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NRA Muscle Appears Stronger Than Public Opinion PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 28 April 2013 05:39

A new statewide poll shows a majority of Illinoisans favors concealed carry. But an overwhelming majority in every area of the state also says it’s okay with them if Chicago and Cook County police have additional authority over who gets to carry in their jurisdictions.

The Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of 1,284 likely voters found that 52 percent say they approve of allowing concealed carry.

“Illinois lawmakers are debating proposed laws that would allow some citizens who are properly licensed to carry concealed firearms,” respondents were told. “In general, do you approve or disapprove of allowing licensed citizens to carry loaded, concealed firearms?”

The poll, taken April 24, found that 46 percent disapprove and just 2 percent were neutral or had no opinion. The poll had a margin of error of 2.7 percent. Twenty-six percent of the numbers called were cell phones.

 
Pro- and Anti-Gun Forces Both Suffer Legislative Losses PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 21 April 2013 05:57

During the House floor debate over the National Rifle Association-backed concealed-carry bill last week, I was told by an intimate of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan that the speaker wanted to make sure the bill received no more than 64 votes. Because the bill preempts local-government home-rule powers, the bill required a three-fifths majority of 71 votes to pass.

The anti-gun forces had been demoralized the day before when their highly restrictive concealed-carry proposal received just 31 votes, so Madigan wanted to do the same to the NRA, I was told. The idea, the source said, was to show both sides that they couldn’t pass their bills on their own and that they needed to get themselves to the bargaining table and work something out.

 
Given the Stage, Gaming-Board Chair Fails to Make His Case PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 14 April 2013 05:10

I’ve always believed that just because somebody claims to be a reformer, it doesn’t mean the person has the right solutions.

Many years ago, an activist named Pat Quinn came up with an idea to change the Illinois Constitution. He used the petition process to get rid of a third of Illinois House members in one fell swoop. This, Quinn said, would save money and make legislators more responsive to their constituents.

In reality, all that did was allow a guy named Michael Madigan to more easily consolidate his power. And one way he consolidated that power was by spending lots more money. Quinn’s plan backfired.

But even though this sort of thing has happened over and over again here, the media tends to give reformers a pass, almost no matter what.

So I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised when I read the major media’s news reports of last week’s Senate Executive Committee hearing. It wasn’t at all like the meeting I attended.

Admittedly, I arrived a little late and had to leave for a meeting before it was over, but from what I saw, Illinois Gaming Board Chair Aaron Jaffe’s years-old criticism of the General Assembly’s gaming-expansion bills was exposed as hollow and not entirely fact-based. He badly stumbled through his testimony, couldn’t directly answer questions, and – despite long-standing public criticisms, a notebook filled with thoughts, and a history as a state legislator himself – seemed woefully unprepared for the hearing.

 
GOP Positioning Shows Republicans Ceding Gay-Marriage Issue PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 07 April 2013 05:08

You can always tell when somebody is losing an argument because they are constantly backtracking and recalibrating. And it’s no different with gay marriage.

Back in January, for instance, newly elected state Senator Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) freely admitted that gay marriage was at the heart of his desire to oust state GOP Chair Pat Brady, who’d recently announced his support for a Senate bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I believe we have to have a meeting to ask Pat for an explanation, to modify his actions or get a new CEO,” Oberweis told the Kane County Chronicle back then. “Our CEO has taken very open, public action contrary to the organization, and that’s unacceptable.”

Immediately, however, more-moderate GOP leaders pushed back hard against Oberweis, saying that ousting the party’s chair over gay marriage would send absolutely the wrong message to the voting public, which was coming around fast to supporting the issue. Young people, in particular, counted themselves as strong supporters of the concept, so the old ways of staunchly advocating outdated policies would continue to stunt the party’s potential growth.

 
House Does Some Heavy Lifting (Finally) on Pension Reform PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 31 March 2013 05:26

As it turns out, Illinois House Democrats didn’t need Republicans to put 30 votes on a significant pension-reform bill.

There’s been worry for at least two years that the Democrats would have to rely heavily on Republicans to get anything out of the chamber and that maybe even 30 Republican votes – half the required 60-vote majority – wouldn’t be enough to pass a pension-reform bill.

But 41 House Democrats voted for a bill this month that severely whacked retirees’ annual cost-of-living increases. Just 25 Republicans voted for the bill – five votes fewer than they’ve repeatedly said they had for a significant pension-reform proposal.

The measure would cap annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) at $750 or 3 percent, whichever is less. That change has the impact of limiting COLAs to only the first $25,000 of annual pension income. Anyone who makes less than $25,000 would continue to receive compounded increases until the cap is hit.

The proposal also forces retirees to wait until they either are 67 years old or have been retired at least five years to receive their annual COLAs.

 
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