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Friday, Jun 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Isabel and I are going to take next week off. Have fun and happy 4th! Dolly will play us out

And may peace and beauty fill our hearts anew

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Afternoon roundup

Friday, Jun 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

…Adding… An agreement was reached


* Press release…

Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza announced that Illinois is ending Fiscal Year 2023 today by reaching the following laudable fiscal milestones – some of which Illinois has not seen in decades:

    • For the second year in a row, we are paying all the state’s General Revenue Fund (GRF) vouchers, leaving zero unpaid GRF bills at the Illinois Office of Comptroller (IOC).
    • We are reducing Illinois’ total General Funds Accounts Payable to $528 million – down from a record high of $16.7 billion that resulted from the state’s 2015-2017 budget impasse.
    • We are ending the fiscal year with more than $1 billion in the state’s GRF for the first time in more than two decades.
    • Thursday’s deposit of $200 million into the Rainy Day Fund (Budget Stabilization Fund) brings the state’s reserve fund to a record $1.94 billion.
    • Today’s $200 million deposit above the statutorily required minimum into the state’s Pension Stabilization Fund brings the additional funds the state has put into pensions in the past year to $700 million.
    • Today we are paying $200 million for the fourth quarter Mandated Categorical Grants (MCATs) – transportation and special education funds for Illinois schools – earlier than scheduled.

* Daily Herald

Police will make greater use of drones this Fourth of July to keep an eye on crowds gathered for parades and fireworks shows.

Suburban departments are taking advantage of a new state law allowing police to monitor parades, food festivals, concerts and other government-hosted outdoor events with camera-equipped drones.

The bill was spurred by the mass shooting at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park nearly one year ago. A gunman armed with a high-powered rifle fired into the parade crowd from a downtown rooftop, killing seven people and injuring dozens more in less than a minute. […]

Kreis, the Vernon Hills chief, as well as Lemont Police Chief Marc Maton and Aurora police Lt. Andy Wolcott led a virtual training session hosted by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police this week to teach officers about reporting requirements and the rules of the sky.

“I can tell you, in regards to Vernon Hills, I’ve received nothing but positive feedback about measures that we take to further enhance security since July Fourth last year when Highland Park was victimized so horribly,” Kreis said.

* IDPH…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced it is revising how it collects and reports data on abortions in Illinois in order to protect the privacy and safety of those who receive abortions and abortion providers. The changes are dictated by recent amendments to Illinois’ Reproductive Health Act. They also come in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that eliminated the constitutional right to abortion in the United States and allowed states to restrict access to abortion.

Under the revised system, Illinois is simplifying the type of data it collects from healthcare providers and what data it shares with the public. IDPH will be reporting aggregate level data for the total number of abortions provided to Illinois residents and out-of-state residents. It will no longer be reporting abortion numbers for Illinois counties (which were reported only for counties with more than 50 abortions) or by the specific state of out-of-state residents.

IDPH will also be reporting the age ranges of those who receive abortions, the gestational age and the numbers of procedural and medically induced abortions.

The changes are being implemented to ensure that the state is in compliance with recent amendments to Illinois’ Reproductive Health Act in 2019 and earlier this year that were designed to safeguard abortion rights in Illinois.

Block Club Chicago

The Chicago Abortion Fund has been covering people’s travel costs and hotel stays as they trek to the city to receive abortions, which have been outlawed or restricted in neighboring states since the Supreme Court decision.

Of all the obstacles now in place for people seeking abortions, the latest one was less expected: Taylor Swift and NASCAR.

These big events have made Downtown hotel prices soar by hundreds of dollars, depleting the organization’s budget more quickly than in past years, said Megan Jeyifo, executive director at Chicago Abortion Fund.

Because of the “extreme increases” in hotel costs, organizers had to send some people to other states to seek care, she said.

Meanwhile, in Opposite Land

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state’s abortion ban doesn’t violate the state constitution, removing a major hurdle to enforcing the ban Republicans approved last summer.

* CBS News

The dream of owning a home seems out of reach for millions of Americans, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community. But in Peoria, Illinois, Alex Martin owns a home at age 30 — something she never thought would be possible.

“I’m black. I’m trans, and I’m visibly so, and so having a space that, like, I made that I can just come in and recharge, I’m ready to face the world again,” she said.

And she’s not alone. In recent years, many LGBTQ+ people and people of color, who are statistically less likely to own homes because of discrimination and wealth gaps, are moving to the same city.

At first, they came from places like New York and Seattle, where home prices are sky-high. Now, many are coming from some of the 21 states that have passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

Last year, realtor Mike Van Cleve sold almost 80 homes, and nearly one-third were sold to people moving from out of state.

Angie Ostaszewski says she has almost single-handedly grown Peoria’s population by about 360 in three years thanks to TikTok.

* Press release…

With new telephone numbers in southern Illinois in high demand, the Illinois Commerce Commission approved the implementation of the new 730 area code to overlay the existing 618 area code region. The current 618 area code serves all or part of 37 counties, including communities like Alton, Belleville, Cairo, Carbondale, Centralia, Collinsville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Effingham, Granite City, Edwardsville, and Marion, among many others.

Starting on July 7, 2023, customers in the 618 area code overlay region may be assigned a number in the new 730 area code when they request new service or an additional line. The 730 area code will co-exist everywhere in this region. Customers receiving the 730 area code will be required to dial 10 digits (the area code and phone number) for all local calls, just as customers with telephone numbers in the 618 area code do today.

* Springfield update

[CWLP spokesperson Amber Sabin] said that as of Friday morning, at least 18 transmission poles remained down, combined with dozens of distribution poles and hundreds of power lines still being worked on by crews who have been on shift for over 16 hours. The agency’s crews are being assisted by mutual aid workers from South Bend, Indiana and New Jersey, among others to try and get power back to people as quickly as possible.

As of this writing, 31 percent of CWLP customers were without power.

* Still not even approaching good…


So, um, maybe learn how to walk before you joke about running, CTA?…


* Isabel’s roundup…

  4 Comments      


Pritzker signs 155 bills into law

Friday, Jun 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’m still going through the list, but click here to see it yourself. I’ll likely update this post.

…Adding… This was a bill that was long-sought by pedestrian and biking advocates. They finally worked out a deal with the truckers…

Bill Number: SB 2278
Description: Requires units of local government to report to IDOT any restrictions in place for vehicles on municipal roads and stipulates that new highways do not have to accommodate truck tractor-semitrailer combinations.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024
 

* Criminal justice, public safety, etc

Bill Number: HB 1155
Description: Provides that when a person is injured by an impaired minor, the person has a right of action against a person who willfully supplied the minor with drugs or alcohol at their residence.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 1555
Description: Allows an attorney appointed by the court to serve in proceedings involving support, custody, visitation, allocation of parental responsibilities, education, parentage, property, or general interest of a minor or dependent child as guardian ad litem.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: HB 2091
Description: Allows the Secretary of State to raise the minimum age an individual must be to be eligible for a driving test.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: HB 2464
Description: Allows IDOT to deploy pedestrian hybrid beacons and requires drivers to stop before entering an intersection with a pedestrian hybrid beacon.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 2607
Description: Provides for remote testimony for child victims in criminal proceedings.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 3097
Description: Allows the Illinois Department of Labor greater oversight over Amusement Ride and Attraction safety.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 3140
Description: Prohibits the use of solitary confinement on young detainees in detention centers for any purpose other than preventing immediate physical harm.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 3140
Description: Prohibits the use of solitary confinement on young detainees in detention centers for any purpose other than preventing immediate physical harm.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 3414
Description: Allows for the survivors of human trafficking who commit crimes against their abusers to be tried as a juvenile rather than an adult, if the crime the minor commits is against someone who was convicted of human trafficking or of a sex crime targeting the minor within the last three years.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 3559
Description: Requires schools to establish a plan for local law enforcement to rapidly enter the school building in an emergency.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 3707
Description: Requires posting online all administrative citations issued to tow trucks.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: SB 1367
Description: Provides that unless required by federal law, a housing authority shall not consider convictions occurring more than 180 days prior to the date the applicant’s application for housing is reviewed for acceptance.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 3304
Description: Allows for the prosecution for any offense based upon fraudulent activity connected to COVID-19-related relief programs.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: SB 1834
Description: Defines a neglected minor to include any minor under 18 years of age whose parent or other person responsible for the minor leaves the minor without supervision.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: SB 1840
Description: Grants park districts authority to fund and implement public safety measures.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: SB 1987
Description: Adds to the Illinois Controlled Substances Act chemical compounds, not approved by the USDA, that are derived from Benzodiazepine or Thienodiazepine.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: SB 2028
Description: Mandates the Secretary of State publish best practices related to stranded motorists in Rules of the Road publication.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: SB 2175
Description: Prohibits courts from ordering the payment of outstanding fees, fines, taxes, or any costs arising from criminal proceedings for the first 180 days after a person is released from incarceration.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

* Some good concepts

Bill Number: HB 2582
Description: Removes duplicative license testing requirement for motorcycle drivers under the age of 18.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 2776
Description: Requires the City of Chicago to publicly post annually on its website data describing its progress toward lead service line replacement, including number of lines replaced and average cost, progress meeting contractor diversity requirements, waivers of lead service line replacements, and financing options.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: HB 3955
Description: Prohibits a hospital from delaying medical care and screening in order to inquire about an individual’s method of payment or insurance status.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: SB 1526
Description: Requires IDOT to develop a mobile application to provide updated traffic conditions for roads in Illinois.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

* Some education-related bills

Bill Number: HB 2503
Description: Extends resident tuition and fees to community college students taking programs offered at any other Illinois community college if the program is not available in their home district.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 3442
Description: Allows a district to file an extension waiver with their regional office of education (ROE) to continue to employ a substitute teacher in a vacant licensed teacher position for up to 90 days.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: SB 2337
Description: Requires Illinois State Board of Education report cards to include information regarding gifted education or accelerated placement learning programs.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: SB 2419
Description: Empowers State Librarian and State Library to expand access to e-books and e-audiobooks for libraries across the State.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

* Housing, public accommodations, etc

Bill Number: HB 1628
Description: Beginning 90 after the effective date, landlords may no longer require a tenant or prospective tenant to remit any amount due to the landlord under a residential lease, renewal, or extension agreement by means of an electronic funds transfer, including, but not limited to, an electronic funds transfer system that automatically transfers funds on a regular, periodic, and recurring basis.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 2220
Description: Clarifies when hotels can refuse service.
Action: Signed
Effective: 60 days after becoming law.

Bill Number: HB 2248
Description: Creates the Civil Rights Remedies Restoration Act.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 2325
Description: Provides that mortgage loan originators may work from a remote location.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 2562
Description: Sets heating and cooling standards for buildings that are limited to people 55 years and older.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: SB 1715
Description: Requires any new construction that requires a drinking fountain under the Illinois Plumbing Code to also construct a bottle filling station.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024, rules must be implemented and take effect by July 1, 2026.

Bill Number: SB 1741
Description: Requires that residential property lessor may not withhold security deposit for damages unless statement of damages is provided within 30 days of lessee’s right of possession.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: SB 1817
Description: Adds protections in the Illinois Human Rights Act for housing regarding immigration status protection and discriminatory advertising.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: SB 2013
Description: Outlines housing quality standards required to be eligible for funding under the Illinois Affordable Housing Program.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

* Various

Bill Number: HB 1465
Description: Amends the Illinois Highway Code to raise threshold requiring competitive bidding for certain projects by highway commissioners.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: HB 2076
Description: Requires the Department of Public Health to identify and publish a list of distressed nursing facilities quarterly.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 3351
Description: Requires that Illinois Solar for All program projects are subject to prevailing wage.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: SB 0046
Description: Creates the Illinois Waterway Ports Commission Act.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: SB 1814
Description: Requires that any refrigerant that is designated as approved by the United State Code cannot be prohibited in the State.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024, initial members must be appointed by January 1, 2025

Bill Number: SB 2247
Description: Renames the ABLE Account Program to the Senator Scott Bennett ABLE Program and makes other administrative changes.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

* Um, what?

Bill Number: HB 3722
Description: Allows House and Senate Minority Leaders to appoint members to a task force on windows and doors with offensive odors.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: SB 1745
Description: Exempts drainage or road districts from the requirement to obtain a permit to control nuisance muskrats or beavers provided applicable provisions for licenses and traps are complied with.
Action: Signed
Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: SB 1883
Description: Provides that it is illegal for any person to allow any member of the public to come into direct contact or unrestricted close proximity with a bear or nonhuman primate.
Action: Signed
Effective: January 1, 2024

  4 Comments      


Everybody knew and nobody objected to the final product

Friday, Jun 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Brenden Moore

In other budget-related news, [Deputy Gov. Andy Manar] defended the Pritzker administration’s decision to close enrollment in a program that provides health care to mostly undocumented immigrants.

Starting July 1, adults eligible for the program between the ages of 42 and 64 will not be able to sign up.

It comes as the administration seeks to cut costs of the program, which were projected to skyrocket to $1.1 billion with no action. Pritzker initially proposed $220 million for the program and lawmakers later allocated $550 million towards it in the budget that was signed earlier this month.

A separate bill gave Pritzker emergency rulemaking authority to control the program’s costs.

“The action that the governor took — filing emergency rules — aligns the costs of the program with the money that the legislature provided to pay for it,” Manar said. “And that’s something that the governor has consistently done throughout his first term, and that’s why we have our fifth balanced budget in a row.” [Emphasis added.]

* The Healthy Illinois Campaign issued a press release applauding that very same state budget after it passed in late May

May 26, 2023

HEALTHY IL APPLAUDS ILLINOIS FOR

PROTECTING HEALTHCARE FOR 50,000 IMMIGRANTS AGES 42+ AND

CALLS ON LEADERS TO EXPAND HEALTH COVERAGE FOR ALL

The Healthy Illinois Campaign believes that healthcare is a human right and will continue to work with our elected leaders until everyone is covered, regardless of age and regardless of immigration status.

We thank the Illinois General Assembly for defending and continuing coverage for state residents ages 42+. More than 50,000 Illinois immigrants will continue to receive life-changing and life-saving care. Safety-net healthcare providers will continue to be compensated for the care they provide. Our families and communities will be safer and healthier and our healthcare system will be stronger and more stable because Illinois continues to cover low-income residents.

I added that emphasis to highlight that the Healthy Illinois Campaign had to have known exactly what was about to happen because at the time more than 63,000 people were covered under that healthcare program, according to the governor’s office. So, there seemed to be no confusion about what the budget would pay for. The people who were already receiving coverage would continue to receive coverage. I, and most other folks figured that settled the matter, particularly since no Latino legislators voted against the bill to give the governor authority to impose those emergency rules, and groups like the Healthy Illinois Campaign did not file any witness slips in opposition.

* But as soon as the governor filed emergency rules capping enrollment to comply with state budget parameters, the Healthy Illinois Campaign did a complete 180 on the topic

Healthy Illinois strongly condemns the decision and calls on Governor Pritzker to reverse his decision immediately and work in good faith with advocates and members of the Illinois General Assembly to ensure that healthcare truly is a right, not a privilege in our state.

By slashing live-saving health coverage for Illinois immigrants, Governor Pritzker is turning his back on the communities he claims Illinois welcomes and aligning himself with anti-immigrant Republicans around the country.

Since then, protests have been held, more denunciations have been issued.

* NBC 5 yesterday

There were some protests today against Governor Pritzker’s decision to pause a program that offers health care for low income immigrants.

The Healthy Illinois Campaign organized yesterday’s protest, during which a speaker said: “This decision to cut health care insurance for the most vulnerable is an immoral decision that we are told is based on the numbers and the budget.”

* Advocacy groups are hugely important to the lawmaking process. The group may be doing this to increase public awareness about today’s deadline to apply for benefits. If so, it’s likely working. I guess we’ll see what the future brings, but flip-flopping like this doesn’t do much to help create and keep Statehouse allies.

* While we’re on this general topic, here’s WAND

Two of the top Illinois House Republicans and several sheriffs from across the state were in McAllen, Texas this week to better understand the crisis at the border with the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

House GOP Leader Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) and Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) said people make too many assumptions about what is happening at the border. McCombie told WAND News that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should put politics aside and make the trip themselves. […]

Yet, the Republicans noted that no one should be placing blame on Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida). McCombie said if Pritzker was the governor of Texas, he would have no other choice than to send migrants to other states to receive proper care. […]

McCombie told WAND News that many Republicans predict Illinois will need a “hefty” supplemental budget passed during veto session to address resources for undocumented immigrants. Veto session is scheduled to start on October 24.

“If the federal government is not going to address all of the issues when it comes to immigration, which they’re obviously not, there is no choice for these southern states to come forward to us,” McCombie said.

The biggest issue I have with this is that Illinois and other states are receiving no advance notice. People are just being dumped. No way to run a railroad.

  17 Comments      


Chicagoans could vote on a graduated real estate transfer tax

Friday, Jun 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I don’t think this first sentence is true, although the new administration may know something the rest of us don’t. Just such a bill appeared headed for passage in 2019, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot put the kibosh on it because she refused to give homeless programs a larger cut, even though she ran on doing just that.

Either way, a binding tax referendum on Chicago’s ballot would really be quite something

Gov. Pritzker and Democratic legislative leaders oppose raising the real-estate transfer tax on high-end home sales.

With that road closed, the only avenue left for Johnson to deliver on a campaign promise his predecessor made and broke is to convince the City Council to put a binding referendum on the Chicago ballot.

“The people will decide,” [Mayor Brandon Johnson’s deputy chief of staff Cristina Pacione-Zayas] said.

Before that happens, negotiations with the real estate industry could soften the blow of an increase that, as currently proposed, would more than triple the transfer tax on Chicago homes sold for more than $1 million. The tax would go from 0.75% to 2.65%.

“Those conversations are already under way,” she said.

Chicago mayors have been loathe to put binding property tax measures in front of voters. Thoughts?

  16 Comments      


Ohio legislators bash Illinois’ clean-energy law

Friday, Jun 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* March

The nation’s largest grid operator is warning that it might not have enough electric generation in the future to guarantee reliability.

And it comes as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission convenes a forum on the multibillion-dollar capacity market PJM operates to ensure there’s enough power to meet demand even during grid emergencies, such as during Winter Storm Elliott last year. PJM coordinates the flow of electricity from gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar and other types of generation through power lines in all or part of 13 states and the District of Columbia, an area that includes 65 million people.

“We believe the healthy reserve margins we enjoy now cannot be taken for granted into the future,” PJM’s Board of Managers wrote in a letter in February. “Energy policies and market forces have, and could further expedite, the retirement of existing generation resources faster than the new resources are able to come online.”

* Crain’s today

A bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers is blaming Illinois’ landmark 2021 clean-energy law for jeopardizing reliability in their state and potentially raising costs for their ratepayers. And they’re threatening to take legal action against Illinois in response.

The group, led by the chairmen of Ohio’s House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over energy issues, wrote a letter June 13 to the multi-state organization in charge of preserving power reliability asking for information and stating their concerns. […]

“We have spoken with representatives of the Ohio legislature,” PJM spokeswoman Susan Buehler said in an email. “We explained that our analysis of possible transmission needed to alleviate CEJA reliability violations was very preliminary. We have a dynamic system that changes year to year. PJM will need to continue to monitor the region as CEJA is implemented as a number of factors, including the possibility of new generation constructed in Illinois due to CEJA, could serve to reduce the reliability violations identified in our preliminary analysis.”

Owners of natural gas-fired plants in Illinois have warned that CEJA’s timetable is too aggressive and inflexible and could lead to rolling blackouts during summer heat waves and other high-demand periods. Other critics include representatives of large power consumers like the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

Pritzker thus far has rejected their calls to reopen CEJA to limited amendments that would provide for more flexibility. The act requires the closure of a specified set of gas-fired plants by 2030, with more plant retirements coming in phases after that. Illinois’ power generation industry would be carbon-free by 2045 under the law.

* The governor’s office issued a response to Crain’s, so I asked for the full text…

Governor Pritzker has consistently put consumers and climate first in his energy vision, as he did with CEJA’s investment in renewable energy. When CEJA passed, fossil fuel plants were already closing due to market forces, and as we saw in Winter Storm Elliot, they are failing to perform when we need them most. Just last week, the world crossed the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold for the first time, an urgent reminder of the necessity of climate action. Blaming CEJA for the national trend toward renewable energy is misguided, and these cost figures are based upon a PJM study which contained a number of assumptions and conclusions with which we disagree. Governor Pritzker looks forward to a productive conversation with our fellow PJM states on much needed investments in transmission to the benefit of consumers and the climate.

And they supplied this background…

• PJM’s study is based on a number of faulty assumptions (i.e. they assume no renewable development beyond what is currently planned, which means they are certainly underestimating the amount of renewable development)

    o The study only looks at retirements of coal and gas between now and 2045, without looking at any of the renewable energy being added by CEJA, including the coal-to-solar/storage, which will make use of existing interconnections. The system is far more complicated than the study depicts.
    o And because there is no effort by PJM to look at anything beyond fossil fuel plant retirements, it draws an incomplete picture that is bound to be inaccurate. The renewable energy additions, and other parts of CEJA are every bit as embedded in the law as are the retirements.
    o The study also makes no effort to show Illinois’ pending retirements in context of what has been happening across the RTO. PJM has had a slew of retirements of fossil fuel generation in the last few years—what is the implication for Illinois customers because of that? It makes no sense to isolate the Illinois retirements, and assign a cost to them, when the system spans 15 states and D.C. Each of those jurisdictions has and will continue to make decisions that affect everyone else in the RTO.
    o There is no attempt to put the costs listed in the study into any meaningful context. While the numbers in the study aren’t small, they are small compared to transmission projects announced recently in MISO, or estimates of what will be needed in the country over the next several years. Also, there is no effort to analyze the costs in the study from the perspective of total transmission needs in PJM between now and 2045.
    o The study, by PJM’s own admission, is premature, in that it is not looking at the system comprehensively, and does not take into account interregional work between MISO and PJM. The study also states that PJM will iterate on this over time, and that “the impact of replacement generation from PJM’s interconnection queue will impact future study results.”
    o In the report, PJM says “This is a very initial snapshot of the system based on what PJM knows today”—which simply isn’t true. PJM has chosen to look at the fossil fuel retirements as the only thing it “knows today.”
    o The study is very difficult to understand for everyone who is not steeped in distribution grid terminology, and isn’t even very clear that the retirements of plants in Illinois will force upgrades in other service territories, and that therefore, a substantial portion of the costs are to be paid by customers who don’t live in Illinois.

• There have been studies estimating the national need for new transmission in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars. Coal plants are closing everywhere because they are uneconomic, so there was going to be a massive need for transmission anyways.

• Fossil fuel resources failed to perform at a dramatic rate during Winter Storm Elliot, almost plunging PJM into rolling blackouts.

  14 Comments      


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Friday, Jun 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

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US Supreme Court says website designer’s free speech rights violated by Colorado law

Friday, Jun 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Click here for the opinion. Washington Post

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled in favor of an evangelical Christian graphic artist from Colorado who does not want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples, despite the state’s protective anti-discrimination law.

The vote split along ideological lines 6 to 3, with the liberals in dissent.

It was the court’s latest examination of the clash between laws requiring equal treatment for the LGBTQ community and those who say their religious beliefs lead them to regard same-sex marriages as “false.”

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said the First Amendment protects designer Lorie Smith from creating speech she does not believe.

“The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands,” Gorsuch wrote, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. “Colorado seeks to deny that promise.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor authored the dissent, joined by fellow liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson. “Today the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class,” she wrote. “Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people.”

* From the opinion

Before the district court, Ms. Smith and the State stipulated to a number of facts: Ms. Smith is “willing to work with all people regardless of classifications such as race, creed, sexual orientation, and gender” and “will gladly create custom graphics and websites” for clients of any sexual orientation; she will not produce content that “contradicts biblical truth” regardless of who orders it; Ms. Smith’s belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman is a sincerely held conviction; Ms. Smith provides design services that are “expressive” and her “original, customized” creations “contribut[e] to the overall message” her business conveys “through the websites” it creates; the wedding websites she plans to create “will be expressive in nature,” will be “customized and tailored” through close collaboration with individual couples, and will “express Ms. Smith’s and 303 Creative’s message celebrating and promoting” her view of marriage; viewers of Ms. Smith’s websites “will know that the websites are her original artwork;” and “[t]here are numerous companies in the State of Colorado and across the nation that offer custom website design services.”

Ultimately, the district court held that Ms. Smith was not entitled to the injunction she sought, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed.

Held: The First Amendment prohibits Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs speaking messages with which the designer disagrees.

* As an aside, The New Republic reported earlier this week that a person named Stewart who had supposedly contacted Smith about creating a website denies ever doing so. Also from the story

Up to this point, Smith had never designed any wedding website. (In fact, her website six months prior to the lawsuit being filed in 2016 does not include any of the Christian messaging that it did shortly afterward and today, archived versions of the site show.) The initial lawsuit did not mention the “Stewart” inquiry, which was submitted to Smith’s website on September 21, according to the date-stamp shown in later court filings, indicating that she received it the day after the suit was originally filed.

* Anyway, on to local react. Equality Illinois…

When a business decides to open its doors to the public, that business should be open to all—a core American principle at the heart of how we treat one another. Yet, during a Pride Month when LGBTQ+ people are under attack across the country by hateful policies and violence, 6 anti-equality justices on the United States Supreme Court today issued a radical and reckless ruling that strikes at that American principle.

This ruling ignores long-standing precedent and public norms to say that some businesses can turn some people away because of who they are. This is not what Illinoisans want. Illinoisans want a state where all people—including LGBTQ+ people—are equally welcomed in public spaces across the state. We know this because Illinoisans have spoken through their elected leaders to champion the cause of equality and fairness.

In response to this ruling, Equality Illinois will collaborate with our legal partners, pro-equality public officials, and LGBTQ+ community stewards to determine the best course of action to defend the non-discrimination protections in the Illinois Human Rights Act. We will work to ensure the ruling is not used to allow further discrimination because of a customer’s sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, national origin, sex, or other protected class.

June is Pride Month, and Pride was founded in an uprising fueled by resistance, resilience, and fighting back. We will resist. We will fight back. Our dignity will not be diminished.

As always with national issues, please take a deep breath or two before commenting. Thanks.

I’ll post other reactions if and when I receive them.

…Adding… Gov. Pritzker…

Following the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans, Governor JB Pritzker released the following statement:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision allows LGBTQ+ discrimination to pervade under the guise of free speech. This decision weaponizes religious freedom as a boon for bigotry, and in doing so, puts the burden on the millions of Americans who have fought for their right to love and live as they are.

Throughout its 234-year legacy, the court has repeatedly had the opportunity to lead on the right side of history. Sometimes it has embraced that mantle of courage; but in its darkest hours, it has pushed civil rights to the wayside in the name of a retrograde agenda. Not yet ten years out from Obergefell, this court has turned its back on its mandate to protect the civil rights of all Americans.

LGBTQ Americans deserve the same protections and rights as everyone else. Make no mistake: in Illinois, I promise that we will continue to fight to ensure you are respected and safe no matter who you love.”

* Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson…

“Today’s Supreme Court decision allowing businesses to refuse services based on personal beliefs not only violates principles of equality but opens the door to an extremely dangerous precedent. Our country should not, and cannot, further discriminate against and limit the freedom of our LGBTQ+ communities at a time when their rights are already severely under attack.”

“Like yesterday’s ruling to end affirmative action, this will only further discriminate and divide us, so I call upon all institutional leaders and stakeholders to continue protecting these rights and practices in the city of Chicago. And on this last day of Pride month, I stand committed, now more than ever, to fostering a loving, inclusive, and welcoming city.”

* House Speaker Chris Welch…

“This Supreme Court has shown yet again that they will respect no precedent and show no restraint in their effort to disenfranchise those they deem unworthy. Today, six conservative justices created a new right to discriminate against the LGTBQIA+ community, and blocked even modest college debt relief for struggling families. Make no mistake, these rulings are the result of a concerted right-wing attempt to impose their version of America – an America that fits their ideological and political standards because they’ve been repeatedly rejected at the ballot box.

“In Illinois, we will continue to move in a better direction through legislation. We will continue to prioritize affordable college for all, equitable treatment for all, and equal opportunity for all. Because in Illinois we believe in and will always fight for the true American vision for all.”

* Sen. Durbin…

Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis:

“It’s shameful that the Supreme Court just issued a ruling that mistakes freedom of expression as a reason to deny service to LGBTQ+ people — on the final day of Pride Month. It’s nothing short of a license to discriminate, signed by the highest court in the land.

“Yet again, the conservative Supreme Court majority is out of touch with the American people’s expectations of its highest court. The majority of Americans embrace anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people — protections that exist to ensure that no one is turned away because of who they are or who they love. Still, LGBTQ+ Americans are being subjected to a tidal wave of hateful rhetoric and legislation across the country by Republican lawmakers, particularly targeting transgender youth.

“As Justice Sotomayor noted in her dissent, ‘the Court, for the first time in its history, grant[ed] a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class.’ As a result, this case invites a return to a time when businesses regularly turned people away because of not just their LGBTQ+ status, but also their religion, race, national origin, sex, and more.

“Mark my words: I will do everything I can to ensure that the freedom to exist unapologetically prevails. June 30th might conclude Pride Month, but today’s ruling shows our work is far from over.”

* DPI…

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ+ customers, Democratic Party of Illinois Chair Lisa Hernandez released the following statement:

“Amid a disturbing rise of attacks against the LGBTQ+ community, the U.S. Supreme Court has just ruled that businesses can refuse to serve customers based on how they live or who they love. This court continues to pave a path of destruction that guts decades of precedent and progress towards equality, illuminating exactly how much is at stake in all of our elections. This is an abominable endorsement of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community; one which further cements the retrograde legacy of a SCOTUS stacked with Trump sycophants and ideological extremists. On the last day of Pride month, we must recommit to our fight against hate, discrimination, and prejudice, even if the nation’s highest court refuses to do so,” said DPI Chair Lisa Hernandez.

* Thomas More Society…

The June 30, 2023, United States Supreme Court decision affirming the right of web designer Lorie Smith to refuse to create websites for same-sex weddings has reinforced and solidified the October 2022 victory in the Tastries Bakery lawsuit, won by Thomas More Society attorneys.

Smith, owner and designer of 303 Creative LLC, challenged Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, whose accommodation and communication clauses prohibited her from designing custom wedding websites if she refuses to create same-sex wedding websites and prohibited her from publicizing that she would not create them. To avoid prosecution, Smith challenged the Act preemptively but was forbidden by both a Colorado district court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit from exercising her vocation according to her Christian beliefs.

In a similar case, cake designer and Thomas More Society client Cathy Miller, proprietor of Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield, California, was hauled into court—not once, but twice—by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (now the California Civil Rights Department) for declining to design a custom wedding cake celebrating the same-sex marriage of two women. Miller’s freedom to exercise her sincere religious beliefs through her culinary craft was affirmed by a California Superior Court, despite aggressive attacks and litigation backed by the full weight of California’s bureaucratic apparatus.

“There’s a certain irony here,” observed Charles LiMandri, Thomas More Society Special Counsel and partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP, “that laws intended to protect individuals from religious discrimination were used to discriminate against both Cathy Miller and Lorie Smith for their sincerely held religious beliefs. We are pleased that the High Court has upheld the First Amendment rights of Ms. Smith, allowing artisans like her and Cathy Miller to ply their trade according to their deeply held religious beliefs.”

The deciding factor in both cases is the legal concept of “strict scrutiny.” Under strict scrutiny, to compel speech, whether religious or not, the government must show that doing so is the only way—that is, no other means is possible—to achieve a governmental interest of the highest order.

In Tastries, the Hon. J. Eric Bradshaw of the Superior Court of California in Kern County, decided for Miller, concluding that the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s enforcement action sought to compel Miller and Tastries to express support for same-sex marriage, or be silent. “No compelling state interest justifies such a result under strict scrutiny,” wrote Judge Bradshaw.

Judge Bradshaw noted the inconsistency in California’s alleged respect for Miller’s sincere religious beliefs while trying to force her to either violate her beliefs or stop selling wedding cakes. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing proposed that Tastries could either sell all its goods and services to all customers, cease to offer wedding cakes for sale to anyone, or have Miller and those of her employees that shared her religious objections to same-sex marriage “step aside” and allow her “willing” employees to manage the process.

Smith faced an almost identical situation in Colorado—to make wedding websites for any and all types of unions or make none. As sole operator and only staff person at 303 Creative, employees were not part of the equation.

Paul Jonna, Thomas More Society Special Counsel and partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP, added: “We are optimistic that the ruling in 303 Creative will protect all creative professionals involved in the wedding industry, including Cathy Miller. The Supreme Court’s ruling makes abundantly clear that there is room in our great county for people of all views on marriage.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch authored the majority opinion in the High Court’s 6-3 decision. Justice Gorsuch rejected Colorado’s goal of “excis[ing] certain ideas or viewpoints from the public dialogue” as illegitimate and rejected Colorado’s argument that there was no other means of ensuring that same-sex couples have access to the full marketplace. “In some sense, of course, [Lorie Smith’s] voice is unique; so is everyone’s. But that hardly means a State may coopt an individual’s voice for its own purposes… Were the rule otherwise, the better the artist, the finer the writer, the more unique his talent, the more easily his voice could be conscripted to disseminate the government’s preferred messages. That would not respect the First Amendment; more nearly, it would spell its demise.”

* IDHR…

Today, Director Jim Bennett released the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow businesses to refuse to serve customers based on their protected characteristics, such as sexual orientation.

“When a business is open to the public, it should be open to all.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that betrays our nation’s values, undermines decades of settled case law that protects our marketplace from discrimination, and permits certain businesses to discriminate against historically marginalized groups simply because of who they are.

Our antidiscrimination laws, including the Illinois Human Rights Act, exist to protect the rights of vulnerable communities. Before these protections were codified into law, businesses like banks, hotels, restaurants, and bars, posted signs and publicly refused to serve people who were not white, straight, male, able-bodied, or neurotypical. The court had an opportunity to strengthen anti-discrimination laws, but instead, it chose to harm LGBTQ people by relegating them to second-class status. They deserve far better from our nation’s highest court.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights calls on each of us to ensure freedom and inclusion for everyone in the marketplace. We must not allow this regressive ruling to be used to instill fear. The Illinois Human Rights Act provides comprehensive protections against discrimination in public accommodations, as well as employment, housing, financial credit, and sexual harassment in education. If you believe you have experienced discrimination, you can file a discrimination charge by calling 312-814-4320 or 866-740-3953 (TTY) or emailing IDHR.Intake@illinois.gov.

* Leader Gordon-Booth…

State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, issued the following statement Friday after the release of additional Supreme Court rulings:

“In a matter of 24 hours, the Supreme Court has rolled the hands of time back on minorities, marginalized communities, the LGBTQ+ community and everyday working people looking for student loan relief. If we take a look back to last summer’s eradication of women’s rights and bodily autonomy, it’s very clear that Donald Trump’s Supreme Court is moving our country backwards one decision at a time.

“While not everyone may feel personally impacted by these specific cases, these decisions erode rights, limit opportunity and reject the underlying values of our country. We are collectively hurt by such decisions, which is why we cannot remain silent in the days ahead.

“In Illinois we understand what’s at stake. It’s why we have taken strong steps to support basic rights, and why we must continue to be proactive.

“I will continue to use the full weight of my position to uplift and advance the rights of everyone, no matter what a regressive court tries to do.”

* Rep. Kelly Cassidy…

This week, the United States Supreme Court issued two decisions that fly in the face of the idea of a free and equal society. Yesterday, in two decisions (SFFA v. UNC and SFFA v. Harvard), the court held that schools may not consider race as a factor in admissions, leaving in place factors like legacy admissions or donor status in a decision that could set back efforts at equity and inclusion not just in college admissions, but throughout our society. Today’s decision in 303 Creative represents yet another rollback of long-acknowledged rights by permitting a business to effectively post a sign excluding anyone from being served if the product or service provided involves expression.

“Once again, the court is ignoring years of precedent and settled law to roll back rights,” said Representative Kelly Cassidy, “If a business can make an argument that their product is expression, they can argue their right to limit access to any product or service. This reads like an engraved invitation to expand the definition of expression. I love to cook and find it an expression of my creativity. Does that mean if I was a restaurateur I could refuse to serve my food to someone based on my bias against who they are?”

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a deep disappointment for those of us who have felt the love and affirmation of this Pride Month,” Cassidy added. “The Court’s majority adds to the attacks we have seen across the country on members of the LGBTQ+ community – this time suggesting that discrimination against our community can be justified.”

Cassidy noted that the impact on Illinois’ law protecting against discrimination in public accommodations is still being analyzed. The Dobbs Working Group will be reviewing the impact carefully in the event there is a need for state action to protect the rights of any groups subject to discrimination in our state. The Working Group is committed to ensuring that the guarantees contained in the Illinois Human Rights Act are fully recognized.

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