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Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Illinois Answers

Last summer, as historic rain pelted down on Cook County, Buchanan was left standing in the basement of her childhood home with dirty water wading up to her knees. Every day since has presented a new problem: discovering black mold scattered throughout the basement, having to replace the water heater and then getting denied for federal emergency funds.

The July 2023 storm – one of the costliest weather events in Chicago’s history – hit hardest in the city’s West Side and nearby suburbs. The storm upended Chicagoans’ lives and exposed the city’s longstanding vulnerabilities to flooding. In the wake of the storm, FEMA inspected 63,000 homes, and distributed up to $375 million in federal aid to home and business owners.

It also provided a look into a concerning future: The grip of climate change unyielding, winter and spring are expected to be wetter in Illinois while summer becomes even hotter. The downpour of rain will likely continue to be more intense for shorter durations and the locations where these flash flooding storms hit are less predictable, said Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford.

The Illinois Answers Project interviewed a range of experts on flooding, climate and infrastructure to examine how prepared Chicago and the state are to combat the growing environmental threats its residents face, particularly from the problem of severe flooding. In this series over the next several weeks, Illinois Answers will explore how Chicago is trying to improve drainage in neighborhoods, how a promising flood prevention project got mired in bureaucracy, and how a state buyout program is helping residents when they have nowhere else to turn.

* National Confectioners Association Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Christopher Gindlesperger on SB2637

“It’s time to stop pretending that Illinois state legislators have the scientific expertise to make these very important regulatory decisions. Usurping FDA’s authority does nothing but create a patchwork of inconsistent requirements that increase food costs, create confusion around food safety, and erode consumer confidence.”

Sen. Willie Preston’s held a press conference today on SB2637. The bill is on Third Reading and has a Friday deadline to leave the Senate.

* Lobby days are taking its toll



* Here’s the rest…

    * Post-Tribune | Organ donors’ families tell their stories at Northwest Health-Porter: For Stephanie Irving, of Palos Heights, Illinois, it was her first visit to the hospital since October, when her son died there. His driver’s license didn’t reflect a choice to become an organ donor but Irving made that decision on his behalf. “I feel my son is now a hero, being an organ donator,” she said. Irving is now raising her 5-year-old granddaughter, who insists on sleeping every night with a teddy bear that has a recording of her late father’s heartbeat.

    * WCIA | IDOT seeks council approval to make Champaign street safer: It’s a $10.6 million initiative to improve Neil Street over a three-mile stretch. It would be from Springfield Avenue to Windsor Road. The city would pay just short of $800,000 with IDOT paying the rest. Their goal is starting construction in August.

    * Crain’s | With baby formula lawsuits looming, Abbott CEO lays out game plan: Following an Illinois jury ordering Reckitt Benckiser Group to pay $60 million in damages over allegations that its infant formula led to the death of a premature baby, Abbott Laboratories CEO Robert Ford defended his company’s products as similar cases loom against the company. The verdict, which came last month from a jury in a St. Clair County court, ruled that Reckitt owed damages to a plaintiff for failing to warn her about the risks of necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, in its cow-milk-based Enfamil formula. Reckitt has said it plans to appeal the verdict.

    * WTTW | Top Cop Says CPD Tracks Accusations Against Officers — But Took No Action After 36 Complaints Filed Against Officers Involved in Dexter Reed Shooting: However, Snelling’s promise of accountability is contradicted by the fact that the five officers who stopped Reed had been the subject of at least 36 complaints in 2023 and 2024 that alleged they were improperly stopping Chicagoans driving through the city’s West Side, according to records provided to WTTW News by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, known as COPA, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

    * Tribune | Johnson’s $1.25 billion bond plan advances, then gets delayed by a mayoral ally: The high-dollar investment effort was then set to face a council vote Wednesday afternoon. But it was ultimately delayed by Johnson’s handpicked Finance chair Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd, a supporter of the plan. Her move prevented opponents of the bond deal from using the parliamentary move to block it themselves. The hold-up will likely be brief: the ordinance is expected to instead face an up-or-down vote at a council meeting Friday.

    * WTTW | Ethics Board Urges Chicago City Council to Tighten Rules That Would Allow Enforcement of a Ban on Lobbyists Giving Campaign Cash to Mayors: The recommendation followed the unanimous decision on Monday by the Chicago Board of Ethics to dismiss an enforcement action against a City Hall lobbyist who donated to Mayor Brandon Johnson’s campaign fund. Five months ago, the board unanimously found that a lobbyist violated a 2011 executive order issued by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel by contributing to Johnson’s campaign.

    * WBEZ | Chicago lobbyists escape serious punishment for improper donations to Mayor Johnson’s campaign: The Board of Ethics says it found probable cause that four lobbyists had violated the order when they contributed to Johnson’s political committee, but asked for a legal opinion about whether it could enforce Emanuel’s order. An outside law firm found the board can’t, saying the enforcement language isn’t codified in statute. Enforcing the order “exceeds the limits of the mayor’s, and the Board’s, authority,” read the opinion by Bethany Biesenthal with the Jones Day law firm.

    * Sun-Times | Petition drive launched to give Chicago voters power to recall mayor: To get a recall referendum on the November ballot, he needs at least 56,464 valid signatures by Aug. 5. If it gets on the ballot, and the question is approved in November, Chicagoans would be empowered to recall any present or future mayor. […] [Daniel Boland] also said he got pivotal help in “how to do this” from former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who led the drive to empower Illinois voters to recall their governor, a referendum that passed by a 2-to-1 margin.

    * Daily Egyptian | Southern Illinois University loses beloved professor: Southern Illinois University tenure professor Scott McClurg died Saturday after a long struggle with brain cancer. “Scott was a very good person. Very nice and considerate. Always positive and encouraging. His long fight with his illness was heroic. He will be dearly missed,” said Dong Han, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Advertising.

    * SJ-R | Owner of popular Springfield restaurant faces up to 3 years in prison: Omar Hernandez-Lopez, 39, the owner of El Tapatio de Jalisco Inc., a company doing business as La Fiesta Grande, 2830 Stevenson Drive, faces up to three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution as ordered by the court. The guilty plea is pending before U.S. District Court Judge Sue Myerscough. Sentencing for Hernandez-Lopez is scheduled for August 29 at the Paul Findley Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse.

    * Sun-Times | Obama Center gets skin in the game with fancy new granite cladding on its tower: The tower — which is about the height of the historic 16-story Monadnock Building at Jackson and Dearborn streets — will be the most prominent building on the 19-acre campus. Even as it rises, the structure is visible from blocks away. And the swirl-patterned granite panels will contribute much to the visual identity of the tower — while perhaps adding color and life to a structure that appeared cold and mausoleum-like in renderings.

    * Chicago Mag | A Drinking Tour of Harbor Country: If a pub crawl grew up, settled down, and invested in a nice little lake retreat, it would look a lot like southwest Michigan. Name the spirit, it’s got it. Name the vibe, it’s there. All nestled among quiet, walkable streets and charming boutiques and vintage lakeside cabins that make you feel a million miles (though actually only about 70) from Chicago’s hustle.

    * Tribune | Times change, but City News Cafe stays the course as the place with thousands of magazines: Unlike some other areas of town, dotted with shuttered businesses and shadowed in uncertainty, this slice of the city has a palpable vitality, ripe with possibility. One constant remains. Though City Newsstand has changed its name to incorporate City News Cafe, it sits at 4018 N. Cicero Ave., where it has been for decades and where, early last Sunday afternoon, a crowd packed the coffee shop at the store’s front, listening to the polished folk singing of guitarist Carey Anne Farrell.

    * Crain’s | Why Deere is hiring a ‘chief tractor officer’ to launch a TikTok account: John Deere has accumulated over 90,000 TikTok followers without posting a single video on its account. But now, the tractor maker is gearing up to make TikTok a foundational part of a new strategy to reach Gen Z and young millennials—and it’s on the hunt for a “chief tractor officer” to help make its agricultural and construction equipment relevant to young consumers.

    * Chicago Mag | The Sox Are a Historically Bad Team: I went to the White Sox game on Sunday. Beforehand, I asked my church congregation to pray for “the worst team in baseball.” But on the train ride to the ballpark, I succumbed to worldly considerations, opening my FanDuel account to bet $10 on the Cincinnati Reds to win by at least 1½ runs. In the first two games of the series, the Reds had outscored the Sox 16-1, so it seemed like a sure thing.

  4 Comments      


Showcasing the Retailers Who Make Illinois Work

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Retail provides one out of every five Illinois jobs, generates the second largest amount of tax revenue for the state, and is the largest source of revenue for local governments. But retail is also so much more, with retailers serving as the trusted contributors to life’s moments, big and small.

We Are Retail and IRMA are dedicated to sharing the stories of retailers like Gordon, who serve their communities with dedication and pride. For more info, click here - Whimsy Tea - We Are RetaIL (irma.org)

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Caption contest!

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Embattled Dolton Mayor and Thornton Township Supervisor Tiffany Henyard getting into the back seat of a Chevy Tahoe near the Illinois Statehouse today…

Mayors from all over the state are in town this week for a lobby day.

  35 Comments      


Rep. Croke changes selective enrollment closure moratorium bill to ban all Chicago public school closures until elected board is seated

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I told subscribers earlier today about this development. Chalkbeat

Illinois lawmakers want to extend a moratorium on school closures in Chicago and prevent changes at selective enrollment and magnet schools until 2027, when a fully elected school board is sworn in.

The proposal moving through the legislature first emerged in response to a resolution passed by the Chicago school board in December to develop a new strategic plan that would move away from school choice and invest more in neighborhood schools. That sparked concerns Chicago Public Schools could close or change admissions at dozens of sought-after selective and magnet schools, though board members continue to reiterate they do not intend to close those schools.

The initial bill sought to prevent the district from closing or changing admissions policies at any selective or magnet schools. Now, lawmakers are now also proposing to extend an existing moratorium on any school closures to Feb. 1, 2027. Currently, state law prevents Chicago from closing schools until January 15, 2025, when a partially elected school board is set to be sworn in.

State Rep. Margaret Croke, a Democrat serving neighborhoods on the city’s northern lakefront and sponsor of the bill, said in a committee hearing Tuesday the legislation is meant to delay any big changes until an elected school board is in place.

“These huge decisions, I believe, should be made by an elected school board because we, as a general assembly, voted for an elected school board,” Croke said.

Rep. Croke’s new bill is HB303. Amendment 3 was filed just today.

  4 Comments      


State tax credit for affordable housing development receives big push from labor, business, advocates

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Illinois’ affordable housing shortages have reached crisis levels in Chicago and other communities, fueling needed public policy discussions about short-term and long-term solutions. State legislators and housing advocates say one important piece of the puzzle is the Build Illinois Homes Tax Credit, and they have a new, influential ally in organized labor.

The Illinois Housing Council has led the push in Springfield for the proposed state tax credit to drive new investment in affordable housing development, an issue that has new energy amid the migrant challenges facing Chicago and homelessness and under-housing growth elsewhere. The facts are staggering:

    • Illinois now has one of the nation’s highest housing deficits – with 64 percent growth in just the last decade
    • 20 percent of our low-rent apartments have vanished since 2011
    • Nearly 300,000 more affordable rental homes must be built to help those most in need across the state
    • Illinois has invested $225 million in federal funds since the pandemic into the development of affordable housing, but those federal funds have come to an end

Enter the Build Illinois Homes Tax Credit, as proposed in Senate Bill 3233 by Sen. Robert Peters and House Bill 4909 by Rep. Dagmara “Dee” Avelar. The legislation was introduced Wednesday at a Statehouse news conference by IHC leadership, the two legislators sponsoring the effort, and new support from the Laborers’ International Union – Midwest Region which runs the Laborers’ Home Development Corporation to build affordable housing in underserved communities.

“The Build Illinois Homes Tax Credit fits well with our mission to create more quality, reasonably priced housing for working families and seniors, and we call on our leaders in Springfield to make its passage a priority as we make a strong investment in affordable housing,” said Sean Stott, Director of Governmental Affairs for LiUNA-Midwest Region.

The tax credit mirrors the highly successful federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which quickly runs out of money under high demand each year. The state credit would allow more affordable housing developments by giving developers credits to exchange with private investors to reduce mortgage debt and make the apartments more affordable for renters.

The best part? The proposed tax credit program limits the state’s annual out-of-pocket cost for credits and is structured as a “pay-for-success” model: investors only receive credits after construction is complete and qualified tenants move in. Under the current grant programs the state runs, the state’s costs are high up front, and developments can be put in jeopardy because of the uncertain nature of the year-to-year funding approach.

As proposed, the $20 million annual program over six years would generate up to 1,150 affordable homes and apartments, more than $650 million in economic benefits over a decade, and more than 7,000 jobs.

* Crain’s Chicago Business reports that the IMA is also supporting the bill..

Illinois is about 289,000 units short of the affordable rentals needed statewide, according to Housing Action Illinois. That is, for every 100 households making 30% or less of the average income, there are 36 affordable rental homes. […]

The shortage creates a barrier to employment, Mark Danzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, said in a statement emailed to Crain’s. “To ensure the continued strength of Illinois’ manufacturing sector,” Danzler wrote, “we must invest in our workforce. As housing costs continue to climb, it is essential that the state look for innovative ways to increase affordable housing.” […]

The groups are pushing for the Build Illinois Homes Act now in order to get the tax credit included in next year’s state budget. While the credit would not require any new state expenditure, it entails a loss of revenue, in the form of taxes not collected because of the credits taken by developers. Typically, developers sell the tax credits to investors in exchange for funds that build the project.

Thoughts?

  3 Comments      


Listen To Servers – Vote No On House Bill 5345

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Dominique Juarez, a server at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Peoria, said at the news conference she opposes the elimination of tip credit and that the bill “corners us into a no-win situation.”

She said that eliminating tip credit could lead to higher menu prices, which in turn would impact her relationship with regular customers, something she described as “the heart of what dining is all about.”

Dominique with some of her regular customers at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Peoria, IL


Tell your state legislators to VOTE NO on House Bill 5345 and Protect Illinois Hospitality

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Today’s must-read CTA stories, especially if you’re Gov. Pritzker (Updated)

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Block Club Chicago has a very good story about the death of a Chicago Transit Authority bus driver and the fact that it took the CTA an hour to figure out that she’d gone missing

Antia Lyons, a 14-year driver for the United States’ third-largest transit agency, had suffered a medical emergency while she sat behind the wheel at the start of her bus route. The 63-year-old was later pronounced dead from complications with her heart.

A Block Club Chicago investigation into the circumstances around Lyons’ death raises questions about the safety of CTA drivers as the agency is touting improved working conditions in an attempt to bolster its staff.

Block Club’s reporting found Lyons sat in her bus unconscious for nearly an hour before someone eventually sought help. CTA supervisors neglected to check on her even though the bus never moved and subsequently failed to arrive at more than 50 scheduled stops.

The CTA failed to report the incident to the Illinois Occupational Safety and Health Administration despite a state law requiring it. The CTA wouldn’t explain why or answer Block Club’s questions about this incident, saying it was limited by privacy concerns. […]

The CTA also left information of the incident out of public records. For example, the agency provided Block Club with data showing CTA employees who were injured or died on duty over the past six years — but Lyons’ death was not included.

Kilgannon said the data didn’t include Lyons’ death because it didn’t meet the federal definition of “Major Incidents.”

The agency didn’t answer questions about whether it collected data on employee fatalities or injuries that happened due to medical emergencies on the job.

Lyons was also left out of records the CTA provided showing employees with a pension plan who have died in the past five years.

Go read the rest.

* Meanwhile, here’s another CTA story from Block Club Chicago

The CTA’s new rail schedule aims to combat service issues reported by riders across the city — but it doesn’t add trains.

The new “dynamic” rail schedule for the spring and summer went into effect last week with a promise of “gradually increasing” service through the seasons as the agency looks to bring on more rail operators, according to a news release.

The CTA began adding some pre-pandemic bus runs back to its schedule last month, but its new train schedule shows no significant additions, transit advocates and a train operator said. […]

Yonah Freemark, a research director studying transit systems at D.C.-based think tank Urban Institute, said the CTA’s pandemic recovery still trails behind its counterparts in other major U.S. cities, which have increased staff and in some cases expanded rail service. […]

Data shows the CTA’s hiring efforts are being offset by rail operators who choose to quit or transfer to other departments within the agency. One rail operator told Block Club they’re interested in a less demanding role as a supervisor or as a switch or control tower worker.

* And here’s something you may not know…

If Mayor Johnson won’t act, then Gov. Pritzker needs to step up.

…Adding… It’s not quite half. He appoints three of seven members. Still.

  19 Comments      


Illinois residents can now easily access electronic notary services

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Subscribers were told earlier today about this change. Press release…

Illinois residents will no longer need to have documents notarized in person under a new Electronic Notary system administered by Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias’ office.

Electronic Notarization, or “E-Notary,” will radically change the way people use notary services, Giannoulias predicted. Without leaving the home or office, an individual or business can have their documents notarized and signed electronically within minutes.

“In keeping with our ongoing effort to modernize the Secretary of State’s office, E-Notary serves as a game-changer for Illinoisans by now providing a convenient way to notarize documents without leaving their home or office,” Giannoulias said. “Enabling certified notaries to work virtually makes the process faster and more secure for individuals and
businesses alike.”

E-Notary allows both the customer and notary to sign with an electronic signature and to electronically attach both the notarial certificate and notary seal to a document. In 2021, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation to allow the Secretary of State to implement electronic notarization.

Upon taking office last year, Giannoulias made it a priority to gain state approval of administrative rules, create a new application reflecting the E-Notary requirements, review and approve E-Notary technology platform providers, and train staff to process the new E-Notary applications.

Illinois now joins 47 other states that allow electronic notaries to operate. Although, Illinois had allowed remote online notarization, it required all parties (the notaries, signers and witnesses) to be located in Illinois. With Electronic Notarization, only the notary is required to be present in Illinois. The other parties may be located outside the state.

Additionally, while someone could sign the document remotely by audio-video communication with remote online notarization, the notary had to sign the notarized paper document and apply the notary seal in ink. With E-Notary, the document, signing and seal are all electronically applied, dramatically reducing the time it takes to notarize a document.

To find a notary who offers electronic notarization, customers can visit ilsos.gov/notarysearch. Customers will need a computer, phone or other device that supports audio-video communication and a valid form of identification to complete the notarization electronically.

When getting a document notarized, the Notary Public or Electronic Notary will:

    • Require the customer to personally appear before them via an audio-video
    communication platform during the notarization.
    • Check over the document to ensure it is complete and verify the name on the
    document matches the customer’s ID.
    • Confirm the identity of the customer by examining their ID.
    • Once steps 1 through 3 are done, the customer will be permitted to sign the
    document electronically.
    • The Notary Public will then complete the notarial certificate and affix their seal.

The office has already received over 200 applications from existing Notaries Public applying to be E-Notaries.

Fees for services vary by provider but are capped by state law at $5 for any notarial act and $25 for any electronic notarial act. All Notaries Public are required to provide receipts and keep records of the fees they charged for services provided.

Thoughts?

  17 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* WGEM

The state House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday adding reproductive health decisions to the state’s anti-discrimination law.

It would ban people from discriminating against someone when it comes to employment, housing, public accommodations and financial credit.

Reproductive health decisions include prenatal and postnatal care, fertility treatments, including IVF, the use of contraception and whether someone gets an abortion.

“This bill enhances civil rights protections for Illinoisans at a time when we must affirmatively stand up to protect and ensure those rights,” said state Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, the bill’s sponsor.

* WAND

Illinois lawmakers passed a plan last year to require fentanyl education in every high school. Now, representatives hope to pass a bill to require this instruction in junior high.

Sponsors believe students in 6th through 8th grade should learn the differences between synthetic and non-synthetic opioids and illicit drugs as well as the variations of fentanyl.

Rep. Janet Yang Rohr (D-Naperville) said Tuesday that young students should also know the side effects and risk factors of using fentanyl. […]

The legislation passed out of the House Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policy Committee unanimously. House Bill 4219 now heads to the House floor for further consideration.

* Daily Herald

House Bill 4431, which would eliminate senior behind-the-wheel exams, was introduced by state Rep. Jeff Keicher and has 34 co-sponsors so far.

“I think it’s more appropriate, instead of being ageist and deciding at a certain birthday that you’re no longer able — that we put a dynamic in place that allows for triggers,” the Sycamore Republican said.

Those could include physical or mental health conditions as well as tickets or accidents. They would be introduced later in separate legislation, Keicher noted. […]

AARP Executive Council member Candace Trees of Springfield said that as a widow, she safely drives herself everywhere she needs to go, whether it’s the grocery store, a medical appointment or to visit friends and family. […]

St. Charles Republican state Sen. Don DeWitte indicated he’d support the bill if it moves out of the House.

* AARP

The right to drive should be based on ability and not age, state lawmakers, AARP Illinois and older adults said at a press conference Tuesday.

Senator Donald DeWitte (R-33), Representative Jeff Keicher (R-76), AARP Illinois Senior Director of Advocacy and Outreach Ryan Gruenenfelder and older adults urged support for a bill that would end a mandatory extra road test for drivers over 75 years of age. Illinois is the only state in the nation that has this requirement.

“AARP Illinois has heard for years from our members about how this law disproportionately affects older drivers and perpetuates false narratives about their driving abilities,” said AARP Illinois Senior Director of Advocacy and Outreach Ryan Gruenenfelder. “The research clearly shows that older drivers are the safest drivers on our roadways, and we believe that singling them out to take an extra test is a type of age discrimination and has to end.”

An Illinois Department of Transportation report released in 2022 showed virtually no change in crash rates for drivers 75 and older, with a crash rate of 24.39 per 1,000 drivers, which is lower than every age range of drivers between 16 and 69 years old.

HB 4431 calls for an amendment to the Illinois Vehicle Code that would remove the extra road test requirement that applies only to drivers over 75. […]

HB 4431 heads to a vote on the House floor this week.

HB4431 is on Second Reading in the House.

* WGIL

Illinois legislators are pushing for measures to help social workers deal with overdoses and to attract more people to the field.

Now in the Illinois House, Senate Bill 3779 would allow a clinical social worker or social worker to possess and administer naloxone, an opioid antagonists.

In the past decade, state Sen. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, said opioid deaths have increased by 3,341% in Illinois. One reason why there could be an increase in overdoses is the pandemic lockdowns. […]

Villa’s bill adds the administering power for naloxone is not within the scope of a social worker’s practice. Kyle Hillman, National Association of Social Workers Illinois legislative chair, said crisis response teams are currently saying the liability risk with social workers administering naloxone is too high.

* Center Square

The Illinois Senate could consider a bill to address squatters. […]

[State Sen. Dave Syverson] said his Senate Bill 3658 would give police more authority to remove squatters. […]

Opponents of the bill included Sam Tuttle representing Legal Action Chicago. Tuttle said everyone needs housing and there is already an eviction law that can be used if necessary. […]

State Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, said the measure isn’t ready. Sims said there’s already criminal trespass statutes and Syverson’s bill may be too broad. […]

Despite those concerns, the measure advanced out of the Illinois Judiciary Committee unanimously Tuesday and awaits further action.

* Rep. Mary Gill…

State Rep. Mary Gill, D-Chicago, passed a plan out of the House Tuesday that would require health insurance plans for police and firefighters to include coverage for marriage and couple’s counseling.

“This idea was brought to me by a constituent who owns a private therapy practice and works with first responders and their partners,” Gill said. “It’s clear to me that there is a real need to expand access because it’s incredibly beneficial for our officers, firefighters and families. They experience incredible stresses in their line of work, and it’s important we provide the support network they deserve.”

Currently, insurance plans are not required to cover marriage or couple’s counseling as they are not considered a diagnosable mental health condition. While some insurance plans may offer coverage as an additional benefit, Gill’s House Bill 4460 would uniformly require the benefit. The measure would impact every level of police, including Illinois State Police, sheriff’s departments and municipal departments, as well as paramedics employed by a fire department. The proposal is not limited to married couples, it would also include partners who reside with the first responder.

House Bill 4460 passed the House with bipartisan support.

* WAND

The Illinois House passed a plan Tuesday to ensure school vendors and learning partners follow the state’s new comprehensive literacy plan. […]

The Illinois State Board of Education introduced framework for the literacy plan in January. However, House Bill 4902 could ensure schools would not be limited by their vendors. […]

Some House Republicans argue vendors will already follow the new literacy standards and a new law isn’t necessary.

The proposal passed out of the House on a 91-19 vote with one representative voting present. House Bill 4902 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

* Scott Holland

Consider Senate Bill 2751, which the Senate passed 59-0 Thursday and forbids counties, townships and municipalities from charging building permit fees to any veteran with a disability who needs to modify their home as an accommodation.

Proponents frame this as legislative thankfulness for those injured while serving our country. That’s a popular position, as indicated by a unanimous vote on legislation introduced by a Republican (state Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods,) and bipartisan sponsorship.

But opponents could argue this plan represents another attempt by state government to chip away at local control, obligating small governments to continue delivering services while barring them from collecting payment, which forces either budget cuts or an increase of fees elsewhere in municipal planning departments. […]

But the political fact no one will say these things makes them no less true. This plan does represent the state dictating to local governments. It’s the same way lawmakers nearly unanimously imposed rules on nonprofit animal shelters last year through House Bill 2500, forcing them to waive pet adoption fees for veterans once every two years. The General Assembly didn’t offer to make up those fees, nor does there seem to be compensation for the loss of building permit revenue.

* WAND

Lawmakers are working on a plan in Springfield to improve the state’s Name Image and Likeness (NIL) law for college athletes.

Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago) told the House Higher Education Committee Tuesday that the law has put Illinois universities at a significant disadvantage in terms of recruiting and retention of players. […]

Buckner explained his plan could allow athletes to earn NIL compensation directly from their universities as permitted by the NCAA. The proposal would also block press or the public from requesting how much athletes make from their private NIL deals. […]

Buckner’s legislation could also allow universities to create athletic department incentives for fans to support student athlete NIL activities. For example, fans could potentially get better parking or seats at an arena if they donate to NIL funds. […]

House Bill 307 now moves to the House floor for further consideration.

* WSIU

A constituent of State Representative Dave Severin, who has been teaching barber and cosmetology classes for 30+ years, was looking to get a cross-classification into a different specialty teaching.

But, she was told that in order to get that new specialty she would have to take the classes that she was teaching.

According to the Benton republican, 30 years of teaching a class was apparently not good enough to claim that she would pass her own class.

So the instructor reached out to Severin to see if there could be an end-around for teachers of courses to be exempted from having to take the courses they teach due to experience in the field.

HB4570, which helps make that change was given final approval in the Illinois House of Representatives Tuesday and now moves on to the Senate for consideration.

* Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez…

State Rep. Elizabeth ‘Lisa’ Hernandez, D-Cicero, championed the right to accurate, professional court transcripts, passing critical legislation to protect the use of qualified shorthand reporters in the courtroom.

“Judges, prosecutors and especially system-involved individuals depend on quality court transcripts to make decisions that will impact people’s lives, so when technology breaks down and entire swaths of a proceeding are missing, that is a serious problem for our justice system,” Hernandez said. “There is no replacement for the in-person human element, and this legislation makes sure qualified stenographers stay in the courtroom. Serious challenges to our judicial system remain, but my legislation will keep records fair, transparent and accurate.”

As technology and other circumstances lead more courts to consider electronic transcripts as an alternative to trained transcriptionists, Hernandez’s House Bill 4426 ensures that the practice of maintaining in-person shorthand reporters in the courtroom continues.

Shorthand reporters complete strict training and education requirements in order to serve as a stenographer, providing a level of certainty in their work which can be critical to the parties in court cases. Following pandemic-era restrictions and social distancing guidelines instituted in Illinois courtrooms, many courtrooms opted to use digital recording equipment in lieu of in-person stenographers. However, technology error, machine malfunctions and a lack of technical training means this digital recording practice was unreliably communicating court information. In many cases, faulty equipment or incorrectly transcribed transcripts threatened the validity of court records used to determine criminal and civil outcomes.

Hernandez’s bill ensures in-person transcription continues while state officials establish concrete language on guidelines, rules and procedures for the future of the shorthand reporter industry.

House Bill 4426 passed the House on Monday, April 15.

  11 Comments      


Open thread

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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

  3 Comments      


Isabel’s morning briefing

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: In Chicago, Ukrainian prime minister seeks urgent military aid from Congress, Illinois investment. Sun-Times

    -Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal joined Gov. Pritzker and White House Ukrainian envoy Penny Pritzker on Tuesday to help encourage American investment in Ukraine.
    -Later, the prime minister met with the governor and Penny Pritzker for a 30-minute meeting about what Illinois can do to help Ukraine’s economic recovery and how to help pressure Congress to send more aid.
    - Illinois has already helped provided aid to Ukraine. The state’s National Guard deployed to Poland to help Ukrainians seeking refuge, while the state and private businesses have sent a combination of body armor, face shields, helmets, ambulances and fire trucks.

* Related stories…

* Isabel’s top picks…

* Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association…

The Madison County Board will meet tomorrow to debate whether to put forth a referendum this fall for voters to decide if Madison County should secede from the state of Illinois. Madison County Democratic Party Chair Randy Harris and Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association Mark Guethle released the following statement opposing this plan:

“Madison County Republicans do not care about finding solutions to problems, they only seem to care about sowing divisions in our community and our state,” said Randy Harris, Chair of the Democratic Party of Madison County. “Illinois and Madison County are stronger together. This proposal for Madison County to secede from Illinois will send a signal to leaders in our state and in the business community that we as a county don’t want to be here and we’re not serious about helping people. It’s silly, reckless, and just plain dumb. The board should not even call this resolution for a vote.”

“Illinois is the greatest state in the nation. said Mark Guethle, President of the IDCCA. Voting to secede is unpatriotic, and damn near Un-American. This non-binding referendum won’t accomplish anything, and instead of working to better the lives of their residents, Republicans in Madison County are telling voters they want to ‘take their ball and go home.’ Board members should reject this proposal.”

Earlier this month the Madison County Board Government Relations Committee approved a resolution to submit an advisory referendum to the voters of Madison County regarding separating from Illinois to form a new state. The full board is supposed to meet on April 17 to debate and approve this resolution.

* Here’s the rest…

    * Sen. Dan McConchie | Illinois Senate should reject Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s ICC appointments: As pending ICC appointees near the deadline for confirmation, members of the Illinois Senate must consider the potential impact of this commission’s actions to date — including decisions that pose real public safety risks. Fortunately, senators have a record of recent decisions by these board members to help inform their deliberations. The members of the Senate, as well as the general public, deserve to know why Pritzker’s hand-picked ICC is making questionable decisions that increase public risk rather than prioritizing safety and reliability. We can’t expect our state to grow when we have outdated and potentially dangerous utility infrastructure.

    * WTAX | Thousands attending Illinois March for Life Wednesday: Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, will celebrate Mass with other bishops and priests from Illinois and hundreds of Catholics, the vast majority being students. […] The Mass will be celebrated Wednesday, April 17 at 10 a.m.: Mass at the Sangamon Auditorium. 1,700 people are registered, which is the max the Auditorium allowed, followed by a noon Rally and a 1 p.m. march at the Lincoln statue area outside Illinois statehouse.

    * Rockford Register Star | ‘See orange, slow down’: Illinois sees nearly 150 work zone fatalities in four years: Of the 148 work zone fatalities between 2019 to 2023, six were worker fatalities. The rest were motorists. […] In recognition of Work Zone Awareness week, IDOT along with the Illinois Tollway, the Illinois State Police and Laborer’s Local 32 held a joint news conference Tuesday to officially announce the beginning of another year of road construction and to emphasize work zone safety awareness.

    * Cook County Record | Unopposed Cook County judge candidates appointed by IL Supreme Court to Cook bench early: All of the new appointees will take the bench, for now, under temporary terms that will end Dec. 2. Ten of the appointments will be effective April 29. Two of the appointments will begin June 11.[…] According to a statement from the Illinois Supreme Court, the appointments were made to address a shortage of judges needed to handle ever growing caseloads in Cook County’s courts.

    * Cook County Record | Judge: Title IX plaintiffs can use IL law to retroactively demand ‘emotional distress’ damages: In the ruling, [U.S. District Judge Marvin E. Aspen] specifically declared that the new Illinois law, known as the Civil Rights Remedies Restoration Act (CRRRA), should allow Pogorzelska and other similar plaintiffs to demand schools and other institutions which receive federal funding under Title IX pay damages for emotional distress. And the judge said those demands can be applied retroactively, to lawsuits filed before the law took effect, even though the law doesn’t specifically say they should.

    * Lake County News-Sun | Highland Park plans scaled-down Fourth of July celebration 2 years after shooting; ‘We are coming together on this special day’: This year’s schedule — which includes a remembrance ceremony, parade and community festival — is intended to, “balance the diverse needs of the community by providing space for remembrance and also familiar community traditions,” City Manager Ghida Neukirch said. City staffers sought feedback from the City Council, public, community and government partners, in planning the July 4, 2024 events.

    * NBC Chicago | Target hit with class-action lawsuit claiming it violated Illinois’ biometric privacy law: The lawsuit, filed March 11 in a Cook County Court, alleges Target’s surveillance systems “surreptitiously” collects biometric data on customers without them knowing. “Target does not notify customers of this fact prior to store entry, nor does it obtain consent prior to collecting its customers’ Biometric Data,” the lawsuit says, adding at the retailer is outfitted with “top of the line” facial recognition throughout its stores as part of anti-theft efforts.

    * Tribune | Referendum draft proposes bringing Forest Preserve District back under DuPage County Board control: The Village of Oak Brook has been a hotbed of conflict with the Forest Preserve District over the last couple of years; in 2020 the district approved the removal of the Graue Mill Dam near the Graue Mill and Museum, a National Historic Landmark of the Forest Preserve restored to operating conditions in 1934. According to Forest Preserve officials, the decision to remove the dam was made to improve water quality and biodiversity along the Salt Creek stream; the decision was met with ire from the Graue Mill Museum staff and board members, and of the Fullersburg Historic Foundation, who believe removing the dam would stop the water flow used to help turn the large outdoor mill wheel.

    * Crain’s | How Oberweis Dairy wound up in bankruptcy court: Joe Oberweis, son of former CEO and perennial GOP candidate Jim Oberweis, was named CEO in 2007 and oversaw the rollout of burger and pizza restaurants as companion brands to the Oberweis Dairy chain of stores, as well as the expansion of home delivery to Virginia and North Carolina. In 2019, the company also added a production line of organic milk. During his tenure, the company “made a series of business decisions that, viewed in hindsight, may have sown the seeds for its present financial distress,” the filing states, going on to describe insufficient investment in modernization of its manufacturing plant, reliance on managers who lacked industry experience, and “maintaining the books and records of the debtors in a suboptimal manner.”

    * Rockford Register Star | General Mills opens 1.3 million square-foot distribution center in Belvidere: General Mills held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday to officially dedicate the facility at 1210 Irene Road, which is expected to employ 55 to 75 people. Phill West, senior director of planning, logistics and customer fulfillment for General Mills, said the distribution center is a key site for the company.

    * NBC Chicago | Legal troubles mount in Dolton as senior administrator charged in federal court: The indictment alleges that Freeman made several materially false statements and omissions in the document, including knowingly under-reporting income he derived from his employment as both the village administrator for Dolton and municipality manager for Thornton Township, as well as fees he received from his private consulting business.

    * Tribune | New leader of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH steps down less than 3 months on the job: The Rev. Frederick Haynes III told The Associated Press that he submitted a letter with his resignation as head of the Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition, effective immediately. […] Haynes, 63, said he felt it was “necessary” to move on in light of “challenges that continue to exist,” but declined to elaborate further. His resignation letter, written on Rainbow PUSH letterhead, also did not go into details about his decision.

    * Crain’s | As Vocalo preps to go off the air, some staffers lament what could have been: “I’m not surprised because they told me a year ago that they were looking into stopping the broadcast,” said Ayana Contreras, former content director, host and founding member of Vocalo, who acknowledges that the audience hasn’t been large — but she believes that is, in part, because management never made the fledgling, experimental station a high priority.

    * The Atlantic | The Myth of the Mobile Millionaire: The idea of millionaire flight is one of America’s most persistent beliefs. Expert consensus holds that “redistributive policies should be undertaken by the most central level of government rather than state or local governments,” as one academic summary puts it. In other words, rich people can’t avoid high federal taxes, short of leaving the country, whereas if a state tries to impose a progressive tax code, its millionaires will decamp for lower-tax jurisdictions. And, indeed, state tax codes, which bring in about one-third of U.S. tax revenue, largely reflect this received wisdom. Unlike the federal system, which is fairly progressive, state and local tax systems on average shift money from poorer households to richer ones. According to a recent report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, “forty-four states’ tax systems exacerbate income inequality,” with the poorest 20 percent of households paying the highest effective tax rates.

    * CBS Chicago | Rev. Walter “Slim” Coleman, Chicago activist and community organizer, dies at 80: The Rev. Walter “Slim” Coleman, a Chicago activist whose advocacy for Civil Rights and social justice causes dated back more than half a century, died Tuesday morning. Coleman was 80. His passing was announced Tuesday by Healthy Hood Chicago, the nonprofit community organization operated by daughter Tanya Lozano.

    * Tribune | Chicago Sky ticket sales soar after WNBA draft: ‘These women are worth the money’: With the No. 3 and No. 7 picks, the Sky added South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso and LSU forward Angel Reese to its roster. In the second round, the Sky selected Gonzaga guard Brynna Maxwell with the 13th pick. “If you’re not going to a Sky game this year, I don’t know what you’re doing,” said Karli Bell, the Chicago Sky reporter for Marquee Sports Network. “This is going to be that new generation that’s going to bring in those fans.”

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