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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

* This cannot be said enough…

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* Wilco will play us out

It’s frozen in the flames

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Slow down!

Friday, Nov 15, 2019

* From the Illinois State Police’s Facebook page

On November 12, 2019 during an ice storm, a stranded motorist who was being helped by two Illinois State Police Troopers experienced a “Miracle on the Ice.” That’s what it’s being called around ISP District 19 - Carmi!

Probationary Trooper Pflaum and his Field Training Officer, Trooper Zimmerman, were changing the tire on a vehicle on Interstate 64 at milepost 101 near Wayne City, when they came inches from losing their lives. Listen closely as the two ISP HEROES start yelling “Watch out!” and pull the woman out of the way. Fortunately, she was down in the ditch line as the box truck literally passed over the top of her and barely missed the two Troopers. She was treated and released from a local hospital and the two Troopers were not injured. While this was not a Scott’s Law violation because the box truck driver had already moved over to the left lane, he was not showing due caution as he proceeded past the scene. The driver of the box truck was cited for Failure to Reduce Speed to Avoid a Crash. (All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.)

We were inches away from a different story being told. Literally inches.

Folks, we can’t stress this enough! SLOW DOWN! Move over when you see vehicles on the shoulder of the roadway with their lights on. Proceed with caution. It is especially important during the snow/ice conditions. As you can see, sometimes it’s a matter of life or death as a stranded motorist. It’s not just about us out there, it is people you know and love that we are assisting also.

* The video is quite dramatic. I presume the troopers are yelling “Truck! Truck! Truck!” and not something else, so just say that’s what it is if you’re at work

Whew. Man.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Lightfoot says she’s still optimistic

Friday, Nov 15, 2019

* A.D. Quig in Crain’s

Mayor Lori Lightfoot came away without her two big asks from the veto session in Springfield: a change to the real estate transfer tax and a restructuring of a Chicago casino tax rates to attract an operator.

“I wouldn’t say that we struck out. We actually came quite close,” Lightfoot said at a news conference today. “But in a very compressed period of the veto session, there were a lot of people who raised a lot of concerns back from the spring that weren’t able to be accommodated in a very short period of time. So I feel optimistic given how far we came in a short period of time to get this right, and we’ll be back at it in January, and I feel optimistic we’ll get it over the threshold at that point.”

Lightfoot traveled to Springfield Nov. 12 to lobby legislators. She said side issues derailed approval, but “people are grateful and thankful that a mayor of Chicago” visited in person instead of lobbying by phone or sending staff.

“You gotta take the long view about Springfield. I’m new to a lot of the people that are down there. We are working on building relationships and we’ll continue to do that,” she said.

Somebody told me today you have to be prepared for Springfield because Springfield is prepared for you. I don’t think she was fully prepared, but give her credit for that response. She didn’t do the Rauner/Tribune thing of lashing out at individuals or blaming some dark conspiracies. Those remarks were mostly spot-on and upbeat. She has another shot in the spring and she may actually succeed this time.

* Greg Hinz mentioned the side issues yesterday

(A)s often happens with gambling bills, some lawmakers wanted other things included to help their districts. In particular, south suburban lawmakers wanted a new gambling facility located in a predominantly minority area, and some DuPage County representatives wanted money for health services there.

Subscribers know more about this topic.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day

Friday, Nov 15, 2019

* Which Democratic Senator would you most like to see become the next Senate President? Please explain why and try not to be snarky about it. Your choice doesn’t have to be someone who has a chance of winning, it just has to be someone you’d most like to see in the job.

*** UPDATE *** Press release…

Forward Illinois released this statement following the news of Illinois Senate President John Cullerton’s retirement in January 2020:

“Forward Illinois thanks President Cullerton for his long record of public service and commitment to moving Illinois forward. Working together with Forward Illinois member organizations, Illinois has made significant progress under President Cullerton’s leadership, including marriage equality, raising the minimum wage to $15 for working families, enacting strong legal protections for immigrants and refugees, ensuring access to reproductive healthcare, jumpstarting Illinois’ clean energy economy, and implementing measures to prevent gun violence. Best wishes, President Cullerton.

“But Illinois must keep moving forward. As the Illinois Senate moves forward with selecting its next president, we urge and call on all senators interested in the post to commit to a bold agenda of economic, social, and environmental justice, ensuring public safety from gun violence and climate change, and protecting and advancing the rights of people of color, women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and refugees. Forward Illinois will hold the next Senate President accountable to this bold agenda and to the values of the Land of Lincoln, including fairness, equality, opportunity, and the dignity of each person in Illinois.”

A historic coalition of Illinois progressive organizations united around a bold agenda, Forward Illinois includes Sierra Club Illinois, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, SEIU, Equality Illinois, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, Chicago Votes, Citizen Action/Illinois, and Local 881 UFCW.

- Posted by Rich Miller   62 Comments      

Cannabis cleanup clears both chambers

Friday, Nov 15, 2019

* Tom Schuba with the Sun-Times

After criticism from health advocates, lawmakers moved to curtail provisions in the state’s legalization law — dashing the hopes of some business owners who sought to allow pot use at their restaurants, bars and even beauty shops when adult recreational use becomes legal Jan. 1.

The law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in June would have allowed municipalities to regulate pot use at cannabis businesses, though health advocates and even some legislators who helped pass that law said they weren’t aware of that, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in June. It gave an exemption to the Smoke Free Illinois Act to those establishments and other businesses that receive local governments’ approval for on-site consumption.

The new legislation says on-site consumption will be allowed only at dispensaries where marijuana is sold and at licensed smoke shops which — similar to cigar shops — will be granted an exemption to the smoke-free law.

* Jerry Nowicki at Capitol News Illinois

The bill also clarifies a “revolving door” provision of the law by prohibiting future members of the General Assembly and their families from having a direct financial ownership interest in a cannabis business until two years after that lawmaker leaves public office. […]

Villanueva said lawmakers who were in the chamber during the passage of the original cannabis bill and their spouses “currently have a lifetime ban on being able to have a stakeholder ownership” in the cannabis industry. The new language change applies the two-year ban to future lawmakers and their immediate family members. […]

The bill also provides that marijuana-related paraphernalia would no longer be illegal in Illinois. But it would remain illegal to operate a snowmobile or any kind of watercraft while under the influence of marijuana.

Steans said it also strengthens and clarifies language that would allow employers to maintain zero-tolerance policies. It also cleans up language in the portion of the bill that expunges criminal records for people who have standalone marijuana convictions on their records, specifically ensuring that outstanding fines do not limit access to expungement.

* By Jim Moran at The Center Square

Counties and cities that voted to tax recreational cannabis will be able to begin collecting sales tax on local cannabis sales on July 1, not Sept. 1.

Like some other laws like liquor regulation, the cannabis law forbade Illinois’ Joint Committee on Administrative Rulemaking from making small administrative changes as the committee would on many other issues, so lawmakers must take on the task of making even small changes via the formal statute amendment process.

* Statement from Gov. Pritzker…

“As Illinois prepares to launch legal adult-use cannabis, this legislation will strengthen the most equity- cannabis law in the nation, especially with stronger provisions to prevent conflicts of interest among elected officials and provide more information to people whose records will be expunged,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Illinois has done more to put justice and equity at the forefront than any other state in the nation, and we’re ensuring that communities that have been hurt by the war on drugs have the opportunity to participate.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

Regionalism or deflection?

Friday, Nov 15, 2019

* Tina Sfondeles and Mitchell Armentrout

Chicago Democrats who supported [the Downstate and suburban pension consolidation] plan argued it’s time for lawmakers from across the state to help the city deal with its pension mess — which the Chicago casino is supposed to do.

“We took a leap of faith, but this body, as somebody said, needs to stop the regionalism and take a leap of faith that will allow Chicago to move forward appropriately and responsibly with a casino that will fund the projects that are going to be built all over this state,” State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said during debate of the casino cleanup measure. […]

The revised structure would have introduced a new graduated tax system specific to the Chicago casino with a higher overall tax rate compared to existing casinos but with a smaller percentage going to the state, and a relatively bigger chunk earmarked for the city. […]

That didn’t sit well with some Republicans who viewed it as a special deal for Chicago.

* The Center Square

In a show of frustration over the lack of support for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed changes that would have allowed a casino there, Chicago lawmakers pulled their support and asked for others to do the same on a bill that, had it failed, could have held up the state’s other casinos and the rollout of sports gambling.

When an amended Senate Bill 222 was called in the House, Chicago lawmakers began cryptically prodding state Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, about why it was being called, why another bill wasn’t being considered, and whether he could alter his bill to inject language into it.

Soon, it became clear that the Chicago lawmakers were frustrated with the lack of support from those outside of the city on Senate Bill 516, an amended bill that contained the changes Lightfoot said she’d need to get a Chicago casino off the ground. […]

Chicago lawmakers contended that those opposing the casino bill were endangering the state’s infrastructure bill as well.

“You’re right, this is a simple technical bill and the reality is that this could jeopardize the vertical capital projects,” said Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago. “But, do you know what else is going to jeopardize the vertical capital projects? Not having a Chicago casino.”

* From Amanda Vinicky’s WTTW story

“I was identified as the point person for the House Republican caucus a year and a half ago on gaming issues. And throughout this whole thing, since the spring session, the city of Chicago has not approached me once – not a phone call, not an email, not a meeting – to talk about the Chicago casino,” said Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield.

On the one hand, I can see Rep. Cassidy’s point. Chicago Democrats voted with Downstate and suburban members on the first responder pension consolidation plan, but then they couldn’t get support for a bill that would help their first responder pension systems.

On the other hand, the city’s push started too late (you don’t run out of time at the Statehouse, you start too late) and there were serious problems with the way the whole thing was handled, so the accusations could be seen as a deflection of blame from the mayor.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Feller drops out *** Arroyo replacement still in doubt

Friday, Nov 15, 2019

* Alex Nitkin at the Daily Line has a great piece on the scheduled vote tonight to replace disgraced former Rep. Luis Arroy (D-Chicago). A small excerpt

Nearly a dozen Northwest Side Democratic Committeepeople are due to meet on Friday to pick a replacement for arrested State Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) following his resignation from the General Assembly earlier this month. […]

Arroyo has not told [30th Ward Ald. and Democratic Committeeman Ariel Reboyras] whom he plans to enlist as a proxy to cast the plurality of the votes — but Reboyras “hope[s]” that the former representative gives him that power, making the 30th ward alderman the sole decider for who gets to fill the seat, he said. […]

Other party leaders said they believe Arroyo and Reboyras have agreed to appoint Eva-Dina Delgado, who is chief of staff to the president of Peoples Gas and a former CTA lobbyist.

But Reboyras said on Wednesday that he does not know if Delgado still wants the job.

“I called Eva-Dina, and she did not respond,” Reboyras said. “I don’t know if she’s going to present her credentials.”

I told subscribers about Delgado earlier this week and suggested it would be wise of her to stay away from this whole thing. House Speaker Michael Madigan has decreed that if a replacement is selected with proxy votes from Arroyo’s 36th Ward then that person will face a qualifications challenge. The resulting uproar could easily splash onto her utility company employer. Not a good thing in these trying times. To be clear, though, she’d probably be a solid candidate if it wasn’t for all of this mess.

* Mayor Lori Lightfoot is allied with Ald. Reboyras, so I asked the mayor when she was in Springfield this week what she made of his threats to file a federal lawsuit if his and Arroyo’s decision was not honored by the Illinois House

I was a little surprised to see Ariel Reboyras’ comments. I know him quite well and they seemed a little out of character. But in my conversations with him is he’s concerned that there’s a movement by some to try to take this out of the majority Latinx community’s hands. And that’s I think where he was coming from. But I think the speaker has said what he said and I think that it’s the right approach.

The progressives in that district have their own candidate, a Latina, so we’ll have to see how this plays out in the primary.

*** UPDATE *** This development takes a huge argument away from Ald. Reboyras and hands the progressives a late win…

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

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Republicans object to ethics commission

Friday, Nov 15, 2019

* We talked a bit yesterday about the legislative ethics bill, but not much about the new ethics commission. Jerry Nowicki at Capitol News Illinois

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, questioned why language adding requirements to lawmakers’ statements of economic interest was removed from the lobbyist disclosure bill, Senate Bill 1639, by a late amendment Thursday.

Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, who carried the bill in the House, said economic interest disclosures would be discussed by the commission created in House Joint Resolution 93.

“Do we really need a commission to be able to come up with a solution that is, I would say, practical but also the right thing to do?” Durkin asked. “I’ve seen commissions come and go over the years. Many of us look at those commissions with jaundiced eyes because generally they don’t produce the positive results that we think are important.”

The commission’s role would be to study ethics reforms and report its recommendations on specific pieces of legislation to lawmakers, who would have the ultimate authority to enact the measures.

* Finke

Legislators also created an ethics commission that will develop more comprehensive ethics reforms that lawmakers can take up during the spring session. Gov. J.B. Pritzker will appoint some members as will the four legislative leaders, Secretary of State Jesse White and Attorney General Kwame Raoul. […]

While the ethics bill itself did pass with wide, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate, the resolution creating the ethics commission did not. All of the Senate Republicans voted against the measure, saying the makeup of the commission is too heavily weighted in favor of Democrats.

“We need to do something, but we need to do something that is balanced,” said Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington. “Corruption and ethics aren’t partisan. This is an unbalanced, partisan commission, though.”

Republicans objected to White and Raoul, both Democrats, having appointees to the commission. However, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the secretary of state and attorney general’s offices play a role in ethics and ethics enforcement and both offices should be represented on the commission.

* Dan Petrella and Jamie Munks at the Tribune

In response to those criticisms, the final measure requires Raoul and White to name the inspectors general from their offices as one of their two appointments. Pritzker, who gets four appointments to the commission, could name up to four Republicans but only two Democrats.

That wasn’t enough to appease Senate Republicans, none of whom voted in favor of the measure creating the commission.

Republican leader Bill Brady of Bloomington said it would create an “unbalanced, partisan commission.”

“That’s what the people will see, and that will disgust them,” Brady said.

I dunno, maybe run better statewide candidates?

* Meanwhile

Rep. Tim Butler asked rhetorically, “We’re allowing someone who is a lobbyist in the state of Illinois to appoint a co-chair?” Cullerton is a registered lobbyist with the City of Chicago (he has not logged any lobbying activity since 2016). “There needs to be more balance. I will vote for this because this is a step forward, but hopefully we can address some of those situations,” Butler said.

Cullerton spokesman John Patterson said the city has a much broader definition of lobbyist and that Cullerton is registered out of an abundance of caution “given the legal work he does as a lawyer in Chicago.”

“Obviously he will not appoint a lobbyist to the commission,” Patterson said.

…Adding… Another view…

Kyle lobbies for the social workers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Unsolicited advice

Friday, Nov 15, 2019

* Except for the budgeting part, the harsh reality is a candidate for Senate President could not be elected on this platform suggested by the Chicago Tribune editorial board

The next Senate president could insist on a fair redistricting process. He or she could acknowledge that a state with an unfunded pension liability of $137 billion ought to rethink the rigid pension clause of its constitution. The next president could insist on a more responsible budgeting process that begins in January, not mid-May. The next president could answer the call of voters to put term limits on the ballot.

Your own unsolicited advice for Democratic Senators who want to replace John Cullerton?

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

Left by the wayside

Friday, Nov 15, 2019

* The Chicago casino bill wasn’t the only legislation that didn’t receive a vote this week. From a press release…

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, issued the following statement Wednesday after the Legislature adjourned the fall legislative session without the Senate passing House Bill 3904, the Student Athlete Endorsement Act:

“I’m very disappointed that we were not able to get this reform that brings equity and fairness to college athletes in Illinois sent to the governor’s desk for his signature.

“It’s unacceptable that the NCAA, collegiate athletic conferences and universities are earning billions of dollars every year, while student athletes are prohibited from earning a few extra bucks from working at a meet and greet at a local business.

“I would like to thank Governor Pritzker and all the stakeholders who worked so hard to pass this bill out of the House. And I look forward to continuing our fight in January of next year to do the right thing, get this bill signed into law, and give college athletes the opportunity to receive the compensation that they deserve.”

Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line

Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside), who introduced the bill on the same day California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an identical bill into law in September, told The Daily Line Thursday that he was “very disappointed,” but would continue organizing around the issue and bring the bill forward in January. “I think the issue of college athletes being able to be compensated for their name, likeness and image is a civil rights issue,” Welch said. “I don’t see any reason why the Senate legitimately held this thing up.” Senate sponsor State Sen. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) told The Daily Line that allowing college athletes to be paid for endorsement deals is “an issue we’re all very passionate about, we care about deeply,” but said more discussions need to be had. “I think there are other issues that may present themselves and we want to fully vet it,” Sims said.

There was also a sponsorship dispute in the Senate, which likely played into this.

* Meanwhile…

Hi Rich,

Following up to with you after this past week’s veto session in Springfield. The Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee had been pushing for action on SB1966—a bill that would require background checks for all gun sales. Here is a statement from Kathleen Sances, president of the Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee, regarding this past week’s inaction on the bill:

    We are deeply disappointed the Senate failed to act on SB1966. This bill would save lives - which is why two-thirds of Illinois voters and over 190 community and advocacy groups support it.

    We are committed to making Illinois safer for our children, families and communities and will continue working with elected officials at all levels and across the aisle to pass commonsense, evidence-based, legislation.

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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Slow down!
* Lightfoot says she's still optimistic
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day
* Cannabis cleanup clears both chambers
* Regionalism or deflection?
* *** UPDATED x1 - Feller drops out *** Arroyo replacement still in doubt
* Republicans object to ethics commission
* Unsolicited advice
* Left by the wayside
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - This just in...
* *** UPDATED x4 Durkin, Madigan, Williams, Pritzker, Brady respond - Cullerton statement *** Senate President John Cullerton to retire
* Yesterday's stories

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