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SPRINGFIELD — A legislative panel that oversees the state’s administrative rulemaking process voted along partisan lines to allow Gov. JB Pritzker’s emergency rule to enforce mask-wearing and other public health orders to move forward.

That decision came from the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR, a 12-member, bipartisan, bicameral group that exercises oversight of the state’s regulatory process.

Pritzker announced the new enforcement measure on Friday, Aug. 7, as 13 counties were put on warning that they may have to reimpose some social and economic restrictions to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The order requires businesses, schools and day care facilities to make “reasonable efforts” to ensure that patrons and employees wear face coverings when they cannot maintain a six-foot distance from others. Reasonable efforts can include such things as posting signage that state face coverings are required, giving verbal warnings to customers to wear face coverings, offering a mask to patrons and asking customers to leave if they refuse.

Read more here.

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IDOT plans to replace the bridge on Algonquin Road at Spring Creek in Barrington Hills sometime between 2022 and 2026

IDOT has budgeted $805,000 for Phase I “Initial Construction – Pavements” for Algonquin Road from IL 25 (Kennedy Dr) to IL 68 (Dundee Rd) in 2021.

Additionally, they have earmarked $5,630,00 for bridge replacement on IL 62 at Spring Creek 1.4 miles west of Rt. 59 in 2022-2026.

A copy of IDOT’s plans for IL District 52 can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan is implicated in a federal corruption case in which ComEd agreed to pay $200 milion in fines.

Editorial: Time to step down, Mr. Speaker

The hammer that dropped Friday morning was not velvet.

In a one-count criminal information, federal prosecutors announced a bribery charge involving utility company ComEd and more than $1.3 million in favors the company admits it granted to high-ranking public officials to curry special favor in Springfield. Which public officials? While House Speaker Michael Madigan was not charged with wrongdoing and was not named in the documents, the feds made no secret of identifying him by title. There is only one House speaker, the most powerful politician in Illinois.

But for how long?

Until Friday, Madigan has managed to dodge the spotlight during the federal investigation of ComEd’s lobbyist practices, stating, “I am not the target of anything.” While other key players also were not named in the federal paperwork — a lobbyist, ComEd’s former CEO, a law firm — prosecutors laid out a case that puts Madigan in the middle of things.

Read more from the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board here.

Editorial: It can be denied no longer: Speaker Madigan must go

Federal prosecutors have not yet indicated whether they will indict the Illinois House speaker they dub “Public Official A” in documents filed with an explosive ComEd plea deal on Friday, but as far as the quality of Illinois government is concerned, they don’t have to.

The suggestions of impropriety in those documents are so overwhelming that Michael J. Madigan, whether innocent or guilty of wrongdoing, cannot escape being a major distraction both to good government and to the hopes of the political party he leads. The Chicago Democrat has survived many a controversy and many a scandal in his 35 years as Illinois House speaker, but this one is unsurvivable.

This time, it is inevitable that Speaker Madigan must go.

Read more from the Daily Herald Editorial Board here.

Madigan might be wise to step down — but, first, shame on ComEd

For the sake of Illinois and the important public policies that he himself has fought for, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan should consider stepping down.

The stakes are just so high.

At a time when Illinois is fighting a deadly pandemic, struggling to revive an economy that was in trouble even before COVID-19, and is months away from voting on a badly needed graduated income tax, the state — to our thinking — can ill afford even the slightest perception of compromised leadership. Madigan must decide whether he can continue to lead effectively, or whether his presence is a distraction from the agenda that he and his state Democratic Party support.

But as we read the stunning “statement of facts” that prosecutors laid out Friday that implicated Madigan — but didn’t formally charge him with any crimes — our focus also sharpened on the company that admitted to a series of outrageous bribery schemes: electricity giant ComEd.

The power company admitted to using lobbyists to shower jobs, contracts and payoffs all over Springfield for the sole purpose of gaining favor with Madigan, who denies any wrongdoing but, at minimum, is standing in a bad storm.

Read the opinions of the Chicago Sun*Times here.

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ComEd is paying $200 million as part of a federal investigation into a “years-long bribery scheme” involving jobs, contracts and payments to allies of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago announced Friday.

Madigan, a Southwest Side Democrat and the nation’s long-serving speaker, has not been charged with any wrongdoing. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors alleged that ComEd “admitted that its efforts to influence and reward the high-level elected official” included legislation that affected the regulatory process used to determine the electricity rates ComEd charged its customers.

Prosecutors went on to describe the alleged scheme.

“The company admitted that it arranged for jobs and vendor subcontracts for Public Official A’s political allies and workers even in instances where those people performed little or no work that they were purportedly hired by ComEd to perform,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement.

In a criminal filing, prosecutors say was the House speaker, which is Madigan.

Read more here.

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Dispensaries across the state have sold more than $239 million worth of recreational weed since the start of the year.

After campaigning and making good on a promise to lift the statewide prohibition on marijuana, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday that Illinois collected over $52 million in taxes during the first six months of legalization.

Sales of recreational cannabis started on Jan. 1, when hordes of eager pot buyers flooded the few dozen medical dispensaries that were able to transition into dual-use stores. And with pot businesses deemed essential in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, monthly sales have remained strong.

Weed shops unloaded nearly $48 million in pot products in June, marking the most successful month of sales so far, according to figures released by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. All told, more than $239 million worth of recreational weed has been sold since the start of the year.

More than $34 million of the revenue came from excise taxes, far more than the $28 million Pritzker’s budget estimated the state would collect during the same period. Another $18 million was collected through sales taxes that will be shared with local governments, according to the governor’s office.

The Illinois Department of Revenue estimates that nearly $26 million will go toward the state’s General Revenue Fund.

Read more here.

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With generous terms and at a time of unprecedented panic as the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns crippled the economy, 202,157 Illinois employers received federal Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans.

From Atlas Financial Holdings — incorporated in the Cayman Islands with its “principal executive offices” in Schaumburg — to the Joffrey Ballet to Kivvit, the public affairs firm, to Motor Werks of Barrington, Inc., all kinds of Illinois companies, museums, schools, religious-based organizations and nonprofits took out the loans.

There was little incentive not to apply, since the loans don’t have to be repaid if used to meet payrolls, retain workers and cover some overhead. The loan amounts were based on the number of employees. Employers had to certify on the PPP application that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”

For loans under $150,000, the top ZIP codes in Illinois include 60010, around Barrington, with $43.7 million.

Automotive: $5 million to $10 million — Patrick Schaumburg Automobiles, 130 jobs; Motor Werks of Barrington, 346 workers.

Read more from the Sun*Times here.

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SPRINGFIELD – Anyone who cast a ballot in the last three years or who registered to vote or changed addresses after the March primary will be sent an application to vote by mail after Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill expanding the program Tuesday.

In a news release, Pritzker’s office said the program is aimed at ensuring “safe and active participation in the 2020 general election during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1863 and House Bill 2238, which also expands early voting hours at permanent polling places and makes election day a state holiday.

Local election authorities must mail or email the applications to voters who cast a ballot in the 2018 general election, the 2019 consolidated election or the 2020 general primary election, as well as voters who registered or changed addresses after the March primary. Any eligible voter who submits an application by October 1 will receive their ballot by October 6.

Read more here.

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“The members of the Barrington Area Council of Governments appreciate the efforts that have gone into developing the Restore Illinois plan. Our municipal and township governments have been compliant with the Executive Orders to keep residents safe during this COVID-19 public health situation. The Executive Board and membership have concerns, however, about provisions within the Restore Illinois plan and sent the following letter to Governor Pritzker for consideration.”

A copy of the BACOG members May 15th letter to Governor JB Pritzker can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Driver services facilities operated by the Illinois secretary of state’s office will begin reopening Monday, with the first two months reserved for new drivers, people with expired driver’s licenses or ID cards and vehicle transactions.

Due to current events, more than 700,000 expired driver’s licenses or ID cards and 1.9 million expired vehicle registrations in Illinois according to Secretary of State Jesse White.

Once the offices reopen, people will have 90 days to renew expired driver’s licenses, ID cards and vehicle registrations. People now have until Oct. 1, 2021, to get REAL ID driver’s licenses.

For more information, visit cyberdriveillinois.com.

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Chicago restaurants won’t be ready to open on pace with rest of Illinois, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday that city restaurants won’t be ready to reopen to outdoor dining by May 29, but she hopes they will be ready in June.

Chicago also is looking at the possibility of closing streets to help expand restaurants’ outdoor dining, Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot made the comments after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker opened the door to potentially lift the restriction on sit-down dining next week. While “heartened” by Pritzker’s comments, Lightfoot said she wants a more robust plan to make sure restaurants can reopen safely.

Asked about the reopening the city’s lakefront, Lightfoot said she is looking at plans for reopening but isn’t there yet.

Read more here.

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