#ILGov: Bruce Rauner, GOP Candidate for Illinois Governor, Promises Government Shutdown and Mass Firing of Public Workers
In a newly surfaced video, Illinois’ Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner suggested if elected governor, he will fire public employees and potentially shut down the government to address his state’s fiscal challenges.
The video, circulated today by the Illinois Federation of Teachers, shows Rauner addressing the Tazewell County Republican dinner in March. In remarks to that group, Rauner said: “We may have to go through rough times. We may have to do what Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers. Sort of have to do a do-over and shut things down for a little while. That’s what we’re gonna do.”
In 1981, members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization decided to go on strike in its push for better working conditions and higher pay. In response, President Reagan fired more than 11,000 air traffic controllers. The federal government subsequently decertified the air traffic controllers union. His action came months after he sent a letter to the head of PATCO acknowledging “too few people working unreasonable hours with obsolete equipment” and pledging that his “administration will work very closely with you to bring about a spirit of cooperation between the president and the air traffic controllers.”
Rauner’s call to “shut things down” took place only a few months after the federal government shutdown last October. It also comes amid Illinois’ ongoing debate about how to address an estimated 30-year, $100 billion pension shortfall.
Critics of Illinois’ recent move to slash pension benefits have pointed to the state’s spending on tax cuts and subsidies as proof Illinois has plenty of money to address its pension obligations. For example, a New York Times analysis indicated, Illinois currently spends roughly $1.5 billion every year on taxpayer subsidies to corporations. Additionally, the state in 2011 passed a corporate tax cut bill that is estimated to cost $371 million a year. That bill was designed to award tax breaks to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Rauner is considered a top pickup opportunity for Republicans. He has been consistently leading in polls in his election matchup against incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. His rhetoric against public employees stands in contrast to his business experience as a billionaire private equity executive who made his fortune managing government workers’ public pension money.
In the months preceding his call for mass firings of public employees and a shutdown, Rauner has proposed to use budget savings from pension cuts to finance new income tax cuts. He has also called for public employees to be moved out of traditional pensions and into 401(k)-style accounts.
The Associated Press reported recently those defined contribution systems tend to generate large fees for financial firms. Union-affiliated groups have argued states that have converted their plans to 401(k)s have ended up losing taxpayers’ money rather than cutting costs. Additionally, a Republican legislator in Alaska recently cited exploding pension costs as proof his state’s 2006 transition to a 401(k) system was a mistake.
The Rauner campaign did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.
UPDATE: Another video has surfaced today showing Rauner making a similar comment in a March 2013 speech to Illinois Republicans. In that video, Rauner says: “I may have to take a strike and shut down the government for a few weeks and kinda redo everybody’s contract. That’s a possibility…I will do it proudly.”
FUCK Bruce Rauner, and he needs to be kept out of office!
h/t: David Sirota at IBTimes.com
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Illinois lawmakers have revived a so-called “cupcake bill” introduced after a young girl’s home baking operation was shut down.
The Senate on Tuesday initially defeated the proposal, which paves the way for home kitchen businesses making less than $1,000 per month.
Republican Sen. Jim Oberweis was among opponents. The dairy magnate said proposed regulations tacked on to the bill would have sidetracked his own entrepreneurial spirit at a young age.
But the Senate later moved to reconsider the bill and that amendment was withdrawn. Lawmakers then voted 57-0 to pass the measure. Sen. Heather Steans says: “Let them eat cupcakes.”
The legislation arose after the Madison County Health Department shut down 12-year-old Chloe Stirling’s cupcake business in Troy. It now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn.
Illinois Senate Adjourns Leaving Fair Tax Act Untouched, Kills Term Limit Amendment | Progress Illinois
The Illinois Senate has adjourned for the day, leaving the Fair Tax Act untouched. Meanwhile, the GOP-backed amendment to impose term limits on state lawmakers died in the chamber Tuesday.
Despite a large rally by Illinoisans calling for a chance to vote on the Fair Tax Act and attempts by sponsor State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) to drum up support in the House, the amendment was not called up for a vote in the Senate. The amendment, which would have installed a progressive income tax in the state, had to pass through the Senate today in order to even potentially meet the deadline to make it onto the November ballot.
“I want to make sure there is a path to victory in the House before advancing it out of the Senate,” Harmon said, according to the State Journal-Register. “There are Republicans who can, should and will vote for this amendment if given the opportunity. I have no doubt we will need a bipartisan roll call in the House, but I am confident we can achieve that.”
“There’s no point in calling it in the Senate for some sort of symbolic vote,” he added.
Advocates for a progressive tax in the state are voicing displeasure with today’s outcome, as seen in this statement by A Better Illinois campaign director Kristen Crowell:
While we are certainly disappointed with today’s results, the fight for a Fair Tax – which enjoys the support of 77% of Illinois voters – is far from over. Our statewide grassroots campaign, including more than 250,000 petition signatures and the support of more than 750 small businesses, faith leaders, labor and education groups, and civic and community organizations from every corner of the state brought us closer to implementing a Fair Tax in Illinois than ever before.
We are confident the days of forced poor choices between unfair, regressive taxation that disproportionately burdens the poor and middle class and continued draconian cuts to the vital investments Illinoisans expect and depend upon are numbered. The Fair Tax will continue to be an issue in the upcoming elections and in front of lawmakers again as soon as this year’s Veto Session.
Today is a sad day for democracy. This setback – while temporary – was clearly influenced by a well-financed, out-of-state smear campaign in which nearly $1 million was funneled into Illinois to mislead and distort the Fair Tax to both lawmakers and the public. Our research and our conversations with both voters and lawmakers make us supremely confident that Illinois citizens will ultimately end this unfair, antiquated tax system as the truth about a Fair Tax continues to become evident.
Meanwhile, conservatives are “celebrating” the lack of a vote on the progressive tax amendment, as seen in this press release by Americans for Prosperity:
In a second victory for working families and businesses in as many months, the proposal to amend the Illinois Constitution and allow for a progressive income tax is dead after Democratic leaders failed to muster enough support to call the legislation for a vote. AFP-Illinois led the grassroots charge against the tax by airing three cable TV and online ads, generating over 1,800 constituent calls to priority legislators’ offices, and mobilizing its activists throughout the state at fifteen town hall meetings and other grassroots events.
This stealth income tax increase was championed by Governor Quinn and Springfield’s Democratic leaders as yet another way to squeeze more cash out of Illinois taxpayers. With the backing of more than 60,000 Illinois grassroots activists, Americans for Prosperity-Illinois joined with legislators and partner organizations in an effort to show legislators the deep opposition to the proposed progressive income tax.
'AFP-Illinois gave voice to thousands of Illinois residents who deeply distrust the leadership in Springfield and know that changing our state’s constitution to allow for a progressive tax would open the door to continued tax increases in the future,' said AFP-Illinois State Director David From.
Governor Quinn and Speaker Madigan’s next goal is to make permanent the state’s temporary tax increase, a whopping 67 percent tax increase passed in 2011 that is the largest tax increase in Illinois history. Three years later Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation, with billions of unpaid bills, a seriously underfunded pension liability, and the third highest unemployment rate in the country. After defeat of ‘millionaire tax’ and the progressive income tax, AFP-Illinois shifts full attention to blocking a permanent income tax hike.
'Just three years ago Illinois taxpayers were promised that the income tax increase was temporary, and now Governor Quinn has made making this temporary hike permanent the cornerstone of his fiscal policy,' continued From. 'The defeat of the millionaire tax and the progressive income tax shows that Illinois voters are fed up with the false promises of our politicians; AFP-Illinois and our thousands of Illinois supports can now shift our full attention to defeating Governor Quinn’s permanent income tax increase.'
The Republican-led push to impose term limits on state lawmakers, an idea that is supported by both GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner as well as Gov. Pat Quinn, failed to pass through a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. But the issue could still get on the November ballot if Rauner’s petiton effort to limit state lawmakers to eight years in office and adjust the number of legislators in the general assembly garners enough support. He is expected to turn in the petition signatures on Wednesday.
Another potential amendment to hit November ballots looks to restructure the way Illinois political maps are drawn. Signatures for that effort are expected to be turned in Thursday. Both Rauner’s effort and the amendment to restructure state political maps are expected to see a court challenge.
Two other amendments will definitely appear on the ballot, however. One amendment looks to prevent voter suppression, while the other will strengthen the victims’ rights amendment.
Bad news out of Springfield: The A Better Illinois-backed Illinois Fair Tax Act is NOT headed to the ballot in November.
Also, the issue of term limits for state legislators and resizing the House [118 to 123] and Senate [59 to 41] (supported by BOTH Rauner and incumbent Gov. Quinn) being on the ballot is a no-go (for now).
Legislators total in Illinois (BOTH House and Senate) 177 currently, 164 if proposal somehow passes.
How bills in Illinois will pass (Simple Majority/60% Supermajority/66%/75% Thresholds) under the current and new proposals to resize the House and Senate:
Illinois TL/Resizing Proposal Bill Passages: House: 60/71/78/89 [New: 62/74/82/93] Senate: 30/36/39/45 [New: 21/25/28/31] #Twill— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem) April 30, 2014
SPRINGFIELD — House lawmakers today advanced a measure that would ask voters this fall if Illinois should strengthen ballot protections and ban voter suppression tactics.
House Speaker Michael Madigan’s proposed constitutional amendment, which would be placed on the Nov. 4 ballot, says no person should be denied registration and voting rights based on race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, language or income.
The House sent the measure to the Senate on a 109-5 vote.
The measure seeks to counter a June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that dislodged part of the 1960s-era federal Voting Rights Act and prompted eight states to attempt to restrict access to polling booths, Madigan said.
”That has brought on legislation in other states that some of us would consider voter suppression,” Madigan said, pointing to how voter photo identification laws have disproportionately impacted minorities and the poor.
The intent of the measure, Madigan said, is that “voter suppression laws would not be permitted.”
In his remarks, Madigan called it fitting that House Republican leader Jim Durkin was a co-sponsor of the measure. The speaker told colleagues one reason the late U.S. Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen, a Republican from downstate Pekin, has a statue on the front law of the Illinois Capitol was because he played a significant role in allowing the federal voting rights act to come to a vote at the U.S. Capitol despite efforts to kill it.
If it makes the fall ballot and is approved, the amendment would prohibit both future General Assemblies and local election authorities from imposing various restrictions, the speaker said.
The proposal now must get a three-fifths approval from the Senate by early May. Voters then then would consider the question Nov. 4. The amendment would take effect if approved by either three-fifths of those voting on the amendment or a majority of those voting in the election.
Hopefully it gets passed in the Senate and then by the voters in November.
CHICAGO (March 26, 2014) – Equality Illinois is calling on the Illinois House of Representatives to protect minors by passing the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act this spring after the House Human Services Committee approved it today by a 9 to 6 vote.
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, said so-called “conversion therapies” for youths pretend to supposedly “cure” people of being gay, but have actually proven to be very harmful and are actively opposed by leading mental health and medical professional groups.
“This bill would ensure that the most vulnerable individuals, those already struggling in the face of homophobia and transphobia, are not targeted and subjected to a practice that medical practitioners deem harmful and inappropriate,” Cherkasov said.
The measure would prohibit mental health providers from engaging in any effort to change the sexual orientation of anyone under the age of 18. The bill’s chief House sponsor is state Rep. Kelly Cassidy.
“We are grateful for the work of Rep. Cassidy and her cosponsors in advancing the bill and urge the full House to quickly follow suit,” Cherkasov said. “Illinois has been a leader in fighting anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace and in public accommodations, and it should be a leader in protecting our youth from this false and potentially dangerous treatment.”
EQIL’s Twitter Account:
h/t: Equality Illinois
#ILPrimary Update (12:40AM CDT): Pro-marriage equality GOP incumbent Ron Sandack declared the winner
Chicago, IL — Many LGBT Illinoisans will likely remember 2013 mainly as the year marriage equality became a reality for our state. While we have to wait until June for marriage to officially wed, the marriage struggle this year gave our community numerous moments of joy, not to mention a few moments of disappointment. Here are some of ChicagoPride.com’s highlights from the past year.
January: The new year brought tremendous hope to supporters when, on Jan. 4, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act is voted out of committee and onto the Senate floor. Supporters hope that the vote would take place quickly, but a number of mix-ups mean it has to wait. Rick Garcia of The Civil Rights Agenda tells ChicagoPride.com that the anticipated Senate vote simply fell victim to bad timing, adding, “This means we are one step closer.”
February: The Illinois State Senate grants a Valentine’s Day wish to gay and lesbian constituents seeking legal marriage recognition—the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act passes in the chamber by a vote of 34-21. Senate sponsor Heather Steans says of the legislation, “It’s time we in the General Assembly catch up to our neighbors. We can confidently and proudly vote for this bill today, because voters in the nation and our state understand and endorse this basic tenet of fairness and equality.” Twelve days later, the legislation passes the House Executive Committee in a narrow 6-5 vote.
March: Chief co-sponsor Greg Harris tells Chicago Sun-Times that, “When I call this for a vote, it will pass.” Throughout the Spring, marriage supporters and organizers line up high-profile help, among them Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as retired Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks and former Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent. President Obama’s Organizing for Action project also notifies its supporters that it will be partnering with Illinois Unites for Marriage, which is a joint project by Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal and ACLU Illinois.
Residents of areas with legislators who are on the fence about SB10 report that they’re receiving robo-calls asking them to tell politicians to vote against the legislation.
April: On April 5, a coalition of about a dozen African American pastors speak in the Loop in favor of the legislation. On April 24, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan pens a supportive editorial in the Chicago Tribune. ”Legal arguments aside, this issue at its heart is about one of the most fundamental decisions we can make — with whom to share our lives,” Madigan says. ”In every community in Illinois, same-sex couples have chosen to join together and, in many instances, to raise families of their own. … They deserve the same rights and responsibilities that civil marriage offers straight couples.”
May: Other states achieving marriage equality, including Rhode Island and Minnesota, heighten the anticipation as legislators return to Springfield. Near the end of the month, advocates say that they have the needed number of votes for SB10 to pass the legislation.
"The votes are, indeed, there," Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, tells ChicagoPride.com. ”And I believe the bill is going to pass, but we’ve received no indication yet on when the bill would be called.”
But on May 31, Harris announces that the vote will not come yet. Fighting back tears, he acknowledges that some colleagues did not have the support of their constituents and asked for more time.
"I have never been sadder to accept such a request," Harris said. He promises that the issue would be re-opened in the veto session in the fall, but adds, "In the meantime, I apologize to the families who were hoping to wake up full and equal citizens."
"I have to say, when you are assured with such certainty that the votes were there for a vote, and then to have one not even take place, was maddening," Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Director James Bennett tells ChicagoPride.com. ”[Politicians] should not be able to hide behind not having a vote.”
In a statement, Gay Liberation Network's Andy Thayer calls the failure “abject betrayal” and lays blame at the feet of House Speaker Michael Madigan. ”Anyone who knows anything about Illinois politics knows that Speaker Mike Madigan owns the House–if he had insisted on a positive vote from his caucus, it would have passed.”
June: Nearly 100 people turn out in the rain for a protest organized by GLN and TCRA at the corner of Roscoe and Halsted. Members of the coalition promise that the struggle will take a more active role in decision-making.
"The top donor to the Democratic party hired all of these contract lobbyist, straight white men, who don’t know shit," Rick Garcia tells the crowd of about 100 people.
Following a controversial editorial in Windy City Times, publisher Tracy Baim and Harris issue a joint statement: “We as a community can work together for the common cause of marriage equality, even if we have differences of opinion on strategy and tactics. We both have a respect for the role that each aspect of the community plays, including elected officials, activists, donors and the media. … We must unite fiercely as a community and focus our efforts on carrying the beacon of hope and equality for all families, and against those who wish to defeat the full promise of America for all her peoples.”
In mid-June, Illinois Unites for Marriage says that it is hiring a full-time campaign manager who would oversee and coordinate the statewide advocacy campaign and would gather additional input from supporters during nine community meetings held over the summer.
July: Illinois Unites hires John Kohlhepp, a union organizer with AFSCME, to be their campaign manager. Keron Blair of Midwest Academy is hired as field director, and Rev. Benjamin Reynolds is to be the coalition’s faith director. The coalition also announces a goal of raising $2 million.
August: Chicago-based Groupon becomes the latest corporation to come out in support of marriage equality in Illinois, with a YouTube video that announces, “We are Groupon and we are proud of being part of a diverse community of customers, merchants and employees. We work better when everyone, including our LGBT co-workers, can bring their whole selves to work every day. That is why we support marriage equality.”
Pat Brady, the former chairman of the state Republican Party, announces that he is joining the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to lobby for the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in Illinois. ”Liberty, freedom and equality under the law are all things that Republicans and conservatives have believed in for a long, long time,” Brady tells WBEZ radio.
September: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak visits Center on Halsted to unveil a new digital and print campaign designed to draw same-sex couples from Chicago to Minneapolis where they can get legally married. ”The people who built this neighborhood, who have done so much incredible work for this community, you deserve equal rights,” said Ryback. ”Come to Minnesota, a place that already recognizes that you should have those rights.” Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, additionally cites a recent study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, estimating marriage equality could add $100 million to Illinois’ economy.
October: Thousands of marriage rights advocates and allies brave the cold rain to rally outside the Capitol as part of the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality, an event to mark the first day of the fall veto session.
"This is our hour, this is our moment," Gov. Quinn tells the record-breaking crowd. "We need love to sign a marriage equality law and I’ll sign it as quickly as possible." Other top state officials in the rally include Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Chicago), Lt. Governor Sheila Simon (D), Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R).
Throughout the afternoon, in what becomes a three-hour rally, the politicians and speakers share the stage with top LGBT musicians, including Steve Grand, Sami Grisafe and Stephen Leonard.
Equality opponents rallied the following day in Springfield.
November: As equality supporters settle in for a three-day stretch of the veto session—many not expecting a vote until the last possible minute—Harris and colleagues surprise most with a vote that’s one of the first items on the House agenda. They approve the bill on Nov. 5 by a vote of 61-54-2.
"At the end of the day, this bill is about love. It’s about family. It’s about commitment," Harris tells colleagues on the floor.
Among those speaking on the legislation’s behalf is House Speaker Madigan, who sat next to former state Rep. (and current alderman) Deb Mell during the debate.
"Who am I to judge that they should be illegal? Who is the government to judge that they should be illegal, and for me, that’s the reason to support this bill," Madigan says.
House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) was one of three Republicans in the House to vote for in favor of the bill. The others were Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) and Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein).
"It should be a proud moment for everyone in our state, but it should be an especially proud moment for thousands of lesbian and gay families across our state, who now know they are on a very short path to achieving equality and all the protections that our law allows," Harris says during a press conference following the vote.
On Nov. 20, with the stroke of Gov. Pat Quinn’s pen, Illinois becomes the 16th state in the country to allow full marriage equality. SB10 is signed in front of numerous elected officials, advocates and members of the public at the UIC Forum in Chicago.
"Love never fails and I’m going to sign this bill now," says Quinn, who signs the bill—with multiple pens—on the desk Abraham Lincoln used to write his 1861 inaugural address.
"There is no straight or gay marriage. From now on there is only marriage in Illinois," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
For some Illinois couples, the passage is initially a bittersweet victory however. The official start date of gay marriages, thanks to rules applying to the veto session, is June 1. For couples with partners facing serious illnesses, there is no assurance that seven months would afford enough time. But a judge rules that activist Vernita Gray, who is seriously ill, and her partner Patricia Ewert can wed early. The day before Thanksgiving, they become the first same-sex couple to be legally married within Illinois.
December: A federal judge rules that two more couples with terminally ill partners can marry before the June 1 start-date. Additionally, the judge rules that the Cook County Clerk’s Office can set up a streamlined process for couples facing similar circumstances. The ruling initially only applies to Cook County, where issuance of a marriage license is dependent on the completion of a physician’s certification form that can be downloaded on the marriage equality page of the clerk’s website.
"We thank the Court and the clerk’s office for their swift response to ensure that Illinois couples who are struggling with the challenges of a life-threatening illness will have a chance to be married," says Camilla Taylor of Lambda Legal.
Pension reform might happen in Illinois after all. After years of posturing, inertia and debate, the Illinois House and Senate each passed a controversial reform bill in a lightning fast one-two punch Tuesday afternoon. Now it’s headed to Gov. Quinn, who’s expected to sign the bill.
Adding to the drama, the two votes came just moments apart, capping hours of debate.
The votes topped one of the most dramatic Springfield showdowns in memory, a day when the power of Gov. Pat Quinn and the legislative leaders is put to the test as they try to muscle through a complex and controversial fix to Illinois’ $100 billion pension crisis.
With the Statehouse shrouded in fog, the day began with three of the four legislative leaders appearing jointly before a bipartisan, House-Senate panel that late Monday signed off on a 327-page bill bitterly opposed by a coalition of the state’s most powerful labor organizations.=
The complex and controversial fix to Illinois pension crisis passed in the Illinois Senate on a 30-24 vote. The House passed the measure on a vote of 62-53.
Now the measure heads to the governor’s desk for final approval.
During debate before the senate vote, Sen. William Delgado (D-Chicago) blasted the bill as “morally wrong, morally corrupt.”
He also said the bill will “punish retired teachers, the janitor, the woman who serves lunch to your child in school.”
Before the vote, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, spoke from the floor saying “We all know something’s gotta be done….We can’t go on dedicating so much of our resources to this one sector of pensions.”
The Senate was poised to follow suit later in the day in order to get the legislation to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk.
The legislation agreed to by Quinn and the legislative leaders, including Madigan, state Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, state Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, would curtail annual, compounding 3 percent cost-of-living increases received by retired state workers, Downstate and suburban teachers and university employees, slowing the growth of their future annuities.
The deal — expected to save $160 billion over 30 years and reduce annual pension payments by as much as $1.5 billion — also would hike retirement ages for younger workers and force some of them to go as many as five years without a post-retirement increase in their pensions.
The “reason we’re here today … is because the Illinois pension systems are just too rich to be afforded as the state goes forward,” Madigan said earlier in the day.
In return, existing government employees would have less withdrawn from their paychecks to cover pension premiums, and four of the five state retirement systems covered under the 327-page bill would get new powers to sue the state if it ever skipped or shorted making annual pension payments.
Opponents, including powerful labor organizations, have argued that the bill tries to fix the system on the backs of state workers.
Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery called the plan “theft” and “blatantly unconstitutional.”
“It only makes one thing certain: that we’ll be back here again after we see the bill struck down by the courts,” he said.
The legislators’ votes Tuesday will carry enormous implications as Illinois heads into the 2014 campaign season.
Democrats, particularly Quinn, are banking on passage of the pension legislation to feed a narrative that they hope to sell to voters that the party has been able to tackle the state’s most serious problems, even if it meant alienating one of its most enduring and powerful allies: organized labor.
h/t: Chicago Sun-Times
Tonight, I applaud the men and women of the Illinois General Assembly, a body in which I was proud to serve, for voting to legalize marriage equality in my home state.
As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else. So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours – and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.
I also commend the members of the General Assembly for approaching this issue in a fair and open way, and for recognizing the importance of our commitment to religious freedom by engaging the religious community in this conversation. Throughout this debate, they’ve made it clear that this is about civil marriages and civil laws, and made sure that churches and other institutions of faith are still free to make their own decisions that conform to their own teachings.
As I said in my Inaugural Address last January, our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And tonight, I’m so proud that the men and women elected to serve the people of the great state of Illinois have chosen to take us one step further on that journey to perfect our union.
Huffington Post: Obama ‘So Proud’ Of Illinois Lawmakers After Marriage Equality Vote
AMEN, Barack Obama!
Source: The Huffington Post
BREAKING: Illinois is now OFFICIALLY the 15th state to pass marriage equality with a 32-21-0-6 vote in the State Senate. Now off to Governor Quinn’s desk. #IL4M #MarriageEquality #Illinois
SO happy that we’re OFFICIALLY the 15th state to pass marriage equality.
BREAKING: The Illinois House has passed marriage equality 61-54-2-1. Off to the Senate now. #IL4M #MarriageEquality #ILCantWait #Illinois
— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem)
ALERT: State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-113) will be voting YES for Marriage Equality in Illinois.
Good to hear.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois lawmakers are convening in Springfield for the final three days of their annual fall session.
The action kicks off with Tuesday hearings on corporate tax incentives and stricter gun penalties in the Illinois House, but a vote on a marriage equality bill could also come up for a vote in the coming days.
The marriage bill was approved by the state Senate in February but stalled in the House in the spring.
Anticipating a likely vote this week, advocates have since launched a more collaborative push and several undecided lawmakers announced their support for the measure.
SPRINGFIELD — A key House lawmaker seeking to legalize same-sex marriage remained cagey Monday about voting on his legislation this week, but all signals pointed toward that — with perhaps the biggest sign of all being House Speaker Michael Madigan’s heightened involvement in the push.
State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the lead House sponsor of the measure to permit gay and lesbian couples to wed in Illinois, gave his social media followers a strong hint that a long-delayed House vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act may be imminent.
“Heading to Springfield to get it done,” Harris posted in a status update Monday morning on his Facebook account, as state lawmakers prepared to convene Tuesday for the final, scheduled, three-day leg of their fall session.
Harris also dropped another hint over the weekend that the tally was at a critical phase, telling his Facebook followers that he was “counting votes and twisting arms.”
In an earlier interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Harris said his bid to persuade House members to pass his legislation was “moving in the right direction” and, in yet another sign of a possible roll call this week, said “the time is now to make sure people are treated with equality in Illinois.”
A concrete precursor to a vote this week likely would be a move by Harris to tweak the bill so it would take effect next year instead of possibly later this year. Doing so would lower the number of votes he would need in the House to pass it from 71 to 60 but would require backing from the Senate, which should not be a problem. As of late Monday, Harris had not filed an amendment containing such a change.
But unlike in the spring, when Harris didn’t have the votes to pass the same-sex marriage bill, Madigan (D-Chicago) has been actively working over members to persuade them to pass the legislation.
“I had a brief conversation with [Madigan]. He was asking about the bill because he is trying to pass it,” said Rep. Thaddeus Jones (D-Calumet City), a member of the House Legislative Black Caucus who’s among more than a dozen House members still undecided on the bill.
State Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago), another undecided House member, said he, too, had a conversation about Harris’ bill with Madigan. “I’m still meeting with people, talking to my constituents, and I’m not going to make my mind up till I get on the floor and listen to the debate,” D’Amico said.
Harris has been unwilling to divulge how close to 60 votes he is, but gay activist Rick Garcia, who also is helping to pass the measure, said, “We’re closer to 60 than we were even three weeks ago.”
Garcia said there is “a very good chance” Harris will seek a vote on the bill this week and that Madigan’s involvement amounts to a “very significant” development in trying to pass the legislation.
“We’re within striking distance. The speaker isn’t going to make calls if we have 52 or 53 votes, right?” said Garcia, political director of the Civil Rights Agenda. “The speaker will make calls if we’re at 57 votes, you know? He’s not going to bring 10, but he can persuade a couple, and I think that’s what we’re going to rely on.”
Madigan is not alone in trying to line up votes for Harris’ bill. Gov. Pat Quinn has done so, as has Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Sarah Hamilton, the mayor’s communications director, told the Sun-Times that Emanuel has been “very active and engaged, making calls, meeting with members and leaders” in anticipation of what he hopes will be a historic vote.
A top mayoral aide described the head count as “very, very close.” Another pegged it as “58, very close to 59” in favor of gay marriage.
Opponents of the legislation think they still hold the advantage. But they acknowledged Madigan’s involvement, in particular, represents the single-most ominous development against their effort to keep the measure from getting to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has vowed to sign it.
“I think they’re short now, but that can change in a heartbeat,” said David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, who led a Statehouse rally two weeks ago against Harris’ legislation.
“We’ve seen it time and time again. With Mike Madigan involved, who knows what can happen. I’ve seen him work bills before and get the handful they need, and it’s possible they have it. I don’t know. My count right now is they don’t, but Madigan can flip a few,” Smith said.
h/t: Chicago Sun-Times
— Illinois lawmakers return to the Capitol on Tuesday for the final scheduled week of the fall session with a measure to legalize same-sex marriage at the forefront and a vote to deal with the state’s massive public pension debt unlikely to happen.
Instead, the yearslong debate over changing retirement benefits to address a $100 billion shortfall may mean lawmakers head back to town in a few weeks after number crunchers finish their work and if a proposal can be agreed upon.
That delay shifts the attention this week to the issue of gay marriage and the fate of a bill the Senate passed in February that’s been stalled in the House ever since.
Supporters of making Illinois the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage have been gearing up for a House vote in recent weeks, including a high-profile campaign featuring sponsoring Rep. Greg Harris’ comments from the end of the spring session in May that reminded his colleagues they should be prepared to vote in November.
Proponents contend they are within striking distance of getting the votes needed to pass the measure, citing the involvement of powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago. Madigan, who also chairs the state Democratic Party, had come under fire from some gay rights activists who argued he wasn’t doing enough to advance the proposal.
Privately, groups supporting the measure have described as “critical” the involvement of Madigan and his staff to getting the bill passed.
On Monday, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the speaker has been working with Harris “for some time” to get the bill passed, but he said it’s up to Harris to decide when a vote will be taken. Brown also cautioned that the likelihood of the bill passing this week relies heavily on “if the people who say they are for it” actually show up in Springfield to vote.
Harris has refused to publicly discuss a vote count or say when the bill will come before his colleagues. However, he said, lawmakers should be prepared to make history.
"They are going to have to take one of the most historic votes of their career," Harris said. "It’s something that we will all be remembered for, and we are following in the finest traditions of extending liberty and equality in America."
The tight-lipped strategy points to just how close the roll call would be, and it is designed in part to prevent the opposition from having enough time to flip possible “yes” votes to “no.”
As it stands, the measure needs 71 House votes to pass, a threshold supporters privately acknowledge they will be unable to reach.
Rather, the bill is expected to be amended to change the effective date to June, which means the number of required votes will drop to 60. If the amended bill passes the House, it would return to the Senate, where Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said his members are prepared to once again approve the measure.
Opponents say they are focused on lobbying anywhere from 10 to 15 House lawmakers who could vote either way. They contend any hype about a possible vote is just that until the measure is called, citing the lack of a vote at the end of spring session.
"I think that what they are doing is the same thing they did in late May. They’re trying to make this a self-fulfilling prophecy," said Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois. "We have seen this before. We just hope it has the same ending."
While the state’s four legislative leaders have become more actively involved in changes to state worker pensions, members of a legislative panel formed to recommend changes said time was too short this week to learn of the proposed financial impact of various scenarios they are considering.
"Because of what I’ve learned from some conversations amongst the leaders, I don’t" expect a vote this week, said state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, who chairs the panel. "I anticipate us coming back for some special session days."
The pension panel developed a consensus around a framework that could save an estimated $138 billion, but Republicans wanted more savings.
Now under discussion: providing a 401(k)-style option for some current and future workers, phasing in a higher retirement age for many workers, giving more help to longtime, low-wage workers, and how much of the projected savings could be immediately poured back into the pension system if the changes are made.
H/T: Chicago Tribune