Two press conferences held after Governor JB Pritzker’s budget address last week didn’t receive much news-media attention. As the saying goes, coverage follows conflict, and the two pressers were far more subtle and polite in their criticisms of the governor’s plan than those held by Republicans, so they were mostly overlooked. But clear undercurrents were visible during both events, one held by the Legislative Black Caucus and the other by the Legislative Latino Caucus. And unlike the Republicans, those two caucuses actually have considerable sway over the state’s lawmaking process.

“Everybody gets pinched, but you did it right; you told 'em nothin' and they got nothin'” Jimmy Conway told a youthful Henry Hill in the classic gangster movie GoodFellas after the mob-connected teenager was arrested for selling stolen cigarettes, clammed up to the police and was then released by a corrupt judge. “You learned the two greatest things in life,” Conway told Hill. “Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.”

Way back in 1990, I was making $17,000 a year working for an online Statehouse news and information company. I was too broke for a vacation, so I helped pay for a modest trip by covering a strike at the Delta Pride catfish-processing company in Indianola, Mississippi, for a few publications. Almost all of the striking workers were Black women, and their highly-unusual walk-out had caused a national stir. I was fascinated by what was happening and wanted to see the action up close.

Republican Dennis Reboletti is trying something different in a state legislative race: Stake out a “moderate” position on abortion in a party which completely rejects that stance and in a race against a solidly pro-choice Democrat.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s budget that he passed last November deliberately underfunded programs for asylum-seekers. The meager appropriation authority could be exhausted by April, but nobody knows yet what the city plans to do when it reaches that point.

One of the bigger state budget-expansion fights we could see play out in Springfield this spring is the creation of a permanent $300 Child Income Tax Credit. The new proposal has been scaled back from last year’s $700 per child tax credit bill, which went nowhere in the House after it was introduced in February and ultimately had fifteen sponsors and co-sponsors. But proponents say even the downsized version would make a major difference.

Perhaps the weakest federal criminal charge against former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke was about his plot to extort the Chicago Field Museum because a friend’s daughter never heard back about an internship after Ald Burke sent over her résumé. U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall seemed “unimpressed” by federal prosecutors’ reasoning in mid-December after Burke’s legal team moved to dismiss the charge ahead of closing arguments, according to Tribune reporter Jason Meisner.

Three of Governor JB Pritzker’s appointees to the Illinois Commerce Commission have not yet been confirmed by the Illinois Senate, including the chair, Doug Scott. All three unconfirmed appointees have recently voted against the stated interests of trade unions. Senate President Don Harmon has assiduously courted trade-union support and has raised millions of campaign dollars from them.

A group of ultra-conservative Illinois House members, known as the Eastern Bloc, has been stirring up trouble with the establishment in both parties for years. The Republican districts they represent stretch from north of Decatur, over to Tuscola, and down to Mattoon, Shelbyville, Effingham, and Vandalia. They are the fellas (they’re all men) who demanded that Chicago be kicked out of Illinois.

Imagine a lobbyist approaching a legislator and promising that if the member voted for a specific bill, the lobbyist would contribute to their campaign committee. Lobbyists have been convicted here for doing just that, going back to at least 1982. Legislators would be violating state law if they made that deal. The statute prohibits legislators, candidates, and others from promising “anything of value related to State government,” including any “action or inaction on any legislative or regulatory matter, in consideration for a contribution to a political committee, political party, or other entity that has as one of its purposes the financial support of a candidate for elective office.”