House Speaker Mike Madigan easily won re-election as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois on Monday, April 23, 2018. In the past couple of months, the Speaker has experienced widespread scandal regarding his staff-handling, mostly due to the delayed dismissal of political aide Kevin Quinn, who allegedly sexually harassed campaign worker Alaina Hampton. Madigan also parted ways with lobbyist Shaw Decremer, a former staffer and top campaign operative, due to alleged “abusive actions” during House Democratic races.
In the midst of these scandals, some Democrats demanded that Madigan step down as chairman and comply with an independent investigation. However, out of the 36 committee members, only one voted against Madigan’s re-election—Peter Janko of Marengo. Nonetheless, Monday’s re-election confirmed the veteran speaker’s dominant control over the political operation of Illinois Democrats.
On Wednesday, Senate Democrats chose not to pursue an attempt to override Gov. Rauner’s veto on a bill that would require gun dealers to be licensed by the state. Thousands had protested in Springfield in favor of Second Amendment protections and gun rights. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Don Harmon, released a statement saying, “While I am confident that I had the votes in the Senate to override the veto, I could not assure my colleagues that the House would vote against the governor, particularly given his vociferous and unreasonable opposition to this measure.”
A report by state Comptroller Susana Mendoza, obtained on Monday night by the Associated Press before its Tuesday release, found that Illinois’ $16 billion debt comes with $1.14 billion of past-due penalty fees, $100 million more than the previous 18 years combined. The debt accumulated over Illinois’ two-year budget stalemate between 2015-2017, and the state has only paid $300 million in penalties since the beginning of 2017. A $6.5 billion bond issue last fall helped pay for some of Illinois’ debt, but state vendors “are still experiencing payment delays.”
Responding to the report, Gov. Rauner partially laid the blame back on the Comptroller, referencing her support of former Gov. Blagojevich’s pension holiday: “[Mendoza] created the problem, and now she’s, she puts out a memo and says, ‘Oh it’s the Governor’s fault.’ Are you kidding me?”
Comptroller Mendoza responded on Thursday stating, “The truth is, it took Governor Rauner only 2 ½ years to do more damage to Illinois’ finances than all the Democratic and Republican administrations and legislatures over the previous 18 years combined.”
Friday, April 27th marked the third reading deadline in both the House and Senate to pass bills out of the originating chamber, although some bills are expected to receive extensions. The Senate returns to Springfield next week while the House will take the week off.
Important Upcoming Dates – Statewide
April 27, 2018 – 3rd Reading deadline for the House and Senate
May 1-3, 2018 – Senate in session
May 8, 2018 – House in session
May 11, 2018 – Committee deadline for House bills in the Senate
May 18, 2018 – Committee deadline Senate bills in the House
May 25, 2018 – 3rd Reading deadline in the House and Senate for bills from the opposite chamber
May 31, 2018 – Scheduled adjournment date for the General Assembly
In the News
Morning Spin: Emanuel doesn't rule out another property tax hike if re-elected – Chicago Tribune, April 27, 2018 As he runs for a third term, Mayor Rahm Emanuel continues to blame the city’s ongoing financial problems on the situation he inherited and declined in an upcoming radio interview to rule out another property tax hike if re-elected. In an interview with WLS-AM’s Bill Cameron that will air at 7 p.m. Sunday on the “Connected to Chicago” program, the mayor as usual didn't name predecessor Richard M. Daley. But Emanuel talked about having to raise taxes to cover decisions made before he took office in 2011. Emanuel demurred when asked whether he would at least take another property tax increase off the table to deal with unfunded pension obligations.
Emanuel will turn over personal cellphone for review in battle over texts – Chicago Tribune, April 26, 2018 Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has conducted city business on his private devices and accounts, has agreed to have a digital forensics company collect and preserve information, including text messages, from his personal cellphone. Emanuel’s decision, revealed in an April 11 court filing, comes in response to an ongoing Chicago Tribune lawsuit that accuses the mayor of violating open records laws by failing to produce and preserve emails and text messages on his personal accounts in which he discussed public business.
Battle-scarred Rahm stares down toughest election ever – Politico, April 24, 2018 For the past 25 years, Rahm Emanuel has been involved in political trench warfare ranging from NAFTA to the 2006 Democratic House takeover to the Affordable Care Act. Emanuel’s bid for a third term as Chicago mayor might be the toughest challenge he’s ever faced. A slew of credentialed candidates have lined up to oust him from City Hall, and they’re engaging in an almost daily assault on Emanuel’s character and mayoralty. He’s been cast as a bully who has raised taxes, closed schools in poor neighborhoods and driven minorities out of the city.
Emanuel says interactive 311 system will ‘revolutionize’ city services – Chicago Sun Times, April 24, 2018 Three years ago, a City Council rebellion forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to shelve his controversial plan to privatize Chicago’s 311 nonemergency system. Emanuel was forced to find another way to bankroll a sorely needed system upgrade after aldermen argued that services so pivotal to their residents must be provided by Chicagoans who know the city and its neighborhoods. Now, the overhaul that will turn 311 into a two-way communications system is nearing completion. And the mayor who made it happen is touting the project for its ability to “revolutionize” the way city services are delivered.
Emanuel to lay out third-term agenda in specific terms – Chicago Sun-Times, April 23, 2018 Mayor Rahm Emanuel campaigned for a second term on a promise to put a “specialty focus” high school within 3 miles of every family, free top-performing schools from burdensome mandates, and achieve an 85 percent graduation rate by 2019. He promised to make computer science a graduation requirement for high school students and to “reinvent” senior year, with more students taking college courses and holding internships. Now, the mayor is preparing to lay out his ambitious agenda for a third term — on issues ranging from education, crime and police reform to small business, neighborhood stabilization and affordable housing —in an attempt to convince Chicago voters to give him a third chance.
Illinois Senate OKs stand-alone bump stock ban – Chicago Tribune, April 27, 2018 The Senate has approved another bump-stock ban. The Senate voted 38-10 Thursday on Sen. Kwame Raoul's plan. It would outlaw the manufacture or possession of bump stocks or trigger cranks which turn rifles into assault-style weapons. It's the device the gunman used in the Las Vegas mass shooting last October. The Senate in March OK'd a bump-stock ban which started in the House. But Raoul, a Chicago Democrat, removed a restriction on municipalities enacting local restrictions on assault-style guns. Gun-rights advocates support uniform rules statewide. Raoul's new measure deals only with bump stocks and moves to the House.
Bill Could Award Legionnaires’ Victims’ Families $2M From State – WBEZ 91.5, April 25, 2018 Families suing the state over Legionnaires’ disease deaths at a government-run veterans’ home are getting a potential legal boost from the Illinois Senate. By a 50-0 vote, the Senate voted to raise the cap on most awards for negligence judgments against the state from the current $100,000 up to $2 million. The measure, which now moves to the House, applies to any cases pending before the state Court of Claims as of July 1, 2015.
Schoenburg: Libertarian Kash Jackson wants to protect rights – State Journal-Register, April 25, 2018 The Libertarian Party candidate for governor, KASH JACKSON, says he’s running to protect people’s rights — like he did during his 20 years in the Navy — and because he can relate to regular folks. “I’m a common guy that wants better for my state and my country,” he told me via telephone on his way to Springfield this week to join a march for gun rights. He’s not now a firearm owner, but said he believes in Second Amendment rights and doesn’t think new gun laws would deter criminal activity.
Rep. Brady: McCann a ‘force to be reckoned with’ in governor’s race – WJBC, April 25, 2018 At least one Republican is expressing concern that a third-party candidate could tip the scales in the governor’s race. State Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington, told WJBC’s Scott Laughlin, if former Republican Sam McCann gets enough signatures to get on the ballot in November, he could take votes from Gov. Bruce Rauner in his reelection bid.
Illinois pays price for budget uncertainty in $500 million bond offering – Crain’s Chicago Business, April 25, 2018 Illinois's fiscal woes are making borrowing more costly for the worst-rated U.S. state as its leaders attempt to avoid a repeat of the record budget impasse last year that pushed its bond rating to the precipice of junk. The state sold $500 million of general-obligation bonds on Wednesday in a competitive auction won by Bank of America Corp. A portion of the deal that matures in May 2042 with a 5 percent coupon sold at 4.87 percent, or 1.86 percentage points more than those on benchmark securities, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That's wider than the state's offering in November, when bonds of a similar maturity sold for 4.42 percent and a spread of 1.66.