Archive for the ‘Springfield’ Category

Mask Shot

Parents, students and schools across the state are waiting for a ruling from a circuit court judge on a petition to block masks from being required on children in some Illinois schools.

Illinois is one of 13 states that still require masks on school children. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has had the mandate in place since August.

A case heard in Sangamon County Circuit Court Thursday has more than 700 parents suing 145 school districts, the governor and state education officials over the mandates that include excluding students from in-person learning for possibly being exposed to COVID-19.

Pritzker Thursday criticized the parents’ case, saying they are fighting against “freedom from” COVID-19.

“That’s what we’re looking to do, to give people their freedom from the virus,” Pritzker said. “These people are holding us back and they’re going to close schools as a result if they were to win.”

Some schools have said their operations could be hindered without the mandate. Other schools have had masks optional all school year with minimal disruptions. Schools that don’t mandate masks face nonrecognition status from the Illinois State Board of Education, something that could mean loss of state funds and participation with recognized schools in extracurricular activities.

Attorney Thomas DeVore, who represents the parents, argued in court the issue is about individual due process rights laid out in state law.

“These children have rights when it comes to these masks, which are a device intended to limit the spread, when it comes to exclusion from school,” DeVore said. “They all have rights and their rights need to be protected and we’re asking you to protect their rights.”

More here.

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An investigation found $4 billion in funds to be doled out by politicians at their discretion, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker controlling half of it. The extra pork was packed into Illinois’ $45 billion infrastructure plan, including $144 million for Madigan friends – some who never asked for it.

An investigation into Illinois’ largest-ever capital projects bill found nearly $4 billion in discretionary funds set aside for politicians’ pork projects, including $2 billion for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to spend as he saw fit – including on needs he saw driving around during his campaign.

There was also $144 million for constituents with close ties to former House Speaker Michael Madigan, according to the Better Government Association analysis. Some of the recipients never asked for the money, with one who did ask getting over $29 million more than they sought.

The earmarks included $2 billion for the governor’s office, $368 million for House Democrats and $326 million for Senate Democrats. The remaining $1.2 billion was identified only as “leadership additions.”

These funds came in addition to the $600 million set aside for projects in state senators’ and representatives’ districts, dubbed “member initiatives.” Finding out which official sponsored which earmark is made intentionally difficult as sponsors’ names were not cited in the bill.

Asked how the specific projects were selected for the additions, the Pritzker administration said the governor picked his projects largely based on personal contacts, public input and general observations.

“Project ideas came from every corner of Illinois. The governor gathered ideas as he witnessed the need with his own eyes and from listening to residents as he traveled the state, even before he was elected the state’s chief executive,” Governor’s Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Carol Knowles said.

Before his ousting last year amid a sweeping federal corruption probe centering on the ComEd bribery scandal, Madigan played a principal role in deciding which state projects received “leadership addition” funds.

Read more here.

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Suburban poverty

A change to the Illinois Constitution on the 2022 ballot would effectively transfer power over tax dollars from the people and their elected representatives to special interests. It would thwart any efforts to curb the nation’s second-highest property taxes.

Illinois’ property taxes are already the second-highest in the nation and a major reason taxpayers are fleeing to lower-tax states, but the problems could be made worse on Nov. 8.

That is when voters will be asked to decide on a constitutional amendment that could cause property taxes to rise even faster. The change would also prevent many of the significant reforms that could lessen homeowners’ tax burdens.

Amendment 1 would grant unprecedented powers to government unions – already Illinois’ most powerful special interest group – including the power to override voters and state lawmakers. Proponents are selling it as a constitutional ban on passing right-to-work laws – laws that protect employees’ rights to keep their jobs without having to pay fees to a union. Illinois is not one of the 28 states that currently have right-to-work laws, so that aspect has little meaning.

The amendment does include three other provisions which together would severely weaken taxpayers’ voices in state government and make it easier for government union bosses to make unaffordable demands in collective bargaining contracts. Even without these provisions, powerful government unions helped public sector wages grow 60% faster than the private sector in Illinois from 1998 to 2019.

Peer-reviewed research shows stronger public sector unions cause the cost of government to increase, with powerful unions putting even more upward pressure on benefits than on wages. Public retirement benefits, which flow mostly to union workers, have left Illinois’ local governments with $75 billion in pension debt and are already the primary cause of rising property taxes. Government unions helped Illinois politicians build the state and local pension crisis by supporting both unaffordable benefits as well as irresponsible funding games that pushed costs into the future.

Nationwide data from 2010 to 2019 shows a significant statistical association between the percentage of government workers who are union members and each state’s average effective property tax rate.

Read much more here.

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“The winter heating season is now in full swing. As temperatures drop, our level of commitment to provide superior service continues.

As a nation, our daily lives have been affected due to a global pandemic that also has increased the demand for natural gas, which affects supply and ultimately cost. As a regulated utility, Nicor Gas does not profit from the sale of natural gas; the price we pay for gas is passed on to our customers without markup.

We understand that the increasing market price for natural gas is higher than those historically, which is why we continue to offer multiple ways to support our customers now and into the future.

This year, we will remain extremely focused on customer education to ensure awareness of available resources. Energy saving tips, programs and services are just a few ways we can help.

Visit nicorgas.com/residential/ways-to-save for more information.

Thank you for being a valued customer.”

Related:Check your natural gas bill lately? Why they’re soaring this winter

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BARRINGTON HILLS: Businessman and fiscal hawk, State Representative Martin McLaughlin, announces his candidacy for the 2022 election to the 52nd district. Mclaughlin, a Republican is halfway through his first term which ends in January 2023. McLaughlin is noted as an outspoken advocate for his constituents and for his limited government approach.

McLaughlin was Mayor of Barrington Hills from 2013 to 2021 where he was able to bring business reforms to the government and lower the tax levy 8 times. He has a 30-year career running pension businesses and helping businesses and governments close their funding gaps and taking the pressure off workers and taxpayers.

Mclaughlin who has been recognized for his direct leadership skills by both sides of the aisle is looking to forward to bringing sensible reforms and legislation addressing public safety, property taxes, and pension reforms desperately needed to fix a broken Springfield legislature. McLaughlin has provided an independent voice to the legislature reaching out to both sides of the aisle and working for solutions.

“It has been an honor to serve the people of the 52nd district and with the assistance of a great staff, we have provided solid constituent service to thousands of people in our community. Much of that service has involved navigating the myriad of government rules, regulations, and sometimes an incompetent bureaucracy. In our system of government, the people are in charge not the other way around,” said Representative Martin McLaughlin.

“Much of what I do in Springfield involves trying to bring some common sense to the legislative process by pointing out the consequences of some of the legislation that is being put forth. I am an advocate for more transparency and assessment of proposed legislation so that we don’t have to spend the next legislative session cleaning up poorly-written bills that have had unintended consequences on our constituents,” said McLaughlin.

Martin McLaughlin is married to his wife Kathleen for 30 years and they have five daughters ages 28 to 15.  He has participated in many philanthropic and social organizations including the Lions Club, Barrington Area Council of Governments, MCOG LCML League as well as coached youth sports in Cary, Elgin, and Barrington.  For more information about his campaign please contact him at Martyforillinois.com.”

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MM State House

State Rep. Martin McLaughlin (R-Barrington Hills) argues Gov. J.B. Pritzker still has much to learn when it comes to getting a handle on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and it starts with seeking other perspectives.

“At a time of crisis, I believe true leaders ask for more input from their Council, their commissioners and legislators and not less,” McLaughlin, who served as Barrington Hills’ village president up until assuming his seat in Springfield last year, said at a recent news conference on the issue. “We stayed open throughout the COVID crisis without incident using common-sense safety measures. As a mayor, I had a unique perspective of witnessing firsthand exactly how the viruses and the mandates were affecting local businesses.”

McLaughlin argues Pritzker’s new COVID-19 proof-of-vaccine requirements for businesses and park districts across state demonstrate his ignorance.

“I have been fervently advocating for common sense and local control since May of 2020,” he said. “As mayor in my town I was offered the same emergency, unilateral control opportunity from legal counsel, but I rejected it.”

Across Cook County, the proof-of-vaccine rule will apply to everyone age 5 and older and include such establishments as restaurants, bars, gyms and other venues like sports and entertainment arenas, NBC5 reported.

McLaughlin argues it only serves to increase suffering for many Illinois residents.

“The executive mandate from the county forced our citizens to stay within their homes, out of our schools, out of our places of worship and closed an assortment of businesses,” he said. However, big box stores were allowed to remain open with record profits while devastating our main-street businesses in our community. As we enter 2022, the mayor of Chicago, the Board President of Cook County and Gov. Pritzker continue unconstitutional use of these mandates on private citizens.”

Read more here.

Related:Citing vaccine mandate, Bob Chinn’s Crab House to pause operations for a month in Wheeling

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Barrington Village President Karen Darch is pictured here at the intersection of Main and Hough Streets in the center of downtown Barrington. Restaurants behind her, such as Egg Harbor, Shakou, Neoteca, etc., are now required to ask patrons for written proof of vaccination since they are in Cook County. In Lake County, where she is pictured standing, eateries such as Chessie’s, Ciao Baby, PL8, etc., have no such requirement.

Waukegan, North Chicago, Buffalo Grove and Barrington have no plans to join Highland Park as Lake County’s only municipality so far to require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to dine in restaurants, while Deerfield takes a wait-and-see attitude.

The five municipalities reached their conclusions by Monday after their legislative governing bodies achieved a consensus on a course of action, either through formal or informal means, in the wake of Highland Park’s decision Wednesday to implement a mandate effective this Friday.

Highland Park acted after the city of Chicago and Cook County required restaurants, bars and fitness centers in late December to limit service to patrons who are fully vaccinated. The Chicago and Cook County mandates were effective Monday.

Waukegan Mayor Ann Taylor and North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham, Jr., talked to their cities’ aldermen before scheduled meetings Monday and received a consensus there was little or no interest in a mandate requiring diners to show proof of vaccination.

Taylor said after Waukegan’s City Council meeting Monday she talked to the city’s aldermen and heard little interest in imposing a mandate on bars and restaurants. The feeling was it would be too much of a burden on those who have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Barrington Village Manager Scott Anderson said in an email, throughout the pandemic the village has assumed the role of lead communicator sharing information with its residents about ways to remain safe during the pandemic and assure a continuity of services. That will not change.

“The village will not be shifting its primary objectives to the community nor will it seek additional authority to intervene in the operation of local businesses,” he said in the email.

Read more here.

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Illinois scores poorly in a report on the state’s tax climate.

The Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index compares state’s tax systems using several categories, including personal income tax, corporate income tax, sales and property taxes, and unemployment insurance taxes.

The authors note that while there are many ways to show how much is collected in taxes by state governments, the Index is designed to show how well states structure their tax systems and provides a road map for improvement.

Policy analyst Janelle Cammenga said Illinois ranked 36th overall in the country, and was hurt by the state’s corporate business tax.

“The state did enact new [tax break] treatment of temporary operating losses,” Cammenga said. “Now when it comes to net operating losses it does cap those at $100,000 for tax years 2021 through 2024, so that will really make a difference to businesses especially in a time right now of economic downturn where they might be seeing more losses than in other years.”

Cammenga said the only category that kept Illinois from ranking lower is the personal income tax.

“The individual income tax is what is really bringing Illinois’ score up right now because it has a flat income tax of 4.95% where as the rest of the tax code is not as competitive,” Cammenga said.

Read more here.

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Drivers Services

Illinois driver services facilities will be closed for two weeks to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 after the start of the year.

Because of increased cases, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has announced the state’s driver services facilities will be closed for the first two weeks of the new year.

“After careful consideration and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to close all Driver Services facilities beginning Jan. 3, 2022, through Jan. 17, 2022, due to the spike in COVID-19 cases,” White said. “The health and safety of employees and the public remains paramount, and face-to-face transactions potentially increase the further spread of the virus.”

Offices were already scheduled to be closed for the New Year holiday.

The public is encouraged to visit ILSOS.gov for services that are available online. Such services remaining open and available online are renewing license plate stickers, renewing a driver’s license or ID car for qualified individuals, getting a duplicate ID, getting a driver record abstract, or filing business services documents.

Read more here.

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Chicago Teachers Rally For A Safe Return To Schools

Government unions in Illinois have tremendous power. Most are allowed to go on strike and can bargain over virtually anything.1 It creates an uneven playing field, with unions able to demand costly provisions in their contracts and threaten to strike – denying Illinoisans needed services – to get what they want.2

Until recently, the potential monetary influence of unions3 over lawmakers and the legislative process hadn’t been adequately investigated.

Using records from the Illinois State Board of Elections, the Illinois Policy Institute performed an in-depth study of the contributions received by current members of the state’s General Assembly during 2019-2020.4

Read this in-depth Illinois Policy article here.

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