Sunday, May 30, 2004

Pulled over for speeding. . .by a Chevy Camaro!

It's not fair.

A dark blue 2001 Chevy Camaro. Looks almost like a Corvette from the rear view mirror.

It's going 70. And if my Cavalier can blow by it, well you have to.

So I did.

And then lights appear in the Camaro's windshield!

A freaking cop!

It's entrapment. Or something.

This was my last trip to Springfield (unless they go into June), and they finally got me. In a sports car!

In other news, the grace period registration bill passed out of the House with 90 votes. It includes a ton of other stuff, some of it not so good (including the Bush on the ballot provision), but what are you going to do? Take the bitter with the sweet.

Now the Senate has one day to concur with the House amendment to send it to the governor. Let's hope they get it done.

Great interview with Michael Madigan by Kristen McQueary

Congratulations to the Daily Southtown and Political Writer Kristen McQueary for this interview with Speaker Madigan.

My favorite part:

Q: So why don't you agree to sit down with reporters more about your positions?

A: I don't think I get fair reporting from most reporters. I think most reporters simply want to get me into disputes with Blagojevich, and if he were not available, they would try to get me in disputes with Mayor Daley.

That's all they ever want to talk about, and I don't think I get fair coverage. So I talk to people when I want to talk to them. I used to give ad hoc press conferences every day. I'd stand there for 15 or 20 minutes and answer every inane question that came out of people's minds. What did it get me?

It just let some very small-minded reporters be nasty, nasty to people and biased to people.

Friday, May 28, 2004

What's the infatuation with congressional candidates? The map is a GOP gerrymander

Archpundit has been pushing some Dem congressional candidates in Illinois (the opponents of Phil Crane, Jerry Weller and Henry Hyde). And while the opponents would all represent an improvement over the incumbents (from our progressive perspective), let's be real. Here's Archpundit's site.

The congressional map is drawn to insulate all 19 incumbents from any competition. And because David Phelps, the former Democratic Member from Downstate Eldorado, got the shaft, it is a 10-9 Republican map. In other words, it's a Republican gerrymander.

Which means: no Illinois Republican in Congress is going to lose.

No matter what.

Here's the Downstate map.

Now, keep in mind, in 2002, Democratic congressional candidates got 51% of the vote compared to Republican congressional candidates. And for that 51% of the vote, Democrats got 47% of the seats (9 out of 19).

Republican congressional candidates, meanwhile, with 48% of the Illinois vote, got 53% of the seats (10 out of 19).

And none of them are competitive. They are drawn specifically for that purpose.

If you want to defeat an Illinois Republican Member of Congress and replace him (or her -- don't forget Judy Biggert!) with a Democrat, then you must redraw the congressional map.

There is no other way to elect an additional Democrat from Illinois to the House.

Luckily, the Illinois General Assembly can re-draw the map.

There's even a bill to do it. It's SB 2127. Senator John Cullerton floated it, but it didn't get much traction.

Well, progressives (and especially Archpundit). . . let's get some traction here.

Because, frankly, all the energy and time spent on the Dem congressional campaigns in Illinois would be better spent in Springfield getting a new map.

Just ask Tom DeLay.

The omnibus bill is moving! SB 955. .

The big bill is moving today. In 45 minutes, House Amendment Number 4 to SB 955 will be heard in the Elections and Campaign Reform Committee.

I had a court date this morning in Chicago, so I unfortunately couldn't be part of the fun.

The bill isn't yet available online, but it will likely include the Bush on the ballot provision, as well as the 14-day grace period voter registration provision.

You can follow the bill's progress here.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Political conventions

The Wall Street Journal editorial page might be the Defenders of Wealth Against Justice, but they sure can write well. Here's a great line on political conventions:

The news that the Massachusetts senator may delay
accepting the presidential nomination until several weeks beyond the Democratic Party's late-July Boston convention exposes two truths that the political class hates to admit.

The first is that the party conventions are now little more than free advertising vehicles. They long ago lost all political drama, but this year one of them may not even nominate a candidate. The next step would be for the media finally to agree not to cover them, though we probably won't because these week-long affairs have also become the equivalent of cardiologist conventions for the political press. We get to see old friends and eat well on expense accounts.


So, if the Dem convention is a "late-July Boston convention" will the WSJ call is an "early-September New York City convention" to make it very clear that the Bush campaign is looking to exploit 9/11? Just asking.

While the Journal might be right, I love conventions. The civic energy is astounding. It's like the accessibility of Springfield but with federal electeds.

An anedcote (apropros of nothing, with no particular point to make). I went to the 96 Chicago convention. Got an internship through the Washington Center (which cost me $1500 as I recall -- not cheap). I 'worked' for Cox newspapers, but ended up with and wore a baseball cap that read That made me a cutting edge web-savvy college student journalist-of-the-future. I could tell all these print journalists looked at me with a mixture of trepidation and curiosity. What *is* that strange Internet thing (in August of 1996)? Anyway, that was sort of a magic pass, so I could wander anywhere I wanted. I ended up on the floor during Al Gore's famous speech on how his sister died from smoking. I was standing directly behind Cokie Roberts (who is a tiny woman). And she just snickered the whole time, with this attitude of contempt and superiority. She was the Beltway journalist, personified.

Anyway, I'd like to get to Boston. I applied to get a journalist crediential through the party. I'll let you know what happens.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Health Care Justice Act passes House

Great progressive victory today. The Health Care Justice Act passed the House (on a motion to concur with the Senate amendments) with 62 votes and is now sent to Governor Blagojevich to sign into law. Here is the roll call. Congratulations to Willie Delgado and everyone who worked on this.

I wrote my column in the Third Coast Press about how Illinois can be the Saskatchewan of the Canadian health care movement (the province of Saskatachewan in the 50s or 60s started to implement a government-funded health care system where everyone was covered, which proved to be so successful and popular that the rest of the nation followed a decade later). I'll post that to my main site when the Third Coast Press is printed.

By the way, the latest draft of the omnibus election reform bill still has the 14-day grace period for voter registration, and the speculation is that it will be filed Friday or Saturday. And the talk is that the House and Senate will be in all weekend, working up until the Monday deadline to pass a budget before the 3/5 rule kicks in (meaning that it takes 60% of the vote to pass anything, so Republicans hold a veto in each chamber, as Republicans hold more than 40% of the seats in each chamber).

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Obama write-up in New Yorker

The write-up is here and my favorite line (from Obama, as it turns out) is this one:

“You can’t always come up with the optimal solution, but you can usually come up with a better solution,” [Obama] said over lunch one afternoon. “A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence.”

That sentiment really appeals to the legislative policy wonk in me. There's nothing quite like a good bill.

Write Mayor Daley -- fund CAN-TV

This is worth a letter to Mayor Daley at Chicago City Hall, 121 North LaSalle, Chicago, IL 60602 (so please, get out your pens, write a letter and put it in the mail).

CAN-TV is a great public-access television organization that puts anyone on cable to be watched by anyone in the city with cable. It's as public as you get.

Unfortunately, it is funded by cable companies who get a franchise from the city to offer service. In the go-go nineties and the early part of this decade, telecommunications companies were insta-bajillionaires from Wall Street investors and they were swimming in money. Now, not so much. RCN is bankrupt, and they have not paid CAN-TV their required funds. More to the point, it's extremely unlikely any other company can raise the capital to compete for the Chicago market, which means the money for CAN-TV disappears.

Fortunately, there is a solution. The City of Chicago imposes a franchise fee (a tax on profits, as I understand it) on cable companies that operate in Chicago. That money goes to the general city fund, and does not fund public access television. You see where we're going.

One-fifth of the franchise fee (about $2,000,000 annually) should fund CAN-TV.

Alderman Bernie Stone introduced an ordinance to do just that. I called his office to find out the ordinance number (still looking for that), and Alderman Stone had his assistant call me back a minute later with the message "Write the Mayor. That's how we show our power."

(There's a good Ben Joravsky Neighborhood News article in the Chicago Reader, but the Reader wierdly doesn't put their articles online).

So: write Mayor Daley. Letters matter. How else will electeds know that there is a real constituency for this?

For more background from CAN-TV, check their page here.

Wal-Mart. Wednesday. Why Withhold? We Want Workers With Wealth.

Now that's an alliteration.

So, the Chicago City Council is debating Wednesday whether to grant Wal-Mart two zoning changes and let them open their notoriously union-hostile, corparate-welfare-loving, wealth-sucking super-centers in two poor black neighborhoods of the Great City of Chicago.

Unions and advocates have, to their credit, sparked our municipal government to push back against the Wal-Martization of retail (which means low wages without benefits for employees and sucking the wealth away from local stores and back into the Arkansas-based Walton family, who are now boast something like four of the top ten wealthiest people in the country. They are billionaires. And they donate big-time to right-wing causes. Check out some background on them here (got to love the LaRouchies for doing the research).

Wal-Mart is bad for progressives and bad for Chicago. There are a ton of victories around the country on pushing back against Wal-Mart coming in (check out this google search).

The AFL-CIO has a pretty good policy position on the topic here.

If you live in Chicago, call 311 to get connected to your alderman's office and ask them vote against Wal-Mart coming to town (unless they sign a Chicago-style Community Benefits Agreement that would permit a fair union drive and local employment, similar to what the United Center developers signed which did direct real investment into the poor neighborhoods around the Center, which Wal-Mart honchos have so far refused to sign).

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Health Care Justice Act passes Senate --

This is why Senator Obama is going to be such an effective U.S. Senator.

Yesterday the Health Care Justice Act passed the Illinois Senate, with one vote to spare (31-26-1).

All the Democrats voted YES except for Senator Denny Jacobs (Moline, voted NO) and Senator James Clayborne (East St. Louis, wasn't on the floor). All the Republicans voted NO except for Senator Christine Radogno (LaGrange, voted PRESENT).

Senator Obama was apparently magnificent during the 75 minute floor debate.

We've got another week to get this through the House (since the House bill was amended in the Senate, the House has to vote to concur with the Senate amendments, which Willie Delgado has already filed to do).

The group that pushed for this the hardest is the Campaign For Better Health Care. Reward them for their good work by joining their organization and sending them some money. Their website is here and their membership sign up is here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Dems engage with Nader supporters early. Oh, for the Irish ballot!

Progressive Democrats have gotten a lot smarter about wooing Nader supporters. They've launched a new group at that asks Nader supporters to become Nader Democrats and energize the progressive wing of the party while defeating Bush.

No dismissive scolding on the site, and if the Kerry campaign and the Dem operatives follow the lead of the website, I think they'll be very successful.

But man! Would I like some of that money to advocate for the Irish ballot (with instant runoff voting) so third parties are constructive crusades and never spoilers, whether the third party / independent candidate wants to spoil or not. We voters deserve to cast a second choice on the ballot!

A good way to fix the prisoner problem

Here's the problem: prisoners are counted in the census as residents of the place where the prison is located. They can't vote, but they do increase the political representation of the area where the prison is located, and then correspondingly decrease the political representation of the area where the prisoner originally lived.

And this can be significant. With 50,000 or so prisoners in Illinois (I think that figure is about right -- corrections encouraged), that's half a state rep district.

This post here explains some remedies.

UPDATE: I heard from Peter Wagner of Prisoners of the Census. At midyear 2000, the Illinois Department of Corrections held 44,819 people. 60% (about 25,000 people) were from Cook County. They are working on a more detailed analysis of the legislative district impact.

There are no state prisons in Cook County (right?), so that means, at least, we had a quarter-state-rep shift out of Cook County to Downstate. As one of my favorite phrases goes: that ain't right.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Funny little Bush joke

Q. How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to replace a lightbulb?

A. Seven:

(1) One to deny that a lightbulb needs to be replaced;

(2) One to attack the patriotism of anyone who has questions about the lightbulb;

(3) One to blame Clinton for the need of a new lightbulb;

(4) One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of lightbulbs;

(5) One to get together with Vice President Cheney and figure out how to pay Halliburton Industries one million dollars for a lightbulb;

(6) One to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush changing the lightbulb while dressed in a flight suit, standing in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner;

(7) And, finally, one to explain to Bush the difference between screwing a lightbulb and screwing the country.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Health care progress in Illinois -- final push for Health Care Justice Act

This is a great bill: the Health Care Justice Act. It's a process bill (something we progressives love to push for), but probably the right move in Illinois. If we want everyone to have health insurance in Illinois (the way it happened in Canada, by the way, when Saskatchewan moved forward on their own before the entire country followed suit), we've got to figure out how to do it in a way that works for us.

So the bill is HB 2268. One of my favorite legislators, Willie Delgado, is the House sponsor, and another one of my favorites Barack Obama is carrying it in the Senate. The Senate is getting sticky, and the latest move to extend third reading deadline until 2005 isn't great news for getting this thing passed in the next two weeks, but let's hope Barack can get this thing back to the House for concurrence.

And even better than hoping, call President Jones' office at 217.782.3905 and ask them to pass the Health Care Justice Act.

Finally . . . CTA seats aren't minimizing space in the trains

This story in the Tribune indicating that the CTA is finally testing a smarter configuration of seats on the train. Instead of putting two seats on each side perpendicular to the walls as we do now, so as to leave only a small aisle of room down the middle to stand, the seats will sit parallel to the walls, leaving a much wider aisle for people to stand in the car and cutting out some of the seats.

Every rush hour (especially on the Brown line), people are waiting on the platforms because the trains are too crowded, and part of the problem is that the seats jut out into the middle of the car, taking away valuable space for people to stand.

Another problem, by the way, is that every single car has a compartment for a driver. This is valuable space that could be filled up with passenger. Only the front car needs a space for a driver -- the other cards don't need one. If the CTA manages their fleet, then not every single car would need to have a drivers' compartment.

Apparently the CTA is buying new cars later this year (without any Illinois FIRST money, I'm not sure how, but whatever), so hopefully they'll get new cars with more standing room (no compartment for drivers and seats parallel to the walls).

Is Rod Blagojevich. . . .Jim Edgar?

Kristen McQueary thinks so in this Daily Southtown column.

They would both rather cut than spend. Neither likes to mix it up with legislators, or spend time in the Mansion. They alienate Speaker Madigan and Mayor Daley.

And they've both got 'noticable' hair.

Bill Daley leaves SBC. Great!

Now that Bill Daley is no longer a top dog at SBC (story is here), the likelihood of another ridiculous rip-off-consumers bill slamming through the General Assembly has gone down.

I'm really curious to see where Daley ends up. I hope he gets back into government -- I've always liked him.

(Isn't that a wierd thing about government and politics? I've met Bill Daley for all of 15 seconds, yet I can talk about him as we're friends. "I like him." Maybe there's some insight into the way we view our government leaders. Or maybe it's just me.)

Update -- he's landed with J.P.Morgan (Bank One/First Chicago) as the Midwest Chairman (news story here). Well, if there are state banking laws that the New York banks want changed in Illinois. . . .watch out.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Environmental victory and loss in state Senate

Courtesy of the Illinois Environmental Council email newsletter:

The Energy Efficiency Building Act (HB 4099, see it here), sponsored by Julie Hamos in the House and Denny Jacobs in the Senate, passed the Senate yesterday, 45-11-0 (roll call vote is here). The bill requires new commercial properties to adhere to an energy efficiency code, which is smart for everybody (including the building owner). The less energy we use, the better.

Like most bills with bith that make it into law, this one was amended quite a few times along the way, but that's how legislation is supposed to get made. Congratulations to Representative Hamon, Senator Jacobs and the environmental groups and lobbyists that worked on this one.

Unfortunately, the Wetlands Protection Act did not survive this week. After Representative Karen May worked hard to pass it out of the House in 2003 with a lot of support from environmental groups, it died this week in the Senate Energy and Environment Committee. The bill is HB 422 (read it here).

The General Assembly website doesn't show this (which is a transparency problem which ought to be fixed -- committee votes should be recorded, and not just shown as 'held in committee'), but according to the Illinois Environmental Council, the vote in committee (here are the members) was 3-5-1.

I'll just cut from the e-newsletter for the committee vote:

After several weeks of last minute negotiations aimed at reaching a politically acceptable compromise, the Wetlands Protection Act (HB 422) was voted down by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee 3-5-1. Voting 'Yes' were Senators Collins, Sandoval and Welch; voting 'No' were Senators Clayborne, Haine, Jacobs, Rutherford and Sullivan; with Senator Hendon voting 'Present'. Senator Dillard (a co-sponsor of the bill) and Rauschenberger were not present at the hearing to vote. At the hearing the bill was amended to add a sunset provision, which would cause the program to expire in 2007. This is a legislative technique used to force the General Assembly to revisit an issue after a few years. Typically the program is reenacted after another round of negotiations. While several legislators appreciated this approach, it was rejected by the opponents of the bill, and therefore did not add any supporters.

Many thanks to Senator Terry Link, the bill sponsor, who gave an impassioned speech urging his colleagues to support the bill. While the vote ends attempts for this session to create a statewide program for the protection of isolated wetlands, it was a major victory for environmentalists to pass the bill in the House last year after two years of trying. In addition, much weaker legislation backed by the opponents failed to be considered at all. This issue will no doubt be back again next year.


Thursday, May 13, 2004

Great line in Zorn's column today

I guess I'm linking to Zorn twice, as I'm aping his "Wish I'd Written That" feature of his Notebook blog.

The column on the casino ballet is here and the fantastic phrase is:

the Soldier Field rehab project went from roll-out to roll-call in 15 days.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Good article on the very bad payday loan industry

This article in Slate on the payday loan industry is worth a read.

There is an ongoing stuggle in Illinois to impose interest rate caps and otherwise clean up the industry. I know some of the good guy lobbyists, but am not really involved in it. Citizen Action/Illinois is one of the groups most involved in taking on the payday loan industry here. I'll try to track down some bills.

Help abolish child labor -- another thing Illinois government can do (with your help)

This is one of the examples why I love hanging out around the Capitol (the House of Justice, as I like to call it).

We abolished child labor in the United States about a century ago, but it lives on in many poor parts of the world. One small way to stop it is not to buy anything make with child labor. There's an effort to ensure that the State of Illinois doesn't buy anything made from child labor: HB 6617 (check it out here) introduced by Mike Boland from Moline passed the House unanimously. As of Wednesday night, it's getting caught up in the Senate, and faces a Friday deadline to get passed.

Senator Kim Lightford has picked it up in the Senate, and she could use some help getting this thing moving again. Call up your Senator and ask him/her to co-sponsor HB 6617 so we can ensure that it gets assigned out of the Rules Committee, moved to a substantive committee and voted on the Senate floor by Friday.

The reason why I like hanging around is because I only know about this because Representative Boland asked me to run over to Senator Lightford's office to see what happened with the bill. She had thought someone else was going to be the sponsor in the Senate, so didn't know that she had the bill under her name, and has been working to move the bill ever since. That go-between communication is fun lobbying. And now you can join in with some lobbying -- call your state senator and get him/her on board. (Find our your state senator by going to with your ZIP+4 code.) This is a bill that should pass unanimously, but could get lost in the shuffle. Let's make sure it doesn't get overlooked this week.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Blair Hull was a Libertarian in the late '80s. That's awesome.

Jeff Trigg, the Director of the Libertarian Party of Illinois, and the blogmaster of Random Act of Kindness, found out that Blair Hull (Dem candidate for U.S. Senate) was a member of the Libertarian Party in 1988.

Somehow that makes me like him so much more. Minor parties are great, as they are completely policy-driven. If only we used Irish voting, so minor parties could exist, educate voters and inform the popular will without spoiling established party candidates closer to them. Soon! Soon we'll fix the problem.

I think Blair Hull can have a huge future in Illinois (and national) politics if he spends some of his money on continuing the fight for political reform, health care for all and higher wages for working people. He had a great platform, and just because he wasn't personally suited to be a great legislator, he can be enormously helpful and influential in advancing smart policies. I hope he will be.

Monday, May 10, 2004

John McCarron's great column on Governor Blagojevich

John McCarron has a great column in the Tribune here on how Governor Blagojevich has disappointed progressives.

But he makes a few major strategic errors, in my opinion.

First, he equates "control" of Springfield with "electing a governor" and just ignores the General Assembly. That's wildly wrong, and also a bad move for progressives, since we probably have more progressive influence in the House and the Senate than we do in the Blagojevich Administration. Speaker Madigan and President Jones reflect their caucus, and if we can help to beef up the voices of the many progressive legislators, then the legislative leadership will reflect that agenda.

There are hot legislative battles being fought right now on lots of progressives issues, and they can use some attention in these last few weeks of the session. (I'll try to do a better job of highlighting some of them as well).

We Illinois progressives need to invest more in our legislators, and not always look to the governor to implement the agenda. It's true that in 2003 the legislature basically deferred to the governor, but this year, that deference is evaporating. For the next three years (assuming the state senate keeps a majority of Democrats and Independent James Meeks), we can expect the governor to sign progressive bills, even if we don't expect him to champion many of them.

Active duty military "Remember 9/11" from Beyond the Beltway last night

Bruce DuMont was kind enough to invite me on Beyond the Beltway last night, with Rich Miller of Capitol Fax and Dan Proft of Illinois Leader (and the Jack Ryan for U.S. Senate campaign).

The topic of the show was Iraq and the most vivid example of the absolute breakdown of trying to occupy a nation on the cheap -- the Iraqi prisoner abuse.

One woman called up and said her son was serving in the military. He and some other active duty servicemen spelled out with their bodies "Remember 9/11" to generate more feelings of payback against the Iraqis. She also said that a little nudity isn't a big deal and that the prisoners were probably getting better treatment than homeless people in America (we all sort of froze in horror at that part). But it wasn't until after the show that I thought of the right response.

Those soldiers might have well have spelled out "Remember Pearl Harbor" or "Remember the Alamo" because revenge has nothing to do with our occupation of Iraq. It's so disheartening to be reminded of how many people have merged Al-Queda and Iraq in their minds -- totally incorrectly -- and to see high-lever Bush officials intentionally mislead people into merging those two.

Anyway, the show will be on Chicago-area television this week and next (we taped two hours, since Bruce is going to Boston next Sunday for the radio show on the eve of the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts), and you can see the schedule at

(Also, if you're at all interested in Illinois politics, Dan Proft's company is putting out this fantastic book called "Inside Illinois" which is a great resource on the Illinois General Assembly. It's 60 bucks, but if you want to lobby at all, it is worth it. Even though the conservatives produce it, it's just as valuable for progressives. You can check it out here:

Friday, May 07, 2004

Lobbying the legislature -- more news from Illinois

I picked up one a new client for my new profession as a registered lobbyist in Illinois -- the Midwest High Speed Rail Association (with a very clever URL: This is a great gig: we're trying to help modernize Illinois rail, and the next step is to increase the frequencies of the St. Louis-Springfield-Bloomington-Normal-Chicago corridor. Currently there are three daily round trips. That's not enough. We want to get that up to five.

After seeking advice from the legislators along the line over how to get two more round-trips (that is, how to get more state funding for more routes), I learned that a letter from legislators to the leaders asking for an increased appropriation is the way to get the issue on the agenda. So that's what we're going to do. Picking up the protocol over how a group of men and women decide how to run the government is endlessly fascinating.

In other good transit-related developments, Representative Julie Hamos' legislation to establish a universal fare card (so that if you transfer between Metra and CTA you don't need to carry two different cards) unanimously cleared the state Senate this week. There were two amendments which watered the bill down a bit (most notably delaying implemention until state or Federal funds pay for the universal fare card), but this is progress. The bill is HB 4098 and you can read it here.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Speaker Madigan with some smart moves on better teachers

This Sun-Times report has Speaker Madigan calling for a limit to teacher tenure to four years.

Oh yes.

One half of our problem with schools is that we don't spend enough money in poor areas.

The other half is that we keep bad teachers on the payroll for what seems like ever.

Speaker Madigan calling for a cap on tenure of four years is a nice call. I hope it happens.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Bush on the ballot -- the legislative vehicle likely to be unveiled soon

The legislation to accommodate the Bush campaign's relentless, arrogant use of the 9/11 attacks for their re-election campaign is likely to emerge next week.

Speaker Madigan is putting together an omnibus election reform package. Most of it is technical, but there will almost certainly be a provision that permits the Republican National Committee to certify George Bush as the candidate after the September deadline, creating a specific exception to state law because the Bush campaign wants New York City as a September backdrop.

If I were a legislation, I'd probably vote for this package now, because it will probably also include a provision to give Illinois residents an additional 14 days to register to vote (now the deadline is 28 days before an election -- this legislation will create a 14-day grace period until 14 days before the election where people can register to vote in person at the office of the election administrator). The bills SB 2133 and HB 3427 are the first incarnations of the present legislation. Senator Meeks' bill SB 2138 is here and Representative Robin Kelly's bill HB 3427 is here.

I worked hard on these bills, and I wish that Speaker Madigan would have let these bills come up for a clean vote on their own without getting caught up in these other election-related issues, so that Representative Kelly and Senator Meeks would get the credit they deserve for making this extra 14-day grace period happen (if it does end up making it into the final version of the legislation). But, a lot of the big bills get caught up in these leadership-controlled vehicles, to be dropped into public view late in the legislative session, and they suffer from a lack of vigorous public input and vetting. I prefer legislatures to be more transparent.

So, it isn't clear when the election package will be dropped into a Senate shell bill that's on the house side now. Probably next week.

In the meantime, I just got a call -- I'm going to the Cubs game tonight! 30 minutes till game time. Got to run.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Jim Houlihan's for a $6000 state income tax exemption.

All right! Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan is calling for a hike in the state personal exemption from the far too low $2000 to $6000. I learned about this in the April edition of Catalyst Chicago in this article.

There is a bill introduced by Representative Will Davis to raise the personal exemption to $12,000 from $2000, and raise the income tax rate from 3% to 4%. The bill is HB 7294.