Rauner on Lawsuit Reform

A press release from Governor Bruce Rauner:

Turnaround Agenda Testimony as Prepared for Delivery Richard Goldberg, Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs

Senate Judiciary Committee
May 28, 2015

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee –

I am pleased to be here today to testify in support of the Governor’s compromise reform proposals – specifically this morning on lawsuit reform.

As I said yesterday, I want to thank all members – from the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans – who participated in working group sessions for the last several weeks to help us develop this compromise legislation.

In our view, these were productive working groups.

At every step of the way, Governor Rauner worked to compromise. When members raised concerns, the administration worked diligently to address those concerns.

When members raised objections, the administration worked diligently to compromise at every turn.

Unfortunately, no compromise is ever good enough for those who stand in the way of reform.

Yesterday, the legislators who control this committee rejected the Governor’s compromise reform legislation on workers’ comp. Shortly thereafter, the legislators who control the Senate moved forward with another phony, unbalanced budget that spends money the taxpayers don’t have.

In short, while Governor Rauner says Yes to reform and Yes to compromise, the legislators in control of the General Assembly say No to reform, No to compromise, Yes to unbalanced budgets and Yes to higher taxes without reform.

Meanwhile, two constitutional amendments proposed by the Governor are being denied a vote despite a direct request from Leader Radogno: one to impose term limits on legislators and the executive; another to establish a Fair Map to end political gerrymandering.

Taxpayers are fed up pouring their hard-earned money into a broke and broken system. This morning, this Committee and those in control of the Senate have an opportunity to change course.

The bill before you is a critical reform we need to Turnaround Illinois – to make Illinois more competitive, to grow our economy and to create jobs. The bill before you represents compromise and reform.

I want to thank Leader Radogno for her leadership on the Turnaround Agenda and for being here today to carry this important reform legislation.

Jennifer Hammer, the governor’s senior policy adviser, is joining us this morning along with Leader Radogno to help answer any technical questions on the bill.

And with that, I’ll turn it back over to Leader Radogno. Thank you.

Barb Wheeler Reports

In this supposedly last week of the session, State Rep. Barbara Wheeler sends the following message:

As our spring legislative session nears its scheduled May 31 adjournment date, it is the responsibility of the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives seems to be playing games with its responsibilities based on the measures we’ve seen called by the Speaker. Read on for more details and feel free to contact me with questions.

Week in Review for week of May 18, 2015

Budget – FY16: Nero fiddled while Rome burned

Despite deadline, Democrats again refuse to pass balanced budget for FY16.

The Illinois nero-fiddled.jpgConstitution requires that the State annually pass a balanced budget in which revenues match mandated expenditures.  One way that Speaker Madigan has been Speaker for 32 of the past 34 years is by passing a series of unbalanced budgets, which have all spent money the State has not had.  He has curried favor with powerful interests and forced Republicans to be the villains whenever steps are taken to prevent the spending of imaginary money.

Strong rumors circulated on Friday, May 22 that Democrats were preparing another unbalanced budget for FY16, the fiscal year starting July 1, 2015.  This budget may get filed in the week starting Memorial Day, May 25.  This phony budget is expected to commit $4 billion that Illinois does not possess to the Democrats’ spending priorities.  Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed a different budget for Illinois and has strengthened his calls for the State’s government to live within its means.

General Assembly – Term Limits

Many House Republicans push for term limits. 

Having only spent four months on the job, the large class of House Republican freshmen came together in the Capitol Wednesday to express their disgust with the partisan political atmosphere that has engulfed Springfield.  The message they came to deliver is there is no better time than now to call for term limits in Springfield.

“I don’t believe there’s a single one of us who truly understood the high barriers towards reform that have been erected by the entrenched leadership here in Springfield,” stated Steve Andersson (R, Geneva).  “The time is now to discuss this issue, while we are amidst this gridlock.”

An initiative to put a binding term limits referendum on the 2014 General Election ballot was denied by a three-judge Illinois Appellate Court last August, leaving legislative action as the best alternative. With three separate joint constitutional amendments filed, House Republicans point to the onset of gridlock so early into the new Governor’s first term along with the increasingly draconian House rules as evidence that term limits need immediate consideration.

“Status quo is rampant in the state of Illinois. For too long now Illinois has suffered at the hands of entrenched politicians stifling new ideas and solutions,” said Representative Christine Winger (R-Wood Dale). “Let the voters decide whether term limits are a good idea for Illinois.”

House Republicans have three separate constitutional amendments filed aimed at imposing term limits in Illinois: HJRCA1 filed by Rep. Ron Sandack (R, Downers Grove), HJRCA 10 filed by Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R, Rockford) andHJRCA 28 filed by Rep. Steve Andersson (R, Geneva); all seek to put on the ballot limits on legislative terms to varying degrees.  It is expected the Governor’s own proposal will be filed soon.

“We all need to work together on solutions that put Illinois back onto a path toward prosperity, and that path must include reforms to how we do business here.  One of those key reforms must be the implementation of term limits for members of the General Assembly,” added Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield).

Taxes – Income Tax Hike

Democrats back proposal to raise income taxes by $1 billion/year.

HJRCA 26, sponsored by tax_in_dollars.jpgSpeaker Michael Madigan and 46 of his Democratic House colleagues, failed to win the required House super-majority vote on Thursday. As a constitutional amendment, the failed measure required a three-fifths majority (71 votes) in order to gain House approval. After getting to 68 votes in a tense roll call (with three Democrats voting “No”), the Speaker ordered the roll call to be dumped and the measure placed on the calendar order of “Consideration Postponed.”

HJRCA 26 would have imposed a separate, supplemental 3% surtax upon Illinois incomes exceeding $1 million/year. The trigger number for this surtax would not have been indexed to inflation. The issue was also voted on in November 2014 by Illinois voters in the HB 3816 advisory referendum.

Governor Rauner and the House Republicans have committed to cutting waste and reforming state government before we begin any discussion of new revenue. Illinois now has a balance of power between those whose first instinct is to raise taxes and those who believe the path to good-paying jobs is through growing small business, not attacking it.

Speaker Madigan’s tax hike proposal isn’t new. It is the same cynical attempt to create class warfare as was proposed last year, when Illinois Democrats were similarly and instinctively demanding higher taxes.

The last tax hike forced upon working families by former Governor Quinn and legislative Democrats was supposed to balance the budget and pay off old bills. That didn’t happen. In 2011, when the temporary income tax increase went into effect, Illinois had an $8.5 billion backlog of unpaid bills. After collecting $31 billion in additional revenue, Illinois still has $6 billion in unpaid bills.

Illinois needs comprehensive reform that fundamentally changes the way we do business. We need honest negotiations between Governor Rauner and the General Assembly on how to clean up the fiscal mess, and any discussion of new revenue should come after reform, not before.

Workers’ Compensation

Illinois fails to take action to catch up to neighboring states. 

Sham workers’ compensation language was presented by the Democrat majority to the Illinois House on Friday, May 22.  The language was broken up into four separate amendments to HB 1287 to give House Democrats the chance to cast multiple votes against the proposals.  Workers’ compensation reform is strongly opposed by organized labor, trial lawyers and other powerful special interests.

Governor Rauner and the House Republicans continue to support real workers’ compensation reform as part of an overall agenda to turn around Illinois. To that end, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin filed HB 4223 on Friday, which contains Governor Rauner’s workers’ compensation reform proposals: a higher causation standard; AMA guidelines; fee schedule reduction; and Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission reforms.

Memorial Day – Thank you to all who have served!

Memorial Day observed throughout Illinois.

The day of remembrance for those who have served ourMemorial_Day_group_shop.jpg country, especially those who have fallen in its service, was observed on Monday, May 25.  Memorial Day was raised from informal, local day of observance to national holiday through the effort of native Illinoisan GeneralJohn A. Logan, a veteran of the Civil War and head of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Due to the significant workload facing the General Assembly before its scheduled May 31st adjournment, the Illinois House of Representatives reconvened  and resumed its work on Monday.

Hultgen Slams EPA over Water Regs

A press release from Congressman Randy Hultgren:

Hultgren Slams Final EPA Waters of the U.S. Rule

Washington, DC — U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) today criticized a final rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers which extends jurisdiction over the waters of the United States to

  • ditches
  • wetlands
  • streams
  • flood plains and
  • even ornamental landscape features

Rep. Hultgen has cosponsored H.R. 594, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, which stops federal agencies like EPA from improperly using the Clean Water Act (CWA) to expand jurisdiction over land that is currently under the control of

  • states and farmers
  • construction businesses and
  • other private owners

On May 12, Rep. Hultgren supported House passage of the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act (H.R. 1732), which requires the EPA to withdraw the rule.

Randy Hultgren

Randy Hultgren

“As expected, EPA’s final rule takes control over even the smallest ditches and puddles, endangering the property rights of everyone from farmers to construction businesses. Ignoring public comments strongly against the rule, EPA has once again seen fit to run roughshod over the rights of Americans,” said Rep. Hultgren.

“As we found out a Science Committee hearing, this ‘clarifying’ rule relies on murky science at best.

“We should be supporting and promoting the work of our farmers and businesses, not allowing the dangerously powerful EPA to expand its power.

“The administration has failed to develop strategies to improve our environment through sound scientific data.

“Clearly we need action by the full Congress to demonstrate to the administration the need to provide stability and confidence to Americans.”

EPA’s connectivity report, which claimed that all bodies of water, no matter the size, are connected [emphasis added] “is in direct contradiction of the Supreme Court decision which clearly upholds the policy that isolated wetlands could not be considered ‘waters of the United States’ for purposes under the CWA,” reads a letter Rep. Hultgren sent to House leadership requesting they stop any funding for proposed change in definition.

This move opens up farms and other private property to EPA regulation and intrusion, such as farm ponds, storm drains, and other non-navigable water bodies.

“These regulatory changes will have wide ranging effects on everything from construction to agriculture,” the letter says.

During a previous Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing, Rep. Hultgren took EPA’s Deputy Administrator to task hearing for his wavering and opaque explanation of the Clean Water Rule and how it will affect Illinois 14th District constituents. The rule is meant to clarify jurisdiction but lacks any scientific justification, and the Deputy Administrator’s answer only further confused the issue.

Rauner Hits Patronage Button

Among the general public, patronage is a dirty word.

Increasing the heat on Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly, Governor Bruce Rauner issued the following press release:

Refusing to Reform: Democrats Also Walking Away from Fixing Illegal Political Hiring

“By protecting illegal political hires, Democrats are proving to the people of Illinois that they don’t care at all about reforming anything that’s broken in state government.”

– Lance Trover, Director of Communications

After walking away from compromise reforms to turn around Illinois’ economy, Democrats appear to now be blocking compromise reforms that will fix illegal political hiring in state government.

Karen McConnaughay

Karen McConnaughay

After Senator [Karen]  McConnaughay filed reform legislation last month, the Governor’s Office met regularly and frequently with leadership staff from each of the four legislative caucuses.

As detailed below, the legislation has been significantly revised to provide a clearer, more tailored framework.

The Governor’s Office and the legislative caucuses also met with representatives of AFSCME, Teamsters, and Laborers.

While there is general agreement that reforms are needed, labor organizations will not agree to reforms that impact positions already in the bargaining unit.

Unfortunately, as evidenced in the conflict between the two pending lawsuits, the State must resolve the status of current employees too. Nonetheless, the legislation has been narrowed to minimize the adverse impact on labor organizations.

An amendment to the original bill has now been filed, which represents compromises that were negotiated. Despite this, Democrats are now refusing to support the reform bill

COMPROMISES

  1. Definitional Changes

Original Proposal: The original proposal (SB 981, Amendment 1) provided that Rutan-exempt positions would be “managerial employees” under the Public Labor Relations Act and therefore excluded from any bargaining unit. This exclusion is critical to addressing the Special Master’s concern about the “inherent conflict between Rutan-exempt status and union status.” The original proposal also excluded a number of other positions that are not appropriate for bargaining unit membership, including positions for the very employees who should have been responsible for preventing the hiring abuses.

The original proposal also made changes to the definitions of “professional employee” and “supervisory employee” under the Public Labor Relations Act. These changes would not have prevented employees from joining bargaining units, but were intended to ensure appropriate separation between supervisors and subordinates and between professional and non-professional employees. The conflicts of interest and lack of adequate supervision and reporting contributed to the problems at IDOT.

Revised Proposal: The revised proposal (SB 981, Amendment 2) makes changes to the definition of “public employee,” rather than “managerial employee,” under the Public Labor Relations Act. The proposal also excludes a limited number of other positions, including: confidential employees who assist Rutan-exempt persons, many of whom are themselves Rutan-exempt; labor relations managers who have hiring authority, who make Rutan-determinations, or who discipline other employees; internal auditors and inspectors general; and attorneys, almost all of whom are already Rutan-exempt.

To allay concerns raised by labor organizations, the revised proposal reduces significantly the number of definitional changes. In particular, the proposed revisions to the definitions of professional employee and supervisory employee were omitted. The remaining definitions were more carefully and precisely tailored in response to feedback from the Democratic caucuses.

  1. Reconciling the Public Labor Relations Act and the Personnel Code

Original Proposal: Current law provides that the Public Labor Relations Act and any collective bargaining agreement take precedence over all other law. This provision (Section 15 of the Public Labor Relations Act) directly creates the conflict in the two lawsuits: while the Shakman case demonstrates that employees were unlawfully hired into positions under the Personnel Code, the collective bargaining agreement is permitted to immunize those employees from the unlawful hiring. The original proposal provided that the Public Labor Relations Act should be read consistently with all other law, and where a conflict exists, the Personnel Code should prevail.

Revised Proposal: In response to opposition from labor organizations, the revised proposal creates a narrow exception under the Public Labor Relations Act for the Personnel Code.

This proposal would permit the State to resolve the litigation and protect employees’ jobs. As described below, the State will take remedial action to move employees into new, properly-classified positions. Some of those positions – but not all – will be in bargaining units. Without a change to Section 15 of the Public Labor Relations Act, the State would not be able to take these steps, and the court would not be assured that future violations of the Personnel Code would not be remediable.

  1. Remedial Actions

Original Proposal: The original proposal provided a broad framework for reviewing and re-classifying Rutan-exempt positions. The original proposal also gave the Governor and other Constitutional Officers latitude to determine what to do with employees in those positions based on the outcome of an ongoing agency-by-agency audit.

Revised Proposal: The revised proposal provides a clear path to resolving the litigation and preserving employee jobs.

Section 26 of the Personnel Code would direct the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) and IDOT to review and prepare revised position descriptions to ensure that position descriptions accurately describe the work being performed. That provision would also require IDOT to submit position descriptions to CMS for Rutan review.

There are approximately 175 employees in Rutan-exempt, bargaining unit positions at IDOT. As the positions are reviewed, one of two outcomes is possible:

  • For those positions that remain Rutan-exempt, the position would be excluded from the bargaining unit going forward. Because the position remains Rutan-exempt, the employee would be permitted to keep his or her job and would retain any applicable job protection under the Personnel Code.
  • For those positions that are determined to be Rutan-covered, the position could remain in the bargaining unit. The legislation would also allow the employee to retain his or her job as long as IDOT determines that the employee meets the qualifications for the position and was not hired because of improper consideration of political affiliation.

The plaintiffs in the Shakman litigation have asserted that the second group of employees should be terminated and should compete for the Rutan-covered positions in a competitive process. The legislation provides a path-forward by exempting the remedial process from the other provisions of the Personnel Code, the Public Labor Relations Act, and any collective bargaining agreement.

Althoff Reports $8,000 from Rauner

Pam Althoff at the Crystal Lake Independance Day Parade.

Pam Althoff at the Crystal Lake Independance Day Parade.

State Senator Pam Althoff reported an $8,000 contribution from Citizens for Rauner on Tuesday.

Up for election next year and already an announced candidate, the McHenry resident reported having $92,012.02 as of March 30th.

Since then, she has received the following donations of $1,000 or more:

  • $3,000 – Comcast Financial Agency LLC, Philadelphia, PA
  • $1,214.49 – Illinois Governmental Consulting LLC, Chicago, for beverages for fundraising event at Kohler
  • $1,000 – oresight Energy Services, St. Louis, MO

Budget Report

A press release from State Rep. Steve Andersson:

House Democrats Pass Unbalanced Budget for FY16

Yesterday, Democrats in the House of Representatives presented a series of budget bills for appropriations.  Although the bills presented were debated for hours on the House floor, the legislation failed to address the existing budget deficits.  In what they declared as an effort to move the process along, House Democrats pushed these budget bills forward, despite their severely unbalanced nature.

Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva), found this process to be just another example of the broken process and partisan politics that has been all too common in Springfield.

Steve Andersson

Steve Andersson

“The very essence of a sound budgeting process was ignored.

“The Constitution requires that we pass a balanced budget.

“The Democrat leadership admitted that its budget is almost 4 billion dollars short.Illinoisans should not stand for this.

“This is not right and, quite frankly, it’s a stick in the eye of every Illinoisan who is looking for change.

“We cannot keep putting off our state’s fiscal problems:  the people of Illinois deserve better.

“We cannot ignore the situation we are in now, we must put in the hard work today to plan for the future.

“The entire budget process, from start to finish, has been frustrating.

“I spent five years on the Geneva Library Board and we budgeted in a responsible manner.

“We started with expected revenues and then determined what the District’s priorities are to be for the year.

“We spent only what we had (or less)-a simple formula for budgeting.

“Sometimes it made for difficult decisions as there are never as much revenues as one might want.

“It meant we had to reduce or cut good programs.

“We did our level best to utilize the funds in the best way possible and cut it where the impact would be felt the least.

“But make no mistake, there is always pain in budget cutting. Someone’s program gets cut and every program has its advocates.

“Not so here in Springfield.

“Here in Springfield, we ignore any discussion of realistic budgeting.”

Despite the disheartening process and unbalanced budget presented in the various bills, the legislation passed in the House today.  After receiving a constitutional majority, the bills will move on for further approval in the Senate.

McSweeney Reports Large Contributions, Including Rauner’s

David McSweeney

David McSweeney

State Rep. David McSweeney booked three contributions of $1,000 or more on Tuesday.

One was $4,000 from Citizens for Rauner.

Even more came from Richard Uihlein, CEO/Owner of Uline, Lake Forest.

Another $1,000 was donated by Camcraft, Inc., of Hanover Park.

Since he reported $22,178 as of March 30th, there have been other large contributions, which you can see below:

  • $5,000 – Richard S. Pepper Trust, Chairman of the Board, The Pepper Companies, Barrington
  • $2,700 – Mark Miller, Executive Chairman, Stericycle, Inc., Libertyville
  • $2,500 – John Rowe, Chairman Emeritus, Exelon Corporation, Chicago
  • $2,500 – MidAmerican Energy Company, Sioux City, IA
  • $2,000 – Maclean-Fogg Company, Mundelein
  • $1,000 – William H. Strong, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley, Chicago, IL 60611

Walsh Fest Draws at Least 600

850 people said they would come to former Congressman and current WIND talk show Joe Walsh’s Memorial Day Weekend’s potluck, politics and pyrotechnics.

I arrive at the advertised start time–4 PM.

It was not dry.

And had been raining in the hour before.

Nevertheless, there were a lot of cars.

But nothing compared to the number parked during the fireworks.

I have never been to an event like this.

While Walsh was in typical exuberant Meet & Greet mode, there more going on as his followers mixed and mingled.

With a high proportion of the adults attending having knocked on doors of state and local candidates who agree with Walsh, potential candidates in 2016 went a courting.

Those with conflicting ambitions tried to talk potential opponents out of running.

Clearing we are in the intimidation stage of the campaign.

Incumbents attending included State Senator Jim Oberweis, State Rep. David McSweeney, Cook County Board Of Review member Dan Patlak, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, McHenry County College Trustee Karen Tirio, College of DuPage Trustees Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein, McHenry County Board members Diane Evertsen, John Hammerand and Chuck Wheeler. Wauconda Mayor Frank Bart, Lakewood Village Trustee Paul Serwatka, East Dundee Village Trustee Allen Skillicorn, McHenry County Regional Board of School Trustees Eric Dowd and Matt Meyer, DuPage County Regional Board of School Trustees Catherine Hanzelin and Paula McGowan, Elgin School Board member Jeanette Ward, Nippersink (Richmond-Spring Grove) School Board Diane Bishop, Zion-Benton Township High School Board member Tom Handyside, Marengo Library Board member Cynthia Schenk.

Numerous Republican Precinct Committeemen were there.

From McHenry County were yours truly, Diane Evertsen, Sharon Bills, Karen Tirio, Chuck Wheeler, Diane Evertsen, Joe Monack, Paul Serwatka, Christina Myers, Chris Yaeger, Steve Rooney, Demetri Tsilmigras, and Thomas Venezio.

At times it reminded me of tent revival meeting my Skinner grandparents took me to when I was young…complete with the rain.

Walsh spoke at least twice during the six-hour event.

Posting of colors.

Posting of colors.

After the colors were posted, Walsh directed people’s attention to the restored Jeep.

Rolling out of World War II was this restored Jeep.

Rolling out of World War II was this restored Jeep.

It was so authentic that it had no doors.

Rauner’s Mantra

A press release from Governor Bruce Rauner:

A Time for Choosing

State Senators Will Either Choose Reform or Side with Mike Madigan to Block it

Bruce Rauner

Bruce Rauner

SPRINGFIELD – With House Speaker Mike Madigan refusing to compromise and doubling down on a broken system, the state Senate is scheduled today to hold hearings on parts of Governor Rauner’s Turnaround Legislation.

Senate committees will conduct hearings on worker’s compensation reform, lawsuit reform and property tax freeze legislation that were filed last Friday. The Senate, however, is refusing to consider Term Limits and Redistricting Reform measures that were also introduced.

“Governor Rauner has made it clear that we cannot ask taxpayers to put more money into a broken system. The legislation being considered today represents some compromise reforms that are critical to turning Illinois around,” Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said. “Speaker Madigan and the politicians he controls in the House have made it clear all they want to do is raise taxes. Today, the Senate will begin to make clear whether they support reform or will side with Mike Madigan to block it.”

Descriptions of the Compromise Turnaround Legislation listed below are attached.

  • Property Tax Freeze
  • Worker’s Compensation Reform
  • Lawsuit Reform