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Afternoon roundup

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) and State Representative Kelly M. Cassidy (D-Chicago) issued the following joint statement after Target announced it would be removing certain Pride merchandise after employees claimed the items threatened their sense of safety following customer interactions:

“Target has sold and marketed Pride products for years, no doubt profiting well from their efforts. To pull these very products from their shelves in response to acts of bigotry, violence, and threats against the LGBTQ+ community is an act of cowardice. As the General Assembly’s only two openly LGBTQ+ legislators, we refuse to sit idly by as one of the country’s largest retailers fails to stand in solidarity for our rights.

“One of our country’s largest big-box retailers, Target, has removed certain Pride Month products from its shelves and moved others to the back of its stores citing threats, vandalism and unsafe workplace conditions due to confrontation and backlash from patrons.

“Target had an opportunity to stand in support with the LGBTQ+ community and denounce bigotry within its stores. By moving merchandise marketed to LGBTQ+ communities to the margins of their stores, it sends the wrong message to our communities and to those who are pushing hate and violence in oppressing the rights and visibility of the LGBTQ+ community.

“We will not be moved to the back of the store. We will not be hidden in the shadows. We will not be intimidated by those who threaten violence or by those who cannot accept this simple truth — all humans are equal. To our LGBTQ+ communities - as we enter into the month of June, hold your head high, be proud of who you are, and know that we have your back.”

* Orr refused to divulge the identity of this person when I followed up…

Good Government Illinois posts statement from David Orr on process for replacing Brandon Johnson on the County Board:

“Several West Side community leaders with long records of engagement and accomplishment are applying to replace Mayor Brandon Johnson on the Cook County Board. But we’re hearing rumors that a typical insider deal is being cut.

“It goes something like this: a clouted state rep who’s tired of traveling to Springfield gets the County Board seat, and politicians get to play another round of musical chairs, appointing his replacement — avoiding having voters choose their own representative.

“If enough people speak up, this deal could be quashed. Politics in this era of progressive change should be different. We’re all tired of backroom deals.”

* I think I understand his general gist, but it’s not like he hasn’t been able to introduce a drone bill of his own in the past, and the city has its own drone rules

[Rep. Curtis Tarver, D-Chicago] also noted that it took a mass shooting in a predominantly white suburb to get lawmakers moving on drones.

“We have mass shootings unfortunately in the city of Chicago very, very often. And nobody here had the political fortitude or concern for people of color to bring a bill that related to drones in some other way to monitor these events,” Tarver said. “So, it’s frustrating.”

Tarver was on the short end of an 84-7 vote in the House.

Also, legislators did propose drone bills in the past. Former Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago) was one of them.

* ABC News

The landscape of abortion rights has shifted dramatically in the 11 months since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending federal protections for abortion rights.

The decision left it up to states to decide how to regulate abortion services.

States in the West and Northeast have since taken steps to expand and protect abortion rights, while states across the South, Great Plains and Midwest have moved to ban or restrict abortion care.

Fifteen states have ceased nearly all abortion services.



The Illinois Department of Transportation announced today that a public hearing will be held Tuesday, June 13, on a proposed project to add lanes on Interstate 55 and Interstate 72 around Springfield. The estimated $802 million cost of the project includes reconstructing several interchanges.

The purpose of the hearing is to present the preferred design for the improvements and obtain feedback. The public is invited to review project plans, view exhibits, watch a video, and discuss with IDOT staff and consultants. All interested parties are encouraged to attend:

Tuesday, June 13
4-7 p.m.
Northfield Inn Suites and Conference Center
3280 Northfield Drive, Springfield, Ill.

Funding was approved through Gov. JB Pritzker’s historic, bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital program for $150 million for the project’s first phase, which consists of adding capacity and making other improvements to I-55 from just north of Sangamon Avenue to the Williamsville weigh station. The improvements will connect to the wider I-55 north of Springfield, resulting in three lanes in each direction to Lincoln. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2024, starting with the bridges over the Sangamon River. A timeline for the project will be finalized in the coming months.

The remaining phases, estimated to cost more than $650 million, involve continuing with the third lane in each direction of I-55 and I-72 from just north of Sangamon Avenue to Veterans Parkway (Illinois 4), as well as reconstructing interchanges with Sixth Street/I-72, Stevenson Drive, South Grand Avenue, Clear Lake Avenue/I-72 and Sangamon Avenue. Additional work will occur on I-55 to Toronto Road to accommodate reconstruction of the Sixth Street/I-72 interchange. Funding for construction has not been identified.

“Improving I-55 and I-72 around Springfield will enhance safety, increase reliability and ease congestion,” said IDOT Region 4 Engineer Jeff Myers. “A lot of consideration and public input has gone into the design of this project. I encourage anyone interested in learning more about the future of Springfield to attend.”

* Isabel’s roundup…

    * WTTW | Bill Designed to Revamp Property Tax Sale System That Fueled ‘Urban Decay’ Headed to Governor’s Desk: Pritzker is expected to sign the bill, which was prompted by “Maps of Inequality: From Redlining to Urban Decay and the Black Exodus,” a study Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ office released in July. The study was part of a concerted effort by her office to revamp the system designed to return distressed properties saddled with mountains of tax debt to productive use.

    * NBC Chicago | At Least Five Chicago Mail Carriers Are Victims of Crime Each Week in Chicago, New Data Reveals: In fact, Chicago Police Department data shows a 40% increase in crimes against postal workers, from 2021 when there were 186 reported crimes, to 261 crimes reported in 2022. (NBC 5 only counted crimes where the victim listed USPS as their occupation, meaning these numbers may be an undercount.)

    * Illinois Answers Project | CPS Faces Dwindling Enrollment, Empty Buildings, Soaring Deficits Decade After Mass Closure Of Schools: In the decade since the closures, which left dozens of empty schools throughout the city, CPS has about 81,000 fewer students and has dropped from the third largest district in the nation to the fourth, as the city continues to lose Black residents. CPS data from the 2022-2023 school year shows 61 school buildings have an occupancy rate of 30 percent or less, compared to the 17 buildings that fell into the same category when Mayor Rahm Emanuel approved the largest mass school closure in modern American history.

    * WCMY | Republican state representatives vote no on 2024 Illinois State Budget: St. Rep. Jed Davis of Yorkville says he’s not surprised with the unbalanced budget that appropriates money to Democrat pet projects instead of making sound investments in Illinois. St. Rep. Jason Bunting of Emington says he’s disappointed with the process because Republican voices aren’t being heard during budget talks.

    * The Crusader | Speed camera near DuSable Museum nets highest revenue for city at $6.4M: A breakdown of tickets from the Washington Park speed camera also revealed the device generated the highest number of tickets and revenue from drivers going between 6 to 10 miles per hour, a $35 fine. According to the ABC7 Chicago investigation, the Washington Park speed camera has given 135,131 tickets for a total of $4,720,031. About 16,590 tickets totaling $1,654,850 were given to drivers going over 11 mph, a $100 fine. That places the Washington Park speed camera as the fifth highest device that gave out tickets to drivers going 11 mph over the speed limit.

    * Daily Herald | The end is near: Demolition crews arrive at Arlington Park: The demolition is expected to cost the Bears $3.8 million, but could lead to property tax savings for the team, which closed on its $197.2 million purchase of the old racetrack in February.

    * Rockford Register Star | Rockford mayor: Illinois ’stole’ $123M from the city, and he wants it back: Mayor Tom McNamara renewed his call for Illinois to return what he called “stolen” income tax dollars to the people of Rockford. Under a 1969 agreement, 10 percent of residents’ income taxes was to return to the municipalities in which they lived, McNamara said. That changed in 2011 when the state began cutting back on how much income tax dollars paid by residents was returned to their home cities as part of what is called the Local Government Distributive Fund.

    * Treasurer Mike Frerichs | ‘Though my new home will be in Chicago, my heart always will be downstate’: When we learned about the twins, it became clear that we could not continue to shuttle back and forth with two babies in tow. We wanted to consolidate in Champaign, but doing that and maintaining her career as a successful corporate executive was not an option. It is unfortunate that Jim Dey mocks me for making this decision to support my wife and our family (“New digs for a growing family,” May 20). I do not believe he has made any effort to understand our personal situation, and it feels as though he wants to Make America Great Again by reverting to a time when women were expected to sacrifice their careers for their husbands. I’m sorry, Jim, I don’t share your worldview.

    * Crain’s | Durbin turns up heat in ethics probe over gifts to Justice Thomas: And, in a letter sent over the Memorial Day weekend, Durbin, pressed on a second front, writing not only to Thomas benefactor Harlan Crow but asking for data from corporate entities controlled by Crow that own his private jet, yacht and resort.

    * NPR | Miller says she will vote against debt limit deal: “I will vote NO on increasing the debt on our children and grandchildren by $4 trillion because this deal does not contain anywhere near the CUTS and policy changes we need in order to stop Joe Biden’s war on the American people. This deal does not repeal Biden’s “Green Bad Deal” attack on American energy or reinstate the Trump Administration energy independence policies we passed in the Limit, Save, Grow Act,” Miller said in a statement released to media.

    * Sun-Times | Mom creates garden where son was shot, hoping people will remember him, maybe help solve his killing: D’Vignon said hardly anyone noticed when her 24-year-old son, Nicolaus Cooper, a father of three, was killed in March. Now, she and her family hope that, in death, people will know him — and perhaps help solve his killing. “A lot of people are afraid to speak,” D’Vignon said. “We just want justice for him. And we just want his name to be remembered.”

    * Daily Herald | Elgin’s first LGBTQ+ Pride Parade and Festival Saturday: The parade will begin and end near Festival Park at 11 a.m., heading north up Riverside Drive and back south down Grove Avenue.

    * AP | LGBTQ+ activists call for new strategies to promote equality after Target backlash: “We need a strategy on how to deal with corporations that are experiencing enormous pressure to throw LGBTQ people under the bus,” said California state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, a member of the LGBTQ legislative caucus. “We need to send a clear message to corporate America that if you’re our ally — if you are truly our ally — you need to be our ally, not just when it’s easy but also when it’s hard,” he said.

    * Sun-Times | Merchandise Mart adjusts with the times but stays regal on the river: About a decade ago, Chicago’s Merchandise Mart became hip. It was great for the Art Deco-style property that’s one of the most familiar buildings among the city’s architectural royalty, but it wasn’t enough. There was still a matter of space that wasn’t used well and a design that could seem off-putting to casual visitors and some tenants. The building’s owner, Vornado Realty Trust, first worked to fix that in 2016 by investing $40 million toward changes that included a broad staircase that connects to the lobby.

    * Sun-Times | White Sox’ Liam Hendriks makes first appearance of season after bout with cancer: Forty-five days after his last chemotherapy treatment for stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hendriks donned a black “Southside” uniform, received a pregame kiss behind home plate from wife Kristi and became a member of the White Sox again.


ISBE: “CPS continues to defy its legal obligations”

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

Chicago Public Schools has repeatedly violated state law over the use of physical restraints of students, “overwhelmingly failed” to train its staff properly and continued the practice despite multiple directives this school year from the Illinois State Board of Education to stop, the state agency alleged in a letter to CPS obtained by the Tribune.

“CPS’ complete disregard for the health and safety of its students and blatant violation of state law is unconscionable,” an ISBE official wrote to CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. […]

Such findings from ISBE’s monitoring of CPS prompted the state agency to open a “systemic complaint investigation” in October alleging “several violations” of state law related to staff training. At that point, ISBE “mandated that CPS stop the use of physical restraint until it could demonstrate that staff who may need to use physical restraint are trained in its safe application,” the letter to Martinez states.

ISBE contends CPS continued to report the use of physical restraints in the following weeks, despite at least two more warnings from the state education agency.

“CPS provided a wholly inappropriate response on November 9, 2022, to our third directive to halt its unlawful practice physical restraint because it had overwhelmingly failed to train its staff appropriately. CPS continues to defy its legal obligations,” ISBE wrote.

There’s lots more, so go read the rest.


An idea whose time has come

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* It’s kinda ridiculous that the General Assembly doesn’t offer archived audio and video of floor and committee action. I found this while looking for something else on the Civic Federation’s website

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), all 50 state legislatures now livestream floor proceedings, and most legislatures, including Illinois, also livestream all or selected committee hearings. Most hearings of the Illinois legislature are streamed via video, audio or both on the Illinois General Assembly website. However, Illinois is unlike other states in that the General Assembly does not make video recordings of meetings and proceedings easily available to the public online.

NCSL reports that a growing number of state legislatures are archiving and making available on-demand recordings of floor and committee proceedings online and at no charge. Unfortunately, Illinois is one of only four states that does not archive its General Assembly videos online. The process for obtaining copies of recordings is to submit a request from the Clerk of the House of Representatives or Secretary of the Senate, each of which has different procedures. For example, the House provides video recordings of floor hearings only, and audio recordings of committee hearings. The Senate does not provide any video recordings, and only provides audio recordings of floor hearings (not committee hearings). Per the State’s Legislative Materials Act, the House Clerk and Senate Secretary may establish fees for providing recordings and transcripts. Third-party platform Blueroomstream live-streams selected hearings of the Illinois General Assembly, Illinois Supreme Court and State press conferences, and some of the videos remain online after the hearings. However, a paid subscription is required. […]

While it is positive that the Illinois General Assembly livestreams proceedings, archiving video recordings online would be an even greater step towards transparency and public access to government. Illinois’ legislative hearings are usually scheduled during the workday when many residents are not able to view them live, and frequent scheduling changes can make it difficult for the general public to keep track of those proceedings.

Requiring the General Assembly to archive videos of its proceedings would entail some investment in online storage and organization. However, since many proceedings are already livestreamed and recorded, there would likely not be significant up-front costs for equipment. An analysis by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office of a 2016 ballot initiative that required, in part, the California legislature to video record and make available online within 24 hours all open legislative proceedings, estimated the initiative would require a $1-2 million upfront investment and ongoing costs of approximately $1 million to implement.

I love But not everyone can afford its high-quality streams. And not everyone needs them.

More here.


Fun with numbers

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Crain’s

Consider state employee pension funding, the biggest source of fiscal instability in Illinois. Pensions are underfunded by $140 billion, a staggering debt that’s consuming an ever-larger share of state revenues. Annual contributions required by state law have climbed to $10 billion, or 20% of the budget. That figure is expected to reach $18 billion over the next couple of decades.

* From the legislature’s bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability’s projection of pension costs as a percentage of total General Funds

If you look closely at the original chart (page 155), you’ll see that the state is currently a few percentage points below where it had been projected to be, avoiding that little spike. We’ve been at around 20 percent for a few years.

Overall, high cost, but manageable, and, if projections stand, stable.


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Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Question of the day

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) still can’t explain to the satisfaction of state elections authorities what happened with $165,000 he got in campaign contributions.

And state officials say they don’t have the authority to make him show what happened with the unaccounted-for money — or to require him or anyone else who runs for office in Illinois to verify what they say in their required campaign-finance reports.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported in November that Burnett had told state elections officials he’d put $375,000 from campaign contributions over the past two decades in investment accounts with various banks. But, over time and despite candidates being required to file updates with state elections officials on what they do with campaign contributions, he stopped including any mention of $300,000 of that money in his required campaign-finance reports.

Now, Burnett has told the Illinois State Board of Elections that the amount he put into investment accounts with banks actually was $400,000 — including a previously unreported $25,000 certificate of deposit.

But, even after filing amended campaign-finance reports covering six years, his filings still haven’t accounted for $165,000. […]

“It’s all self-reporting,” [Matt Dietrich, a spokesman for the state elections board] says. “We can’t go back and look at their bank records. We can’t subpoena the bank records.”

* The Question: Should the Illinois State Board of Elections be given the authority to subpoena bank records in certain cases? Explain your answer, please.


It’s almost a law

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller


Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the session that will affect Illinois residents if they’re signed into law by Pritzker.

All-gender bathrooms: Sets standards for all-gender, multi-occupancy restrooms should a business choose to build them. Right now, state law requires single-use restrooms to be all-gender, but parameters don’t exist for multi-occupancy. The bill does not require a business to create all-gender restrooms, nor does it require them to alter existing bathrooms. HB1286

Full-day kindergarten: School districts in Illinois would have to establish a full-day kindergarten program by the 2027-2028 school year, but they’re eligible for an extension if they fall within certain evidence-based funding parameters. Districts could also offer half-day programs as long as they offer a full-day option. HB2396

Ban on book bans: A measure spearheaded by Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias withholds state grants from school or public libraries that run afoul of the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights, which says “materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” HB2789 […]

Cracking down on “crisis pregnancy centers”: People could sue these facilities run by anti-abortion rights nonprofits if they feel they were given deceptive information about abortion care. The bill would also allow the Illinois attorney general’s office to investigate. SB1909


There is good news for Illinois residents who get generic and off-brand prescription medication as a bill looks to crack down on price gouging.

House Bill 3957 or the Pharmaceutical and Health Affordability: Restrictions on Manufacturers’ Amoral Behavior through Reasonable Oversight Act lays out the procedures and penalties for drug manufacturer’s who violate the state’s definition of price gouging.

The bill defines price gouging as “an increase in the price as 30% or more within the preceding year, 50% or more within the preceding 3 years, or 75% or more within the preceding 5 years.” […]

The bill has passed both chambers and awaits Governor J.B. Pritzker’s signature. If it gets signed into law, the measure would go into affect January 1, 2024.

* Center Square

A pandemic-era law to allow Illinois bars and restaurants to sell cocktails to-go may be extended.

When Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered all bars and restaurants closed after the pandemic began, owners said they needed a way to survive, and selling and delivering cocktails was one way to do so.

Andy Deloney, senior vice president and head of state public policy with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, said the cocktails to-go movement was a savior for some bars and restaurants during tough times. […]

If signed by the governor, Senate Bill 89 would extend the cocktails to-go and delivery until Aug. 1, 2028. Illinois’ current law expires June 1, 2024.

* State Journal-Register

Senate Bill 90, colloquially known as the Racism-Free Schools Act, was sponsored in the Illinois House by Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, and in the Senate by Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines. The measure passed in a Senate concurrence vote unanimously on Thursday and is currently awaiting Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature to go into effect.

“Here in Illinois, we will not tolerate racism or discrimination within schools – period,” West said in a press release. “But as we continue to see a rise in incidents of hateful conduct across our country, it is clear that our actions need to match our words. That’s why the Racism-Free Schools Act is so important.”

The legislation requires school districts to create a policy on discrimination and harassment based on race, color, or national origin. It also requires the Illinois State Board of Education to create a data collection system to report on allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against students. […]

The new law also states that the failure of an institution to take remedial or disciplinary action against a student or an education representative employed by the institution, if the institution knows that the student or representative committed or engaged in harassment, is a civil rights violation.

If signed by Pritzker the new law will go into effect Aug. 1, 2024.

* Capitol News Illinois

House Bill 3903 would ban automatic traffic enforcement companies or their officers from donating to candidates for public office at the state and local level. It would also prevent state and local government officials from accepting jobs or contracts with those companies while in office or for two years after leaving office, a kind of “revolving door” ban.

Sponsors praised the bill as much-needed ethics reform after several public officials in the past decade have been caught by federal investigators engaging in bribery deals and kickback schemes involving red-light camera companies. […]

“What this does is it tightens up the ethics surrounding the red-light camera corruption and scandals,” Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, said during the House debate on Thursday.

Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, called the two-year revolving door ban “a good step.”

* Anna Burgess Yang

I was elated to hear about the Illinois Freelance Worker Protection Act (HB1122). The legislation provides basic protections to freelancers, including requiring clients to pay within 30 days of the work’s completion unless otherwise stated in the contract, and it provides for damages if freelancers aren’t paid on time. Clients can’t retaliate against freelancers who pursue payment. and the Illinois Department of Labor can investigate entities that repeatedly violate the law.

When the bill passed the Illinois House and Senate, I breathed a sigh of gratitude. State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, and state Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas, D-Chicago, championed the bill because they recognized the value of freelancers and the shortcomings in state law that often leave freelancers struggling to collect payment.

The model works: New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act contains similar provisions and helped freelancers collect more than $2 million in late and delinquent payments over the past few years. Cities like Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio, have recently passed their own laws. Illinois now has the chance to be the first state to enact these protections on a broader scale.

I urge Gov. J.B. Pritzker to sign this bill into law, which will mean more stability for freelancers and require their clients to honor the terms of contracts. Most important, it recognizes that even though we’re not full-time employees, we’re still workers who deserve to be paid.

* The Telegraph

House Bill 2389 passed the state Senate on May 4, clearing both legislative branches. The bill, filed in February by Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, would take away the police’s ability to stop or search a car because the driver hung something off the mirror. Sen. Christopher Belt, D-East St. Louis, was the bill’s chief sponsor in the Senate. […]

Under current law, it is illegal for any driver in the state to hang an item from their rearview mirror. That includes items like air fresheners, rosaries, face masks and even placards for handicap parking spots. Texas, California, Arizona and Pennsylvania all have similar laws.

The bill has picked up three other co-sponsors in the House and six in the Senate, as well as another supporter in Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias. Proponents of HB2389 said it would make driving conditions safer for both motorists and police officers, while also allowing law enforcement to focus on violent crimes. […]

“Obstructions that affect drivers’ views of their environment and other motorists or pedestrians are a form of distracted driving and put the public in danger,” Tracy said. “Officers must have the ability to better protect the public by using their professional judgment at any moment of the potential for harm resulting from blocked sightlines.”

* Chicago Tribune

Almost a year after the mass shooting in Highland Park that left seven people dead and over 30 injured, Illinois lawmakers passed a bill that would allow law enforcement to operate a surveillance drone for security purposes during special events like the Fourth of July parade where the shooting took place.

“It has been so clear to me that we need to give the police just this one additional tool to keep people safe,” said Democratic state Sen. Julie Morrison of Deerfield, whose district includes Highland Park and who was at the parade with her family when the gunman took aim from a nearby rooftop.

The legislation, passed in the final hours of the General Assembly’s spring session last week, amends the Freedom From Drone Surveillance Act by allowing law enforcement to use drones at “routed” or “special” events, which means planned gatherings like parades, walks, races, concerts and food festivals.

Under the measure, drones could be operated only by a law enforcement agency and could not be weaponized. The public would have to be notified when they were in use, and facial identity systems could be used only if necessary to prevent “imminent harm to life.”


Today’s quotable

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Did you catch Rep. Chris Miller’s (R-No Relation) floor speech?

* Please pardon all transcription errors

Rep. Miller: One of the reasons why we have the lifestyle we have is because of cheap, affordable, reliable energy. We’ve created this monster called CEJA. One of the observations that President Reagan made was the most terrifying words in the English language was ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.’

We’ve created this mess and now we’re on the fourth amendment to try to clean it up. You know, I work outside every day I work in the environment. You know, when it’s 100 degrees in the shade and 90% humidity, I don’t sit around and whine about it being hot. When it’s the wintertime and I’m out feeding the cows and it’s 20 below zero, I’m not whining about it being cold. And we’ve created a complete myth that is destroying the economy in Illinois, and eventually we destroy the economy in the United States of America if we continue down this rabbit trail. You know, before CEJA happened, myself, Representative Halbrook, Representative Caulkins, we actually went on the energy tour, and we visited the Prairie State Campus. We visited Hamilton Coal. We visited the nuclear power plant in Clinton and we visited the wind farms, we visited the solar fields and we made a decision based on information, not our emotions or how we feel.

I know one of the things that we found out in these energy producing plants that everyone was running about almost 100% capacity. And at that time, we knew that there was no way in the world we could shut down our existing power and still power our grid. And the net result of it was a war on the middle class, and people can no longer afford to pay their doggone electric bills because of bad public policy. I know one thing about it for the last 69 years we’ve had a climate crisis, and we’ve gone from one thing to the other.

When I was a kid, we had global cooling. We’re gonna have the great freeze out and and 4 billion people were gonna die. And then we went to global warming where the Earth was gonna return to turn into a frying pan. We were all gonna burn up. And now we’re on this myth we call climate change. And now we’re all going to change to death. One of the common threads that links all of these ideas together is none of it ever happened. And guess what? None of it is ever going to happen. We aren’t going to be destroyed by CO2. And I would suggest that probably most of the people in this body don’t even know what carbon dioxide is. There’s a good dose of it. [*Blows into the mic*] There’s a little carbon dioxide for ya’ and guess what? Nobody’s gonna die! One of the things that-

Rep. Jay Hoffman in Speaker’s chair: Representative [laughter] Wilhour gives you three minutes.

Rep. Miller: But anyway, does anybody know how much carbon dioxide is in the entire globe? I guess and probably nobody can answer that question. There’s four hundredths of 1% of the entire world atmosphere is made up of carbon dioxide. During the Obama administration, the EPA said if we do everything that we want to do by the year 2100 that we will increase the global temperature by two one hundredths of 1% of a degree. It doesn’t amount to jack squat.

There’s one thing that I know is in sound science, your observation dictates your conclusion. Your observation dictates your conclusion, and I know I am 69 years of observation, and I have come to the conclusion that this is a bunch of blunk and we need to throw this all in the garbage. One of the things that we, that I understand is Earth science as a farmer and there’s a great mechanism that we call photosynthesis. And it’s an incredible, it’s an incredible way that we clean up the atmosphere. Guess what we have millions of acres of green leafy plants that absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. It’s amazing. It’s incredible.

Another thing that takes us out of the atmosphere is sulfur. And guess what we’ve taken so much sulphur out of the atmosphere, now as a farmer, I have to buy sulfur to put in my fertilizer mixes so I can grow the maximum production of corn.

There’s one thing that I know is our biggest threat to civilization is not climate change. But I know a lot of times that I think that our biggest threat to civilization is the hot air that gets produced in this General Assembly by passing bad public policy. No one continues to whether or not Joe Biden not Barack Obama, not JB Pritzker, not John Kerry. They cannot change the climate. People do what they really believe. And when you see these guys flying around the world in their private jets, they live in mansions on the beach. If they actually thought the world was doomed because of climate change, they would have a different lifestyle. Part of the lie is convincing you that electricity comes from magic!!! We wave our magic word all of a sudden we produce electricity, and it’s just not true. We’re not having a climate crisis. But what we are having is we’re having a crisis of common sense. And the only way we’re on the fourth amendment to this bill and the only way to fix it is to have amendment number five in throw CEJA in the garbage and start over! Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Ironically, the bill in question will likely increase consumer prices, according to the United States Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.


Uber And ASU Are Expanding Access To Higher Education In Illinois

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Since 2018, Uber and Arizona State University have provided 5000 qualified drivers and their families with 100% tuition coverage.

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The new state budget could be a tight squeeze

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

House and Senate Republicans claimed during budget-related floor debate last week that the super-majority Democrats had masked the true size of their plan by delaying the start of some spending until the second half of the upcoming fiscal year.

Yes and no.

Republicans pointed to the $317 million to increase Medicaid provider reimbursement rates, including for hospitals. But that new spending doesn’t begin until Jan. 1, the halfway point in the 2024 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

And so, basic arithmetic means the rate increase in Fiscal Year 2025 will be double FY24’s cost, because that 2025 spending will cover all 12 months, instead of just six. That means the state will start the following fiscal year with at least a $317 million hole.

Sometimes, it takes time to stand up new programs, so state spending can’t justifiably begin for a while. That’s the case here as well, according to the governor’s office, which says the higher reimbursement rates can’t start until the state applies for and receives permission from the federal government. And that can take a while.

Also, $317 million is only 0.6% of the $56.6 billion state spending plan. Not much in the grand scheme of things.

While that $317 million is small in context, just think about how much scrambling the Democrats had to do during the past couple of weeks of spring session to collect enough crumbs under the couch cushions to pull its appropriations bill together.

First, they blew well past their self-imposed May 19th adjournment deadline because they couldn’t agree on a spending package. And even then, it took 24 hours after the state’s top Democrats announced a budget agreement until an actual budget bill surfaced, because of even more scrambling. And the budget agreement announcement itself was delayed by about an hour because of even more scrambling over relatively small amounts of money.

The Democrats also only built a $100 million cash cushion into this plan, or about 0.2% of total spending. That doesn’t leave them any room if their revenue projections are too low by a tiny fraction, or if spending is higher than anticipated.

Some Republicans pointed to the $550 million in increased spending to cover the exploding health care costs for undocumented residents as the reason why Democrats had to get so creative elsewhere. Medicaid providers, they said, could’ve received more money if not for that.

That’s true, but only in the abstract. Yes, proponents (including legislators) and the Pritzker administration vastly underestimated what the health care program would cost and how many folks would enroll. And, yes, the governor waited until this spring to turn to the legislature for either statutory relief or the full, guaranteed legal authority via authorized emergency rules to rein in costs in a way that can survive a barrage of lawsuits. Mistakes, as they say, were made.

In the real world, you can’t just wish away problems. “If only” is a fine game for pundits and politicians. But it doesn’t do you much good when building an actual state budget, which, unlike federal spending plans, can’t rely on simply printing more dollars.

No matter how much some Democrats may have privately grumbled about those massively increased costs, they would not publicly trumpet any sort of solution that kicked thousands of people off health care coverage (“Health care is a right” is a longtime Democratic Party talking point, after all) and forced hospitals and other medical providers to go back to treating them without any reimbursements.

And even though there was definitely some resistance and bitterness about those unexpected costs, Black legislators have wisely not had an appetite to publicly inflame the current tensions in Chicago, where some local Black leaders and conservative whites are grabbing headlines by echoing angry Fox News talking points about the costs of caring for the influx of mostly Latino asylum seekers.

While some Democrats clung to the notion that Gov. J.B. Pritzker had the authority to rein in costs without their assistance, they also saw the almost daily and widespread court battles throughout the pandemic over the governor’s use of emergency rules and executive authority.

Determined lawyers on the other side tied the attorney general’s office up in knots throughout the pandemic and have so far succeeded at stymying the implementation of both the SAFE-T Act and the assault weapons ban.

Lawsuits over limiting enrollment and putting undocumented immigrants into managed care programs might still be filed, but the state will be on much firmer legal ground by specifically allowing the governor to file emergency rules.

* Meanwhile, from the Latino Caucus…

Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus members released the following statement following the passage of the Fiscal Year 2024 state budget:

“We are pleased to report our progress in passing a state budget that focuses on the people. There are historic investments in early childhood education and more resources than ever to support students from working and middle class families on their path to receive a more affordable college education with the help of MAP grants, among other accomplishments that invest in our people and the future of our state.

“Illinois will continue to be a beacon of hope for those seeking a better life. In the coming year, we will devote $25 million to Welcoming Centers, which assist in integrating immigrant and refugee communities into our state, another $38 million will be devoted to Immigrant Integration programs that help immigrants on their pathways to citizenship and over $40 million to respond to the arrival of asylum seekers. We are committed to making Illinois one of the most welcoming states to immigrants.

“We are proud of the work to make Illinois the first state in the nation to offer Medicaid-like benefits to non-citizens. Thanks to this initiative, 50,000 more people, 42+ years old, receive preventive care, contributing to healthier communities, reducing the pressure over hospital emergency rooms, and saving taxpayers money. Lives have been saved because of this program.

“The need for the healthcare coverage we fight for is because of the real people and their real needs in the communities we represent. These are communities that contribute to our state often with nothing in return. While we were not able to expand coverage this year, the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus has not given up, and we will not give up pursuing closing the age gap of coverage.

“Latino lawmakers are here in Springfield to represent the interest of the communities we represent, both in our districts and all Latino/x community members throughout the state; communities that have been historically disenfranchised and underserved, all while being taxpayers and contributing to our state in numerous ways. Our job as legislators is to fight for the resources our communities need and deserve, and to change the vicious trend of using Latino/x and immigrant communities as political pawns. We will continue to be their voice in Illinois and fight on their behalf, because that is what our communities need and deserve.”


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Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* What’s going on in your part of Illinois?…


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Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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* Afternoon roundup
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