Legislative Update: May 18, 2015

Casino Discussions Continue in Springfield Working Group

Discussions continue about a possible expansion of gaming in Illinois. The gaming expansion working group met twice last week and we have plans to meet again twice this week. A possible license for the city of Danville is an important part of these discussions, and while there is currently no bill pending in the General Assembly at this time, I remain hopeful that a casino license is in Danville’s future.

Senate Bill Committee Deadline Passes in the House
Most Senate bills had to be out of House committee by the end of last week to remain alive. As the General Assembly continues to move towards May 31 adjournment, members of the Illinois House and Senate scrambled to get committee approval for their bills. This week, May 18 through May 22, is the deadline for Senate bills to be heard on the House floor. By May 22, most Senate bills will either have been passed by the House and sent to the Governor for final signature, passed by the House as amended and sent back to the Senate for concurrence, or will have been sent to the House Rules Committee for failure to meet the deadline. Meanwhile, the Senate has a parallel deadline for House bills.

Political Games Continue in Springfield
At a time when legislators should be working in a bipartisan manner to create the FY16 budget, some members of the majority party have been making a mockery of the legislative process by bringing bills to the floor they have no intention of passing. Rather than allowing the working groups on the budget and other important issues to complete their work and send appropriation and reform bills through the committee process for proper vetting, Speaker Madigan has instead decided to turn the House Chamber into a political circus. House Republicans are refusing to participate in the Speaker’s political stunts and are voting “Present” on these insincere pieces of legislation.

Hays Serves as Honorary Starter for Fundraising 5K Run/Walk
Over the weekend it was my privilege to serve as the honorary starter for the Danville Police and Firefighter 5K Run and Walk. Proceed from the event will assist with travel costs associated with bringing wounded warriors from VETSports to play against Danville’s Finest and Bravest in an upcoming August 22 charity softball event at Danville Stadium. Danville was recently named the most Veteran-friendly community in both Illinois and in the United states by the 40 & 8 Veterans Organization. Proceeds from this year’s August 22 charity softball game will benefit CASA of Vermilion County. Thanks to all who participated in the 5K run and walk. Due to your participation and generosity, the event was a huge success!

50-State Survey Shows Recent Illinois Job growth has Underperformed Neighboring States
The study, conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts, counted the rates of new job creation in each of the 50 states between January 2008 (marking the start of the 2008-15 downturn) and March 2015. The study was released on Wednesday, May 13.

Study findings indicated that, when measured by percentage, the rate of job growth in Illinois underperformed similar numbers in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Although Illinois’ job growth was significantly slower than that of the nation as a whole, slow rates were also posted by many states in the U.S. Northeast other than New York. Some Midwestern states did well in the Pew study, with Michigan bouncing back significantly from the motor vehicle industry-led crash of the late 2000s. Paced by changes in labor-management law, Michigan added 417,900 jobs since its low point of March 2010, outpacing many of its Rust Belt neighbors.

Moody’s Reduces Chicago’s Credit Rating to Junk Bond Status
The downgrade to what Moody’s calls “Ba1,” a junk-bond level, was announced on Tuesday, May 12, and affects $8.1 billion in city general-obligation debt. The moved marked semi-official acknowledgement, by a major player in global debt markets, that there is material risk that Chicago may on a future date fail to repay its bondholders in full and the city may default on its debts. The New York credit-rating agency attributed this move to the Friday, May 8 decision by the Illinois Supreme Court to discard recent moves toward pension reform. As recently as March 2014, Moody’s rated Chicago debt at A3. With this May 2015 move, Chicago’s GO bonds will no longer be suitable for most purposes of fiduciary investment, including investments by pension funds, annuity funds, and funds operated by Wall Street that provide savings options to workers enrolled in 401(k) plans. Junk-bond debt often continues to trade back and forth between speculators and aggressive income-oriented investment funds.

White House Confirms Future Obama library will be Built on Chicago’s South Side
The widely leaked decision was officially disclosed on Tuesday, May 12. Insiders expect that the Obama Presidential Library and Museum will be constructed with private donations and will not require a capital investment by the State or its taxpayers. Chicago’s Martin Nesbitt, who will head the foundation that will fund the planning and construction, has not yet disclosed where on the South Side the presidential complex will be built. The University of Chicago, in cooperation with Chicago’s City Hall, is recommending sites in Chicago’s Jackson Park or Washington Park. Both locations would be physically close to the Obamas’ longtime family home in Chicago’s Hyde Park/Kenwood neighborhood, as well as the University of Chicago Law School where Obama served as an instructor.

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