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Isabel’s morning briefing

Thursday, May 2, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: House Democrats advance November ballot questions aimed at driving party turnout. Tribune

    - The legislation offers nonbinding advisory questions on securing in vitro fertilization, protecting election workers and targeting those earning $1 million a year or more with higher taxes to pay for property tax relief.
    - The bill also would afford some incumbent protection for legislators in November by preventing political party committees from appointing challengers to fill out legislative ballots if the party didn’t field a candidate in the March primary.
    - The referenda package was approved without debate on a 67-4 House vote, with nearly 40 Republicans voting “present.”

* Related stories…

Governor Pritzker will give remarks at the Illinois Police Officers Memorial Ceremony at 11 am. At 1:30 the governor will announce an expanded investment in Rivian. Click here to watch.

*** Isabel’s top picks ***

* WTTW | Illinois Doctors Would Have Easier Access to Patients’ End-of-Life Wishes Under Bill Advancing in Springfield: Another, more controversial proposal (Senate Bill 3499), that would allow patients with terminal illnesses to pursue physician-assisted suicide has not advanced. Its sponsor, state Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, said she doesn’t expect to move the bill this spring, as she is continuing to organically build support and plans conversations about it over the summer.

* WCIA | IL Comptroller writes to USPS on potential Springfield center change: Mendoza said she’s worried the extra travel required will slow down payments to people if the Springfield Processing and Distribution Center changes and mail distribution is required in St. Louis or Chicago. “Given that Springfield is the seat of state government where a distribution hub is warranted, I ask for specific assurance from the US Postal Service that an impact analysis is thoroughly conducted prior to implementation so that it can verify there is no potential risk for performance delays,” the comptroller wrote in the letter.

*** Statehouse News ***

* Daily Herald | Pritzker: Bears lakefront stadium proposal still ‘a non-starter’: “The governor’s office remains open to conversations with the Bears, lawmakers and other stakeholders with the understanding that responsible fiscal stewardship of taxpayer dollars remains the foremost priority,” Wednesday’s statement reads. The Bears also issued a statement Wednesday, describing the talks with Pritzker’s representatives as “productive.” “We share a commitment to protecting the taxpayers of Illinois and look forward to further discussions,” the team said.

* 25News Now | Gov. Pritzker, Rivian to announce ‘expanded Illinois investment’ on Thursday: Although no details about the investment are being released, two reliable sources told 25News on March 8 that state government leaders were working on financial incentives to help Rivian expand the local factory and perhaps hire thousands more new employees to build the more affordable R2 sport utility vehicle in Normal.

* Chalkbeat | Illinois high school students must fill out FAFSA to graduate — maybe not this year, state says: State law has required students to complete the FAFSA in order to graduate from high school since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. Students not planning to go to college could fill out a waiver. But now, a proposal in the Senate would waive the requirement entirely for the current school year. The proposal by state Sen. Dan McConchie, a Republican lawmaker representing northwest suburbs, comes months after the rocky rollout of the federal government’s “Better FAFSA”, which faced multiple challenges including a later opening date and technical issues that caused delays and uncertainty for college-bound students.

* NBC Chicago | Illinois bill would combat catalytic converter thefts, lawmaker says: A new bill under consideration by the Illinois General Assembly would aim to discourage the theft and resale of catalytic converters, with the state having one of the worst rates of such thefts in the country. According to research cited by bill sponsor Sen. Michael Hastings, more than 2,000 insurance claims were filed between 2020-2022 after devices were stolen from vehicles, the fourth-highest rate in the U.S. during that time according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

* WTAX | Illinois House and Senate meet on the field of play: This year the game was played at Robin Roberts Stadium for the first time and a large and enthusiastic crowd was in attendance. The spirit of bipartisanship was strong and several of the players and spectators talked about the importance of events such as this to build personal relationships.

*** Chicago ***

* Sun-Times | Suspect in slaying of Officer Luis Huesca arrested in Glendale Heights — with Huesca’s own handcuffs: Xavier L. Tate Jr., 22, was taken into custody without incident shortly after 7 p.m. following a “multi-state investigation” that involved the Chicago Police Department and “many other” law enforcement agencies, according to Belkis Sandoval, a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force. Authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Tate on Friday night, when documents filed by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office charged him with first-degree murder in the April 21 shooting in the Gage Park neighborhood.

* Sun-Times | These flowers are fake, but Chicago businesses are embracing them in a very real way as means to attract customers: They slither, curl and twine around windows, under eaves, over doorways in a riot of color — the way things might be if the world were abandoned to flowers. And they’re everywhere. In New York or London, you can’t help but notice storefront after storefront smothered in elaborate displays of flowers that never wilt or need water or pruning because they’re all fake.

* NBC Chicago | 8 Chicago-area hospitals receive ‘D’ safety grade; other area hospitals move up in rankings: report: The report, from healthcare watchdog group and nonprofit Leapfrog, ranks nearly 3,000 hospitals across the country on safety through using more than 30 metrics that have a “direct impact on patient safety outcomes.” Some of those include nurse and doctor communication, hospital staff responsiveness, patient satisfaction and communication and discharge information, a press release said.

* Block Club | A North Side Mental Health Crisis Team Has Assisted 94% Of Callers Without Police Help: Trilogy’s First-Response Alternative Crisis Team was founded in 2022 through a state pilot program aimed at providing alternatives to calling 911 for people experiencing mental health issues. The group, also known as FACT, was recently approved for state funding for the next fiscal year, and providers hope to continue expanding the program, leaders said.

* Sun-Times | Amtrak adds new trains between Chicago and Twin Cities: The new service, one train in each direction, overlaps the Hiawatha service between Chicago and Milwaukee and the Empire Builder service, which runs between Chicago and Seattle, stopping in St. Paul, Minnesota, along the way. The new westbound train departs Chicago at 11:05 a.m. daily, about four hours before the daily westbound Empire Builder, and arrives in St. Paul at 6:29 p.m. The eastbound train leaves St. Paul at 11:50 a.m. and arrives in Chicago at 7:14 p.m.

* Block Club | Logan Square, Avondale Could Get Special Tax District As Talks Revived: The Logan Square Chamber of Commerce is again gauging interest in establishing a “special service area” on Milwaukee Avenue between Armitage and Belmont avenues to pay for neighborhood services and amenities. The chamber has begun talks about the special service area with commercial and condo property owners along that stretch of Milwaukee Avenue. It’s at least the group’s third attempt to establish a special service area, which levies an additional property tax within specific boundaries to pay for communal services such as snow removal, trash pickup, business visibility and special events.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Sun-Times | First-ever trial over Zantac cancer claims gets underway in Cook County: The lawsuit is one of many claims made nationwide that the over-the-counter heartburn drug Zantac and its generics have an active ingredient that causes cancer. This is the first to make it to a jury trial.

* Daily Herald | Great Scot: The Highland Games are moving to Wheaton: The Highland Games — convening this June at a new arena in Wheaton — celebrates cherished strands of Scottish culture: clan tartans, song, dance, food and brawn. Athletes heave tree trunks as tall as telephone poles in the caber toss, a test of accuracy. But the Games also showcase the power of family and fellowship.

* WGN | Cicadas ahead of schedule, expected soon in Chicago area: Morton Arboretum experts say they have found the first signs of periodical cicadas a week and a half ago. They are ahead of schedule, and they expect the mass emergence in another week — meaning, millions among billions of them will emerge from the ground.


  1. - John Lopez - Thursday, May 2, 24 @ 8:55 am:

    === - The bill also would afford some incumbent protection for legislators in November by preventing political party committees from appointing challengers to fill out legislative ballots if the party didn’t field a candidate in the March primary. ===

    Unless I missed something reading the House Amendment 2 of SB 2412, the above provision applies not only to state legislative candidates, but all candidates on established political party tickets down to the county level. This provision is not sunsetted like the three nonbinding referenda so this change in post-primary slating is permanent and will impact next year’s township elections where established political parties run candidates as party nominees.

  2. - TJ - Thursday, May 2, 24 @ 9:26 am:

    - Bears really need to learn to read the room. They’re not getting public money from Springfield, get over it. They should pin their hopes on Johnson’s idiotic support to further tank him and allow for the city to easily brush aside those requests as well.

    - Rivian has become an important piece of the Bloomington-Normal economy, so I’m all for anything they announce regarding growing. However, I have yet to recall a positive earnings report from them, their ratings in car comparison guides seem to be on the low-end, and I can’t help but shake the feeling that one day Bezos is going to decide to stop making rounding errors in his finances and cut his deal with Rivian, which would utterly tank both the company and our local housing market.

    - I’ve never actually been in Minneapolis before, but have off-hand mentioned the idea of taking a train up there from Chicago more than a few times to my wife, so I’m all for increased service between the two even if only to feed into my own hypothetical rail trips.

    - No cicada sightings on my end in McLean County as of yet.

  3. - Gravitas - Thursday, May 2, 24 @ 9:34 am:

    I am with Comptroller Mendoza. How can Springfield not have its own USPS Mail Sorting Center? It’s the capital.

  4. - SAP - Thursday, May 2, 24 @ 11:29 am:

    I’m sure the ask isn’t on the same order of magnitude at the Bears or White Sox asks, but
    Rivian owner RJ Scaringe is worth about $1.7 Billion. Does he really need state money?

  5. - Independent - Thursday, May 2, 24 @ 11:34 am:

    Rivian’s potential expansion is great news for BloNo, though in the short term it would exacerbate their housing crunch. State Farm isn’t growing headcount in Bloomington. If anything they will outsource more positions to HCL, who would then shift that work to India over time.

  6. - Gravitas - Thursday, May 2, 24 @ 11:55 am:

    The legislation to amend the Election Code looks bad. Slating sessions have already occurred in many districts and candidates are collecting petition signatures as well. Unlike the old days, vacancies in nomination are not simply filled by committeepersons. The approved candidates now have to gather petition signatures as well.

  7. - Question - Thursday, May 2, 24 @ 12:10 pm:

    Does anyone know if the election bill that passed last night applies to elected offices beyond state rep and state senate?
    Does it apply to countywide and county board, for instance?

  8. - Sue - Thursday, May 2, 24 @ 12:50 pm:

    It is beyond hypocritical for the Democratic led legislature to waive a magic wand and place 3 politically motivated ballot questions on the November ballot for the stated purpose of driving D turnout but when others attempt a ballot initiative not favored by D’s they move heaven and earth to block it

  9. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 2, 24 @ 3:46 pm:

    Maybe don’t be in the super minority then @Sue. Elections have consequences. You want a say? Get more Republicans elected.

  10. - John Lopez - Thursday, May 2, 24 @ 6:14 pm:

    @Question: Multiple sources in both parties say it does. Democrats can’t slate someone to run for McHenry County State’s Attorney even though 2-term incumbent Patrick Keneally dropped out, and Republican committeepersons slated his replacement on fall ballot last night.

    Since McHenry County Dems had no candidate file, they won’t be able to slate. The Senate concurred with House Amendment 2 of SB 2412 today, so it’s off to the governor’s desk.

    @Gravitas: Anyone who tries to slate a candidate where no one filed to run in the primary will be shelling out lots of legal fees once governor signs this bill.

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