There have been complaints that 2005 is not nearly as important a year for progressive initiatives in Illinois as 2003 was.
Representative David Miller's work (I saw him talking up this issue a year ago at a conference in D.C.) with lots and lots of others to move HB 1100 through both chambers is a big bill that is a progressive victory.
The bill is here. For background on the issue, check out the CapFax blog and click on the ad.
Some big picture numbers I've heard. Payday lending, which is the practice of a corporation accepting a bad check from a paycheck-to-paycheck guy and charging ridiculously high interest rates, plus processing fees, to suck the financial vitality out of those working people to enrich usurious corporations, often out-of-state-owned, is about a $1.5 billion industry in Illinois. It's basically unregulated.
So think of that billion five getting sucked out of the pockets of working people in Illinois, and a lot of it going to the big banks. Perpetuating poverty. Corporate loan sharking. All that.
Assuming the House concurs with the Senate amendments to HB 1100, and there's no reason to think that they won't work it out, this rapacious industry will have some real limites placed on it. It will probably cost them, and save working people, in the neighborhood of $300 million every year. Maybe more.
That's real wealth generation for the state.
This is a very good thing, and is the sort of thing that should inspire more people to engage with state government and politics.
Especially when the news is filled with leaked British memos showing the Bush Administration planned to invade Iraq months before 9/11, and then used the tragedy to lie to the electorate in order to take advantage of the opportunity to kick ass in a foreign land (see The Downing Street Memo for some more on this, and don't see the American corporate media for any of it), this victory is some good news. Politics is good!