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Archive for the ‘FUBAR’ Category

Indoor shot of handsome stressful overworked man covers face with palm, has displeased expression, dressed in casual clothes, poses against white background with copy space for your promotional textHave mercy if this list is woefully incomplete. The recently concluded session of the Illinois General Assembly sent a blizzard of some 560 bills to Gov. JB Pritzker for signature, so we certainly don’t know what all is in them (and most lawmakers don’t, either.)

Below, however, are some of the more foolish bills that caught our attention. Keep in mind that each will require Pritzker’s signature before becoming law.

What’s clear from the session is that progressives were unrestrained, passing laws supposedly providing government answers to whatever they see in the world that they don’t like. Take just the output of lawmakers from my area, for example, who are all progressives. Rep. Robin Gabel sponsored 65 bills and resolutions, 44 of which passed. Sen. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz sponsored 92, 61 of which passed. But Rep. Laura Fine beat them both – 203 of which 92 passed. That’s according to a compilation by the Daily Northwestern.

We’d like to hear from you if you know of others we missed:

Converting deserts to oases – at taxpayer expense. Don’t have a decent grocery store near your home? SB 0850 directs the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity to establish the “Grocery Initiative” to study “food deserts” in Illinois and give grants to grocery stores in those areas. This bill is a nice illustration of the statist mentality prevailing in the General Assembly. Illinois, being mostly rural or empty, is covered with deserts of all kinds – areas lacking a nearby pharmacy, dentist, car mechanic, public transit, healthcare specialists and countless other goods and services. Is it now the taxpayers’ obligation to assure that these are conveniently in reach for everybody?

Unknown cost of unfunded kindergarten mandate means unknown property tax increase. House Bill 2396 will require school districts around the state to provide full-day kindergarten by the 2027-2028 school year. Nice idea, provided the schools don’t extend their political indoctrination down to that level. But the bigger problem is the legislature didn’t bother to tell taxpayers or anybody else how much that will cost local school districts. Why bother when they can just impose another unfunded mandate? The Illinois Principal’s Association opposed the bill because of those unknown, unfunded costs.

Another mandate on schools – to enforce antiracism and anti-harassment. SB 0090 will make school districts liable for a civil rights violation if they “fail to take appropriate corrective action to stop harassment” or fail to comply with reporting requirements imposed by the bill. Along with the onerous reporting requirements, the bill lays out lengthy details on required anti-harassment and anti-racism training. The state will be required to produce a model training program.

Find more here.

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NAPER-BEARS?

Chicago Bears officials met with Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli on Friday to discuss the possibility of abandoning their plans for a new stadium development in Arlington Heights in favor of building it in the western suburb.

In a move that could be used as bargaining leverage, the team said in a statement Friday that plans to build “the largest single development project in Illinois history” are “at risk” in Arlington Heights.

The Bears objected that recent tax hikes on the former Arlington Park racetrack, which the Bears bought this year, would result in taxes far higher than its worth while it is not operational.

“We will continue the ongoing demolition activity and work toward a path forward in Arlington Heights, but it is no longer our singular focus,” team officials wrote. “It is our responsibility to listen to other municipalities in Chicagoland about potential locations that can deliver on this transformational opportunity for our fans, our club and the state of Illinois.”

The organization maintains plans to build an enclosed stadium with accompanying entertainment and residential development in Arlington Heights is not a done deal. There remains outstanding questions on the team getting certainty on property tax limits and public subsidies to help build infrastructure for the project.

Those uncertainties led Wehrli to send a letter May 24 to Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren in which the mayor acknowledged the team’s commitment to developing and operating its own stadium, which “is essential for on-field success and pursuing championships.”

“I would like to formally introduce our community to your organization as you consider or reassess your planned relocation,” wrote the new Naperville mayor, who was elected this spring and took office a month ago.

Read more here.

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Thanks to $12.5 million in funding secured by local state legislators, people using the Longmeadow Parkway bridge over the Fox River will not need to pay a toll when it opens next year.

“I made a promise to the people of my district that this brid

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Thanks to $17.5 million in funding secured by local state legislators, people using the Longmeadow Parkway bridge over the Fox River will not need to pay a toll when it opens next year. (Gloria Casas / The Courier-News)

e would not become a toll bridge,” said state Rep. Suzanne Ness, D-Crystal Lake, whose District 66 includes parts of Algonquin, Carpentersville and Elgin.

“We’ve needed another way of passage across the Fox River, and it would be wrong to ask working families to pay more than they already do just to go to work, get groceries or take kids to a sports field,” she said.

The $100 million Longmeadow Parkway Corridor is a 5.6-mile roadway that runs through portions of unincorporated Kane County, Algonquin, Carpentersville and Barrington Hills. Funded with a mix of federal, state and local money, it is designed to relieve traffic congestion in northern Kane County.

The Kane County Board authorized the sale of bonds to cover its share of the bridge expense and planned to collect tolls from bridge users in order to repay the debt. The toll cost was expected to be about $1.75 to $1.95.

The additional funding needed for the bridge was included in the state’s newly passed 2023-24 budget. In addition to Ness, state Reps. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, and Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, advocated for it in the last legislative session.

More here.

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Illinois is infamous for political corruption and has a bad reputation for fiscal malfeasance.

Backers of a new state budget say they’re turning that around with a balanced plan crafted in cooperation. Republicans, however, say the measure that passed the state House of Representatives around 2:30 a.m. Friday — while most Illinois residents were kicking off a sunny holiday weekend — largely ignores their input and sets the state up for obligations it won’t be able to meet.

The spending plan doesn’t increase taxes, but it will cost people $10 more for a new car title. That means come July, it will cost $165 for a certificate of title, with the additional funds to be used to update the Illinois secretary of state’s IT infrastructure, which an external assessment found to be very outdated. The secretary of state’s office said the increase “won’t come close” to raising the $200 million needed to overhaul the “archaic” system “to better protect personal information, increase cybersecurity and prevent outages … but is a decision the GA (General Assembly) made to help generate more for modernization.”

That’s a small portion of the $50 billion spending plan approved by lawmakers and that Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign in advance of July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

One freshman lawmaker, Rep. John Egofske, R-Lemont, a former mayor and company CFO, said watching how the $50 billion plan was put together was “enlightening and frightening.”

Lawmakers behind the plan promised it contains no gimmicks, but Barrington Hills Republican Rep. Martin McLaughlin said “there’s more hiding, shifting, obfuscation of stuff that would make a three-card monte dealer blush,” and Rep. John Cabello, R-Rockford, said projected savings are “straight out of fantasy land.”

More here.

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Lindsey’s Law

Another try for Lindsey’s Law, an Illinois measure increasing penalties for drunk drivers that kill someone and injure others, will have to wait for the fall.

In 2015, cosmetologist Lindsey Sharp of Springfield went to Walmart with her son and her boyfriend. In the parking lot, Antione Willis, 31, who had been drinking and smoking marijuana, hit the three with an SUV, killing Lindsey and critically injuring her young son and her boyfriend.

Then State’s Attorney John Milhiser said Willis pleaded guilty and was given the maximum sentence that the law allowed. State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, told The Center Square that the 14-year prison sentence was not long enough.

Under current Illinois law, Willis was sentenced for causing Sharp’s death. The state was unable to add more years to his sentence for the injuries he caused to Sharp’s son and her boyfriend.

If Sharp’s son or her boyfriend had died, the state could have added more years to his prison term, but because they survived, the prosecutor’s hands were tied.

“That to me does not do justice to victims in our state,” McClure said.

Lindsey’s Law would remove that barrier, he said, and if it is passed by the state legislature the state could have charged an additional four to 20 years in prison for the injuries to the son and the boyfriend.

More here.

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Thirty-two state lawmakers have stepped up their efforts to save the Invest in Kids Act, Illinois’ tax credit scholarship for more than 9,000 students.

The House members, all Republicans, have signed a letter indicating their support for the program, which, as we’ve reported, is in danger of being killed by anti-school-choice lawmakers. Lawmakers will decide this month whether or not to extend the program as part of the budget negotiation process.

Those who’ve signed the letter support the hopes and dreams of the scholarship students from low-income, working-class families. For details of the program, see Empower Illinois’ 2022 Impact Report.

Those who refuse to show their support are effectively giving in to the teachers unions, which strongly oppose Invest in Kids and are actively pushing to end the program (see IEA’s stop vouchers in Illinois).

That refusal includes House Democrats who were asked to sign the letter but wouldn’t. Given Democrats’ lockstep support of the teachers unions, it’s unlikely any would sign anyway.

The refusal also includes eight Republican House lawmakers who have not signed: House GOP leader Tony McCombie, as well as Jeff Keicher, Dave Severin, Charles Meier, Norine Hammond, Wayne Rosenthal, Michael Marron and Amy Elik. (Wirepoints is unaware of any similar letter making the rounds in the Senate.)

These unsupportive legislators should be called out because school choice should be a slam dunk for both Republicans and Democrats. As the WSJ reported Tuesday, “The program is popular with voters. In May 2021, an ARW Strategies poll showed 61% of Illinois voters approved the tax-credit program, including 67% of state Democrats. 71% of black voters and 81% of Hispanics statewide approved of the plan.”

Not to mention, states around the country like Indiana and Iowa are greatly expanding their school choice programs and making them universal.

Read more here.

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Lawmakers have advanced a measure that will soon be sent to the governor’s desk that would allow certain immigrants to become police officers in Illinois.

Current federal law prohibits a non-U.S. citizen from becoming a police offer throughout the country. House Bill 3751 looks to change that law in Illinois.

The measure states that any immigrant who the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has deferred under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process is allowed to apply for the position of a police officer, deputy sheriff or special police officer.

The measure was amended by the Senate on Thursday and received pushback from Republican lawmakers.

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, criticized the idea of a non-citizen being able to arrest a U.S. citizen in Illinois.

“To hand the power to arrest and detain a citizen of this state, or a citizen of any state in the United States, to a non-citizen is a fundamental breach of democracy,” Rose said. “It is antithetical to the police power of any state.”

Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, supports the bill and said during debate that history shows people from different backgrounds have been law enforcement officers for a long time.

More here.

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illinois_flag-Illinois-StateFlags

“It’s dumb. We’ve got so many things to worry about, and we’re worrying about the flag.”

 

Illinois’ state flag could be headed for a makeover.

A bill that would form a commission to determine whether the flag should be redesigned and potentially pick a new design is awaiting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature after being approved by the Senate in March and the House late last week.

“I think if you asked anyone outside the state to identify our flag, not many could,” said state Rep. Daniel Didech, a Buffalo Grove Democrat who co-sponsored the original Senate bill in the House. “There’s an opportunity to market our state and a side opportunity to engage young people in government, and there’s not many times we’ve had legislation that could do that.”

However, the initiative is not without detractors. Votes in both chambers were largely along party lines, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

“I think this is a great example of the misplaced priorities we’re seeing this year from our colleagues across the aisle,” said state Sen. Seth Lewis, a Bartlett Republican. “Instead of focusing on really pressing issues like ethics reform … we’re talking about a new state flag.”

Russell Middleton, an architect from downstate Normal who testified against the bill during committee hearings, was more blunt: “It’s dumb. We’ve got so many things to worry about, and we’re worrying about the flag.”

More here.

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With no real understanding what’s in it, so far not having seen even a draft, Illinois lawmakers will soon vote on a budget spending about $50 billion of your money.

This portion of Hanna Meisel’s Friday column from Capitol News Illinois is a must-read:

During House floor debate, Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, renewed his request for an estimate as to when a draft copy of the budget might drop – or at least a revenue estimate for the state’s fiscal year that begins July 1.

“You’re asking me?” replied Rep. Jay Hoffman, a Democrat from Swansea who was presiding over the House chamber at the time. Hoffman’s quip elicited laughs from members, and Keicher broke into a smile.

“Funny story,” Keicher responded. “After I made my inquiry last night, I had eight members of the other side of the aisle suggest to me that they hadn’t seen one either.”

The Republican superminority is routinely cut out from budget formation, but that’s a Democrat acknowledging that most of his party, too, is shut out.

And they laughed about it.

Read on here.

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Illinois is one of a handful of states that bans hanging rosaries, air freshener tags or disability signs on a rearview mirror. A new bill may change that and prevent future headaches and irate confrontations with law enforcement.

“Even though it is in the driver handbook, most people don’t pay attention to it,” Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, told The Center Square. “They don’t even realize that it is against the law. The police know it is a violation. And remember, the police are responsible for pulling people over because the law says that they have to. It makes no sense.”

Ford’s bill, House Bill 2389, which would no longer require law enforcement to stop drivers with hanging objects on the rearview mirror, passed the Illinois House with bipartisan support on March 24.

In Minnesota, a police officer killed Chicagoan Daunte Wright two years ago when she stopped him for having an air freshener tag hanging from his rearview mirror. Wright got irate about the stop. The officer reached for her taser gun to subdue him. She grabbed her pistol instead, and Wright was killed.

“If the bill passes the Senate, as we expect, and the governor signs it into law, that is one less responsibility that law enforcement will have to have,” Ford said.

More here.

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