Speaker Madigan promotes map amendment opponent info; and more from INN Radio

Speaker Madigan promotes map amendment opponent info

The group pushing for a voter referendum to change how political maps are drawn in the state say recent opposition to their proposal is misleading and shows the naysayers are running scared.

Speaker Michael Madigan was asked if President Barack Obama’s recent support of redistricting reform the Commander in Chief said should allow voters to pick their politicians and not the other way around is an easy concession to give Governor Bruce Rauner. Madigan was ready with a letter from the group The People’s Map, which raises concerns about the Independent Map Amendment Group’s proposal.

“He has components which work against established constitutional and statutory requirements on minority representation in redistricting. The independent MAP proposal would negate the protections that were put in place, there’s no question of that.”

Independent Map group: Opponents are running scared

However, Jim Bray with Independent Maps says opponents are wrong.

“And when you run scared, you tend to exaggerate and not tell the truth about what’s being done.”

Bray also says opponents are worried they’ll lose power.

“Whether it is republicans or democrats enjoys that power because it makes them more powerful and they are going to hold onto that for as long as they can and they want to try and stop us.”

The Independent Map group says they’ve gathered more than 500,000 signatures and a year end report had their contributions at nearly $3 million.

Redisistring reform is one of the major issues Governor Bruce Rauner is pushing for as part of his “Turnaround Agenda.”

Rank and file lawmakers react to governor’s budget address

Democrats think the governor’s budget address was lacking while Republicans thought the governor knocked it out of the park.

Democratic Senator Toi Hutchinson says Governor Bruce Rauner’s second budget address had a more positive tone and she’s hopeful there will be true negotiations, but says there were some things lacking from the speech.

“A little disappointed in that K-12 education, while we all care about that, it’s not the only thing that’s on the agenda. We have an entire social services safety net that is imploding across the state.”

Hutchinson also says there are some fundamental philosophical differences Democrats must iron out with Rauner and the Republicans. However, Republican Senator Kyle McCarter says the governor provided the best approach to fixing Illinois’s budget problems by reforming the state’s business climate.

“If we don’t have those structural reforms, we aren’t going to attract people back to this state that can pay taxes.”

McCarter echoed the governor’s call for reforms to workers’ comp, tort law, and less regulations as a way to increase the tax base through economic growth.

Lawmakers differ on what direction the state should go

Meanwhile Democratic Senator Heather Steans says after hearing the governor’s speech, she’s unclear what direction lawmakers should go.

“I just feel like we’re not that clear on what the path is to get us there.”

However, Republican Senator Jim Oberweis says the governor laid out the path forward, and the answer out of the budget mess is economic growth.

“And we need to pass the reforms that he’s proposed so we get our country, our state growing again at the same kind of rate the rest of the country is.”

Oberweis also echoed the governor’s call for economic reforms Republicans say are needed to increase the shrinking tax base. Governor Rauner gave his second budget address more than seven and a half months into the fiscal year without a full budget in place.

Chamber of Commerce reacts to WARN report, says workers’ comp must be reformed

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce says reforms to workers’ comp, among other reforms, could help stem mass layoff in the Land of Lincoln.

The Chamber made the plea after the most recent mass layoff report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act report for January has a dozen businesses reporting more than 1,100 layoffs combined over the next few months. Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Todd Maisch says he can’t speak for each business, but says some mass layoff could be avoided by cutting employer costs from workers’ comp.

“Redefining what a workplace injury truly is will allow legitimately injured workers to get their compensation. But those who are not, just stay out of the system and reduce costs.”

Speaker Michael Madigan said there are pending reforms to Illinois’ workers comp, but only focusing on regulating rates, not addressing so-called causation.

Chamber calls for small business investment tax

Meanwhile Maisch says every business has their reasons for shutting down, relocating or cutting their workforce, but there are things lawmakers can do to help small businesses out, like having pro-investment tax policies.

“Small businesses create the vast majority of new jobs in the state of Illinois and the nation, yet there is not enough in our tax code to help them invest and grow their businesses.”

When asked about tax policy Wednesday, Speaker Madigan said he’s hoping to reform taxes to bring about an extra tax on millionaires, but didn’t address any other possible tax reforms. Meanwhile, Maisch says there needs to be reforms to workers’ compensation to ensure only people hurt on the job get the benefit.

Measure would bar anyone under 21 from purchasing tobacco

Advocates for a measure to increase the tobacco purchase age to 21 say it will help curb healthcare costs. But opponents say that by the same logic, government should make underage possession of sugar a crime.

Surrounded by public health advocates, Democratic Senator John Mulroe introduced Senate Bill 3011 to increase the age adults can purchase tobacco from 18 to 21. Mulroe says it will help curb youth smoking and in turn will cut down on tobacco related health costs to the state’s Medicaid system.

“Medicaid dollars that go to health care costs related to smoking are nearly $2 billion

Anthony Fisher, a writer for the libertarian Reason Foundation, says that’s a fair point, but why stop there?

“Let’s make it so that anybody under 21 can purchase sugar and that will make it harder for people to develop a sugar habit, it will make it harder for people to develop diabetes. You know, let’s just never stop.”

Reason: 18-year-olds are adults

Mulroe says his bill is an effort to cut down on youth smokers.

“And to try my best to keep this harmful product out of the hands of people.”

But Fisher says if 18 year olds can vote, be charged for adult crimes and even join the military to serve the country and possibly die for it, they should be able to make the choice whether to purchase tobacco.

“We would actually be a freer and more tolerant society if we allowed people to make those choices and not turn everything into a potential crime under civil and criminal codes.

The proposed bill would cover the purchase of all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, and also bar anyone under 21 from possessing tobacco products.