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It’s just a bill

Monday, Mar 4, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Center Square

The Illinois Association of County Clerks said House Bill 4709 would make it more difficult to find polling places. The bill would allow school boards to deny county clerks access to public school buildings for use as polling places.

State Rep. Maura Hirschauer, D-Batavia, introduced HB4709 that would amend the current state statute that says if a county board chooses a school to be a polling place, then the school district must make the school available. The measure was assigned to the House Ethics and Elections Committee Wednesday with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

If passed, the school board would be able to deny a county board. Gretchen DeJaynes, Illinois Association of County Clerks former legislative chair and McDonough County Clerk, said it has been a godsend for clerks to use schools because they are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. […]

Lakeview Junior High school is used as a polling place and Superintendent Andrew Wise said vote-by-mail numbers continue to increase. He said there are plenty of public buildings besides schools the county can use.

* Capitol News Illinois

A bill pending in the General Assembly this year would give back roughly 1,500 acres of park land in DeKalb County to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. That tribe once occupied much of the Great Lakes region but was forcibly removed in the 19th century and is now headquartered in northeast Kansas. […]

The land in question makes up what is now Shabbona Lake State Park, located about 30 miles west of Aurora on U.S. Highway 30. The park is named after Chief Shab-eh-nay of the Prairie Band Potawatomi, a direct ancestor of Rupnick. […]

Chief Shab-eh-nay and about 20 to 30 other members of his extended family stayed behind on their land in Illinois. That is, until about 1850, when Shab-eh-nay took a trip west to check in with the rest of the tribe in Kansas to make sure they were settling in. […]

“Once he got back here (to Illinois), that’s when he discovered that people were living in his house,” Rupnick said. “They actually picked up his house and moved it to another location, and people were living in it. He tried to fight that through the court systems. They told him that he had abandoned his land, that the General Land Office had sold all of his land because he abandoned it. And they allowed the settlers and whoever else to live there.” […]

In recent years, Rupnick said, the tribe has purchased 128 acres and two homes on the original reservation, and they are seeking to acquire the rest of the property through a combination of state and federal legislation.

* Sen. Natalie Toro…

As a Chicagoan, State Senator Natalie Toro frequently bikes to and from work, home and businesses in the community. From these two wheels, she has noticed a glaring need for transportation plans to prioritize the safety of cyclists and introduced legislation to better describe safety features of existing bike paths and ensure cyclists are prioritized in future transportation plans.

“It can be jarring to follow a designated bike lane and then feel the rush of cars driving past you. Some lanes are shared with traffic or are not as separated as they appeared from routing services,” said Toro (D-Chicago). “My legislation will establish clear classes of bike lanes to avoid confusion for cyclists choosing routes they feel comfortable with.”

Senate Bill 3202 would allow cities and counties to create bicycle transportation plans. These plans may include estimating the number of cyclists coming through the area, allowing planners and developers to use a data-informed approach when determining the number of bike lanes needed and potential new routes. Additionally, Toro’s bill would create four different classifications of bikeways — exclusive, shared, semi-exclusive or completely separate from motorists and pedestrians. Local governments will be required to include maps of the existing bikeways and their classifications in the transportation plans, allowing cyclists to make informed decisions on the routes they take. […]

Senate Bill 3202 could be heard in the Senate Transportation committee as early as next week.

* Press release…

On Tuesday, March 5 at 11:30 a.m., Illinois State Senator Laura Ellman (District 21) and State Representative Anna Moeller (District 43), along with public health experts, environmental advocates and impacted community members, will hold a press conference to rally public support for their plan to protect Illinois waters after the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned decades of federal clean water protections.

Illinois waterways and wetlands are now at risk from pollution and increased flooding unless the state takes action. Sen. Ellman and Rep. Moeller are introducing companion legislation (SB3669/HB5386) to ensure Illinoisans’ access to clean drinking water and protect wetlands so they can mitigate flooding across the state.

* Sun-Times

It’s no coincidence that voters say they don’t have access to clear, unbiased candidate information, given the alarming, well-documented decline of local newspapers and media. […]

In many communities, local newspapers are trusted sources of information, as a 2021 Knight Foundation-Gallup survey found. “Compared with other sources of local information, Americans also say local news does the best job of keeping them informed, holding leaders accountable and amplifying stories in their communities versus social media, community-based apps and word of mouth,” a Knight Foundation analysis stated.

Recognizing the link between thriving local news and a healthy democracy, more news outlets are expanding beats on voting and elections, Veiga notes. But there’s still an urgent need to slow the rapid proliferation of news deserts that has America on track to have lost a third of its newspapers since 2005, according to the “State of Local News 2023″ from the Local News Initiative at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Philanthropic support, like the $500 million Press Forward nationwide initiative, is important. Legislation can make a difference too, and Illinois has two ambitious proposals, introduced by state Sen. Steve Stadelman of Rockford, that are worth strong consideration from lawmakers: Senate Bill 3591, the Journalism Preservation Act, would require social media and tech giants like Google and Facebook to compensate local news organizations for content they share and profit from. Senate Bill 3592 would create the Strengthening Community Media Act with hiring incentives, including a tax credit for news outlets to hire more reporters and for small businesses that advertise with local news organizations.

* Rep. Sharon Chung filed HB5759

Creates the Music and Musicians Tax Credit and Jobs Act. Provides that the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity may award credits to qualified music companies. Creates the Music Education Scholarship Act. Provides that the Board of Higher Education may award scholarships to applicants who are enrolled in or accepted for admission to an associate, baccalaureate, or graduate degree program in music education and who agree to meet certain teaching obligations. Amends the Illinois Income Tax Act. Creates certain income tax credits for theater infrastructure projects. Amends the Live Theater Production Tax Credit Act. Renames the Act as the Live Music and Theater Production Tax Credit Act. Provides that the Act also applies to musical performances.

* HB4266 from Rep. Maurice West will be heard in committee tomorrow

Amends the Lobbyist Registration Act. Directs the Secretary of State to grant a waiver of the lobbyist registration fee for any not-for-profit entity with an annual budget of less than $5,000,000 that is classified as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including a waiver for any lobbyist that exclusively lobbies on behalf of such an entity.


  1. - Anyone Remember - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 9:37 am:

    “… Superintendent Andrew Wise said vote-by-mail numbers continue to increase. He said there are plenty of public buildings besides schools the county can use.”

    Mr. Wise needs to get out more. Finding ADA accessible buildings other than schools, particularly in rural counties, is difficult. Unless he wants everyone voting at the courthouse.

  2. - Baloneymous - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 9:37 am:

    Regarding HB4709, to start with I am all for vote by mail. You can take your time and not feel rushed, vote for more candidates that you might normally skip because you have to get back to work. You don’t have to stand in lines or worry were the bathroom and so on. It’s a no brainer.

    However, for smaller downstate cities and towns, if they don’t have a town hall building, and don’t have a public library, then the local school may be the only building accessible enough as a polling place. Other than that, then you’re talking about churches, Casey’s or maybe Dollar General.

  3. - OneMan - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 10:08 am:

    I lived in a rapidly growing area and the only place in the area that was ADA compliant was a church and it ended up the single busiest polling place in Aurora, it also covered three counties making everything there more complex and it would always be the last place to report.

    Once the local school district built several schools, things improved. But if the district had said now, that polling place would be a disaster now on election day.

  4. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 10:19 am:

    –He said there are plenty of public buildings besides schools the county can use.–

    Yes. Public buildings. Like schools.

    I’m not sure what the rationalization is for this change, but as someone in a rather built-up suburban area I haven’t had a polling place that is NOT a church for… 25 years. 2 Years ago my polling place was moved - to a different church.

    I get the sense this desire is what’s driving this bill too. Send everyone to church, one way or the other.

  5. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 11:21 am:

    Pilot program — in-person statewide early voting location at Wally’s.

  6. - Arvey’s Legacy - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 11:25 am:

    That Sun-Times Editorial is now the second time in a couple of weeks that they have grandly patten themselves on the back as they do an embarrassingly lax “Voter Guide.” They cluck about voters having to choose between candidates they know little or nothing about, and lament to Mitchell Armentrout frustration about lack of information about candidates. “Clear, factual information on candidates and policy issues is essential to a thriving democracy. Access to information is especially needed for so-called down-ballot races that typically get little publicity.”

    So what does the CST do? Completely fail by not even listing so much as the down-ballot races in their voter guide, much less the actual candidates. In the Voter Guide, they do not even list the races or candidates for Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court, MWRD, Board of Review, or County Commissioner. Wayfarers go guys, thanks for your help!

    For a “collaboration of WBEZ, the Chicago Sun-Times and the University of Chicago’s Center for Effective Government, with funding support from the Pulitzer Center,” could you please do better? Random volunteer bloggers working for free manage to.

  7. - DuPage - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 11:46 am:

    @10:19 ===I’m not sure what the rationalization is for this change===

    Disruption of school activities, distraction of students, security of normally locked doors having to be unlocked all day, convicted sex offenders near children, parking and traffic disruption for parents and school buses, etc… Schools have a difficult enough job to do, without unrelated agencies demanding free use of school facilities.
    The decision should be with the individual school district.

  8. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 12:21 pm:

    –free use of school facilities.–

    Schools get paid for being a voting location.

    –convicted sex offenders near children–

    Schools don’t check visitors for that now.

    –Disruption of school activities–

    When I was younger, my parents took me to vote with them at my school. I was able to go with them, because school was closed for classes that day for what we once called ‘teacher in-service days’.

    That last item completely erases all of your concerns.

  9. - Vote Quimby - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 12:51 pm:

    ==Mr. Wise needs to get out more. Finding ADA accessible buildings other than schools, particularly in rural counties, is difficult.==

    This… absolutely. Rural areas are having trouble keeping schools open at all…let alone having alternative voting sites which meet all standards. Typical suburban view of a statewide problem.

    I get the school safety argument, but in general it is tougher to vote than to get a gun.

  10. - G Livie - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 12:54 pm:

    After all students have been through, closing school mid week for an election is not in the best interest of students. Talk to any parent with students with autism or other disabilities. Random days off are so hard for kids to return to. I appreciate this bill to allow schools to say No.

  11. - GoneFishing - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 1:40 pm:

    Best solution is a federal holiday to vote in November and a state holiday for the spring election. Problem solved. Should be like Christmas. Stores closed everone should be able to vote or volunteer to help staff polling places. Should be your right to vote and a place to cast your vote.

  12. - G Livie - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 5:47 pm:

    Disagree. Random days off are not what’s best for kids.

  13. - sbfisher - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 7:03 pm:

    Regarding the Potawatomi / Shabbona Lake State Park bill. What happens if this bill passes? Does the tribe get to restrict access to the park? How many millions of state and federal dollars have been spent to make improvements to this park over the years? This is one of the more busy parks in in the northern part of the state.

    While I understand what transpired 174 years ago wasn’t right. In my opinion there should be some language to allow continued public access to any land previously improved with public dollars. If the tribe decides to restrict the current public land access and allowed activities, the IDNR should be reimbursed for the improvements made.

  14. - Anonish - Monday, Mar 4, 24 @ 10:32 pm:

    If only there was some kind of schedule that would allow a school district to predict when election days are in the future so they could perhaps use an institute day on a Tuesday instead of a random Monday or Friday.

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