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Afternoon roundup

Monday, Feb 27, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

When the whistle blows at the Belvidere Assembly Plant on Tuesday, it may signal the end of an era.

For nearly six decades, the massive auto plant has been the economic engine of the small river city near Rockford, churning out everything from the Plymouth Fury and the Chrysler New Yorker to the Dodge Dart.

But after several years of downsizing and dwindling demand for its current product, the Jeep Cherokee, Stellantis is idling the plant “indefinitely,” laying off the last 1,200 workers and perhaps closing it for good.

Statement from the Pritzker administration…

Illinois is focused on supporting workers impacted by the plant’s idling and has been on the ground providing workshops and support services to furloughed workers since receiving notification of the company’s plans in December 2022. In partnership with local leaders, community colleges and workforce partners, the State continues to work diligently to ensure impacted workers have the support they need. At the same time, Illinois continues to work closely with Stellantis as the company works to identify opportunities to repurpose the Belvidere facility to adapt to changes in the automotive market. REV Illinois and the closing fund, combined with our top-ranked infrastructure, abundant workforce and investments in statewide training, make Illinois a turn-key choice for any large company in the clean energy sector.

Not looking good.

* Pew

Nationwide and in 32 states as of the end of the second quarter of 2022, cumulative tax receipts since the pandemic’s start, adjusted for inflation, were even higher than they would have been if pre-COVID growth trends had continued—despite fallout from the pandemic and a two-month recession. According to Pew estimates, New Mexico led all states, with 17.1% more cumulative tax revenue than it would have collected under its pre-pandemic growth rate. Idaho was second at 16.7% above the trend. Nationally, combined tax revenue at the end of the second quarter of 2022 was 4% above estimates of what might have been collected had the pandemic not occurred.

However, estimates also show that cumulative tax revenue fell short of its pre-COVID growth trend in slightly more than a third of states since the pandemic’s onset. This suggests less extraordinary growth than the recent spate of budget surpluses and the scale and scope of enacted tax cuts might otherwise indicate.

Illinois in orange compared to all 50 states in blue and Ohio in green

Click here to do your own comparisons.

* Tribune

The Illinois Supreme Court should reject a “grab-bag of constitutional theories” put forward by prosecutors across the state who are challenging a measure that would eliminate cash bail, the attorney general’s office argued in a final appeal brief filed Monday. […]

The brief said the high court has “no persuasive reason” to side with the prosecutors, and argued that their position would “effectively bar the General Assembly from ever reforming pretrial procedures in the State.” […]

“The clause by its plain language guarantees rights only to crime victims; it cannot reasonably be read to require a system of monetary bail,” the brief said, “and it is easily squared with the pretrial release provisions, which at multiple stages require courts to consider crime victims in making release decisions.”

* Crain’s

The practice of considering environmental, social and governance, or ESG, risk has gained mainstream traction over the past two decades — in some quarters, it’s almost routine. Is it wise to invest in an oil and gas producer if the market is shifting away from fossil fuels, or in a company that has a record of sexual harassment complaints?

Some Republican officials have decided, however, that they’ve had it with what they call “woke” investing. A dozen states have enacted bills or issued advisories restricting ESG investing for public pension funds and other public money. Other states are considering similar measures.

Florida’s hard-line conservative Gov. Ron DeSantis led a resolution to bar state pension funds from considering ESG factors, and the state pulled about $2 billion in assets managed by investment giant BlackRock, an advocate of socially conscious investing. Texas blacklisted BlackRock and other financial firms it determined divested stocks of fossil fuel companies.

The backlash worries asset owners and managers in Illinois and other blue states. Why would anyone limit the considerations that go into selecting a sound investment strategy, they ask. That could potentially depress the returns of the pension funds or deprive the fund of a superior return because it’s unwilling to consider factors that impact long-term viability.

* Injustice Watch

Illinois’ state child welfare agency for years has been illegally blocking undocumented survivors of child abuse from seeking a special visa for crime victims that would allow them to remain in the United States, an Injustice Watch investigation has found.

Since 2019, state law has required the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and all law enforcement agencies to make a decision within 90 business days on whether undocumented immigrant applicants who have been victims of certain crimes and are applying for a type of permanent visa called a “U visa” are eligible.

That visa program was set up to help law enforcement gain the trust of undocumented immigrants who might otherwise be reluctant to come forward.

But records show that DCFS so far has taken more than four years to establish a process to review the applications, potentially denying hundreds of families a chance at legal immigration status and keeping others from even trying.

Full statement from DCFS…

The safety, health and welfare of our children are the primary concern of DCFS. The Department has received 7 requests for certification since January 1, 2019 and has signed one certification. The Department has designated a point of contact to review U Visa requests and established a specific email address for individuals to submit a certification form request. The Department is committed to further developing this process to assist individuals who may be eligible for a U Visa. The Department will also reevaluate those requests that were previously submitted to determine whether the requests for a certification can be granted.

* Ralph Martire on the proposed state budget

However, many of the structural fiscal flaws that created years of deficits remain in place. Which means Illinois decision-makers have the rare opportunity to thoughtfully consider reforming the state’s fiscal system, with an eye toward building the capacity needed to sustain investments in core services over the long haul, rather than just dig out of the crisis du jour. Bottom line: the Pritzker administration should be commended for its responsible stewardship, but there’s still work to do.

…Adding… Illinois Policy Institute sending text messages attacking Brandon Johnson and CTU…

* Isabel’s roundup…

* Chicago stuff from Isabel…


It’s just a bill

Monday, Feb 27, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Pluribus News

California enacted the Coogan Act in 1939 to protect child actors. In 2023, state lawmakers in Illinois and Washington State want to protect the children of vloggers — parents who document their lives on video and share it to platforms such as YouTube and TikTok to earn money.

Like the Coogan Act, named after child actor Jackie Coogan of Charlie Chaplin fame, the vlogger bills introduced in both states would require that parents carve off a portion of their earnings for their children. The measures would also give the children of vloggers the right, when they turn 18, to request that video of them be taken offline. […]

While the Washington bill appears dead for now, a virtually identical bill in Illinois, sponsored by Sens. David Koehler (D) and Linda Holmes (D), is still in play.

Koehler said he got the idea from a 15-year-old constituent who contacted his office concerned about the potential for youth who grow up in a vlogging household to be exploited. The bill is modeled on the Washington legislation.

* ABC Chicago

Since the I-Team first reported on xylazine earlier this month, it has quickly become labeled around the world as the “zombie drug.” The animal tranquilizer, not intended for human use, can cause a stupor-like state and produce raw, open wounds in chronic users. […]

Illinois legislation introduced this month in the Senate would outlaw the manufacturer, delivery or possession of the animal tranquilizer for human use.

However, even laws don’t address the humanity Dr. Poorman said is needed.

“People who use drugs are people who deserve our compassion and love, and that is the only way they are going to get better. If you instead say, you know, they’re the scourge of the earth and we just got to stop, you know, drug use at whatever cost, then the consequence of that is clear. And we’re seeing that right now with the worst overdose crisis in American history,” Dr. Poorman said.


Illinois State Representative Rita Mayfield is sponsoring House Bill1049 which will prevent insurance companies from discriminating against breeds or certain mixes regarding homeowners or renters insurance. And her bill will also prevent landlords or HOA’s from discriminating against certain dog breeds or dogs of a certain size.

* Rep. Barbara Hernandez

Amends the State Commemorative Dates Act. Provides that the second Monday in October of each year (currently, the last Monday in September) shall be a holiday to be known as Indigenous Peoples Day to be observed throughout the State (currently, not a holiday). Removes Columbus Day as a holiday and a commemorative date. Amends the Election Code, the Illinois Procurement Code, the School Code, and the Promissory Note and Bank Holiday Act to make changes to provide for Indigenous Peoples Day as a State holiday and the removal of Columbus Day as a State holiday. Makes conforming changes.


State Senator Neil Anderson, (R) IL 47th, reintroduced Senate Bill 2106, and State Senator Andrew Chesney, (R) IL 45th, has since co-sponsored the bill.

The bill would mandate any member of the General Assembly who wants to introduce a bill “pertaining to a firearm” to complete firearm training requirements under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, range safety officer training, and a basic knowledge test of firearms.

Chesney says that their goal with this bill is to have those from a different perspective understand what they are trying to regulate.

“What we’ve seen when it involves second amendment regulations is that those that are proposing this don’t normally have the training to regulate it,” said Chesney. “So you start to see things that in our view are unconstitutional and maybe out of step with perhaps how the majority of people feel on the particular topic.”

* Rep. Maura Hirschauer‘s HB3238

Amends the Criminal Code of 2012. Provides that, with certain exceptions, it is unlawful for any person within the State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, import, or purchase or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, imported, or purchased by another, an armor plate, body armor, or military helmet. Provides that, with certain exceptions, beginning January 1, 2024, it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly possess an armor plate, body armor, or military helmet.

Provides that this provision does not apply to a person’s possession of an armor plate, body armor, or military helmet if the person lawfully possessed that armor plate, body armor, or military helmet prohibited by this provision, if the person has provided in an endorsement affidavit, within 6 months after the effective date of the amendatory Act, under oath or affirmation and in the form and manner prescribed by the Illinois State Police: (1) an affirmation that the affiant: (i) possessed an armor plate, body armor, or military helmet before the effective date of the amendatory Act; or (ii) inherited the armor plate, body armor, or military helmet from a person with an endorsement or from a person authorized to possess the armor plate, body armor, or military helmet possessed by the affiant prior to the effective date of the amendatory Act. Provides exemptions. Provides that a violation of these provisions is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense.


Illinois State Senator Win Stoller (R) from District 37 is speaking out against Governor J.B. Pritzker’s recently announced child care plan. […]

Stoller agreed that child care is a huge issue that needs addressing, but is concerned because it would be another new program to fund.

“When we look at the things that we could or should be spending money on, we still have K-12 education, we have higher education, healthcare - we gotta be making sure we’re taking care of that,” Stoller said. […]

Stoller recently announced support for Senate Bill 2200 which would give $200 million in rebates to Illinois energy customers affected by increased power bills.

The senator also voiced concerns over the state’s energy production. He is supporting Senate Bill 1548 which would reduce regulations from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. 

* SB0085

Creates the State Beverage Container Recycling Refunds Act. Establishes the Distributor and Importer Responsibility Organization to implement a beverage container recycling redemption refund program to issue redemption refunds to consumers for beverage containers. Provides avenues for redeeming refunds under the Act. Contains labeling requirements. Sets forth performance targets for the Organization. Contains reporting requirements. Requires the Organization to establish an Operations Advisory Committee and an Equity and Access Advisory Committee. Contains provisions concerning reimbursement, enforcement, and administration and other provisions.

* Press release…

Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza stood with law enforcement and area leaders at Romeoville’s Village Hall Monday seeking support for a bill to ensure timely payments for the families of law enforcement officers, members of the armed forces, firemen, paramedics and other first responders killed in the line of duty.

SB 217/HB 3388 aims to ensure a continuing line of appropriation so that there is no delay for the families.

“Going back to the police memorial this past spring, I was approached by the family of fallen Officer Brian Pierce. Tammy and Brian Pierce asked me for my help in checking on the award payments afforded to families of first responders who die in the line of duty,” Comptroller Mendoza said.

Currently, the Line of Duty Compensation Act provides for a death benefit for claims filed within one year of the death of a law enforcement officer, civil defense worker, civil air patrol member, paramedic, fireman, chaplain, or State employee killed in the line of duty or for claims filed within two years of the death of an armed-forces member. The Line of Duty Compensation Act also provides a burial benefit for fallen law enforcement and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

The total number of claims for the Fiscal Year 2022 was 26, which was 13 more claims than had been budgeted for.

While waiting for the approval of supplemental appropriations, Brian Pierce Jr.’s family was delayed in receiving their son’s line of duty death benefit because of a lack of appropriation authority. Upon further meetings with the family to hear out their concerns, Comptroller Mendoza pledged to help change the way these funds are appropriated.

“I really knew I had to fix this from ever happening again. That is why I’ve asked State Rep. Dave Vella and Sen. Chris Belt to introduce legislation, House Bill 3388 and Senate Bill 217, that would allow these vouchers to come to my office so that I can pay them without any delay,” said Comptroller Mendoza.

“Every day I’m reminded, and I see the amazing heroicness, generosity and compassion people have, and we should share it back to them,” Romeoville Mayor John Noak said about first responders.


Question of the day

Monday, Feb 27, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sen. Sue Rezin in Crain’s

As Illinois families and businesses continue to struggle with tightening budgets, lawmakers must prioritize reducing energy costs. There are many factors that play into price increases, including global markets, economic pressures and restrictions of production. However, there is something we can do right now to lower costs — eliminate the state’s arbitrary moratorium that has been restricting the construction of new nuclear power plants for over 35 years.

Illinois is one of just 12 states with such a restriction on the construction of new nuclear power facilities. This restriction has remained in place even though our state has more nuclear power reactors than any other state, which have efficiently and safely produced carbon-free electricity for Illinois residents for roughly four decades. […]

This is why for the past two years I have filed legislation that would delete the language from our books that prohibits construction on any new nuclear power plants, and have advocated that our state take a long and serious look at emerging advanced small modular reactors (SMRs) or so-called “micro nukes.”

“Micro nukes” are small reactors that can be located in small factories, or even inside already existing legacy coal-fired power plants that are scheduled to be decommissioned under Illinois’ Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA). An important factor is that these smaller nuclear reactors can be placed in pre-existing coal-fired power plants, which means we wouldn’t have to spend as much time and money building new infrastructure as we currently have to for new renewable projects.

* From the US Energy Department

Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are a key part of the Department’s goal to develop safe, clean, and affordable nuclear power options. The advanced SMRs currently under development in the United States represent a variety of sizes, technology options, capabilities, and deployment scenarios. These advanced reactors, envisioned to vary in size from tens of megawatts up to hundreds of megawatts, can be used for power generation, process heat, desalination, or other industrial uses. SMR designs may employ light water as a coolant or other non-light water coolants such as a gas, liquid metal, or molten salt.

Advanced SMRs offer many advantages, such as relatively small physical footprints, reduced capital investment, ability to be sited in locations not possible for larger nuclear plants, and provisions for incremental power additions. SMRs also offer distinct safeguards, security and nonproliferation advantages.

* Stanford

“Our results show that most small modular reactor designs will actually increase the volume of nuclear waste in need of management and disposal, by factors of 2 to 30 for the reactors in our case study,” said study lead author Lindsay Krall, a former MacArthur Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). “These findings stand in sharp contrast to the cost and waste reduction benefits that advocates have claimed for advanced nuclear technologies.”

* Environmental Working Group

There is no realistic prospect that SMRs can make a significant dent in the need to transition rapidly to a carbon-free electricity system. The prospects of timely contributions by even the light water designs, with NuScale being the most advanced in schedule, are dismal. The prospects for reactors of other designs, like those with graphite fuels or sodium cooling, are even more so.

It will be a tough road for SMRs to achieve cost parity with large reactors. And that cost will still be far too high.

* The Question: Should Illinois at least partially lift its no-nuke construction ban to accommodate small modular reactors? Make sure to explain your answer. Thanks.



Monday, Feb 27, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller


A new nonpartisan poll from Northwestern University’s Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy found that among Black voters, crime, cost of living and police accountability are the top concerns when voting for the next mayor of Chicago. The same survey found the vast majority of likely Black voters support more funding for youth programs, more affordable housing and increased funding for all public schools.

Center Square

Two out of every three voters are dissatisfied with Chicago’s public education system, and some 62% of them support school choice, a new Illinois Policy Institute poll finds.

* Out of a sample size of 1,458…

Then again, according to Frank Calabrese, the 19th Ward now has as many mail and early votes as 12, 14, 15, 22, 28 and 31…

* Illinois is at 70 percent


Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum partnering with Google

Monday, Feb 27, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* ALPLM press release…

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) and Google Public Sector today announced plans to digitally transform the visitor experience at the presidential museum, based in Springfield, Ill. The collaboration will use artificial intelligence, extended reality (XR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies hosted on Google Cloud to create accessible, engaging, and interactive experiences for visitors.

ALPLM, which opened to the public in 2005, welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. With this partnership, the museum will use XR to provide additional layers of information about museum exhibits, let visitors choose which topics to explore further, and provide information in languages and formats accessible to more people.

The museum will also explore the possibilities of features like interactive audio-visual guides and video content around displayed artifacts. Google Cloud’s Immersive Stream for XR could also enable an immersive, gamified, and photorealistic experience for the museum’s visitors.

To create more inclusive experiences for museum visitors and digital audiences, ALPLM and Google Public Sector will also create assisted visual guides for people with disabilities and multilingual content for non-English speaking guests. A navigation guide, mapped in AR, could bring historical characters to life, and enable a more accessible user-journey.

Christina Shutt, executive director, ALPLM, said, “The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum pioneered the use of new technology and storytelling tools to bring history to life. We have helped more than five million people connect with Lincoln’s legacy. With Google’s help, we will again bring cutting-edge technology to the museum to share the Lincoln story with more people in more ways.”

Brent Mitchell, managing director, Google Public Sector, U.S. State and Local Government said, “We are proud to partner with ALPLM and help with its mission of bringing American history to life for millions of visitors. Technology has the power to tell stories in fresh, immersive ways, and we look forward to co-creating new digital experiences with ALPLM.”

The first phase of this collaboration will include the implementation of a pilot project, exploring possibilities to build digital experiences for ALPLM. The following phases will involve delivery of advanced experiences like 3D avatars, experiential history lessons and virtual tours, available on ALPLM’s digital platforms.

The Google Cloud Platform’s IaaS and PaaS layers will be the foundation for building and delivering these experiences, giving ALPLM scalability, flexibility and cost benefits. Google Cloud partner Thoughtworks will work with Google Professional Services to deliver this transformation for ALPLM.

* Meanwhile, here’s another Lincoln-related press release

Like most middle-class women of her time, Mary Lincoln relied on hired help to manage her household. These women worked and sometimes lived in her house, cleaning, cooking, and caring for the children alongside her.

Who were these women? What were their duties? What was their experience like within the household? What were the Lincolns experiences living and working intimately with a cross-section of society that they might never have encountered otherwise?

Anne E. Moseley, the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Sangamon Experience Director and Curator, will examine the nature of domestic service in the Lincoln household in Springfield, Illinois, to attempt to answer these questions by drawing on letters, reminiscences, and county records. In doing so, this program aspires not only to establish a social and cultural context for the Lincolns’ experience but to flesh out the experiences of working-class women who are often on the margins or outright invisible to history.

Viewers can watch and participate in this free, live, online program on this topic entitled ‘Maid of All Work’ on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at 7 pm on the Looking for Lincoln YouTube and Facebook video channels. Questions can be submitted by viewers during the event. Reservations are not required, and there is no cost to view the program.

“Mr. Lincoln gave [me] an extra dollar each week on condition that she would brave whatever storms might arise, and suffer whatever might arise, and suffer whatever might befall her, without complaint.” -Miss. Mary Johnson


Pritzker, state party go after “extremist” school board candidates

Monday, Feb 27, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Gov. J.B. Pritzker told reporters a few weeks ago that he was concerned about some local school and library board races.

“There are organizations that are anti-LGBTQ, that are racist, they’re anti Muslim, that are supporting candidates for these local boards. And they’re trying to take over at a local level and build up candidates at the local level that they can then run for the state legislature and for other offices.”

Far-right groups like Awake Illinois morphed from fighting school-based COVID mitigations into battling so-called “woke” ideas like Critical Race Theory (which isn’t taught anywhere), sex education and local drag queen story-reading. The group once referred to Pritzker as a “groomer.”

Awake Illinois claimed last week that they’ve identified more than 70 candidates, although the group’s political committee reported having just $100 in cash in January and it often grossly exaggerates its real-life prowess.

But the environment out there is hot right now, with national activists like Charlie Kirk holding local events and stirring up passions. The Illinois Policy Institute has a private “Parents Union” Facebook group that focuses on school board elections and sharing information and ginning people up as much as possible.

Local Republican Party organizations are also jumping into races, including in McLean County, which has become a hotbed of radicalization. Palatine’s high school district is also attracting local GOP assistance, where some residents are up in arms about the local school board adopting sex education standards. “Together we can gain a majority on the board and put a stop to the sexualization of children in our schools,” read one recent door-hanger.

When told of local Republican Party support for some of these candidates and asked what he intended to do about it, Pritzker said, “We are supporting candidates that are standing up for freedom.” But with an April 4 election date looming, that plan hadn’t yet been in plain sight.

The plan is now coming into more focus. The Democratic Party of Illinois began by initially looking at 400-some races and then identifying more than 100 what they call “fringe” candidates in 60 different school board districts. All of those districts and most of those candidates will be targeted in what party officials say will be a “robust” campaign.

“It’s going to be very much a voter education program,” explained a Democratic Party of Illinois official. The state party will be “shedding light on the fact that there are candidates supported by these national extremist groups that are on their ballot.”

“We want to make investments that actually have some real effect at spreading the word about these extremist candidates,” the official said.

The party’s preferred candidates will receive on-the-ground help, like “cutting turf” for door-to-door canvassers. But they’ll also receive assistance with their messaging, plus the state party will sponsor or help with direct mail and digital ads, as well as opposition research.

The state party has been working on this plan for weeks and has reached out to local county parties, state central committeepersons, grassroots groups and unions (mainly the teachers unions and AFSCME), not only for help with candidates and identifying the radicals, but also with knowledge of important issues in the targeted districts.

These races are not partisan in the traditional sense because candidates often run on local slates. So, mailers paid for by the Democratic Party of Illinois could generate a backlash. But DPI is saying that they’ll mainly be communicating “to a base audience” of fellow Democrats. The party also says they’ll be deferring to local “partners” on “where to be involved louder than other areas.”

“A lot of these people, this was their first time running for office,” the party official said. While some have political experience, they are “looking for some guidance on how to structure their campaign, what kind of timeline to follow, how to target voters. So, we’re providing them with that sort of campaign expertise.”

Without intervention, the party official said, “We could easily see ourselves electing numerous extremist folks to these positions that have a ton of power.”

“Our values are on the line,” the official claimed.

This is an unprecedented move, but perhaps we’re in unprecedented times. And it’s exactly the sort of thing the governor has been saying for years that the state party should be focusing on: Building the party up from the bottom and focusing resources on much more than legislative and statewide contests.


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That toddlin’ town Monday morning roundup

Monday, Feb 27, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Some of what happened over the weekend…


Open thread

Monday, Feb 27, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* I hope y’all had a relaxing weekend! What’s going on? Keep it Illinois-centric please…


Isabel’s morning briefing

Monday, Feb 27, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Here you go…


Live coverage

Monday, Feb 27, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Republicans denied TRO in bid to be appointed to ballot
* Isabel’s afternoon roundup
* It’s almost a law
* Credit Unions: A Smart Financial Choice for Illinois Consumers
* Was the CTU lobby day over-hyped?
* 'Re-renters' tax in the budget mix?
* It’s just a bill
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Get The Facts On The Illinois Prescription Drug Board
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