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Dueling Messages Reveal Ploy to Work Against Madigan PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 28 June 2015 08:27

House Speaker Michael Madigan likes to send “messages.” He doesn’t often explain what those messages are, but last week’s surprising defeat of a bill to give the Chicago Public Schools a 40-day extension on its $634-million pension payment due June 30 was most surely a message to somebody.

Despite his spokesperson saying the day before that Madigan was “prepared to be supportive,” it’s clear that Madigan did not work to pass the bill, which was being pushed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. His staff did not urge members to vote for it before or during the roll call.

Madigan himself said he did not ask Republicans for a specific number of votes for a structured roll call, which is another indication that he wasn’t ready to move the ball forward.

Madigan’s deputy majority leader, Lou Lang, presided over the proceeding. A newspaper reported that Lang voted “no” so he could file a motion to reconsider that would keep it alive. Okay, but if you watch the roll call, Lang pushed his red button right after the voting opened, which probably sent a strong signal to the rank and file.

Rauner Ad Leaves Daylight for Deals PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 21 June 2015 05:05

Governor Bruce Rauner’s much-anticipated TV ad isn’t as over-the-top negative as many thought it would be.

“Exactly,” was the response from a Rauner official I spoke with after watching the ad and making the above observation about its somewhat muted tone.

“There’s plenty of time for that if it’s necessary,” the official added.

Governor Eyeing 2016 with Speeches, Money PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 14 June 2015 05:46

Governor Bruce Rauner gave rip-roaring speeches in several Democratic legislative districts last week denouncing the state’s Democratic leadership. All of his visits were accompanied by Illinois Republican Party press releases bashing area Democratic legislators for being in the back pockets of House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.

Some are warning that this tour is only making it more difficult to cut a budget deal before the government shuts down. By belittling legislators in front of their constituents, Rauner is risking that those lawmakers will get their backs up and switch to a campaign-war footing, just like the governor appears to be doing. When that happens, they won’t want to cooperate.

But if you look at the numbers, Rauner did quite well in all of those districts.

The governor won 15 of the current 39 Democratic Senate districts last year, some by quite a lot. Despite what you may read, many of the Democrat-drawn districts are not prohibitively partisan.

Add in all the Republican Senate districts he won, and Rauner took 35 Senate districts to then-Governor Pat Quinn’s 23, and came very close to Quinn in one other (Senator Linda Holmes’).

Democrats and Republicans Still Have Much to Learn About Each Other PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 07 June 2015 05:34

After five months, you’d think that the warring parties at the Illinois Statehouse would have learned something about each other. Instead, last week’s bitter and divisive House overtime session showed that they still fundamentally misunderstand one another.

What follows are some questions I’m hearing and my own responses.

• From Republicans: Why would the House Democrats propose such a weak workers’ compensation reform plan last week when they knew Governor Bruce Rauner wants so much more?

The Democrats’ plan didn’t contain much real-world progress, and actually regressed in part. Unless you read between the lines. Workers’ comp insurance is essentially a no-fault system designed to keep disputes out of the courts. Republicans have for years attempted to insert “causation” into the system to weed out employees whose injuries are mostly not the fault of employers.

But House Speaker Michael Madigan’s bill used the term “causal” in relation to a certain kind of injury. This was a pretty good indication that after more than 30 years as speaker, Madigan is moving away from his complete opposition to causation standards.

The speaker appears willing to deal on this topic because he attached his language to a House bill that can now be amended by the Senate. If he’d used a Senate bill, it would’ve been “take it or leave it.”

So build on the causation issue and ignore his other items that set the negotiations back. It’s not rocket science.

Governor’s Lobbyist Order Cements His Control Over Bureaucracy PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 31 May 2015 05:56

Forget about the budget, forget about Governor Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda,” forget about the almost unprecedented animosity during the spring legislative session between Democrats and Republicans.

The most talked-about issue under the Illinois Statehouse dome last week was a directive from one of the governor’s top staffers to all state-agency directors.

The agency directors received an order from the Rauner administration Wednesday demanding that they and their staffs not meet or talk with any lobbyists unless the governor’s Policy Office had first okayed the communications. The directors were also told to inform agency “stakeholders” that they didn’t really need to hire lobbyists anyway.

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