Sunday, May 31, 2020

Analyst says it’s Illinois’ private sector, not state government, being hollowed out – Center Square

Said Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski, "The government sector is protected. They’re getting raises, they’re getting cost of living raises, they’re getting bigger step increases and yet the private sector who’s been slashed has to keep paying for that and more.”

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Retired Naval Aviator Rescues Man From Chicago River – CBS Chicago

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Peoria long-term care facility accounts for spike in coronavirus cases – JournalStar

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Commentary: FOIA access was protected during a hectic General Assembly session. That’s a good thing during this pandemic. – Chicago Tribune

"The legislative measure intended to muzzle FOIA was buried inside an omnibus government administration bill sponsored by Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, a member of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s leadership team, and Sen. Elgie Sims Jr., D-Chicago."

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Pending state fund would match SNAP purchases at farmers markets – CIProud

If Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs off, the fund will match SNAP purchases made at farmers markets doubling the purchasing power of low-income families, and also putting more federal snap dollars into the pockets of local farmers.

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Illinois Malls Begin Reopening: Here’s a Look at the Dates and Changes – NBC5 (Chicago)

The reopenings each come with their own set of changes. Here's a look at where some of the biggest malls stand:

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Latest nursing home stats: 2,747 coronavirus deaths – Daily Herald

The deaths now account for more than half -- 52% -- of the 5,270 COVID-19 fatalities statewide. Lingering data discrepancies and reporting changes have muddled the weekly listing.

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Friday marks the end of Illinois’ stay-at-home order – Capitol News

It was Illinoisans, he said, who made the easing of restrictions possible. “The significant personal pain that Illinoisans are feeling from this pandemic does not end with our stay-at-home order. Indeed, it’s more important than ever to support our working families as we begin our safe recovery,” the governor said.

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Pritzker lifts 10-person limit on religious gatherings after facing legal pressure – Illinois Policy

The churches filed a reply to Pritzker’s response the morning of May 29, stating that “[me]ere hours before his Response was due in this Court, the Governor announced a sudden change in his 10-person limit on religious worship services … after vigorously defending his policy in both lower courts, and having announced barely 3 weeks ago that it would be 12 to 18 months before numerical limits on worship services were lifted…”

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5 reasons why Illinois’ latest spending plan insults taxpayers – Illinois Policy

Among the reasons, more than 30% of Illinoisans’ tax dollars will prop up the state’s bloated pension system.

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Former Illinois state senator about COVID-19: “It’s a lie to pretend that government can protect you” – Illinois Review

Former State Senator Steve Rauschenberger (R-Elgin) said, "It's an embarrassment [that elected officials responded as they did] - that's not American, it's not the people we are. We should never let this happen again this way."

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Illinois could benefit as tourists seek to travel shorter distances – State Journal-Register (Springfield)

The road trip is poised for a comeback.

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Illinois to become 1st state to provide Medicaid regardless of immigration status – State Journal-Register (Springfield)

Rep. Delia Ramirez said the coverage - tucked in near the end of the 465-page budget implementation bill that passed the Illinois General Assembly late Saturday night - will save the state money in the long run, costing about $2 million, which in her opinion, “is nothing to a $2 billion Medicaid bill.”

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U.S. states, cities may snub Fed lending program over high rates – Reuters

While Illinois, the lowest-rated U.S. state at a notch above junk, passed a bill late last week authorizing borrowing up to $5 billion through the Fed’s municipal liquidity facility (MLF), legislation is pending in few other states.

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Editorial: Restaurants need to begin reopening their dining rooms. Now. – Chicago Tribune

"Mind you, the push to reopen dining rooms isn’t about temper tantrums for table service. The restaurant industry is this state’s largest private sector employer. Roughly a half-million people rely on it for work. That’s why."

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Illinois Has Holes In Its COVID-19 Data. Will That Hinder Planning For Future Outbreaks? – WBEZ (Chicago)

In Chicago, health and government officials do not know the types of jobs those with COVID-19 have in about 90% of the cases the state has tracked; in Illinois, it's about 80%. Experts say tracking where people who’ve gotten COVID-19 live and work — and presumably where they may have come into contact with the virus — is vital to preventing and identifying potential future outbreaks.

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U Of I Faculty Group Opposes Fall Campus Reopening – NPR Illinois

Said one professor, "They (students) are also getting the opportunity to be responsible for a spread — it’s called a ‘super spreader event’ — that would begin on our campus and would spread to the wider eastern Illinois community and also Urbana Champaign, where there will be deaths."

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Illinois Sheriff’s Association Files Lawsuit Against Gov. Pritzker and IDOC For Refusal To Accept Transfers – RiverBender (Alton)

A statement from the Illinois Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk reads, in part, “The task of safely housing detainees amid this unprecedented pandemic is challenge enough for Illinois Sheriffs without having to also shoulder IDOC’s responsibilities as well.”

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GOP lawmakers want audit of state employment agency – Capitol News

On Republicans’ call for an audit, Pritzker said, “If their goal is to figure out what didn’t work right, I have stood here I don’t know how many times over the last two-plus months and told people what hasn’t worked right and how we’ve been trying to address it.”

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State files emergency rules for long-term care facilities – Capitol News

The IDPH’s new emergency rule will require long-term care facilities to report to public health officials the number of residents and staff tested, along with the number of positive and negative test results. The governor said the emergency rule enforces existing policies, and those not complying will be found in violation of the rules and will be subject to fines or other licensing penalties through existing IDPH authority.

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Why Illinois state lawmakers are still in line for an $1,800 pay raise – Illinois Policy

"Kudos to Mendoza for standing up against political pay raises. There’s just one problem: It’s not her choice to make. The state comptroller does not create a budget and decide who gets paid and who doesn’t, she simply pays the bills for the state. Members of the General Assembly and the governor are the ones who create a budget and make it law."

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No cuts to Illinois education, but schools warn COVID will push up costs – Chalkbeat Chicago

The state’s persistent lack of financial reserves, its pattern of letting pension debt pile up and borrowing to meet short-term needs, and the prospect of higher interest rates for Illinois compound education advocates’ fears. “Given how battered the budget is, getting level funding for education is a good first step.”

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Pritzker lifts ban on worship services starting Friday – Capitol News

See our own story on this linked here.

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Illinois small business desperate to open, NFIB survey finds – Center Square

Said Mark Grant, director of the Illinois chapter of the Illinois Federation of Independent Business, "The playing field isn’t put down fairly. We feel like the small guys are being really harmed by the policy that is in place. Large box stores are open and selling all sorts of stuff: hardware, groceries, even surfboards. Our members, who are their competitors – only really, really small – can’t open."

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Unemployment claims exceed 1.15 million as Illinois heads into 10th week of lockdown – Illinois Policy

The state’s estimated real-time unemployment rate now tops 23%. When you add those who have dropped out of the labor force – many of whom are likely not being counted due to mismanagement of the unemployment application system – the estimated unemployment rate would have been nearly 26%.

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Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza Says State Lawmakers Won’t Get Pay Raise – CBS2 (Chicago)

While there is no language in the budget that prohibits a pay raise, it does not provide any money to cover the cost of a pay raise. Mendoza’s office is being sued by two former Democratic state senators over past budgets that did block cost-of-living raises. Democrats cited that case as the reason similar language was left out in the upcoming budget.

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Fascism In Chicago, Nothing New – Points & Figures

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Fighting The Flood And COVID-19 At The Same Time – NPR Illinois

Usually in instances of serious flooding there are inmates from state correctional facilities helping to stack those sandbags; COVID-19 has changed their procedures. The Illinois River flooding in north central Illinois, while receding, will also have an impact on the state’s partial reopening of state parks.

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US Supreme Court to Pritzker: Answer appeal from Chicago area churches – WGNTV (Chicago)

Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, and Logos Baptist Ministries in Niles, want a high court ruling before this weekend.

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Illinois Movie Theaters Could Reopen June 26. Owners Say The Sooner The Better. – NPR Illinois

“We have to show that we’re open, in order to get the film companies to realize, “Ok, we have enough screens, we have enough mass, so now we can start releasing brand new movies," one theater owner explained.

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Gov’s Toilet Scam Contractor Got $9 Million Coronavirus Contract – Patch

The contractor doing construction on J.B. Pritzker's Wisconsin horse farm won a $9 million coronavirus contract that was part of the state's pandemic response.

"Is it just a coincidence the contractor involved in Pritzker's private construction projects got coronavirus contracts?"

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‘There’s Just Not Enough of Us:’ Illinois Unemployment Workers Allege Understaffing, ‘Insurmountable’ Workloads, Fear Of Infection As They Process Claims – CBS2 (Chicago)

“All they wanted us to do was literally push them through,” Employee #1 said. “Not try and fix them, not try to get everything – just push them through that way and deal with them later. Push them through. How is that helping anyone?”

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Illinois church becomes 2nd congregation to file emergency request with Supreme Court over coronavirus orders – FOX News

The case will be handled by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, based on geography, and he has asked the opposing state officials to respond by Thursday evening, just as Justice Elena Kagan asked of the California church that filed an emergency request on Tuesday.

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Worker at Springfield Arena Where Illinois Legislative Session Held Tests Positive for Coronavirus – NBC5 (Chicago)

The memo from House Speaker Michael Madigan’s chief of staff encourages legislators and staffers to be tested for coronavirus and to continue to monitor their health in the coming days. All participants in the legislative session had already been asked to self-isolate for 14 days after the conclusion of the proceedings.

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Unemployment mess leads lawmaker to push for Pritzker’s recall – Illinois Policy

The process to recall a governor in Illinois is a multi-step process. First, an affidavit must be signed by at least 20 state House Representatives and 10 state Senators – with no more than half in each chamber belonging to a single political party. Then, the affidavit would be filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

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As non-COVID-19 patients return to Chicago-area emergency rooms, doctors see skyrocketing blood pressure and other side effects of delays in care. ‘It’s terrible, and it’s frightening.’ – Chicago Tribune

Some of the affected patients avoided hospitals or doctors’ offices due to fears of getting COVID-19; others had trouble getting treatment due to job loss, health insurance loss or disruptions in the health care system, doctors said.

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Americans Don’t Get Ruled – Real Clear Politics

Following is an excerpt from Judge McHaney's recent ruling in the case of Mainer vs. Pritzker, a lawsuit brought by an Illinois small business owner against the Governor's stay-at-home order.

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New Jersey to Postpone Pension Payments – CIO

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Comptroller addresses lawmaker pay raise rumors – ABC20 (Springfield)

Mendoza said, “The General Assembly appropriated no money for legislative COLAs, so lawmakers will be paid the same amount as last year."

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Opinion: State GOP insurgents organize to challenge Democrats’ majorities – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "Wilhour announced the formation of his group May 21, identifying 20 of the 44 House Republicans as members. But four members...dropped out after Republican Leader Jim Durkin expressed concerns about a new caucus within his caucus."

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Commentary: The link between booze and the state budget – Journal Standard (Freeport)

"Just as there is a state law prohibiting booze in the statehouse, there is a provision in the state constitution requiring a balanced budget. Admittedly, it is vaguely written and lacks any enforcement provision. But the rule is still there. And widely ignored."

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Commentary: Illinois’ bloated budget needs a crash diet … again – Chicago Tribune

From former state representative and current candidate for Congress Jeanne Ives: "True in 2013 when I wrote it, still true today: 'There are no quick fixes, diet pills or miracle creams to solve the problem. Major reform, like weight loss, requires commitment, hard work and true lifestyle changes.'"

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Gov. JB Pritzker Appeals After Judge Grants Stay-At-Home Exemption To Clay County Resident, Tanning Salon – CBS2 (Chicago)

“Besides being dangerous, this conclusion is flawed as a matter of law, conflicts with three recent decisions upholding the Governor’s authority against nearly identical challenges, and is belied by the longstanding practice of numerous governors,” the attorney general’s office wrote.

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Real estate market in Illinois gaining steam despite pandemic – Center Square

“People that were qualified to buy and qualified to refinance were pushed to go ahead and act because when is the last time you saw a 30-year fixed rate at 3 percent or less?” one loan officer said.

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In Springfield, officials trade cease-and-desist letters over reopening plans – Center Square

“We are not getting the backing of the public health department in regards with enforcement, that’s a big issue,” Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said Tuesday. “When you have a restaurant open up … that’s why we took action. We all know this is a health pandemic. The police department have their hands full especially when they don’t have the backing of the health department that they should get.”

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4 Things To Know About How Illinois’ New Budget Will Impact Education – WBEZ (Chicago

Administrators have to plan in case buildings remain closed in the fall, which means additional costs to improve remote learning. But they’re also planning out safety measures if buildings do reopen. “Do we need to do plexiglass around our desks?” asked ISBE Vice Chair Donna Leak at last week’s board meeting. “Do we need to budget for partitions to turn multi-purpose spaces into classroom spaces, so we can actually socially distance in an in-person learning environment?”

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Illinois Is 1 Of Only 2 States Meeting Trump’s Guidelines For Reopening Amid Coronavirus – Block Club Chicago

The guidelines are just suggestions, though, and states don’t have to meet them to start reopening — in fact, many states have already started reopening despite not meeting the criteria. There have been mixed results as states reopen: Some that flung open the doors, like Wisconsin, are now seeing an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases.

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The Illinois Politician – Illinois Policy

The Illinois Politician

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Illinois DMVs to begin reopening June 1 – WGNTV (Chicago)

All facilities across the state will only be serving new drivers, people with expired IDs and vehicle transactions until July 31.

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NBC 5 Responds: Spike in Fraud Involving Unemployment Benefits Amid Pandemic – NBC5 (Chicago)

IDES says fraud is part of all employment of systems and recognizes it can be particularly egregious during trying times. Asked how many fraud claims have been filed and investigated in Illinois, a spokesperson said that information isn’t readily available, but says it is focused on increased productivity, processing claims, and paying benefits as quickly as possible.

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Illinois Dems Bank on a Congressional Bailout – Washington Free Beacon

The state's 2021 budget, now headed to Gov. J. B. Pritzker's (D.) desk, is written with the expectation that the $3.5 billion the state received under the CARES Act will be freed up for general spending. That would require Congress to change limitations on those funds, which currently can only be spent on expenses directly related to coronavirus—not general fiscal costs.

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US Attorney, Illinois AG Spar On Court Venue Changes In Bailey Lawsuit – NPR Illinois

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State Bankruptcy and Bailout Reactions: More Reactions – Stump

An actuary's perspective.

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Only Illinois has met the federal government’s criteria for reopening – American Independent

Comment: The White House/CDC guidelines this article references are widely ignored because they are illogical on their face for reasons we wrote here.

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Illinois passes budget that hinges on borrowing through Fed program – The Bond Buyer

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‘We Seem To Have Come Off The Peak’: Pritzker – WTTW (Chicago)

All four regions of Illinois remain set to move into the third phase of the state’s reopening plan on Friday, which will allow a number of businesses to reopen and gatherings of up to 10 people, Pritzker said.

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How accurate is Illinois’ count of deaths caused by coronavirus? We asked the experts – WGNTV (Chicago)

“This is kind of like the fog of war. It’s really hard to tell what’s happening in the middle of a pandemic,” said Dr. Emily Landon of University of Chicago Medicine.

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Hospitals in Illinois to get $75 million pandemic lifeline – Center Square

“The state has been able to obtain additional federal funding for the Medicaid program, which they are sending to hospitals," said Danny Chun, a spokesman for the Illinois Health and Hospital Association. Even before the coronavirus, more than 40% of Illinois hospitals were operating in the red or struggling to break even.

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Downstate business group sues Pritzker over stay-at-home order – Center Square

"It should not escape this court that the Madison County Board of Health, in wielding its supreme authority over business closures for public health risks, almost unanimously passed a comprehensives plan to reopen businesses under its jurisdiction," the filing by the Edwardsville-Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce said.

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Editorial: Is this news anymore? Illinois lawmakers approve out-of-balance, gimmicky budget – Chicago Tribune

"Illinois lawmakers kissed the ring of organized labor repeatedly during their special session, arguing that state workers — at this time of great need — should not be touched, as if every employee in every agency is a front-line worker dealing with a health crisis, which is preposterous."

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Biker Bar Opens For Memorial Day Weekend Bash In Violation Of Gov. JB Pritzker’s Stay-At-Home Order – CBS2 (Chicago)

Owner Kevin Promenschenkel is suing the governor over the stay-at-home order, and many bikers said they were enjoying the party in part to support Poopy’s cause and in part to stick it to the governor.

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Editorial: Data breach, backups continue to plague unemployment agency. Fix this, Gov. Pritzker. – Chicago Tribune

"It’s true that this pandemic has created challenges no one could have anticipated. But it’s been more than nine weeks since Pritzker’s first stay-at-home order came into force March 21. That’s ample time to ensure unemployment benefits applicants get their questions promptly answered and their applications processed when they turn to the IDES."

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Many Are Earning More In Unemployment, Making Return To Work Hard – NPR Illinois

"If you're a janitor and you work at a hospital, you're facing increased risk at your job and likely have not received a pay raise," says economist Peter Ganong. "But if you're a janitor and you work at a school that's shut down, then you actually get a 50% pay raise from claiming unemployment benefits."

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Republican lawmaker launches effort to recall Gov. Pritzker – Center Square

State Rep. Allen Skillicorn of the 66th district said the governor’s inaction to fix the state’s unemployment claims website has gone on long enough. The recall affidavit must be signed by at least 20 House members and 10 senators. Once the minimum number of signatures is obtained, the affidavit would then be filed with the State Board of Elections.

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Not packing the pews: Rockford churches prepare to reopen – Rockford Register Star

“We’d like to open back to worship but it’s a little difficult to open with only 10 people because our congregation is so large,” said Muslim Association of Greater Rockford spokeswoman Sameena Zahurullah, part of a working group appointed by Mayor Tom McNamara to develop guidelines for the gradual reopening of houses of worship as the COVID-19 threat diminishes.

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Lawmakers punt on ethics reform, high property taxes, governor’s pandemic authority during truncated spring session – Center Square

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said there was no mention of reforming the state’s second-highest in the nation property taxes or addressing the cloud of corruption or the red light camera scandal, things that were top of mind just three months ago. The General Assembly is scheduled back after the November election.

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The CDC’s New ‘Best Estimate’ Implies a COVID-19 Infection Fatality Rate Below 0.3% – Reason

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The Blue State Lockdown Blues – Wall Street Journal

Nearly two-thirds of leisure and hospitality jobs in New York and New Jersey and about half in California and Illinois disappeared between February and April compared to 43% in Florida, which was among the last states to lock down and first to reopen. Four percent of construction workers in Florida lost their jobs compared to 41% in New York, 27% in New Jersey, 17% in California and 11% in Illinois.

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Lockdown was a waste of time and could kill more than it saved, claims Nobel laureate scientist at Stanford University – Daily Mail

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Illinois Passes $40 Billion Budget Counting on Federal Help – Bloomberg

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States give few details on billions spent on virus supplies – AP (Illinois)

Illinois has one of the most detailed tracking websites, showing the date, vendor, purpose, quantity and price of each purchase. “Transparency, to me, is like a pathway to rebuilding trust in government,” Comptroller Susana Mendoza said.

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Editorial: Our national shame: COVID-19 in nursing homes – Chicago Sun-Times

In Illinois, 75% of nursing homes that are at least 25% black or Latino have had at least one coronavirus case, according to the Times analysis, while only 24% of nursing homes that are less than 5% black or Latino have had a case.

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Editorial: Infected session – Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette

"One of the attributes of legislative action in Illinois is that House and Senate leaders like to wait until the last minute and then pass everything at once. It makes oversight, debate and achieving a good understanding of what is in pending legislation very difficult. That, of course, is the idea."

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Comptroller Mendoza adds prevailing wage to ISBI rules – Chicago Crusader

“Illinois has made a commitment to working men and women that they will be paid the prevailing wage at worksites being paid for with state money or state investment dollars. This action will prevent bad players from ignoring that law,” Mendoza said. 

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Guest Commentary: Fixing state by raising taxes is like fixing business by raising prices – Champaign News-Gazette

From Wirepoints' Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner: "Such a strategy might sound absurd, but it’s precisely the approach Gov. J.B. Pritzker is pushing in Illinois."

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By the numbers: How Illinois plans to spend federal emergency money for schools – Chalkbeat Chicago

The federal act suggested sharing funds with private schools based on their proportion of low-income students, but U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos later instructed districts to base private schools allocations on their total enrollment — thus a much larger sum, which will come at the expense of public schools.

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Pritzker ‘Disappointed’ that Lawmakers Failed to Pass New Rule to Punish Businesses Ignoring COVID-19 Order – WTTW (Chicago)

“I was hopeful and expectant that they would deliver to me a bill” that detailed what enforcement action would be allowed, Pritzker said. “They didn’t get it done, so we’re going to have to look at other mechanisms. The fact is that the legislature failed in this regard.”

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Governor Pritzker reacts to Illinois budget passing – FOX Illinois

“I will continue to advocate for a national program to support state and local governments to make up the difference in the revenues that fund the supports our families need during this difficult time, fund our children’s schools and public hospitals, and pay for the salaries of our teachers and first responders.”

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More Than 1 in 5 Illinoisans Living in State Homes for Adults With Disabilities Have Tested Positive for the Coronavirus – ProPublica

That’s more than double the infection rate seen in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, where confirmed cases account for about 7% of residents, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Of about 1,650 people who live in the seven developmental centers, which are scattered throughout the state, at least 355 have tested positive, or 21.5%. Eight residents have died, as have four workers.

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‘Toxic’ Illinois budget relies on federal bailout that might not come – Center Square

House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said there was no other way: “If we had gone to the scorched earth policy that some want to cut 35 percent of our state budget to shutdown hospitals, to defund our universities, to defund our school systems, that’s a world you guys can have. That’s not a world that I want.”

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Despite budget approval, much is in limbo after session – Capitol News

“Well there's no doubt that we're going to have to revisit the budget if the federal government doesn't come through,” Pritzker said when asked if the state had a plan for a revenue stream to pay back the borrowing. “I think all 50 states are going to have to be revisiting their budgets if the federal government doesn’t come through.”

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Pritzker claims lawmakers won’t get pay raise through budget, many say it is still in proposal – WREX (Rockford)

The governor says Democratic budget negotiators told him it was removed from either the appropriations bill or budget implementation (BIMP) proposal. "I do not think legislators will in fact get a raise this year."

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States, companies set up their own COVID-19 legal shields – The Hill

At least six states, including Illinois, have introduced legislation that would also shield more than just health care workers and facilities, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Experts note that even if U.S. lawmakers reach a deal on a liability shield, states may be in a stronger position than Congress to adjust state tort laws, which provide remedies for civil wrongs and injuries.

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Businesses Reopening In Phase 3 Now Have Safety Rules From The State – Block Club Chicago

So far, the state’s website has guidelines for manufacturing facilities, health and fitness centers, offices, personal care services, retail, outdoor recreation, service counters, day camps, youth sports and restaurants and bars.

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Despite challenges in courts, Pritzker expects to issue more rules, possible extended orders – Center Square

“The judiciary aren’t experts at public health. Taking these things to court doesn’t resolve the public health matter,” Pritzker said.

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As Illinois stays mostly closed, its neighbors have abolished coronavirus restrictions – Washington Post

“When you watch the national news, it’s all about the massive amount of cases in Chicago and Cook County. But we’re not seeing that. In this area, we’re only seeing our small businesses suffering,” said Chris Lain, mayor of Savanna, a northwest Illinois river town of about 3,000 people. Many businesses suffered over the winter and then went straight into the shutdown, leaving reserves tapped.

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Lawmakers approve budget, adjourn session – State Journal-Register

“It’s very much of a status quo budget. To keep it where it is now,” said Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, a principal architect of the budget. “There’s a few places that there’s some increases for critical areas that couldn’t keep up, like DCFS. But it is pretty much keep everything as is.”

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Editorial: IL governor uses Illinois workers at Wisconsin horse farm while telling people to stay home – Law Enforcement Today

Fox 32 noted that some neighbors are not happy with the project, and especially the message it seems to send. “Just crazy. I drive by all the time and there’s at least 20, 30 trucks a day working on this place. Which is great, keep people working. But you don’t want our Illinois residents working. I really don’t understand that,” said a resident named Mike Wendricks.

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Editorial: After rocky start, legislative session like no other delivers casino win to boost Chicago and state – Chicago Sun-Times

"Mostly we saw lawmakers, though not thrilled to be meeting during a pandemic, deciding that, what the heck, they’d better get something done. Meanwhile, the pandemic continues. And Illinois waits on Washington. And the full extent of the wallop to the state’s finances remains to be seen."

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Lawmakers pass budget package to close out special session – Capitol News

One key to making the budget work is a plan to borrow up to $5 billion from the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility program. It also authorizes another $1.5 billion in borrowing between the general revenue fund and various other state funds in order to maintain cash flow throughout the year.

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Restore Illinois commission bill passes after removal of remote session, FOIA delay language – Capitol News

In the Senate, Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said the measure fell “wildly short” of actual oversight of the governor and his wide-reaching executive orders.

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John Kass: The Memorial Day parade: Another coronavirus casualty – Chicago Tribune

"But the way I see it, we’ve given up our liberties quickly, in a matter of weeks, on the word of experts and politicians afraid of being wrong. The experts have seen the data change by the day, and so have their expert recommendations on what to do. It’s all been so stunning. The rise of the technocratic elite. The eager capitulation of the people. The shutdown. The jobs and businesses lost. Our liberty lost."

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Mainer v. Pritzker Transcript – Let Liberty Ring – Edgar County Watchdogs

"There are no words that would do justice to describe what Judge McHaney said during his ruling."

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Lawmakers Toast ‘Aye’ For Cocktails To Go – WTTW (Chicago)

Restaurants and bars, which were forced to close their doors to customers since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, have been pleading for the ability to sell to-go cocktails as a means of helping their businesses stay afloat.

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Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan wins latest round in suit alleging sham candidates – Chicago Tribune

 U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly denied a motion asking for him to reconsider his August decision to toss out a lawsuit that contended Madigan conspired to put up two “sham” candidates with Hispanic names to confuse voters in a 2016 Democratic primary.  Jason Gonzales soundly lost to the speaker in the primary contest but cried foul over the two last-minute candidates who filed to join the ballot.

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Illinois Budget Plan Needs $6B in Federal Aid to Balance – Associated Press

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University of Illinois expecting $167-million coronavirus pandemic impact – Associated Press

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On Friday, Illinois stopped providing historical data on COVID-19 in nursing homes. A day later, the full numbers are back. – Chicago Tribune

The switch was at least the second significant change to the way the health department makes COVID-19 data related to long-term care facilities available to the public. On May 15, the department stopped publicly reporting probable cases of COVID-19 tied to the facilities and counted only cases that had been confirmed in labs. The change seen Friday would have made it impossible for the public to know how many people in the facilities have been infected — and have died — over time.

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Penalty enhancements for assaults on retail workers will head to governor – Capitol News

Measures addressing aggravated battery of retail workers, disability leave for public employees and unionization of employees in the horse racing industry found their way into a COVID-19-response bill this week at the Capitol. One portion of the bill extended a one-year recovery period by 60 days for eligible public employees who are recovering from an on-the-job injury and their recovery is hindered, directly or indirectly, by COVID-19.

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Telehealth expansion package passes Illinois House, heads to Senate – Capitol News

SB 671 extends an executive order issued in March by Gov. JB Pritzker requiring public and private insurers to cover in-network telehealth services as if they had happened in a doctor’s office. That order also restricts the fees that insurers can charge for telehealth.

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With Systems Overwhelmed, Thieves Using Past Security Breaches To Rip Off Unemployment Benefits – CBS2 (Chicago)

The thieves may have all the information they need but the state is supposed to verify each claim with the employer before it’s paid.

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Commentary: COVID Session came with low expectations. Not low enough – Journal Standard (Freeport)

"I’m sorry that Chicago Democrats felt like your concerns didn’t matter enough to do anything about, either because of self-interest first or because they assume each of us wear a MAGA hat, tote guns around everywhere, and somehow, deserve this fate of watching our neighbors livelihoods fade like the memories of a community fireworks display on this quarantined Independence Day."

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Owners of COVID-19 sites that haven’t opened asking the state for millions in rent – Daily Herald

The facilities are the former Sherman Hospital campus in Elgin, the former Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, the former MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, and the former Vibra Hospital in Springfield. The emergency taking orders cite state law, saying compensation shall include 6% annual interest on the fair market value of the property.

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All the Loopholes U.S. States Have to ‘Balance’ Their Budgets – Bloomberg

Illinois, for example, ran a budget deficit of 6% from 2004 through 2018, despite having a balanced-budget amendment. In explaining the shortfall, a report from Illinois Policy blamed the state constitution’s use of the word “estimated.” A balanced budget in Illinois is one that “shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly during that year.”

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Nursing homes now account for half of all Illinois coronavirus deaths; protesters gather at Pritzker’s house – Chicago Sun-Times

The figures released by the state show lower totals, however, because officials have stopped including in their public data 74 facilities that have not had a new case in the past 28 days, an IDPH spokeswoman said Friday.

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Full text of Statement of Interest filed by U.S. Justice Department in lawsuit over Illinois Emergency Order

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Pritzker’s Plan Not ‘The Best Solution’ For Oswego: Mayor – Patch

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Dr. Anthony Fauci says staying closed for too long could cause ‘irreparable damage’ – CNBC

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Justice Department joins push against Illinois coronavirus restrictions – NBC News

  “However well-intentioned they may be, the executive orders appear to reach far beyond the scope of the 30-day emergency authority granted to the governor under Illinois law,” Steven D. Weinhoeft, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, said in a statement. “Even during times of crisis, executive actions undertaken in the name of public safety must be lawful."

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Extra legislative session on Saturday. Lawmakers eying $41 billion budget with $5 billion in borrowing – Capitol News IL

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Illinois budget plan needs $6B in federal aid to balance – Associated Press

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Restaurant, salon, gym owners who defied state reopening order get notices to comply – Journal-Register

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Vote-by-mail expansion headed for governor’s signature after Senate passage – Capitol News IL

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House puts final stamp on graduated tax language – Journal-Register

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Illinois construction workers traveling to Wisconsin to work on Pritzker’s farm amid stay-at-home order – Fox Chicago

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Downstate judge blasts Pritzker’s stay-at-home-order: ‘Americans don’t get ruled’ – Chicago Sun-Times

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State unemployment office notifying more than 32,000 gig workers whose personal information was possibly exposed – Chicago Tribune

The breach in the system built for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments was revealed last week, when a claimant reported that she had stumbled upon personal information for thousands of applicants on the state’s website, including names, addresses and Social Security numbers. The claimant told her state representative, who reported it to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

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Workers’ comp omnibus passes both houses – Capitol News

The legislation also creates a “rebuttable presumption” that a first-responder or essential worker who contracts COVID-19 did so in the course of their employment. Employers, however, would have avenues to rebut the worker’s claim.

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Child care on pace for mass May 29 reopening – Capitol News

Under the new guidance for group child care settings, capacity would be “roughly 30 percent lower than their pre-pandemic levels.”

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Illinois reopening oversight group bill up for House vote – Center Square

Beginning July 1, the measure requires the governor to submit monthly reports to the newly created commission. The Act would be repealed July 1, 2021. The measure also codifies other executive orders from the governor like allowing remote participation in meetings of public bodies, and provides liability exceptions for delayed public records request responses retroactive from March 9, 2020, to June 1, 2020.

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Nearly $40 billion budget proposal surfaces; Republicans say it’s $5.8 billion in the red – Center Square

At $8.6 billion, Illinois' underfunded pensions will get level funding from fiscal 2020. The state’s pension system has more than $136 billion in unfunded liabilities.

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Illinois shed 762,200 jobs in April, 12.5 times greater than worst month on record – Illinois Policy

All sectors of the economy have experienced job loss since the onset of COVID-19 related fallout. Total non-farm payrolls throughout the state have now fallen to their lowest levels since 1993.

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Illinois lawmakers pass Election Day holiday for government workers only – Illinois Policy

The state has not estimated the cost this provision would have on municipalities, continuing a long tradition of Illinois lawmakers avoiding price tags on new unfunded mandates.

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Illinois budget includes automatic $1,800 pay raise for state lawmakers – Illinois Policy

In addition to higher pay for politicians, Illinois state workers are in line to receive $261 million in automatic pay raises on July 1. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has refused to call for government worker pay freezes, furlough days or other reductions.

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Wirepoints’ Mark Glennon on WGN’s Roe Conn show

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Eric Zorn: Say what? Republicans don’t want to allow you to vote on the graduated income tax – Chicago Tribune

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AG to Judge: Governor can extend disaster until everyone is vaccinated – Edgar County Watchdogs

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Clay County Judge Again Rules Against Pritzker’s Stay-At-Home Order; Gragnts Exemption To Downstate Tanning Salon And Manager – CBS Chicago

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Hundreds of coronavirus deaths removed from weekly nursing homes update as state changes how tally is compiled – Chicago Sun-Times

The omissions are part of the revised way the state will report COVID-19 cases and deaths at nursing homes; the change was made “to focus on those facilities currently experiencing an outbreak,” an agency spokeswoman said.

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20 GOP IL House members form “IL Taxpayer Freedom Caucus” – Illinois Review

Thus far, there's been a "lack of meaningful action to address the state’s financial woes," they write in a press release. Their primary focus will be the "promotion of the structural and ethical reforms Illinois desperately needs."

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Deloitte Sued Over Pandemic Unemployment Website Data Breaches – Bloomberg

A group of Ohio residents sued Deloitte in Manhattan federal court, after officials in that state, Illinois and Colorado disclosed that personal information from benefit applicants, including home addresses and social security numbers, was exposed to other users of the system. Another group of Ohioans sued Deloitte in state court in Cleveland. Both suits are proposed class actions.

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University of Illinois expecting $167M pandemic impact – AP (Illinois)

Nearly $50 million of that projected financial impact comes from adjustments to student fees for housing, dining and other activities. The university system received $63 million from the federal CARES Act, of which 50 percent goes directly to students for coronavirus-related financial aid.

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Senate GOP: Stay in session until we have bipartisan reopening plan – Capitol News

“This discussion needs to go beyond 2:30 in the afternoon press conferences,” Sen. Minority Leader Bill Brady said. He explained that the briefings are useful in informing the state, but the General Assembly needs to have a more prominent role than just a 3-day legislative session when it comes to restarting the state’s economy.

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Lawmakers in Hot Water With Feds Get Campaign Cash That Helps Pay Defense Lawyers – Better Government Association

Both Sandoval and Tom Cullerton are recent examples of public figures using a controversial yet legal practice that allows politicians to spend campaign contributions defending themselves against charges involving their public office.

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“I have a plan” – Illinois Policy

Pritzker's 5-phase plan

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Column: Why Don’t Coronavirus Testing Numbers Add Up? It’s A ‘Glitch’ – Patch (Chicago)

Mark Konkol: "Her (Ezike's) public health department won't release details about where the data is coming from, what it includes and any details about how the information is sorted – and who is in charge of sorting it (bureaucrats or data scientists) — before it's distributed to the public as trusted guidepost for the government's pandemic response."  

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New lawsuit vs Pritzker in Clay County seeks statewide order blocking guv’s COVID orders – Cook County Record

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Phase 3 in Illinois: What’s Allowed and What Can Reopen – NBC Chicago

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State jobless rate climbs to record 16.4% in April – Journal-Register

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Illinois construction workers traveling to Wisconsin to work on Pritzker’s farm amid stay-at-home order – Fox Chicago

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Illinois bill would make Election Day a holiday, but only for government workers – Illinois Policy

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s top priority in November is a constitutional amendment eliminating Illinois’ flat income tax protection. Government worker unions are among Pritzker’s largest supporters – meaning employees in local governments could be paid to get out the vote for the governor’s interests.

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Budget could pass as early as Friday – Capitol News

As each bill has already cleared at least one chamber, they could both pass in a single legislative day. Upon passage, they’d need a signature from the governor to become law.

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John Kass: Two classes in coronavirus America: Technocrats and people who work with their hands – Chicago Tribune

"When politicians break or appear to break their own rules, partisan politics isn’t at the heart of it. Human nature is at the heart of it. And the human heart can rationalize all sorts of things, before directing the mouth to issue a few words."

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Senate OKs graduated tax language for ballot, voter pamphlet – Capitol News

The Illinois Constitution Amendment Act requires the General Assembly to prepare a brief explanation of the proposed amendment, a brief argument in favor, a brief argument against, and the form in which the amendment will appear on the ballot in a pamphlet that will be distributed to voters. Each household with a registered voter will receive the information by mail.

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Illinois Unemployment Rate Rises to 16.4%Amid COVID-19 Pandemic – IDES

The monthly unemployment rate rose to a new record high since current methodologies were enacted in 1976 and the monthly decline in nonfarm payroll jobs also set a record. .Compared to a year ago, nonfarm payroll employment decreased by -822,800 jobs, with losses across all major industries. The number of unemployed workers increased dramatically from the prior month, a +280.3 percent increase to 1,004,400, a new record high, and was up +270.6 percent over the same month for the prior year.

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Pritzker threatens local police who don’t enforce his stay-at-home order – IL Policy

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency, or IEMA, sent a memo to local law enforcement officials on May 20 informing them federal funds may be withheld from their department if they do not enforce Pritzker’s executive order. It stated, “failure to execute or enforce the [executive order] could be considered noncompliance with the [Public Assistance Program Grant] Agreement condition to comply with all applicable state laws, regulations and policies thus placing the applicant’s funding in jeopardy.”

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Opinion: Don’t Bail Out the States – New York Times

Scott Walker, former governor of Wisconsin: "In Illinois, state government employees are set to receive a $261 million automatic pay raise in July. Common sense, it seems, has been suspended in the 'Land of Lincoln.'"

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State has spent nearly $240 million on COVID-19 response – Daily Herald

That's roughly $4.6 million a day through a relaxed purchasing process, with no legislative oversight and almost all of it at inflated prices. Pritzker said the state's procurement team did as much as they could to avoid waste and scams, but wouldn't elaborate on the various methods the state used to ensure a vendor was reputable.

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State bailouts should come with strings attached – The Hill

Conditioning bailouts on reform is already the norm across the world in both the public and private sectors. It’s the model used in the 2007-2009 bank bailouts, the corporate financial assistance under the recently passed CARES Act and the European Debt Crisis that struck in the wake of the Great Recession.

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Illinois House Advances Plan To Expand Mail-In Voting In November’s Elections – WBEZ (Chicago)

House passage of the elections omnibus marked Thursday’s most significant legislative accomplishment on a day when action was expected on a new state budget, a COVID-19 relief package and a list of other issues, including possible tweaks sought by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to the state law authorizing a Chicago casino.

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States Under Fiscal Pressure: Illinois – Stump

An actuary's perspective.

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Pritzker eyes federal help to offset costs of historic unemployment – Center Square

“The calls need to get answered, the applications need to be taken and they need to process the claims and at the rate they’re doing this right now – at two percent of the calls coming in – they’ll never get their money,” State Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, said.

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Illinois’ governor dismisses expense cuts as lawmakers continue crafting pandemic era budget – Center Square

In a truncated session, state lawmakers are working on details of what could be a $39.7 billion spending plan. That’s about level with the current fiscal year’s spending plan, even with the expected crater in revenue from the economic shutdown imposed by government.

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Pritzker family firm has ties to COVID-19 testing companies – Illinois Policy

Pritzker has boasted Illinois is now testing the most residents per capita among the most populous states.

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Lockdowns Haven’t Proved They’re Worth the Havoc – Bloomberg

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COVID Showdowns Brewing Across Illinois As Angry Residents, Sheriffs Reject Lockdown – ZeroHedge

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Will Illinois switch to all vote-by-mail in November? It could cost counties millions – Herald and Review (Decatur)

With already strapped budgets, clerks worry about the price tag: each packet costs at least a dollar to print, not to mention postage and labor to process applications, said Vicky Albers, Clinton County clerk. “That’s over a dollar a piece that you don’t have in your budget,” Albers said.

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Commentary: Don’t make consumers fund another Exelon bailout – Chicago Tribune

Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce: "Exelon is an outstanding Illinois employer. It provides jobs, invests in our economy and is committed to ensuring our lights turn on every day. However, the company’s legislative agenda in Springfield is disturbingly tied to legislation that separates the success of its shareholders from the success of its customers."

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“We need to make sure needs are being met.” Illinois State Rep. Mike Halpin Previews Special Legislative Session in Springfield – WQAD (Moline)

"One of the big things we’re going to do is make sure to increase access to TeleHealth and TeleMedicine," he explained. "The other thing we’re going to do is make sure we have additional support for behavioral health and mental health...we want to study how to increase access to broadband. So many more people are probably going to be working from home, staying home with their kids because they don’t have childcare – broadband access is going to be more important than ever."

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State unemployment office has doubled call center staff taking jobless claims, but complaints continue – MSN

The department processed more than a million initial claims between March 1 and May 2, compared with 78,100 initial claims during the same period in 2019, state officials have said. The department also has processed more than 50,000 claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to aid the self-employed since that system went live May 11.

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Illinois eyes borrowing billions through Fed’s short-term lending program – The Bond Buyer

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Mass casualty incident’: Over 600 doctors sign letter warning Trump of dangers of continued lockdowns – Washington Examiner

"The millions of casualties of a continued shutdown will be hiding in plain sight, but they will be called alcoholism, homelessness, suicide, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. In youths it will be called financial instability, unemployment, despair, drug addiction, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, and abuse.”

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Pritzker moves Bailey lawsuit to federal court in tactical move that could stall ruling on his stay-at-home order – Chicago Sun-Times

Legal experts told the Sun-Times parties can move cases from state court to federal court if there is a constitutional issue at play, but opposing parties can fight the move. State lawyer Thomas Verticchio wrote in Thursday’s removal notice that Bailey’s lawsuit “seeks redress for alleged deprivations of Bailey’s federal constitutional rights caused by actions taken under color of state law.”

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Senate Republican leader files bill to reopen Illinois business by June – Center Square

“The proposal put forward by the Illinois Chamber is an important step in moving the discussion forward on how we safely reopen our state and get our economy moving forward more quickly,” he said. An outline of the bill is included in this report.

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Here’s where your state falls on the scale of most to least reopened – The Hill

Comment: Yet another analysis showing Illinois is an outlier, being one of only three states "mostly closed."

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Illinois’ new jobless claims remain high, push total since COVID-19 to nearly 1.1M – Illinois Policy

The state’s employed share of the population suddenly dropped 20% to 49% from February to May 16. Illinois’ employment rate’s previous low was 58% during the worst period of the Great Recession, declining 11% relative to pre-recession peaks.

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State agency published private data of nearly 32,500 unemployed Illinoisans – Illinois Policy

IDES has a long history of fiscal mismanagement, failing to recover $115 million in erroneous payments last year and $450 million between 2012 and 2016. Audits have repeatedly found mismanagement, including allowing claims to go unanswered for more than two months.

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Illinoisans Revolting Against Lockdowns as Chicago Mayor Orders Parking Bans Around Churches to Thwart Services – Breitbart

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Nazi Name-Calling: Just Don’t Do It – Richard Porter

"Speak freely, but know this: Nazi comparisons offend and don’t persuade. Our cause will be undercut when one sign out of a hundred is wrong -- that sign will be news and will define the character of everyone associated with the protest.... When in doubt, protest the way Lincoln would: with wit -- and with malice toward none, with charity for all and with firmness in the right."

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John Kass: Is Pritzker’s coronavirus levee about to break? – Chicago Tribune

"At least we can all head over to an essential liquor store or to the essential recreational marijuana store before getting the essential chips and essential queso dip from the essential grocery store for a night of binge-watching on Netflix."

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Pritzker administration: Lawsuits, lost funds could face law enforcement agencies that don’t enforce guv’s COVID orders – Cook County Record

On May 20, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency issued a memorandum to state and local law enforcement agencies, designated by state law as emergency services and emergence management agencies; The local agencies “are statutorily required to execute and enforce” the executive orders. “It is IEMA’s view that the Governor’s EO takes precedence over any home-rule authority,” the IEMA wrote.

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Supreme Court: Circuit courts can return to normal June 1 – AP Illinois

In Wednesday’s order, the justices said chief judges should consider public health department recommendations, facility and staffing conditions, case deadlines and any prejudice that may result from delays in their normalizing plans.

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Rep. McSweeney asks U.S. A/G to ‘investigate’ Pritzker’s COVID orders, enforcement threats – Cook County Record

In the letter, McSweeney focuses on various orders issued by Pritzker, and particularly on the governor’s enforcement threats concerning his so-called stay at home order and potentially long lasting limits on the size of religious gatherings. “We ask that you remind Illinois Gov. Pritzker that the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis,” McSweeney wrote.

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Catholic, Lutheran churches in Minnesota defy state order to limit worshipers – MSN

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GOP wants vote on reopening plan – State Journal-Register (Springfield)

Pritzker has so far shown no indication that he is willing to deviate from the Restore Illinois plan that he issued that gradually has the state reopening. Republican Rep. Tim Butler acknowledged that the Democratic-controlled legislature isn’t likely to allow a vote on the governor’s plan.

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As budget decisions loom, decades of pension shortfalls haunt Illinois and Chicago – Center Square

The annual City Combined Taxpayer Burden report released in April by Truth in Accounting showed Chicago taxpayers shoulder $122,100 in deferred costs from the multiple units of government they reside in.

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Illinois lawmaker escorted out before special session of the House for not wearing a mask – Center Square

“I don’t think that the people who sent us here today, whatever district you represent, that those people intended for us to focus our time on a mask showdown of whether you’re wearing it or not,” said Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington. Lawmakers are trying to complete the entire spring session’s worth of work into three days.

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Column: Is Pritzker Administration Manipulating Coronavirus Test Totals? – Patch (Chicago)

Mark Konkol: "And it doesn't take a genius to know comparing tests totals in New York, or any other state, to Illinois' testing count is a metric that only matters to a governor with national political ambitions."

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Rent relief in Illinois could be on its way, as state legislators rush to pass bills during 3-day session – Chicago Tribune

If signed into law, the COVID-19 Emergency and Economic Recovery Renter and Homeowner Protection Act, which Chicago Democrat Rep. Delia Ramirez introduced Friday, would cancel rent debt and suspend mortgage payments for those experiencing hardships related to COVID-19.

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Pritzker forced to withdraw criminal penalties for small business owners who defy his order – Illinois Policy

The announcement came as the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR, was about to review the rule that imposed criminal penalties of up to a $2,500 fine and a year in jail. Pritzker’s withdrawal of the rule means he likely did not have the votes to avoid public rejection from lawmakers – let alone their constituents.

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Column: Will Pritzker take it to limit one more time? – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "There’s no question that Pritzker is insulated from public opinion. He’s not up for re-election until 2022. He and his fellow Democrats have the state wrapped up tight and his multibillion-dollar fortune to keep it that way. But a respect for public opinion places limits on the actions of even the most audacious elected officials."

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Restaurants Can Open With Outdoor Seating in Phase 3 of Illinois’ Reopening: Pritzker – NBC5 (Chicago)

The move is a shift from the state's original guidelines, though restaurants still cannot reopen for dine-in service until phase four. Illinois Restaurant Association president Sam Toia urged eateries and public officials to find creative solutions under the new guidelines, such as closing down streets, parking lots and public ways to make space for additional seating. "Let's show how innovative Illinois can be."

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Illinois COVID-19 Hospitalizations And Ventilator Use Reaches A Five-Week Low – WBEZ (Chicago)

The hospitalization data is a key determinant in whether the state advances later this month under the governor’s five-phase reopening plan. So, too, is the rate of infection, which also showed encouraging movement.

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Pritzker to repeal emergency rule making business reopenings a misdemeanor – Center Square

The Joint Commission on Administrative Rules got confirmation Wednesday from Illinois Department of Public Health officials that the rule was going to be repealed. “The rule that we’ve put in place, an emergency rule, only would last until the end of this phase, Phase 2. That’s about 10 more days," Pritzker said. "And then in Phase 3, a new rule would need to be issued. So that’s the way it would work. It’s not something that would last five months.”

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Report: Reforming unemployment systems imperative for state solvency – Center Square

New research indicates that indexing unemployment benefits to a state's economic conditions provides greater solvency for state finances. At the beginning of the year, states that had not reformed their UI systems had just 68 percent of the funds needed to handle a typical downturn. Trust funds fell by more than 50 percent in Massachusetts and New York; West Virginia, Illinois, and California have lost more than 40 percent.

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Judge denies Running Central’s request for restraining order against governor’s stay-at-home order – WEEK (Peoria)

The state argued that not only does the Governor have the ability to declare multiple disaster proclamations, but also that protecting public health takes priority over constitutionality.

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GOP seeks to remove graduated tax measure from ballot – The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale)

While it took three-fifths of each the state House and Senate to put the amendment question on the ballot, only a majority vote in each house would be needed to remove it.

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U of Chicago Analysis: 68% of unemployed workers who can collect unemployment will get benefits that top what they previously earned at work – CBS News

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Republicans hope to block rules making some business openings a crime – Capitol News

“I believe that the governor’s action to criminalize folks who are trying to protect their livelihoods and support their families by threatening them with a class A misdemeanor charge is a vast government overreach at a time when small business owners are doing everything they can to just to stay afloat,” said Oswego Republican Rep. Keith Wheeler, a co-chair of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

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As gas prices drop, the impact of Illinois’ taxation at the pump becomes more apparent – Chicago City Wire

Illinois has the third-highest gas taxes and fees in the nation, with an average expense of 55 cents per gallon, the Tax Foundation's 2019 survey showed.

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Commentary: A pandemic does not suspend the rule of law – Chicago Sun-Times

"Whether or not you agree with these decisions or the policies they overrode, the principle at stake is vitally important. Even in an emergency — especially in an emergency — government officials are bound by the law. "

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Ill. State Police: No one will be arrested for violating executive order; urge residents to comply – KFVS

As the state moves forward with reopening, Illinois State Police say they won’t arrest someone for violating the executive orders or emergency rules.

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Resistant businesses face charges under new rule; GOP cries foul – Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

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Illinois Lawmakers Return to Springfield for Legislative Session – NBC5 (Chicago)

The extraordinary safety measures that will govern the session were delineated in a letter last week from Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan to the House minority leader. Legislators will have to pledge to follow Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines to prevent the spread of the highly contagious and potentially lethal coronavirus.

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You Said It: ‘Governor Pritzker: Hear Our Stories, Save Our Communities’ – Better

Chicago Empty Street No one is speaking for the small brick and mortar businesses; no one is speaking for the kids and families facing mental illnesses. No one is standing for women who have lost their jobs. It’s up to us, mothers, and women to tell the governor of Illinois our stories, the stories of the small businesses we lean on to be a community, so they can be part of an accelerated reopen plan. Otherwise, they might close forever.

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Illinois House to vote on rule requiring lawmakers to wear masks during session – Center Square

“I am proposing we move to adopt changes to the House rules that require members, staff and the public to wear masks, submit to temperature checks prior to entering the building each day and observe social distancing guidelines outlined by public health experts while inside the Bank of Springfield Center,” Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said in a statement. “The House will take up this rule change immediately upon convening Wednesday.”

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Respect my authoritah! – Illinois Policy

Pritzker: Respect my authoritah

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Editorial: The glaring hole in Springfield’s to-do list: A corruption cleanup bill – Chicago Tribune

"Free the legislative inspector general from interference and oversight by the very lawmakers the inspector general is supposed to investigate. Reconfigure the ethics commission to make it truly independent — to facilitate the IG’s work, not impede it. That means no lawmaker should serve as a member. It’s a baked-in conflict of interest. And allow the IG greater powers to interview and investigate complaints and make them public without signoff of the commission."

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The Truth Behind Illinois’ Growing Financial Disaster (video) – The Illinois Channel

Sheila Weinberg founded Truth In Accounting, a nonprofit that is nonpartisan, but one whose mission it is to give citizens the unvarnished truth about the financial condition of governments. What the REAL numbers show, says Weinberg, is that if the state of Illinois were a business, it would be bankrupt.

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Emergency housing relief proposed in Illinois to stave off mass evictions, foreclosures – Chicago Reporter

State Rep. Delia Ramirez (4th District) said she has conferred with the realtors association and “clarified that rent cancellation can only work if there is a fund to make landlords whole, and we are working to maximize funding to do that. I think they appreciated hearing that.”

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HEROES Act awaits action – One Illinois

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago touted the bill’s “$2.1 billion for (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to support state, local, and tribal health departments,” adding, “We know that we will not be able to fully revitalize our economy until we have this health-care crisis under control so the HEROES Act includes $75 billion for testing, tracing, and treatment and it ensures all Americans have increased access to health insurance.”

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House Democrats’ HEROES Act is a giant political scam – The Hill

"In addition to bailing out numerous irresponsible state and local governments and the Postal Service, the legislation is chock full of radical, wildly irresponsible provisions that clearly show that congressional Democrats are more concerned with expanding their power and pleasing their allies than they are fixing our broken economy."

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Illinois governor’s family firm owns stake in companies involved in coronavirus testing – Fox News

Comment: "Testing, testing, testing. That’s what every epidemiologist, every immunologist, every responsible business owner and everyone who cares about safely opening up our economy says we must do to successfully maintain a high standard of protection as we move into phase three and phase four,” Pritzker said earlier.

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Winnebago County to Reopen Restaurants, Child Care and Churches on June 1 – NBC5 (Chicago)

Should these institutions in Winnebago County reopen on June 1, that would be nearly a month earlier than the reopening date outlined in the timeline Gov. J.B. Pritzker put forth earlier this month.  While the county's timeline differs from the governor's, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara was not seeking a legal fight with Pritzker over the reopening plan.

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Exelon says ‘clock is ticking’ for legislative assistance – Center Square

Offering Exelon a separate market to sell power in would likely result in higher energy bills, said Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce: “This is yet another subsidy of a business’ assets that are, admittedly by the company, profitable. Those subsidies are going to be paid by all of the other businesses that are struggling to survive in today’s economic atmosphere.”

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These lawmakers will decide whether to criminalize small business owners who defy Pritzker order – Illinois Policy

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR, is facing pressure to strike down Pritzker’s new rule at its Wednesday meeting, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-North Aurora, announced that he will file a motion during the meeting to object to the governor’s new rule. In order to successfully block the rule, at least eight of the 12 JCAR members must approve the objection.

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Illinois lawmakers returning to deal with $7B budget hole, COVID-19 fallout – Illinois Policy

Special session differs from regular session in that only certain topics can be addressed. This means legislation unrelated to those topics may not be called, debated or voted on. The seven topics at hand are: COVID-19-related legislation, state budget, economic recovery and infrastructure projects, progressive income tax constitutional amendment, sunset clauses, the 2020 general election, and a hospital assessment program.

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Illinois’ struggling unemployment program to run out of money in May – Illinois Policy

The state’s unemployment system has been a problem for years, being slow to react to claims and making financial errors. It sent out $142 million erroneously last year, recovering less than $1 out of every $5 after mistakes were discovered. It also just exposed private data for some self-employed workers who on May 11 became eligible for benefits.

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Governors face mounting court challenges over coronavirus lockdown orders – Fox News

The looming battle in the Oregon Supreme Court comes as a case is pending before a lower court in Illinois that has the potential to invalidate that state's coronavirus restrictions implemented by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. A judge who ruled against Pritzker's order as it applied to just one state lawmaker will hear arguments Friday in a case that attempts to undo the order in its entirety

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WIND’s Amy Jacobson barred from governor’s media briefings – Feder

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Pritzker bans AM 560’s Jacobson from daily press conferences, claims she isn’t “impartial” – Prairie State Wire

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Editorial: How the pandemic unmasks Illinois’ feeble finances – Chicago Tribune

"Just because Illinois’ public finances are a familiar mess to those of us who live here doesn’t mean this state can’t be humiliated nationwide. With Congress now mulling whether to send financial assistance to state capitals, the only state whose creditworthiness is rated a whisker above junk stands out like jalopy at the Indy 500."

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Pritzker family owns stake in company providing COVID-19 tests – Northeastern Illinois University Independent

Gov. Pritzker carries a history of using his personal fortune to fund Illinois expenses. In January of 2020, the Illinois Senate introduced a bill aimed at preventing Pritzker from using private finances on public expenses.

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Illinois lawmakers introduce resolution to take progressive income tax off ballot – Illinois Policy

House Joint Resolution 123 requires a simple majority vote from lawmakers, a move that could boost the COVID-19 economic recovery.

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Illinois’ small business owners face imprisonment, $2,500 fine for reopening under Pritzker’s order – Illinois Policy

“This latest unilateral decision by the governor is one more reason why the executive branch should be working with the legislative branch on responses and solutions to the current health pandemic. The checks and balances we provide are critical to our state," said Assistant House Minority Leader Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville).

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Tucker Carlson Slams Pritzker and Other Lockdown Extremists in Opening Segment – Video – Fox

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Illinois business owners could face fine, jail time for reopening in defiance of coronavirus restrictions – The Hill

"Nobody's getting arrested or handcuffed," Pritzker administration general counsel Ann Spillane said. "But they are getting a citation where they would have to go to court."

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What to expect when legislature returns Wednesday – State Journal-Register (Springfield)

With more than two months to catch up on, but only three days to meet, lawmakers will hope to pass essential bills while minimizing the risk of spreading the novel virus. COVID-19 is the first topic that appears in the special session proclamation; That could mean laws specifically tailored to the pandemic or aimed at economic recovery related to it. And legislators are legally obligated to pass a budget, which takes effect July 1.

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Column: On Hitler, Pritzker And What All The Shouting Is Really About – Patch (Chicago)

Mark Konkol: "Not only is that kind of hate-filled rhetoric vile and unacceptable, it allows Pritzker to easily dismiss valid criticism of his leadership as the musings of anti-Semitic mob of right-wing radicals... But the governor still needs to be held accountable for his mistakes, broken promises and an alarming lack of transparency at the heart of why many people don't trust him to have so much unchecked power."

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Judge: Oregon executive orders ‘null and void’ if not OK’d by Legislataure after 28 days – KVAL

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Bailey v. Pritzker: Summary Judgement Motion filed, hearing on Friday – Edgar County Watchdogs

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Illinois Launching Contact Tracing Pilot Programs in Lake, St. Clair Counties – WTTW (Chicago)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said these counties were chosen because they have significant needs in terms of case numbers in vulnerable populations, a robust capacity for tracing and existing collaborations with public health personnel, medical students and volunteers already on the ground. Of the 97 local health departments, only 55 have answered IDPH assessments regarding their ability to expand and deploy their contact tracing capabilities.

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A message to my fellow liberals: Working people are getting angrier and angrier – Opinion – Chicago Sun-Times

It seems to be therapeutic to many of my friends to have their beliefs reinforced each night that anyone who complains about shutdowns is unintelligent or malevolent.

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Editorial: Mayor Lightfoot, it’s time to reopen the lakefront – Chicago Tribune

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Editorial: Why churches, for now, should remain closed – Chicago Tribune

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State legal memo: Illinois governor needs lawmakers’ approval before extending emergency powers – Illinois Policy

"The 2001 memo surfaced amid a series of additional lawsuits filed against the governor’s orders, arguing that Pritzker has overstepped his authority under the U.S. Constitution as well as Illinois law...Some of these legal battles could have been averted had the General Assembly organized a plan to meet before the initial proclamation expired."

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Progressive income tax hike could be up to 47% for Illinois small businesses – Illinois Policy

Small businesses face a potential income tax hike nearly 5 times larger than corporations under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “fair tax” amendment.

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Bria of Geneva nursing home faces wrongful death lawsuit – WGNTV (Chicago)

A local nursing home where a quarter of the residents died from COVID-19 is being sued by the family of a 97-year-old woman. A spokesperson for the family said they had no idea the woman was sick until they got a call saying she died.

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Editorial: Coming attraction – Champaign News-Gazette

"The collapse in state revenues has complicated matters severely, the reality being that Illinois doesn’t have the money to meet its current obligations and won’t have the money to support desired spending for the new fiscal year, either. This is a conundrum for spendthrift legislators. If past is prologue, they will spend money the state doesn’t have in the vain hope that it will all work out."

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Pritzker Finds Running Most-Troubled U.S. State Only Gets Harder – Bloomberg

Now, Pritzker and Illinois have become whipping boys in a heated and mostly partisan national debate over how much cash Washington should fork over to patch state budgets shredded by the plunge in tax revenue.

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Fayette County won’t charge misdemeanors against businesses that open – Effingham Daily News

Thei statement from Fayette County State's Attorney Joshua Morrison and Fayette County Sheriff Chris Smith in response to the Governor's emergency rule making it a class A misdemeanor for certain businesses to open reads, in part: "Because we expect that this rule will be quickly overturned, this Office has the duty to protect citizens and businesses."

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Opinion: Why Does Pritzker ignore pandemic law former state Senator Barack Obama sponsored? – Illinois Review

Writes former State Senator Ed Petka (R-Plainfield): "Did you know that Illinois Law requires that a private place or business could only be closed or shut down by the consent of the owner or by a court order?"

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Nearing Bankruptcy, Sears Claimed Fast-Food Workers and Baristas as Employees to Keep Tax Breaks – ProPublica

Under a 2012 law designed to keep the company from leaving the state, Sears was required to maintain at least 4,250 employees at its sprawling offices in Hoffman Estates and a small satellite office in Chicago. In return, the retail icon received tax breaks worth an estimated $275 million.

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GOP: Graduated tax ‘cash grab’ will stifle pandemic recovery – AP Illinois

Illinois Republicans Monday demanded a vote in the General Assembly on removing from the fall ballot Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax structure during a Special Session this week in Springfield. State law does not specify a deadline for removing a question that’s been certified for a particular election, according to Matt Dietrich, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections.

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Illinois Supreme Court Disbars Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich – CBS2 (Chicago)

In addition to the loss of his law license, Blagojevich is barred from holding elected office in Illinois again.

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Less Than 2 Weeks to the End of Illinois’ Stay-at-Home Order: Here’s Where We Stand – NBC5 (Chicago)

The Northeast region, which includes Cook County and collar counties, reported a positivity rate at 18.3% Monday — just under the threshold of 20% and a drop of 4.9% in the last two weeks. The remaining regions in the state sat well-below the positivity rate threshold, with the North-Central region at 7.2%, the Central region at 4.2% and the Southern region at 6%.

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Trump Calls Out Pritzker’s Handling of Coronavirus Response Efforts – NBC5 (Chicago)

Trump accused Pritzker of money being the motivating factor for the his response to the pandemic, the president claiming he "knows the family."

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Four Illinois counties to vote on secession from Chicago. What if they succeed? – Northeast Illinois University Independent

"To put that into greater perspective, an area comprising only 18.7% of Illinois’ total area is steering the stay at home guidelines for the remaining 81.3% of the state. It makes sense that the rest of Illinois feels disenfranchised when it comes to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 lockdown measures. But what happens should the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan finally embrace the threats of its state counterparts, take its ball and go elsewhere?"

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Property tax relief program leads Waukegan District 60 to take out new line of credit – Lake County News-Sun

“These conversations that the board’s having tonight are not unique to Waukegan,” said Kyle Harding, a partner with Chapman and Cutler, the district’s bond attorneys. “These conversations are happening throughout the state in large part because of the decisions that counties are making in respect to property tax bills.” Questions also remain about how much money school districts can expect from the state, which has not passed a budget for the upcoming year.

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State Rep. Threatens to File Recall Motion Against Pritzker for Unemployment Handling – NBC Chicago

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