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Evening news roundup

Thursday, May 18, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This post is for those folks who are still working at the Statehouse or who are keeping an eye on the House and Senate. Make sure to monitor the live coverage post tonight. From Crain’s

The Illinois State Chamber of Commerce is confirming that Todd Maisch, who joined the chamber in 1994 and later became its president and CEO, has handed over his duties. […]

Asked if Maisch, 59, will be returning, [Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel Lori Poppe Hiltabrand] said, “We hope so.”

Same.

* AG Raoul…

Attorney General Kwame Raoul today applauded the Senate’s passage of his Firearm Industry Responsibility Act to hold the gun industry accountable for unlawful sales and marketing tactics.

House Bill 218, sponsored by Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, will next go to the governor for approval.

“No single industry should be given a free pass to engage in unlawful, unfair or deceptive conduct,” Attorney General Raoul said. “The Firearms Industry Responsibility Act clarifies my office’s ability to use the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, which is a tool to hold businesses accountable for fraudulent or deceptive practices through civil litigation. It is how my office has protected the public from opioid manufacturers, vaping companies, tobacco companies and predatory lenders. I want to thank Illinois Senate President Don Harmon and members of the Senate for passing this important legislation to protect consumers and increase public safety.”

Raoul’s legislation amends the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act to clarify that businesses in the firearms industry are and have always been subject to civil liability if they engage in unlawful business and marketing practices.

The proposal clarifies that manufacturers, marketers, retailers and others in the industry face potential action under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, including monetary damages and injunctive relief, should they violate the act. The legislation expressly excludes communications or promotional materials for lawful firearms safety programs, instructional courses, hunting activities or sport shooting events.

“At its core, this is to protect consumers and prevent firearm companies from marketing to children and promoting illegal militia activities,” said Senate President Harmon. “These are reasonable, manageable steps we can take to help curb the scourge of gun violence in our state.”

Others issued press releases praising the bill’s passage, including Gov. Pritzker, Senate President Harmon and G-PAC.

From the AP story

Republican lawmakers objected to the proposal during Thursday’s Senate vote, saying it was too broad and would lead to court challenges.

* Sen. Villa

Following findings of testing bias in social worker licensure exams, State Senator Karina Villa advanced a bill out of the Senate on Wednesday to provide social workers with a more equitable avenue for obtaining a license. This is the first bill of its kind in the nation, and many states are expected to follow suit.

“Social workers have dedicated their careers to assisting others, and make our communities a better place to live in,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “In Illinois, we have social work graduates who have earned a master’s degree, completed intense clinical supervision hours and are currently working in the field, yet they are barred from a path forward, due to a biased exam that is failing them. This initiative will help those who are already helping us.”

House Bill 2365 provides clinical social workers who failed the initial Association of Social Work Boards license exam with an alternative route to obtain a license. To become licensed, a clinical social worker must complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work within 10 years of the applicant receiving their degree. The bill will not only increase diversity in the field, but also help address the current shortage of social workers.

This bill was an initiative of a group of concerned social workers along with the National Association of Social Workers after a study found that people of color, older adults, and people with disabilities fail the licensure exam at dramatically higher rates than their counterparts, indicating unfair bias on the exam. Specifically, this data shows that first time pass rates for the LCSW in Illinois include:

    · White individuals pass at 82.5%
    · Asian individuals pass at 70%
    · Hispanic individuals pass at 59.6%
    · Black individuals pass at 42.4%

Social workers must pay a fee of $260 for every exam. These high costs and unfair testing practices discourage workers who cannot afford to keep retaking the exam. For current LCSW’s, this legislation changes nothing. But for the next generation of social workers looking to pursue an LCSW, this alternative path creates an opportunity for Illinois to bring in social workers from all backgrounds, to reflect the diverse communities they are trying to serve.

“As a social worker, our Code of Ethics requires us as a profession to act, and live out our values if we are truly willing to address the difficult and very real inequities within our own profession,” Villa said. “Illinois has been a pioneer for progress within the social work profession and with the passing of this legislation, Illinois is setting the precedent for equitable social work licensure across the nation.”

House Bill 2365 passed the Senate on Wednesday.

* Sen. Rezin…

Illinois State Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) and Illinois State Representative Lance Yednock (D-Ottawa) are excited to announce that the Illinois House of Representatives has passed Senate Bill 76, which would lift the state’s moratorium on building new nuclear reactors, with an 84-22 vote.

“We are now officially one step closer to finally ending our state’s arbitrary moratorium on the construction of new nuclear reactors and power plants,” said Sen. Rezin. “I would like to thank all of the stakeholders who helped get this bill called and passed in the House, especially Representative Lance Yednock who carried the bill and helped work the roll call. I look forward to calling Senate Bill 76 as soon as possible in the Senate, so we can get this critically important piece of legislation to the Governor’s desk.”

“This bill simply removes our state’s moratorium on new nuclear energy and allows us to start making plans to develop small modular and advanced nuclear reactors in the near future,” said Rep. Yednock. “If we really want to move forward with a carbon-free United States, we have to invest in new and advanced nuclear reactors in the state of Illinois.”

Since Senate Bill 76 was slightly amended in the House, it now must return to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

* ITLA…

Illinois Trial Lawyers Association President Pat Salvi II statement on the passage of HB219:

We all can agree that no Illinoisan should ever lose his or her life due to the reckless or intentional conduct of others. Today the Illinois legislature sent a clear message to corporate executives that the lives of Illinoisans will not be devalued as a mere figure on a balance sheet, and that reckless behavior that takes the lives of our citizens comes with a price. The prospect of punitive damages has been a powerful tool in deterring would-be bad actors from injuring our citizens for decades; the application of that tool to instances where victims lose their lives is appropriate, logical and long overdue.

We thank our sponsors Senate President Don Harmon and Leader Jay Hoffman, Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Representative LaShawn Ford and the many co-sponsors and supporters in the legislature that stood up to powerful corporate interests and lobbyists to protect all Illinoisans by correcting this glaring inequity in the law; the passage of this bill is an important step in helping make Illinois a safer place to live and work.

* Chicago Community Trust…

A coalition of community developers, affordable housing advocates and tax policy experts led by The Chicago Community Trust today applauded the Illinois House for passing legislation will increase investment in historically disinvested communities across the state.

Senate Bill 1675 Amendment 1 reforms the Illinois Property Tax Sale system by closing loopholes that prevent blighted properties from redevelopment and allows local governments to intervene to save abandoned properties after only one failed delinquent tax sale rather than allow them to cycle through the tax sale system for years while the property deteriorates, requiring taxpayer-funded maintenance and eventually demolition. The measure is supported by cities with high concentrations of vacant properties across Illinois, including Chicago, Peoria, Rockford, Decatur and Kankakee.

These common-sense reforms would empower local governments to work with community developers and residents to restore vacant homes and return them to viable properties. In Cook County alone, an estimated 50,000 vacant or abandoned properties are concentrated in its Black and Latinx neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides and in the south suburbs.

“Over the past two generations, the tax sale system has evolved — whether intentionally or not — into a vehicle to strip wealth and drive inequality in some of our most vulnerable communities,” said sponsor Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago). “The process discourages development, gives out-of-state investors an edge over community developers and residents, and puts a virtual stranglehold on distressed neighborhoods where most vacancies are concentrated. This bill seeks to rebalance the tax sale system in the interest of local governments, residents and community developers who actually want to reinvest in their neighborhoods from the ground up.”

* Some heated floor debate in the Senate on a couple of bills…


And…


* Speaking of heated…

This afternoon the Illinois House passed legislation to strip away a long-standing and effective means of protecting Illinois from excessive radiation hazard and abuse when it repealed the 1987 Illinois nuclear construction moratorium. The law simply stated that no new nuclear plants could be constructed in Illinois until the Federal Government provided a permanent disposal solution for the deadly and long-lasting high-level radioactive wastes (HLRW — currently at ~11,000 tons, the most in the Nation, and growing annually) that all reactors produce.

Dog owners are required by law to pick up their pet’s excrement; if they don’t they are often fined. With this Moratorium repeal, the message the House just sent to the nuclear industry is, “You’re doo-dooing just fine; no fines, keep it up, and give us more.”

While the Moratorium law was originally designed to deal with the disposal of HLRW, that topic was barely mentioned let alone dealt with responsibly during the 6 hearings and floor debates that occurred about the repeal. The REAL reason for the repeal was to open up Illinois for the construction of PROPOSED new nuclear reactors designs call “small modular nuclear reactors” – SMNRs.

What did Illinois get in exchange for giving up deserved nuclear safety? Nothing. Absolutely and quite literally — NOTHING. The reason:

SMNRs do not even EXIST yet. And according to both industry websites and testimony during the Legislative hearings they won’t even exist as proof-of-concept demonstrations for the next 7-10 years. Commercialization will take longer – well into the 2030s.

As the joke goes: How are SMNRs and unicorns alike? A.: Neither exists. How are they different: A: Unicorn waste isn’t hazardous for 250,000 years.

Throughout the Spring, a number of issues were raised by legislators in favor of SB76. Among them:

“Illinois needs the jobs!” — What jobs, if the commercialization of SMNRs won’t take place until the 2030s?

“We need to provide adequate power and transmission reliability, especially downstate in the MISO transmission area.” — How do reactors that don’t even exist and won’t until the 2030s – assuming the proposed designs even work — provide power and system reliability?

“We need nuclear power in the climate fight!” – How do non-existent reactors fight climate change? What do legislators know that two former CHAIRS of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) don’t know when they clearly and unambiguously state that SMNRs are NOT a climate solution?

These questions were never responded to when NEIS asked them during the hearings, along with a few others:

Q.: “What is the Legislature’s plan to DISPOSE of – not store – DISPOSE of its current 11,000 tons of HLRW; the 11,000 additional tons that will be produced by extending the operating life of Illinois 11 currently operating reactors, and the as yet uncalculated amounts of HLRW that NEW SMNRs will produce?”
A.: Crickets.

Q.: “If today’s reactors needed more than $3 billion in ratepayer guaranteed nuclear bailouts to stay open because they could not be run economically , how many more bailouts will be required when hundreds of SMNRs are added to Illinois’ nuclear fleet?
A.: Double crickets.

Q.: “What will happen to the lofty renewable energy goals of CEJA when more SMNRs come and compete for market share and scarce transmission access?”
A.: Black hole.

To be sure – opening wide the gate to Illinois’ energy future to a demonstrably corrupt and corrupting nuclear industry by repealing the nuclear construction Moratorium was a Trojan Horse designed to kickstart the potentially lucrative SMNR industry. More nuclear reactors of any kind will mean: more radioactive waste with no disposal, more nuclear power bailouts going to a demonstrably corrupt industry, more nuclear rate hikes, continued accident threat, and LESS renewable energy and efficiency. At its core is the sabotaging of the renewable energy goals in the 2021 CEJA legislation.

We had hopes that the recent ComEd convictions and the discrediting of former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s nuclear “Reign of Error” would result in progress towards a 21st Century energy transformation based on more renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, and a vastly improved transmission system.

The SB76 vote to repeal Illinois nuclear construction moratorium instead sends a much more ominous message:

“Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

We sincerely hope that Governor Pritzker will recognize the threat to all the work he and others did to get CEJA passed in 2021, and veto this retrograde motion – before Illinois gets nuked for real.

* On a lighter note…


* Isabel’s roundup…

    * Sun-Times | Immigrants, advocates push for expansion of state’s affordable health care program: Illinois legislators hammering out the state budget could expand affordable health care access to noncitizens ages 19 to 41.

    * Chalkbeat | Illinois lawmakers to hold hearing on revised draft map for Chicago elected school board ahead of possible vote: Their initial proposal for dividing Chicago into 20 districts for the city’s school board elections that begin in 2024 was met with criticism for underrepresenting Latino families, who make up 46.5% of Chicago Public Schools student population. The new draft tinkers with three districts where no racial or ethnic group has a 50% majority, tilting two of those in favor of Latinos.

    * WBEZ | Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart tightens electronic monitoring for apartment dwellers: The revisions follow an Illinois appellate ruling last month that slammed Dart for “ambiguity” on whether residents of multi-unit buildings can be in common spaces for such “activities of daily living.” The three-judge panel threw out an escape conviction of a South Side man imprisoned nearly five years for that felony after sheriff’s investigators did not find him in the apartment where he lived on home detention with an ankle bracelet. The man said he was showering at his sister’s unit — elsewhere in the building — and believed Dart’s electronic monitoring terms allowed it.

    * Bond Buyer | Chicago again on the spot for Soldier Field tax shortfall: Chicago hotel taxes pledged to repay Soldier Field renovation bonds will fall $9 million short of what’s needed for debt service this year, leaving the city on the hook for a second year to cover the gap as tax receipts continue to lag pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels. A current refunding is expected next year using existing authority to push out the final maturity by one year to 2033, which would ease some of the pressure on city coffers, but new authority is needed for a more comprehensive solution, says one key official.

    * Scott Holland | Bears’ problems not governments’ obligation to solve: The family might not be able to re-sell the land it just bought at top dollar, especially since it hasn’t demolished the existing buildings and infrastructure. But the team itself is worth at least $5 billion – the Washington Commanders just sold for more than $6 billion – with no shortage of buyers willing to take on both the current roster and future land development.

    * Center Square | Bill banning Illinois state agencies from using polystyrene food containers advances: The Illinois House has amended a Senate bill to prohibit state agencies from using disposable food containers made of polystyrene foam. If made into law, Senate Bill 58 as amended by the House would go into effect in 2025 and would force state agencies to find recyclable or compostable containers. State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, the bill’s sponsor, said state agencies can take a leadership role in reducing the environmental impact of polystyrene foam.

    * Press Release | AG Raoul applauds GA passage of legislation increasing oversight of health care market consolidations: “Currently, many health care mergers and acquisitions are not reviewed at the state or federal level. Without proper review, these transactions can lead to diminished options for individuals who are already struggling to access health care services in their communities,” Raoul said. “I appreciate the General Assembly’s passage of this legislation that will give my office more tools to protect Illinoisans from proposed mergers that lessen competition and increase health disparities.”

    * Press Release | Villivalam passes legislation to provide kosher and halal food options in public schools and state facilities: Specifically in schools, the bill would require the State Board of Education to enter into a statewide master contract with a vendor and provide districts access to the contract to more efficiently provide the meals to students. The prepackaged meals for schools would be required to meet both the state and federal nutritional guidelines for school lunch programs.

    * Tribune | Chicago Plan Commission approves framework for Pilsen affordable housing boost: Hundreds attended the meetings, and most wanted more affordable units on the plot between 18th Street and 16th Street, once an industrial smelting facility, as well as larger units for big families. The city boosted the units called for, from about 250 to a maximum of 432, and will push potential developers to maximize the number of affordable units, including some with three or four bedrooms.

    * WBBM | Licensed cannabis transporters sue Illinois over illegal operators: On Thursday, some minority-owned transporters sued the state and claimed regulators aren’t doing enough to keep rogue operators out of their business. Transporters said they haven’t been able to operate for nearly two years, while other transporters have been operating without licenses. Victoria Williams, with ACC of Illinois Transportation, was among them.

    * WTTW | Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s Girlfriend, Ex-Business Partners and City Employee’s Husband Awarded Thousands in Taxpayer-Funded Grants: The council OK’d a $10,000 grant last week to Laura’s Furniture, owned by Laura Ayala-Clarke. Sources have described her as Irvin’s girlfriend, and the two are frequently pictured together on her social media. She’s the same woman who was at the center of a scuffle in a cannabis dispensary where Irvin intervened on her behalf and said charges against her would be “taken care of”, the Chicago Tribune and Aurora Beacon-News reported last year.

    * Fox Chicago | Former Kane County Circuit Clerk found dead in his Palatine law office: state’s attorney: Last month, Hartwell was indicted by a grand jury on one count of theft by deception greater than $100,000, seven counts of official misconduct, six counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering, three counts of income tax fraud and one count of misapplying funds as a government employee.

       

19 Comments
  1. - Too cute by half - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 7:08 pm:

    Can someone remind Neil Anderson that statistically speaking, his kid is exponentially more likely to become the victim of sexual predation by a clergy member than they are of a trans person? Is he threatening to beat up priests or….?


  2. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 7:12 pm:

    My best to Todd Maisch


  3. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 7:17 pm:

    ===Chicago hotel taxes pledged to repay Soldier Field renovation bonds will fall $9 million short of what’s needed for debt service this year, leaving the city on the hook for a second year to cover the gap as tax receipts continue to lag pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.===

    Keep this in mind when A) The Bears gain $200-400 million in net worth after the sale of the Washington Commanders, B) As the Bears work on tax BREAKS for the property taxes and that appeal, and C) As the schools hurt by any Bears Bailout ever happens…

    … because this Bears Bailout is leaving carnage in its wake, intended or not… like this shortfall.


  4. - Proud Papa Bear - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 7:53 pm:

    Neil is openly stating, on public record, that he’s planning to trans bash if given the opportunity.


  5. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 8:38 pm:

    – it’s gonna cause violence from dads like me. […] beat the living p*** out of a man if a man walked into a restroom with his daughter.–

    Because he, as a man, is also going to be in the womens bathroom keeping an eye on his daughter?

    If it wasn’t so sad, this would be hilarious. In a universe that runs on irony, this guy is going to get beat up by another guy who heard him saying this, and took it as encouragement to beat up *any* man in the womens bathroom.


  6. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 8:40 pm:

    The fact the hotel tax is already 17.4% and has not been generating enough revenue to pay down the principal on the Soldier Field bonds for quite some time now, is more of a flashing red light on the lower than anticipated occupancy rate than anything having to do with the Bears.

    Perhaps if the perception of the city as a safe place to visit and a better trade show environment were improved so would the outlook on the bonds.


  7. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 9:06 pm:

    ===anything having to do with the Bears.===

    If the Bears want a bailout, it’s gonna cost em something, so why not cash for the bonds?

    The Bears can build a building at any time, a want of that and anything additional.. they are all “wants”… they can pay for it themselves or sell the property and build somewhere else.

    The Bears are gonna have a $200-400 million value windfall here shortly, they can afford to increase that 2% debt they currently carry… or help with the bonds.

    Choices.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 9:08 pm:

    ===Perhaps if the perception of the city as a safe place to visit and a better trade show environment were improved===

    I thought you lectured me about how you don’t talk down Illinois… yet here you are… again… and while begging for a Bears Bailout to boot?

    You have to be a farce “Lucky Pierre”, just let everyone in on the joke.


  9. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 9:20 pm:

    You were “talking down” Chicago by complaining that the hotel tax wasn’t generating the planned revenue to pay down the bonds.

    What is your explanation or solution?

    Beyond blaming Republicans as usual of course


  10. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 9:25 pm:

    Clergy Member?

    How about CPS employee? Extraordinary volume of allegations of sexual misconduct by CPS employees in 2022-470 cases

    How many by clergy in Chicago in 2022?

    https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois/article_5f1b900e-8e50-11ed-9e49-13422aa85562.amp.html


  11. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 9:39 pm:

    ===What is your explanation or solution?===

    The Bears come up with $300 million

    They can walk away, pay nothing get nothing, or…

    Are you not reading these things or hoping folks will bail out the Bears because Billionaires deserve things?


  12. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 9:41 pm:

    ===Beyond blaming Republicans as usual of course===

    It’s not a Red or Blue thing here.

    It’s a Green thing.

    Argue like an adult not like a FoxNews talking point to political victimhood.


  13. - Big Dipper - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 9:41 pm:

    For those here who try to spin that only Dems are corrupt, note Hartwell was GOP, including county chairman.


  14. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 9:45 pm:

    Sorry to trouble you with actual Adult details but the Bears should pay $300 million dollars up front, or the equivalent of over 40 years of rent payments in exchange for what exactly?


  15. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 9:53 pm:

    The Trial Lawyers vs the Business Community sure looks like a matchup between the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals again this year


  16. - Commonsense in Illinois - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 9:55 pm:

    Whatever is going on with Todd Maisch, my best wishes for him.


  17. - Mjolnir - Thursday, May 18, 23 @ 10:29 pm:

    Hope all is well with Maisch and he returns soon.


  18. - Blitz - Friday, May 19, 23 @ 5:14 am:

    Neil Anderson’s tough guy talk looks dumber and dumber the more I re-read it. He doesn’t threaten to beat someone up for any sort of cause other than walking into the same bathroom, so his bluster makes it sound like someone following his daughter into a bathroom to harm her is equivalent to someone unwittingly going into the same bathroom as her to…checks notes….use the bathroom?


  19. - Oswego Willy - Friday, May 19, 23 @ 7:35 am:

    ===up front===

    I’ve always said, “over 10 years”

    ===40 years===

    How ironically sad and ignorant, as you complain “40 years” and proposals want “40 years” of relief… that you even pointed out as, you guessed it, a “want”

    They don’t have to get any relief, no one is forcing them. They can sell the property and move…


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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