Milestone: Mary Patricia Cullerton

The mother of Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton is reported to have died Friday. Mary Patricia Cullerton reportedly had a stroke. She was a resident of a Naperville nursing home.

Mary Patricia was reported by the Chicago Tribune to have received a funeral mass Monday.

Read more about Mary Patricia Cullerton in the Chicago Tribune.

Quinn- Cullerton showdown over Smart Grid?

A bill that would raise utility rates in Illinois by $3 billion is headed for the desk of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. Quinn has promised to veto the bill.

The bill which would introduce smart grid technology and other infrastructure changes was backed by heavy lobbying from state utilities, according to reports, including a report by CBSLocal.

Quinn, who gained fame as a consumer advocate, may be sparring with Ill. Sen. President John Cullerton if he vetoes the bill. Cullerton, according to the report, used a legislative maneuver to delay the bill reaching Quinn’s desk.

Read more at CBSLocal.

Rear seat belt law signed into law

A state law requiring all passengers in a vehicle to wear a seatbelt, including passengers in the rear seats, was signed into law late last month by Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn.

The safety measure was the last bill sponsored by Illinois Rep. Mark Beaubien prior to his passing. Ill. Sen. President John Cullerton sponsored the bill in the Senate.

The new law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

Cullerton to examine Illinois business tax structure

Ill. Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan have indicated they support an examination of a tax on businesses that was boosted in the closing hours of the previous session of the legislature, the Rockford Register Star notes.

The tax increase for business mirrored the 2/3′s  increase on personal income taxes. Some of the reasoning was an apparent belief that the two rates must remain at the same ratio. However, the Illinois constitution limits the business rate, it does not set an automatic relationship between the two rates.

Illinois businesses have been complaining since the rate hike that the state rates are among the highest in the country. Some companies have suggested they will leave the state because of the tax increase.

“We need to take a holistic approach to business taxes as opposed to the continued piecemeal policies that often pit one business against another,” said Cullerton, also in a prepared statement.

Read more at the Rockford Register Star.

Cullerton: no apologies for holding up cap bill

Sun-Times columnist Rich Miller says Ill. Senate President John Cullerton has no regrets about tactics used to increase spending on Medicare and social services.

“I don’t think anything was a mistake,” Cullerton said about the Senate trying to hold the public works bill hostage. In the end he was out maneuvered by House Speaker Mike Madigan and House GOP leader Tom Cross, Miller says.

“We’ll get our vindication in January,” Cullerton predicted.

Read the column.

Senate approves $3900 pay cut through furloughs

The Illinois Senate last week approved a plan for 12 unpaid furlough days and a paycut, essentially a temporary $3,900 pay cut.

“I will never vote to cut my salary,” Sen. Annazette Collins told the Associated Press.

Despite the grumbling, the cut was approved. Sen. President John Cullerton told the AP he will push for more spending when the legislature returns to session in the fall. He criticized the House for cutting spending for Medicare and social services.

Read more at the Deseret News.

Illinois House on 2nd reading of remap; Unusual weekend hearings

Democratic proposal to remap the 11th and 12th House, and the 6th Senate district in Ravenswood

With a May 31 deadline looming Illinois Statehouse Democrats are anticipating a busy week. At stake, passage of a state budget, pension proposals, workers comp reform and even perhaps even more importantly, passage of a remapping proposal for the legislature and the Illinois Congressional delegation.

For the first time in modern state history, one party controls the entire remapping process.

If passage of the budget and the remapping proposal is delayed past May 31, the Democrats lose control of the process. Instead of a simple majority of the membership to pass bills, a super-majority of 3/5′s of the membership is required.

With this deadline looming Friday, at 3:30P House Democrats released a proposed remap. Two unusual weekend hearings were held on proposals from the House and the Senate map proposals in Chicago.

The legislature plans to hold a joint session of the house and senate redistricting committees Tuesday in Springfield. *** Update the senate hearing has concluded as of 2.34P. The house is moving ahead with a second reading of the bill. ***

Activists were generally pleased with the maps, but asked for ‘tweaks’ to fix issues they saw. On the North Side those issues included concentrating the votes of Asian-Americans into a single senate district and into one or two house districts. The map proposed by the Democrats spreads them across up to four senate districts and even more house districts.

Other proposals would add additional majority minority districts in the far northwest suburbs of Cook, Chicago’s west and southwest sides and in the southeast side.

“We believe that the percentages of North Side districts can be strengthened and that percentages on the South Side can be more balanced,” Josina Morita of the United Congress told the committee.

The proportion of Asian-Americans would very probably be less than 30 percent even if all these tweaks are accepted, activists from the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations noted.

“In the absence of change,” C W Chang of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community said of the North Side proposal, “we will be powerless for ten years” due to the Asian population being split among so many different districts.

The Ravenswood senate districts that would be changed by these proposals would include the 7th, currently represented by Heather Steans. Also, the 8th, 9th and 10th districts could see some changes.

A proposal to create the 6th senate district to include the home of Rep. Deb Mell had received a rare opposing editorial from The Bulldog. The proposed map puts Mell’s home back in the 20th senate district, currently occupied by Iris Martinez.

In one of the few discussions regarding the 6th senate and the 11th and 12th house districts a representative of Wrightwood Neighbors, Allan Mellis, expressed full support on behalf of the organization of the proposed map.

Speaking of the majority Latino districts in Avondale, Irving Park and Albany Park Sylvia Puente of the Latino Policy Forum looked to strengthen “the sustainability of the districts.” Puente expressed an interest in fewer districts with a higher proportion of Latino voters.

Republicans were critical of the proposal, noting it was released at 3:30P Friday in Springfield. Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) asked witnesses if they had been able to examine detailed information regarding the voting age population and when they knew a data disk was available.

Although Fortner noted the proposed map would force him into a runoff with another Republican, he was unable to say how many GOP legislators were in a similar situation.

Most witnesses admitted they had very little time or were unable to adequately review the proposal. In fact an analysis of the voting age population in each district was released by house Democrats minutes before the Sunday hearing.

“It is an insult to think the people of Illinois can understand a map produced less than 48 hours ago,” witness Bruce Crosby told the committee on Saturday’s hearing.

Witnesses at the Saturday hearing noted they only heard of the Sunday house hearing on Saturday at the senate hearing. On Sunday witnesses noted they were not aware a data disk was available.

Rep. Barbara Flynn Curie (D- Hyde Park) blamed the media for not getting the word out and noted the committee had released the disk to anyone who asked for it on Friday after 3:30P.

Whitney Woodward, speaking for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform called the process unacceptable. Noting that no maps had yet been released for congressional seats, she said the process lacked transparency.

 

See the Democratic map proposal for the 6th Senate District and the 11th and 12th Representative Districts.

See the Democratic map proposal for the 7th Senate District and the 13th and 14th Representative Districts.

See the Democratic map proposal for the 20th Senate District and the 39th and 40th Representative Districts.

See a close-up of proposed Representative Districts in the Chicago area from the Democrats.

See a map of all the Illinois Districts proposed by the Democrats.

See the breakdown of voting age population for minorities in each district, provided by the Illinois House Democrats.

Read the press release from the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community.

Read the press release from the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations.

Read the press release from the Illinois Coaliton for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Read the press release from the Asian American Institute.

Visit the Illinois Senate Redistricting Committee Website to view senate maps, find testimony and find other information. (Requires Google Earth).

Visit the Illinois House Democrats Redistricting Website to view house maps, read testimony and find presentations given to the house.

See