new law, passed unanimously in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly this spring, is being called critical by the sponsors and the ACLU of Illinois in light of the popularity and expansion of these devices – including virtual assistants, Ring doorbells and smart appliances.

The PHPA requires law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant in order to get data gathered by a personal device from a private third party. Law enforcement can also obtain the data in an emergency situation or when the owner of the data voluntarily consents to it being shared. The devices capture a significant amount of information since the microphones are nearly always “on” awaiting a new command.

* Press release…

Earlier today, Governor JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 2323 concerning the restraint and shackling of youth in DCFS care while being transported. The following statement can be attributed to Nora Collins-Mandeville, Director of Systems Reform Policy at the ACLU of Illinois:

With his signature today, Governor Pritzker significantly improved safety, dignity and respect for youth in the care of DCFS. Illinois now prohibits the use of physical and chemical restraints when DCFS, or private agencies, arrange transport for young people in DCFS’ custody.

Past incidents of DCFS youth being shackled during transports led to an agreement in federal court where DCFS promised not to shackle children, or use drugs to restrain them, unless restraints were ordered by a judge or DCFS first obtained high level medical and practice approvals. The new law goes further – no restraints are permitted for pre-arranged transports of DCFS youth. And in emergencies, DCFS youth will be treated like everyone else, and cared for according to the best judgment of responding medical professionals.

* Press release…

In an effort to lower recidivism rates among formerly incarcerated people, State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) sponsored a new law that would provide these individuals with information to help them in their reintegration into society.

“Recidivism is caused by instability, period,” Peters said. “When a person is released from prison, they have to reenter a life they’ve been away from for months, years or decades. If they’re not given an opportunity to live their best lives, then they may face challenges that risk further destabilization.”

House Bill 3235 concerns incarcerated individuals who are scheduled to be released from an Illinois Department of Corrections facility. The law requires IDOC to provide these individuals with information on various topics, including how to obtain an ID card, voter registration, job listings, available housing, and any other information the department believes could help prevent recidivism within 45 days of their release.

“The point of a prison sentence ending in the first place is that the person gets to reintegrate into society,” Peters said. “If we make it difficult to do that, we’re only perpetuating the dangerous cycle of recidivism.”

* WREX

Illinois will no longer be home so-called “puppy mills” after Governor JB Pritzker signed a piece of legislation into law on Friday.

A puppy mill is a large-scale, for-profit pet pet breeding company that often leaves animals in dangerous conditions and subject to disease.

The new law restricts the retail sale of dogs and cats to animal control and shelters only. This means stores couldn’t take and sell pets from certain breeders.

* Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker signed SB 1833 into law, allowing for the designation of cultural districts across the state. Managed by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), this distinction will promote economic development and empower communities to honor their unique identities and economic contributions to Illinois.

“Illinois’ strength lies in our diversity and this legislation helps protect the rich history of cultural communities across the state while providing them with the tools they need to grow and thrive,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Thanks to the efforts of the Latino Caucus, cultural districts in Illinois can now receive an official designation status, opening the door to economic investment and protecting cultural traditions for generations to come.”

Championed by the Latino Caucus, Senate Bill 1833 allows DCEO to establish criteria and guidelines for the creation of state-designated cultural districts. These designations aim to support economic development, preserve historic traditions and landmarks, and encourage cultural education by providing technical assistance such as promotional support and resources for small businesses.

* Press release…

Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities will have expanded supports to make their own decisions about their daily lives under a new law sponsored by State Representative Lindsey LaPointe (D-Chicago) and State Senator Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago).

“Making your own decisions about the way you live your own life is a basic human right,” LaPointe said. “Under the new Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be able to get support from a trusted advisor when making important life decisions. This new law recognizes the rights and capabilities of people with disabilities in Illinois and creates an alternative to the often-inappropriate restrictions of legal guardianship.”

Under the new law, HB 3849, adults with disabilities can choose to enter into formal decision-making agreements, which identify trusted advisors to help them gather and interpret information, weigh their options, and communicate their decisions about health care, life choices and financial matters.

“Studies have indicated that, when persons with disabilities have increased self-determination, they experience better health and well-being,” LaPointe said. “I am proud that Illinois is joining the ranks of states that are protecting the rights of people with disabilities by passing supported decision-making statutes.”

The law, which takes effect in February 2022, requires the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission to post training and education materials on its website for individuals with disabilities and their identified supporters.

* Press release…

On Friday, pension board legislation introduced by State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) was signed into law by Governor Pritzker. This bipartisan legislation was co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) in the House and taken up by Senator John Connor (D-Lockport) in the Senate with Senators Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) also co-sponsoring the bill.

“I am happy to have worked with Senator Connor to pass this important legislation,” said Rep. Batinick. “House Bill 3004 will bring necessary ethics reform and transparency to pension boards in our state. This bill is one small step towards a more ethical Illinois.”

House Bill 3004 prohibits members of pension funds, investment boards, and retirement systems from being employed by the same fund, board, or system during their service and for 12 months after stepping down from their board membership roles. It also allows board members to temporarily serve in a senior administrative staff position if such a position becomes vacant. However, this service would only be permissible under a certain circumstance and would be served on an interim basis with conditions.

* More…

* Pritzker Vetoes Ambulance Reimbursement Bill; Ambulance Group To Seek Override

* Pritzker signs bill removing witness requirement for end-of-life care

* Illinois home-based food products can be sold directly to customers in 2022 under new law

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


COVID-19 roundup: Pritzker asked if state is nearing peak

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

* If you click here and scroll down, you’ll see that the growth of COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions have started to slow a bit during the past week or so. The governor was asked today if he thought Illinois is nearing the peak of the current surge

I’ve been asked this the last 48 hours as you can imagine, we all watch the numbers very closely. And when they start to flatten out, that’s always good news. Always good news.

The fact is that I think we’ve all lived through this long enough now to not jump the gun and say, oh, gosh, it’s flattened out, everything is so much better.

We’ve got to really see the curve heading downward. But I’m very hopeful of that.

But I would also encourage you to take a look at hospitalization numbers over the last week. They have been going up, though, a smaller number each day. And when I say hospitalizations, I want to be clear what I’m talking about: new people entering the hospital, because you can have people that have been in the hospital for some time leaving the hospital, that doesn’t tell you very much about where the disease is, how rampant it is. But new hospitalizations just recently started flattening, which is great. And again, I’m very hopeful, and I pray for it every day that we can head back down and fewer mitigations and everybody getting back to a more normal way of life.

But I do want to encourage anybody that’s not been vaccinated, now is the time to do it. This variant is more dangerous than any other that we’ve seen during the COVID 19 pandemic. […]

So, again, I’ll watch numbers like you will, you’ll ask me that question again soon, no doubt. And I hope we’ll be able to say, yeah, things are headed in the right direction.

* I’m not sure this will be a great campaign issue for the ILGOP, but go for it…


* Related

Republican gubernatorial candidate for Illinois Paul Schimpf joined this week’s 4 The Record. […]

Schimpf is running on something called a “parents bill of rights” when it comes to masks in schools and vaccines for kids.

He also argued recently that the requirement of vaccines for polio and the measles for kids is different from COVID-19 because there isn’t a serious risk for kids.

* I know Chicagoans who would be great and dedicated firefighters and paramedics but are on an ever-lasting waiting list for a job. Just sayin’

The union that represents Chicago firefighters and paramedics has voiced its opposition to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate.

“I’m 100 percent opposed to the mandate; it should be a personal decision,” Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 President Jim Tracy told the Sun-Times on Monday.

Last week Lightfoot announced that all city workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15.

“It’s the carrot and the stick, and it drives me crazy when you always use the stick,” said Tracy.

* More…

* Coronavirus vaccines work. But this statistical illusion makes people think they don’t.

* Council requires masks in most settings in Carbondale, vaccines for city workers

* Illinois church camp and conference led to 180 COVID-19 cases, likely fueled by the delta variant, CDC report says

* When COVID Deaths Are Dismissed Or Stigmatized, Grief Is Mixed With Shame And Anger

* DuPage County anticipating the need for mass COVID-19 vaccine sites again when booster shots become available

* 20 Chicago Businesses Cited During First Days of City’s Indoor Mask Mandate: Officials

* Arlington Heights school loses state recognition over masks

* Masks, nerves and trying to social distance: How the first day went in Chicago Public Schools

* Vaccine Refusers Don’t Get to Dictate Terms Anymore: People who opt out of shots shouldn’t expect their employers, health insurers, and fellow citizens to accommodate them.

* Steinberg: Americans were scared of polio vaccine too

* Florida withholds funds from two school districts requiring masks — despite court decision against state ban on mandates

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


AARP: Climate/energy bill would eventually lead to $15 monthly increase in utility bills for single family customers

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

* This press release is just one reason why the General Assembly needs to be extra careful with this climate/energy bill and not make it look like they’re just muscling it through to help big corporations. From AARP Illinois…

As legislators return to Springfield to consider a utility reform bill that could bring the largest rate hike in Illinois history, hundreds of older adults have signed a petition urging elected officials not to forget them when casting a vote.

The concern from older adults across the state comes with good reason: data analyzed independently by AARP Illinois – because a cost analysis was never presented to the public – finds that the bill being debated this week would build up to a $15 monthly increase for Single Family customers and would lead to more than $14 billion in increases to customer bills during the next 10 years.

“Our members are deeply concerned and dismayed about their utility bills, which keep going up without any explanation or consumer input,” said State Director Bob Gallo. “But they are equally frustrated that their elected officials continually act in the best interest of ComEd and other big utilities, which use unfair lobbying practices and not on behalf of the residents.”

Since Aug. 26, more than 500 older adults across Illinois have completed petitions with AARP Illinois, the non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving the lives of those 50+. The petition demands that consumer advocacy groups, like AARP Illinois, be included in negotiations about the omnibus energy bill. On Tuesday, AARP Illinois representatives hand delivered stacks of these signed petitions to legislators at the Capitol.

Research compiled by AARP Illinois found that from the current legislation being considered, the largest single cost driver (larger than the next largest cost by $1.5 billion), is not the increase in renewable energy funding or the equitable and jobs training, but it is the increase to ComEd’s profits. That $4.1 billion increase represents only the increase in money going to Exelon over the next 10 years.

L. Reed, a Lake in the Hills resident and single mother of a 13-year-old son, said she put off seeing a doctor and buying groceries for several weeks to cover a $220 electric bill. Reed had to rely on her church to supply food to her and her son, and the high bill was still not enough to keep her home cool. She had to sit in a chair with ice packs on her to keep from overheating.
“There is no reason, with all the technology we have today, that electricity should be so expensive,” Reed said.
Other older adults who shared their utility struggles with AARP Illinois include: People who have had to stay working long into retirement to keep up with increases. Residents who are on the brink of declaring bankruptcy because they are paying hundreds of dollars a month on utilities.

Currently, Illinois utility customers are millions of dollars behind on their utility bills. Meanwhile, ComEd is projected to make record profits this year, even after it admitted to a 10-year bribery scheme that cost consumers $5 billion dollars.

The rate schemes that only benefit the utility companies, bailouts for nuclear plants, forced electrification, and increased rate caps for ratepayers are just a few reasons that electric bills will steadily increase on the citizens who can least afford it.

AARP Illinois continues to support future legislation to:

    • End formula rates and all similar ratemaking schemes, and give the Illinois Commerce Commission back control over the ratemaking process;
    • Stop additional nuclear bailouts for Exelon, which would lead to even further unfair electricity rates for you and other unsuspecting consumers;
    • Put a stop to so-called “charitable contributions” by big utility companies that are actually giving away consumers’ money to make themselves seem benevolent;
    • Enact strict ethics reforms and enhance oversight on utilities to ensure greater transparency and accountability and prevent any further illegal actions employed by utility companies that would lead to more ill-gotten rate increases;
    • Oppose legislation that raises rates through questionable new spending.

“All Illinois utility customers – and especially older adults on fixed incomes – deserve energy legislation that finally puts them first,” Gallo said. “We urge legislators in Springfield to vote on behalf of the people who put them in office, who are telling them that the largest utility rate hike in history should not be an option.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** DeVore’s Pyrrhic victory as school district shuts down in-person learning after anti-quarantine TRO

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

* Four days ago

The Carlyle, Illinois school district that previously defied Governor J.B. Pritzker’s mask mandate has reversed course after a spike in COVID cases and several students forced to quarantine.

From elementary through high school, Carlyle Community Unit School District No. 1 has fewer than 1,000 kids.

A school board member confirms to 5 On Your Side more than 150 are already in quarantine just two weeks into the year with close to 30 testing positive for COVID-19.

That number could be even higher. The state said Thursday 40 people had tested positive and more than 200 students were going into quarantine.

* But then our old pal Thomas DeVore intervened

A judge in Clinton County Court says the Carlyle School District does not have the authority to quarantine students.

As a result, a temporary injunction was issued Monday in favor of two Carlyle Unit School District parents whose children had been quarantined.

The attorney for the parents, Thomas DeVore, says the law is clear that only a county health department can quarantine a student and tell them when they can return to class. He argued the school district could not take over the role of quarantining students just because they were not getting the assistance they wanted from the county health department.

DeVore says while the temporary injunction only covers the two children named in the lawsuit, he doubts the school district would continue with their quarantine practice now that they know a judge has ruled against it.

The judge’s TRO is here.

What DeVore wants to do is force either the local county health department or the state Department of Public Health to go to court to quarantine each and every individual student, which is ridiculous.

* But the joke’s on him. The TRO includes this language...

Nothing in this order shall be construed to prohibit the District from implementing a school wide, or district wide, remote learning program.

And that’s exactly what Carlyle Community Unit School District #1 has done. I called over there this morning and they confirmed the district sent everyone home for remote learning on Friday and it will last throughout this week.

So, the truly bizarre folks who got all upset that their kids would miss school because they caught or have been exposed to COVID-19 have managed to shut down in-person learning for everyone in the district.

Complete, utter insanity.

*** UPDATE *** Another DeVore special

Motions for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against the Quincy School District and superintendent Roy Webb were filed at the Adams County Courthouse late Monday afternoon by an attorney representing three Quincy families.

The motions were filed by Thomas Devore, a Sorento, Ill., attorney with Silver Lake Group, Ltd., in Greenville, on behalf of plaintiffs Scott and Jamie Lowary and their child, Christina Terwelp and her child, and Travis and Ashley Oshner and their minor child.

The motion for the temporary restraining order asks to allow the children of the three families to “continue their in-person education upon the premises of the district until such time as an order of quarantine might issue against the children.” The motion for the preliminary injunction would allow the children of the plaintiffs to immediately “resume their in-person education unless the (Adams) County Health Department or the Illinois Department of Health has provided defendants with a lawful order of quarantine.” […]

Oshner wrote on his Facebook page that “QHS kicked (his son) out of lunch for his mesh mask” on Aug. 20.

* In other news…

* ISBE rejects Anna-Jonesboro’s request to use COVID relief money on football turf

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


As expected, Dems again tweaked their district maps today

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

* Click here for the revised House map released this morning and click here for the new Senate map. The House Democrats have scheduled a 10:45 hearing this morning for the redistricting committee in Room 114.

* Mark Maxwell

In the House, Democrats drew the following Republicans into the same legislative districts:

    • Representatives Mike Murphy (R-Springfield) and Avery Bourne (R-Raymond)
    • Representatives Chris Miller (R-Oakland) and Adam Niemerg (R-Teutopolis)
    Representatives Joe Sosnowksi (R-Rockford) and Steve Reick (R-Woodstock)
    • Representatives Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) and Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville)
    • Representatives Amy Grant (R-Wheaton) and Seth Lewis (R-Bartlett)
    • Representatives C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) and Randy Frese (R-Quincy)
    • Representatives Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) and Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich)

Democrats drew Representative Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) into the same district with his colleague Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville), but Caulkins said he plans to re-establish residency in a district next door to attempt to outmaneuver the gerrymander.

The new maps also spared some Republicans who were bracing for primary battles under the maps that were passed in May. Representatives Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) and Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) are no longer paired together in the same district, as well as Representatives Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) and Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport), who will each enjoy the benefit of incumbency in safe districts in the upcoming election.

Calabrese projected the Democrats could pick up six or seven House seats under the gerrymandered maps, but could potentially lose one or two seats in the Senate.
“They’re probably gonna have 80 members [in the House],” he said. “I also have the Democrats actually losing seats in the Senate, because what they did is they really catered to their members. And so there’s like no swing districts in the Senate. The seats are either really Republican or really Democratic.”

I struck out the Sosnowksi vs. Reick primary because this morning’s new House map puts them in separate districts. Stay tuned for more changes.

Also, subscribers know more, including about Chesney’s likely GOP opponent.

* Tribune

U.S. District Judge Robert Dow warned Democrats that they should address concerns about undercounted minority populations when approving new maps during Tuesday’s special session.

That’s just what Democrats said they attempted to do with the new proposed boundaries introduced Monday, including an effort to put more of the Orthodox Jewish community into a single House and Senate district. The new maps also make a greater effort to keep more communities within single districts, Democrats said. […]

But Shlomo Soroka of Agudath Israel of Illinois said the newest map actually further divides the Orthodox Jewish community on the Northwest Side and in the northwest suburbs.

“I actually refuse to believe this was done intentionally, but if it was a mistake, it’s not too late to fix,” Soroka said during a hearing on redistricting late Monday.

My consultant Frank Calabrese says there were no changes to that district.

…Adding… From Frank…

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Madigan’s appointed replacement and Madigan’s longtime lawyer try to protect Madigan’s former district from judicial changes

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

* Good catch by Hannah Meisel

MALDEF’s lawsuit was filed on behalf of five Latino voters in four different House districts under the plan Democrats passed in May. The suit alleges those voters have been living in districts that were malapportioned in the 2011 redistricting cycle, and will again live in districts that violate the 14th Amendment principle of “one man one vote” — unless the court steps in.

Of the four districts identified in the lawsuit, three of them saw minor adjustments to their proposed borders under the new district maps Democrats published Monday, compared with the maps passed in May. That includes the 1st House District, which State Rep. Aarón Ortiz (D-Chicago) has represented since 2019 and will continue to represent under the new map, despite the changed territory.

The slight change to the first district does not affect the 22nd House District, represented by freshman State Rep. Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar (D-Chicago). Guerrero-Cuellar, who was appointed to the House seat vacated by longtime former House Speaker Mike Madigan in February, recently filed an unusual motion in the MALDEF suit asking to be added to the list of defendants, along with Democratic leaders.

In the filing, Guerrero-Cuellar said she was asking the court on behalf of her constituents as she wanted to prevent any sort of settlement of surrounding districts that may affect her own. According to internal data, the new 22nd District’s population is nearly 63% voting age residents of Hispanic origin — the third-most largest share in the new proposed map.

“The Representative of the 22nd District has a significant interest in maintaining the current configuration of the map to protect her constituents’ rights to a fair and reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice and avoid dilution of Latino/a/x votes,” Guerrero-Cuellar’s attorneys wrote.

Guerrero-Cuellar is represented in the matter by the Del Galdo Law Group, whose namesake Michael Del Galdo has long been close with Madigan.

In court filings seeking to block Guerrero-Cuellar’s legal move, MALDEF included a July 2 letter from Guerrero-Cuellar to Griselda Vega Samuel, the organization’s midwest regional counsel and leader in its Chicago office. The letter asked Vega Samuel to “refrain from taking any legal actions that would disrupt the representation of this community and silence local voices.”

“I am deeply concerned that attempts to overturn the map in court could disrupt the representation this community enjoys and silence our voices,” Guerrero-Cuellar wrote. “It is my sincere hope that you will respect the diversity of this community and the clearly stated will of the people who lives here and forgo any legal challenge to the 22nd Representative District.”

The 1st House District, by the way, went from 75 percent Latino voting age population in the May redistricting bill to 76 percent in the current bill.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Should the House Dems restrict their fundraising?

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

* I only mention this upcoming fundraiser because there’s an article about it today…

Tickets run from $250 up to $20,000 for a VIP event.

* Crain’s

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch has announced plans for his first big Chicago fund-raiser since succeeding Mike Madigan, and though I wouldn’t expect Commonwealth Edison execs to pack the place, it does have some similarities to the kind of big-bucks events Madigan used to throw. […]

If Team Welch is imposing any new rules on who can donate, given Madigan’s involvement in the on-going Edison bribery and shake-down scandal, it isn’t saying so. Madigan has not been accused of any misconduct and denies any impropriety. Several of his key associates are under federal indictment. […]

Says a Welch spokeswoman in a statement, “Speaker Welch is excited to have a fundraiser at a new outdoor venue. He will comply with any state/local guidelines, just like every other political committee holding a fundraiser.”

I’m not quite sure why Welch should be singled out here, particularly since Senate President Harmon is the one taking the lead on the energy bill talks.

Your thoughts on any special restrictions that Welch should put on his fundraisers?

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Rate the new JB Pritzker TV ad

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

* The spot

* Script

At some age, I think we all learn that we lack the ability to control the bad things that come at us.

For me, that was losing my father at the age of seven and losing my mother at the age of seventeen.

Every day that I woke up during this pandemic and looked at how many people had died the day earlier, I knew, thinking about each one of those people, what they were going through, what their families were going through.

And I knew that it was my obligation to do everything that I could to make sure that another person wouldn’t go through that.

Look, I may not have gotten every decision right but at every step along the way I followed the science.

This is a state that cares deeply about keeping each other healthy and making sure that we get through this together.

We have more work to do, there’s no doubt, but Illinois has led in ways that people did not expect. And I’m very proud of that.

Way more subdued than the first crop.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Open thread

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

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Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

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*** UPDATED x2 *** Senate’s climate/energy bill currently on life support as Pritzker vows veto

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

[Bumped up to Tuesday for visibility]

* The Senate held a hearing today on the new climate/energy bill. But this thing as written isn’t going anywhere even if the Senate passes it tomorrow. From Gov. Pritzker’s office…

The Governor’s position on a comprehensive energy bill has not changed since discussions at the end of session in May and again in June: any energy package needs to lead with ethics and transparency, needs time to be vetted, and must end carbon emissions by a date certain. HB3666, a bill that was not agreed to by environmentalists nor negotiated with all stakeholders, falls short of that standard, and if it reaches the Governor’s desk, he will veto it. The Governor remains committing to finalizing a bill that put consumers and the climate first, moves us to a zero emission future, and leads with ethics and transparency.

Scientists around the world have said we are at a “code red for humanity” and surely they would agree that we cannot wait to 2040 to cut the emissions of Prairie State Energy Campus - the nation’s seventh largest polluter - in half. And a thousand page energy bill affecting both ratepayers and utility interests that have been the subject of a deferred prosecution agreement should not be released on a Monday and voted on the next day.

BACKGROUND

    • The Senate draft was scheduled to be filed at 8:30AM, very shortly after a copy was sent to the administration and stakeholders for the first time.
    • Our review of the 900 page plus bill is still ongoing at this hour.
    • This bill does not reflect previous agreements, in fact, this draft is worse for the planet and better for industries of polluters.
    o The Senate bill does not phase out the dirtier gas plants nearly quickly enough. Even natural gas companies believe the orderly process that would have been created by the Illinois EPA in the Governor’s draft was more workable and responsible.

* House Speaker Chris Welch’s spokesperson Jaclyn Driscoll…

The Speaker is still reviewing the language that was filed this morning, but he has always been clear that before an energy proposal is called in the House there must be a consensus among the Democratic caucus and stakeholders, as well as include strong, meaningful ethics provisions. Leaders Evans, Gabel, and Hoffman have been tenacious advocates at the table throughout these negotiations and Speaker Welch will rely on their advice and guidance as conversations continue.

* And one of those stakeholders is the Sierra Club…

Today, an amendment to HB3666 was introduced in the General Assembly, which fails to act on the urgency of the climate crisis and gives a free pass to the Prairie State coal plant, the largest polluter in Illinois. Despite widespread approval for an energy bill that sets firm deadlines to equitably decarbonize our electric grid and grow Illinois’ clean energy economy, legislators continue to cater to fossil fuel interests. The amendment to HB3666 currently allows Prairie State to continue burning coal without any pollution reductions before 2045, leaves frontline communities vulnerable to short-term pollution increases, and allows fossil fuel companies to appeal to the Illinois Commerce Commission for pollution bailouts. Sierra Club joined other environmental advocates in opposing any bill that jeopardizes people and a livable climate.

Despite Governor Pritzker, legislators, and the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition staring down Exelon, ComEd, and Ameren to demand climate leadership for our state, fossil fuel corporations and special interests on behalf of Prairie State continue to hold Springfield hostage.

In response, Sierra Club Illinois Director Jack Darin released the following statement:

    “We remain confident that an agreement on a comprehensive energy package is absolutely possible, but as currently drafted, Sierra Club cannot support this bill. This summer alone, we have witnessed the hottest July ever documented, extreme weather, and flooding across Illinois. A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sounding the alarm of an even graver climate crisis than we thought. This bill must match the urgency of the moment. While it includes many of our priorities to grow an equitable, clean energy economy across Illinois, it does not currently have a decarbonization plan that holds the state’s biggest climate polluters accountable or protects our frontline communities. Coal plants like the Dallman Power Plant and the Prairie State Coal Plant continue to pollute Illinois communities at alarming rates, with the Prairie State Coal Plant killing 76 Illinoisans annually and costing $2 billion a year in damage to our health and environment.

    “The fossil fuel industry has time and again left Illinois workers in a lurch and left communities with toxic legacies and broken promises. Other states are tapping the potential of a booming clean energy economy and without action, Illinois will not only fail to meet the challenges of the climate crises, but will deny the opportunity of clean energy prosperity to generations of Illinoisans. We remain committed to working with legislators and stakeholders to come to an agreement that prioritizes equity, clean energy jobs, and decarbonizes Illinois’ electric grid.”

* IRMA, however, has moved to neutral…

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) released the following statement regarding the proposed energy omnibus legislation:

“From safely storing food and medicine to ensuring shoppers have access to needed goods around the clock, retailers and the consumers they serve need reliable and affordable energy. As a result, IRMA has been an active and engaged stakeholder on energy legislation dating back to our support of, and leadership on, the landmark deregulation of the Illinois energy market in 1997. IRMA was the only statewide business group to support deregulation, which has saved businesses and homeowners billions of dollars and created one of the most reliable grids in the nation. As such, we have expressed concerns about various energy proposals put forth over the last two years. Most notably the added cost and potential reliability issues included in earlier proposals,” said Rob Karr, president & CEO, IRMA.

“However, thanks to the strong leadership demonstrated by Senate President Don Harmon and Senate Pro Tempore Bill Cunningham, IRMA is no longer opposing this legislation following good faith negotiations that took place throughout the summer and leading into this week. While no bill of this complexity is ever perfect, much has been done to temper the costs on retailers and consumers. That includes reducing the overall size of the proposal, instituting caps on costs and attempting to safeguard reliability. We are also pleased the current proposal is taking additional steps to reach zero carbon emissions, as retail companies big and small are doing that proactively. Overall, this updated measure meets our goal of trying to ensure reliable and affordable electricity for retailers in Illinois while addressing climate change.”

*** UPDATE 1 *** IEC…

Following is a statement from Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, on the latest climate and energy bill released today:

“We stand on the precipice of passing comprehensive climate and equitable jobs legislation in Illinois. This moment comes after a years-long campaign, and our even longer strategic effort to build the power of the environmental movement in Illinois. We have grown a strong voting bloc of environmental champions, who stand shoulder to shoulder with Governor Pritzker and our community in demanding a bill that truly addresses climate change and that includes meaningful equity provisions.

“But this legislation isn’t there yet. Anything short of what Illinoisans deserve or what science demands would be too costly a mistake to make in the climate crisis, particularly for BIPOC communities most impacted. Illinois must plan a clear and certain timeline for ending fossil fuels–and it must do so in this bill.

“The coming days will determine whether legislators are strong enough to side with their constituents, or polluting fossil fuel industries who have called the shots in Springfield for too long. Our clean energy future and the future of generations to come depends on the decisions legislators make over the next few hours. Our movement won’t stop pushing until the General Assembly has passed equitable, comprehensive climate legislation worthy of the people of Illinois.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** Crain’s

Senate President Don Harmon has tried to marry labor’s interests with the greens. He was sanguine Monday evening.

“The Senate president remains optimistic that we’ll find the winning balance of reliable, renewable and affordable energy policies for the people of Illinois,” a spokesman said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


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