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Isabel’s morning briefing

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Would-be union of legislative staffers accuse Welch of undermining organizing effort. Capitol News Illinois

    - Seven months after Democratic Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch advanced a measure that would allow legislative staff to unionize, members of his own staff on Tuesday blasted the speaker for allowing the bill to languish.

    - In their statement, the Illinois Legislative Staff Association accused Welch of passing the bill “to deflect rising criticism” and feigning solidarity in public while privately colluding with Democratic Senate President Don Harmon to ensure the bill “went no further” once it passed the House.

    - Welch’s office responded Tuesday saying the speaker’s “record is clear” on the staff unionization effort.

    - The speaker’s office also pointed to nine specific areas of improvement for staffers within the speaker’s purview since Welch took power in 2021.

*** Statehouse News ***

* Sun-Times | Bill calling for interest rate disclosures on small business loans dies in Illinois House: Known as SB2234, it had strong support by a large coalition of advocates representing more than 250,000 small businesses and it passed the state Senate on May 2 by a vote of 36-19. But on Monday, the House Financial Institutions Committee didn’t call the bill for a vote. The committee gave no explanation for its decision. A prior version of the bill also died in committee last year.

* Capitol News Illinois | Potawatomi land transfer advances in Illinois House: House Bill 4718 would authorize the state to hand over what is now Shabbona Lake and State Park to the tribe for $1. It also allows the tribe and the Department of Natural Resources to enter into a land management agreement under which the land would remain open to the public for recreational use for an unspecified period.

* Crain’s | Craft brewers say new hemp rules could cut the industry’s lifeline: THC drinks: After watching sales of their new THC-infused beverages explode in recent months, Illinois’ craft beer makers are worried proposed regulation could zap their newfound revenue stream. The state’s craft beer industry struggled following the pandemic. Ten percent of the state’s breweries permanently closed throughout 2022 and 2023, as taproom traffic failed to return to pre-pandemic norms and consumer drinking habits shifted away from craft beer. Survivors began looking to THC-infused drinks as a lifeline.

* Center Square | Awareness campaign kicks off on Illinois law to provide plant-based meals: The law, which went into effect August 2023, requires schools receiving federal reimbursement for lunch meals to serve plant-based meals with prior request. Audrey Sanchez-Lawson, executive director of the public health advocacy group Balanced, said most parents are not aware of the law.

* WGLT | State employees union disputes IDOC plan to move Logan Correctional Center: AFSCME Council 31 issued a report Tuesday analyzing a joint proposal from the Illinois Department of Corrections [IDOC] and Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration that lays out a plan to rebuild both LCC, a medium-security women’s prison, and Stateville, a maximum security men’s prison, outside of Joliet. The union wrote in its report it supports the rebuild of both facilities — but on different terms than has been laid out by IDOC. In a recent report to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability [COGFA], the agency delineated plans to move LCC to the Stateville campus, leaving LCC open during the 3-5 year construction period, but closing Stateville in the interim.

*** Chicago ***

* WGN | Majority of Chicago alders support CTA chief’s ouster: Twenty-six of the city’s alders have signed on to a non-binding resolution calling on Chicago Transit Authority President Dorval Carter to resign or for the mayor to fire him, as what began as a handful of leaders calling for his dismissal has grown to a majority. Ald. Andre Vasquez of the 40th Ward plans to introduce the resolution at Wednesday’s meeting of the Chicago City Council as critics point out that Chicago trails several cities in post-pandemic ridership recovery, including Washington, DC, Los Angeles and Boston.

* Crain’s | City Council could take control over where pot shops open downtown: An ordinance introduced by Ald. Bill Conway, 34th, gives members of the City Council more control over pot shops in the downtown area by cutting the city’s quasi-judicial Zoning Board of Appeals out of the process and requiring the dispensaries to receive zoning approval from the City Council instead.

* Sun-Times | Mariachi Potosino gallery at Pilsen art museum honors the legacy of Chicago musicians: More than 20 years since the death of Mariachi Potosino founder José Cruz Alba, his legacy comes to life in an exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art — from his birthplace in Ignacio Allende, Durango, Mexico in 1918, to his life on the South Side of Chicago, where his love for music spread among the working-class immigrant communities searching for reminders of home in the bold brass, strings and vibrato of mariachi.

* Block Club | Butterfly Sculptures Landing Along Mag Mile, Across Chicago This Summer: Ten butterfly sculptures have spread their wings across the Magnificent Mile as part of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s latest citywide art project, The Flight of the Butterflies. For this initiative — which combines nature, art and storytelling — the nature museum is installing 29 larger-than-life butterfly sculptures across the city. Each is 6 feet tall and was designed by an artist from around the city.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Lake County News-Sun | Waukegan council to consider censuring alderman who posted severed-arm photo; ‘How could you do something like this?’: As Waukegan Ald. Keith Turner, 6th Ward, remained silent at Monday’s City Council meeting about his recent social media post in which he included the picture of a woman’s arm recently found along the city’s beach, Ald. Lynn Florian, 8th Ward, had plenty to say. […] Florian successfully collected signatures of two other council members Monday in Waukegan to place a proposal to censure Turner’s behavior on the agenda of the next City Council meeting.

* Daily Herald | Suburban mayors ask state legislature to boost their share of income tax: Suburban mayors are calling on the Illinois General Assembly to restore the local share of state income tax to levels first agreed upon 55 years ago, before cuts began in 2011. The group of about 50 mayors gathered this week in Elmhurst, where they also urged that lawmakers be more sensitive to the impact of unfunded mandates, particularly while reducing state funding to municipalities and counties.

* Sun-Times | 2 more Cook County sheriff’s correctional officers accused of PPP fraud: Two Cook County sheriff’s correctional officers have been indicted on charges of defrauding the federal Paycheck Protection Program, bringing the total number of the county’s jail guards accused of ripping off the program to three. Officer John Williams received two PPP loans for $20,833 each from the fraud-plagued program created to help struggling businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. On his application, he said he owned a barbershop. Kiara Brown also got two loans, for $20,000 and $19,790, for a nail salon and a beauty salon.

* Daily Herald | Elk Grove selling vacant site to builder of affordable senior housing: Village officials announced plans to sell the 1.2-acre lot at 750 S. Arlington Heights Road to the Housing Opportunity Development Corp., a Skokie-based nonprofit that is developer, owner and manager of affordable housing projects across the northern suburbs. […] The proposed two-story apartment building would contain about 30 units — mostly one-bedroom residences with some two-bedrooms.

*** National ***

* Politico | Hemp and marijuana go to war: A farm bill battle is pitting hemp against its closest cousin: marijuana. The fight centers on intoxicating hemp products, which have developed into a multi-billion-dollar industry subject to few rules and regulations. Some marijuana companies and trade groups are pushing Congress to close a loophole that allows the production and sale of intoxicating substances derived from legal hemp. The hemp industry has a very different ask for lawmakers: leave the federal definition of hemp unchanged.

* Quick Take | AI Chatbots Sucked Up Troves of Data. Now Copyright Holders Want a Cut: It turns out this vast trawling of mankind’s past endeavors doesn’t come for free. News organizations, novelists, music publishers and others whose copyrighted works were fed into the chatbots’ large language models as part of their training are demanding a share of the profits. Some have cut deals with ChatGPT’s owner, OpenAI, for using their work. Others are suing the company and other AI platform developers in US courts. The outcome will be a test of the “fair use” principle, which makes it possible — in certain circumstances — to use books, news stories, song lyrics and other copyrighted material without paying their creators.


  1. - West Side the Best Side - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 8:01 am:

    Nothing to do with this post, tried to comment three times on Open Thread on both tablet and mobile and none went through. Just want to see if that was a fluke on that thread or if something’s going on with comments.

  2. - TJ - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 8:17 am:

    Hemp and marijuana going to war would’ve had a completely different national headline connotation just a few short decades ago. Might’ve made for a GI Joe episode, too.

  3. - Former ILSIP - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 8:38 am:

    As I said yesterday, regarding the legislative staff unionization effort, everyone is conservative about what they know best, including House Speakers and Senate Presidents. When it’s their ox being gored, their actions shouldn’t surprise anyone.

  4. - Gravitas - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 8:40 am:

    I am beginning to appreciate the calls for the removal and replacement of Dorval Carter. The Chicago Transit Authority used to refer to its trains as “Rapid Transit.” The new name ought to be “Slow Motion.”

  5. - JS Mill - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 8:46 am:

    =The group of about 50 mayors gathered this week in Elmhurst, where they also urged that lawmakers be more sensitive to the impact of unfunded mandates,=

    K-12 Schools- “Hold my beer.”

  6. - Torco Sign - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 8:54 am:

    Waukegan is tackling the big issues. That’s why homelessness is up 50% in Lake County, right? Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart and Alderman Florian should focus on people instead of political games that mean nothing.

  7. - H-W - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 9:13 am:

    @ WestSide

    Most of my posts are delayed in order to receive approval. I do not mind it now, although when I was new to the site it frustrated me. Heck, in a couple cases, the delay allowed me to contact Rich and have him strike stupid posts before they appeared in public. I am grateful to be a party to this site, and accept the rules as they exist.

  8. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 9:45 am:

    “members of his own staff on Tuesday blasted the speaker for allowing the bill to languish”

    It’s really a bad idea to be a Democrat in Illinois (especially GA leaders) with a “unions for thee but not for me” leaning, allegedly conspiring to sabotage pro-union legislation because it would affect the GA. There is the “Quinn lesson” of having lost the election because he was Civic Committee/IPI light and turned on core Democratic supporters with multiple pension cuts. Not only is this hypocrisy wrong, but politically not smart. Why do a self-inflicted wound?

  9. - West Side the Best Side - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 10:39 am:

    H-W - Think there was some sort of glitch on the Open Thread since they just disappeared. If a comment doesn’t show up right away I’ll hit Say It again and I’ll get a “duplicate comment” message. That didn’t happen today, comment finally went through on the fourth time. Didn’t keep trying because I thought it was going to be the most brilliant comment of the day, but because I wasn’t going to put up with electronic devices winning that early in the day.

  10. - Dotnonymous x - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 1:23 pm:

    “Hemp” and “marijuana” are cannabis…the exact same plant…tricky words are for tricks…don’t be tricked.

  11. - Duck Duck Goose - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 1:46 pm:

    I guess I support the idea of SB2234, requiring nonbank lenders to disclose the interest rate on small business loans. But I’m struggling to imagine what kind of “business” agrees to take out a loan without knowing the interest. This seems like a Darwinian corrective to weed out people who probably shouldn’t be in business to begin with.

  12. - Dotnonymous x - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 1:47 pm:

    THC-A is pot…THC-A converts to Delta 9-THC when heated…all weed is THC-A…the farm bill inadvertently legalized pot.

  13. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 2:11 pm:

    === Suburban mayors are calling on the Illinois General Assembly to restore the local share of state income tax to levels first agreed upon 55 years ago, before cuts began in 2011.===

    Their false whining about LGDF cuts is tiresome. Maybe we should actually cut it so their complaining is accurate. Use the same argument as the grocery tax: if they want the revenue, let them vote for it. In the meantime, the state income tax rate will drop to 4.63%, locals get nothing, and it is revenue neutral for the State.

    Or, you know, they can be happy with the original deal: 10% of the 3% income tax rate.

    Note: they actually get more than 10% of the 3%. They receive 10.68% of the original 3%, 6.8% more than their original deal. Ingrates.

  14. - Formerly Beverly Bob - Wednesday, May 22, 24 @ 3:20 pm:

    State AG going after PPP fraud is interesting.

    Trying to get out ahead of potential federal deluge of indictments coming?

    Stay tuned to the Sun Times and other outlets as the days and weeks march on.

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