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What Happens When You Cross the Speaker PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 25 May 2014 05:10

There’s an old Statehouse saying that House Speaker Michael Madigan cares mostly about two votes each Democratic legislator makes: one to re-elect him speaker, and the other for his chamber’s operating rules.

Some, such as Representative Elaine Nekritz, have gotten away with voting against Madigan’s rules. Nekritz explained to Madigan why she voted against them, and he was impressed with her thoughtfulness. She’s since moved up the ladder to become one of the House’s hardest-working members who also carries some major legislation.

But nobody ever gets away with voting against Madigan for speaker.

 
A Quid Pro Quo on Ride-Share Regulation? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 18 May 2014 05:29

Every year, we get at least one “corporate fight” in Springfield. Two or more corporations or industries will duke it out over some proposed law change or another.

The cable-TV industry, for instance, tried a while back to convince the General Assembly to tax satellite-TV users. When I first started doing this job many moons ago, banks wanted the right to sell insurance to the public, which the insurance agents’ lobby opposed, as did a union that represented some insurance agents. The banks fought for years and eventually won.

This year has been relatively quiet until probably a few weeks ago. Psychologists want the right to dispense prescriptions to their patients, even though they’re not medical doctors. The doctors are opposed, and so are the psychiatrists. Both sides recently hired a bevy of statehouse lobbyists.

But the biggest issue to develop this spring was the fight between taxi-company owners and ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft. Rather than call a cab company or wave down a taxi on the street, ride-share consumers use smart phone apps to book their rides. It’s become hugely popular in many cities around the world, but taxi-company owners see the industry as an encroachment on their turf.

 
Presidential Library Another Madigan Misfire PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 11 May 2014 05:24

It’s been assumed all along that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s proposal to spend $100 million to help build Barack Obama’s presidential library was designed to put the Republicans on the spot and perhaps provoke an over-the-top or maybe even racial response, which would help gin up Democratic turnout a bit this November.

Obama has put the library’s location out to bid, so Madigan’s proposal is ostensibly meant to help Chicago attract what will likely be a pretty big tourist destination.

But politics is just about everything in Springfield these days. Democrats are hoping to crowd the November ballot with enough measures to excite their party base and get them out to vote. A constitutional amendment to forbid any voter discrimination along racial, ethnic, gender, etc. grounds was already approved for the ballot. A non-binding referendum on whether voters want to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour is being prepared.

So this was mainly seen as another ploy to fire up the base.

 
Error in Poll Shows Importance of Party Affiliation in Illinois PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 04 May 2014 10:52

I commissioned a We Ask America poll on April 21 of the races for Illinois governor, comptroller, and treasurer. But I forgot to put the candidates’ party labels in the poll’s questions. The results came out very weird.

Bruce Rauner led Governor Pat Quinn 49-38 in that poll. Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka trounced Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon by an astounding 56-29 margin. And Representative Tom Cross led Senator Mike Frerichs in the state treasurer’s race 33-20.

The Topinka crosstabs were bizarre. The Republican was leading among Democrats 55-30, ahead in Chicago 57-23, and among African Americans 55-22. No way.

Garbage in, garbage out, as they say, so I dumped the poll and ran a new one on April 27. This time we identified the candidates’ party affiliations.

The results were strikingly different.

 
Creating a New Monster: Illinois’ “Fair Tax” Plan Could – and Should – Have Been an Easier Sell PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 09:32

(Listen to author Jeff Ignatius discuss the Fair Tax on “Midwest Week” with WVIK’s Herb Trix.)

Illustration by Leo Kelly

How would you like a cut in your income taxes while protecting funding for education and public safety?

Or how would you like the Illinois General Assembly to stick it to you by making permanent the income-tax increase of 2011 that is supposed to (mostly) expire next year?

Lucky you: In a bizarre set of circumstances, a “Fair Tax” proposal would give you both! Ninety-four percent of Illinois taxpayers would see their income taxes drop in 2015, while lawmakers wouldn’t have to make the tough budgetary choices they promised to. Win-win!

Sound confusing? It is. Sound impossible? It isn’t.

Bear with me, and I’ll explain how the legislature – specifically Democrats faced with two highly unattractive options in an election year – devised a “third way” that’s not really a third way at all. It’s merely a variation on one of those highly unattractive options, but it’s been cleverly packaged on the assumption that voters have short memories.

This gambit is technically still in play, but on Tuesday it looked nearly certain that it lacked the legislative votes to move forward to a November referendum. If it has indeed died for 2014, let this be a cautionary tale about the perils of broken pledges – and attempts at marketing them as something positive.

And if the plan finds new life in the next few days, it’s essential that lawmakers and voters understand what it really is.

 
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