Democrats propose ethics package on day another lawmaker indicted

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Several House and Senate Democrats laid out nine ethics proposals last week that they’re hoping the General Assembly will take up in November.

Most of them probably should be supported by many legislators from both parties, even the limit on the number of years a lawmaker can serve as a leader. House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, could support it and be long gone from the House by the time it would affect him.

The Republican response was essentially, what took you so long? They’ve been clamoring for ethics reforms for months, including a demand for a special session to address ethics. They said all of this could have been passed and part of law long ago.

To top it all, on the same day the Democrats made their belated (according to the GOP) ethics proposals, federal prosecutors indicted Sen. Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills, on income tax evasion. Moreover, Link was a member of the Legislative Ethics Commission, adding further fuel to the Republicans’ message that change is long overdue. Link resigned from the commission Thursday.

The GOP should think of sending a thank you card to the U.S. Attorney.

One thing not addressed in the Democrats’ ethics package is the dual role that Madigan plays as House Speaker and chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said Illinois is the only state in the country with a legislative leader also serving as a party chair. Critics complain that it gives Madigan out-sized power. The power that any House Speaker has over activity in the chamber is magnified by his control over the party apparatus and money to help (or not) get candidates elected.

Cassidy and others argued that who serves as party leader is a party issue and not something for state law to address. Thus, if Democrats want to elect a House Speaker as chair, that’s up to them.

Not sure that will quiet the critics, but that’s their position and they’re sticking to it.

Court: Lawsuit should move ahead

A state appeals court said the Illinois Policy Institute should be allowed to go ahead with a lawsuit challenging $14 billion in bonds issued by the state.

Essentially, the IPI contended the bonds weren’t properly issued and the state shouldn’t pay them. A victory would have the state defaulting on the bonds.

A Sangamon County judge wouldn’t hear the lawsuit, but the appeals court said the IPI should at least be allowed to have the case heard. It was careful to say that should not be taken as an indication the IPI would win.

The case has the attention of Moody’s which awards credit ratings to states and other governments.

"The ruling is credit negative for the state because it prolongs a legal challenge that, while unlikely to prevail, carries severe risk and limits the state’s financial options at a time when the coronavirus is weighing on revenue," Moody’s said in a credit report.

In the short term, the fact the case is still lingering could prevent the state from issuing any more bonds to pay down the bill backlog. That’s a provision of the current state budget.

The good news is Moody’s thinks it "highly unlikely" that the IPI will win the case.

Ode to the state fair

The 2020 edition of the Illinois State Fair was supposed to start on Thursday with the fair parade and a preview night. The pandemic put an end to that.

To pile on, the long-range weather forecast is calling for what might be some of the best weather in the history of mid-August fair time in Springfield. Even people who usually loathe walking around that slab of asphalt known as the fairgrounds on a normally blistering hot fair day might have enjoyed it.

Things, including the weather, may return to normal next year.

Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr.

26-Delivered

via The State Journal-Register

August 16, 2020 at 07:39AM

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