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It’s just a bill

Thursday, Jan 27, 2022

* All that screaming and moaning over $20 million in a $16.7 billion city budget. That’s 0.12 percent. Crain’s

Last spring, over Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s objections, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill boosting benefits for retired Chicago firefighters.

That bill doubled the cost of living adjustments, or COLAs, for roughly 2,200 firefighters and eliminated a 30% cap on cumulative COLA adjustments. It was sponsored by Rob Martwick in both chambers of the General Assembly, because Martwick—whose Chicago district includes many police and firefighters—moved from the House to the Senate in June of 2019. It had the support of Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2.

Both Lightfoot and fiscal watchdog the Civic Federation railed against the legislation, warning it would cost taxpayers more than $850 million over 35 years.

Now we have a full tally of the price. It’s a bit lower than the city’s dire estimates, but it’s still steep. According to an analysis performed by Segal, the actuary for the Firemen’s Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago, the city will have to chip in an additional $702 million in statutory contributions through 2055—an average of $20 million per year—due to the law. […]

Now Martwick says he’s going to pursue a similar bill to codify benefits for police officers in this legislative session. “You can’t calculate (long-term costs) if you’re hiding a benefit. It’s the right thing to do to protect taxpayers now and into the future. I’m going to pursue it.”

* Press release…

Today, One Fair Wage, a national nonprofit that advocates on behalf of restaurant workers, along with State Rep. Camille Lilly, Women Employed, and local restaurant owners and workers announced the One Fair Wage Act (House Bill 5139), which would end the subminimum wage in Illinois.

The legislation is being announced in response to a wage shortage crisis across Illinois; One Fair Wage says raising wages for restaurant workers who work for subminimum wages is critical to helping the industry recover. One Fair Wage has tracked over 200 restaurant owners in IL who have voluntarily raised wages for tipped workers; this bill would create a level playing field for these responsible restaurant owners and help them fully reopen by sending a signal to millions of workers that wage increases will be permanent.

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently estimated that 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November - with 1 million of those workers leaving jobs in the restaurant or hotel industries. While overall, 3% of the total workforce quit in November - that rate was double in the restaurant industry - suggesting that rather than a labor shortage, workers have been quitting this sector due largely to low wages.

“Tens of thousands of Illinois tipped workers have left the restaurant industry and are not willing to return until they can earn a full and fair wage—with tips on top. Illinois workers deserve to earn a wage that allows them to support themselves and their families,” said State Rep. Lilly.

“Nine of Illinois’ fifteen lowest paying jobs are tipped occupations and women are the majority in over half of them,” said Women Employed’s President and CEO Cherita Ellens. “This poverty burden falls disproportionately on women, and in particular women of color. We can continue to talk about closing the wealth gap, but we have to be willing to make the hard decisions and change policies that perpetuate long-standing inequities. Women Employed is committed to building the economic power of women in Illinois and is proud to co-lead the Illinois coalition to ensure a full and fair wage for all, and we are thankful to Rep. Camille Lilly for her leadership on this issue.”

“It is no wonder that workers are exiting the leisure and hospitality industry en masse,” said Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage. “The last two years of this horrendous pandemic have been more than a hard time for restaurant and hospitality workers –– especially tipped workers who have been struggling with subminimum wages. Looking at the data and speaking to workers, the crisis in Illinois’ restaurant industry is clear. If the industry is to survive, the state must raise the wage and pay tipped workers a full livable wage with tips on top.”

Mo Carter, owner of MJB Restaurant Group, stated the following in support of the bill, “Part of the matter of “The Great Resignation” is the right to earn not just a livable wage but a life-sustaining one. Consistent, strong staff are the support beams to ownership and they’re relying on their employers to recognize that worth.”

“Now is the time to end the subminimum wage for tipped workers, by all means necessary,” said Antoinette J. Simmons, One Fair Wage Illinois worker leader.

* Press release…

llinois Senate Republicans are once again pushing for tougher ethics reforms that will hold politicians more accountable and better equip officials to investigate public corruption. On Jan. 27, they outlined several much-needed and long-overdue reforms to help restore Illinoisans’ faith in their state government.

“Year after year, study after study, Illinois continues to rank as one of the most corrupt states in the country by outlets such as Forbes, FiveThirtyEight, and the Washington Post. According to Forbes, Illinois has experienced the second highest number of federal public corruption convictions per capita,” said State Senator Jil Tracy, Chair of the Legislative Ethics Committee. “We must open the blinds in the smoke-filled back rooms, shine more light on politically-motivated activities, and make it easier for prosecutors to go after the bad actors who are out there.”

During the press conference, the Republican senators announced Senate Bill 3636, which they say will help ensure that lawmakers are looking out for their constituents rather than special interests, and give prosecutors and the Attorney General enhanced tools to effectively investigate and prosecute public officials who break the law.

“Our constituents expect us to be held to high ethical standards. They must know that we are adhering to the spirit of the law so that they can be confident that their representatives are representing them, not special interests,” said State Senator Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) “To regain the trust of the people of our state, we must close the loopholes that lawmakers have used and abused over the years.”

“Our legislation will finally implement a change in culture here in Illinois and allow us to have a government that is instilled with trust and integrity,” said State Senator Sally Turner (R-Beason). “Our constituents are tired of waiting. We must act now. It is time for legislators who have promised to combat corruption to keep their word.”

“General Assembly members are charged with representing Illinoisans, NOT serving their own personal interests,” said State Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris). “State lawmakers must be held to higher standards of ethical behavior. With these reforms, we are working to hold them accountable and, in the process, restore some of the public trust that has been so terribly abused in recent years by politicians who have not served in good faith.”

“We have a real opportunity to finally bring about real, meaningful ethics reform that the state desperately needs,” said State Senator Brian Stewart (R-Freeport). “We cannot allow the progress we accomplished last year to be the end of our push for ethics reform. We must continue to fight for a better and more ethical government that every citizen of our state wants and deserves.”
Senate Bill 3636:

    • Prohibits a General Assembly member, their spouse, or any immediate family member from lobbying as long as the individual is a member of the General Assembly.
    • Prohibits a legislator during their term of office from negotiating employment with a lobbying firm (such as a job after their term of office), if that firm lobbies the General Assembly.
    • Strengthens the revolving door for General Assembly members to prohibit them from lobbying for 12 months after leaving office (currently 6 months).
    • Limits a lobbyist’s political activity so that anyone who is a lobbyist cannot be an officer for a candidate’s political committee or be a candidate supported by a political action committee.
    • Expands the authority of a statewide grand jury to investigate and indict offenses involving the corruption of a public official, to include theft, fraud, extortion, or a violation of the official misconduct and public contracts articles of the criminal code of 2012.
    • Expands Illinois’ R.I.C.O. law to include bribery, official misconduct, solicitation of misconduct, and legislative misconduct.

The announcement of Senate Bill 3636 comes on the heels of the resignation of former Legislative Inspector General, Carol Pope. Currently, that position remains vacant after Democrat members of the Legislative Ethics Commission have failed to accept the recommended candidate brought forward by an independent search committee.

“Democrats want to hand-pick their own watchdog. That is not OK,” said State Senator Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles). “It has been three weeks without a Legislative Inspector General, leaving legislators policing themselves. That is the complete opposite of how we gain back the public’s trust.”
On January 6, following Pope’s resignation, Senate Republicans announced Senate Bill 3030, which would give the Legislative Inspector General more power to investigate potential corruption.

Neither Senate Bill 3030 or Senate Bill 3636 have been released from the Senate’s Assignments Committee.

…Adding… The far right claims another legislative victory…

Good news! HB 4244, the bill that would have created a vaccine data registry by forcing doctors to provide your vaccine records to the Department of Public Health, is dead for this year. It was put into a subcommittee graveyard before it ever got a hearing in the Human Services Committee to which it was assigned.

Thousands filed witness slips and contacted their legislators to oppose the bill. Even those who had already filed witness slips did so again when it appeared that many had been removed. We are still looking into that issue, but may never get to the bottom of it. The fact is, they heard your voices loud and clear!

YOU made this defeat possible when YOU took action! This is exactly how “We the People” should work.

Thank you for partnering with us on this important issue and congratulations!

David E. Smith
Executive Director

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 12:38 pm:

    “Democrats want to hand-pick their own watchdog. That is not OK,”

    God for DeWitte, he’s is not only pointing out the problem but offering a fix as sponsor on SB3636


  2. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 12:49 pm:

    Firefighters, then the police. These “modest” increases add up over time. Martwick will be long gone but Chicago taxpayers will still be around.


  3. - TNR - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 12:51 pm:

    Even with Martwick’s new law, Chicago still has the least lucrative firefighter pension benefits in the state (they get a 3 percent flat COLA, while every other department’s retirees gets 3 percent compounded, a big difference.)

    The City Hall press corps lets the mayor spew hyperbole all the time. Maybe they should throw some back her way and asked “why do you think your firefighters don’t deserve the pension benefits suburban firefighters get when they have an arguably more difficult job?”


  4. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 12:56 pm:

    = The far right claims another legislative victory =

    Who wants to tell them the Illinois vaccine registry has already existed for almost a decade? And that this bill had nothing to do with creating one?


  5. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 12:59 pm:

    ==Who wants to tell them the Illinois vaccine registry has already existed for almost a decade?==

    Yes, and when I signed up for Vax Verify I saw that all of my flu shots annually since about 2013 are on there. In addition to my 3 total COVID shots (including booster). Plus a tetanous shot I had to get after an at-home accident where I had severely cut my hand.


  6. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 1:02 pm:

    ===“why do you think your firefighters don’t deserve the pension benefits suburban firefighters get when they have an arguably more difficult job?”===

    Meh. CFD works 24 hours on-duty, 48 hours off-duty schedules. Many have second jobs thanks to this archaic arrangement. I don’t worry too much about Chicago’s firefighters. Somehow I think they’ll be OK even with a flat 3%.


  7. - sladay - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 1:03 pm:

    TheInvisibleMan… exactly. IDPH already tracks shots.


  8. - Captain Obvious - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 1:24 pm:

    If a server is paid a livable wage per the proposed legislation why would a patron need to tip them at all? The price for the meal will have to be greatly increased to pay the wage and then a tip is expected on top of that? I don’t think so.


  9. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 1:29 pm:

    ===why would a patron need to tip them at all?===

    I think that’s the point.


  10. - Annonin' - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 1:48 pm:

    Maybe the ethics should appoint co-probers…so we uncover double the bad girls and boys. FEELIN’ safer already. ‘RIFFIE AND RichieRich should dive on board


  11. - H-W - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 2:00 pm:

    =The price for the meal will have to be greatly increased to pay the wage=

    False. Do the Math. If 4 servers were working, and if 4 servers were to get a hypothetical ten dollar pay raise, then the restaurant would need to generate an addition $40.00 in sales in that one hour. To do so, they would divide that $40.00 across all the tables, all the meals, all the customers during that one hour. Assuming a server works 4 tables per hour, then each table would have see an increase of $2.50 to the table’s bill. That’s not a lot of money, and if there are 4 people at each table ordering food, then we are really talking about raising the cost of each meal by about $0.65 per order.

    The idea that each person at each table would pay each server’s pay raise is just flawed math. Go back to school. Do the math. Business do not have to increase the cost of meals much at all in order to increase wages.


  12. - Jocko - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 2:45 pm:

    ==forcing doctors to provide your vaccine records==

    I’m thinking David E. Smith is childless or never completed the school enrollment forms asking (rather than forcing) them to provide their vaccine records.


  13. - Four Eyes - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 2:51 pm:

    ==Prohibits a legislator during their term of office from negotiating employment with a lobbying firm (such as a job after their term of office), if that firm lobbies the General Assembly.==

    What will to stop them from opening their own firms?


  14. - Mason born - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 4:19 pm:

    On the tipped wage i saw this, “a full and fair wage—with tips on top” and i’m curious if this is a reality. I wonder what the sentiments would be if it was a wage hike and no tips vs sub and tips. I know when my Ex was waiting tables she liked the tips vs taking a better paid non tipped position.

    It helps that it’s pretty easy to under report cash tips and get tax free money.

    Of course people who don’t tip or under tip are just A holes.


  15. - Frank talks - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 4:59 pm:

    @H-W do you really think restaurants will only raise the price the exact amount needed to cover this expense?


  16. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 5:00 pm:

    ===will only raise the price the exact amount===

    There’s not just one restaurant.


  17. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 8:23 pm:

    ===why would a patron need to tip them at all?===

    Because it’s only ethical and fair?


  18. - H-W - Thursday, Jan 27, 22 @ 11:00 pm:

    @Frank Talks

    I do not know, nor care. If we were to penalized wait staff because we do not trust employers, that would be unethical. Wait staff should be paid a livable wage. End of story. If employers attempt to extract excessive profits from customers on the backs of wait staff, then the problem is not with underpaid workers - it is with business ethics.


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