(Chicago, IL) – Providing a bi-partisan assist, Illinois House GOP Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and three other Republican lawmakers yesterday helped muscle an anti-bullying bill through the House despite en-masse opposition from the House GOP caucus.
Cross, State Rep. Skip Saviano (R-Elmwood Park), State Rep. Kent Gaffney (R-Lake Barrington), and State Rep. Sid Mathias (R-Buffalo Grove) offset the defection of several conservative House Democrats to push the measure, House Bill 5290 sponsored by State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), through the chamber on a 61-49 vote.
The legislation, which aims to provide a model of anti-bullying policy for use by school districts across the state, was targeted by conservatives, lead by Rev. Bob Vandenbosch from Illinois Family Institute and Ralph Rivera from Illinois Citizens for Life.
The subtext of the debate focused on gay and lesbian students, among others, on the protected list of students. Legislative opponents, who wanted all protected categories eliminated, questioned whether “disagreeing with someone’s lifestyle” actually amounted to “bullying.” A punch in mouth apparently amounts to only a “lifestyle disagreement”. Uh, huh.
“To get straight to the heart of bullying in our schools, it will take a comprehensive approach among parents and educators,” Cassidy said.
The bill now moves to the Illinois Senate.
Pay, But No Pension on the Job – The Illinois House on Wednesday voted unanimously, 112-0, to rein in the practice of simultaneously paying state university employees a salary and a pension. The legislation, House Bill 4996 sponsored by State Rep. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), requires public universities to reimburse the pension system if a retiree, already collecting a pension, returns to work for the university.
“Our pension systems are in bad shape, in part because they are susceptible to abusive practices,” Biss said. “The common-sense reforms in House Bill 4996 will curb some of these abuses…”
Biss negotiated the universities into neutrality on the legislation. No state university filed any official opposition to the plan.
The bill now moves to the Illinois Senate. State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) will sponsor the legislation in the upper chamber.
Chicago Neighborhood Health Index Coming to a Community Near You – The Chicago City Council recently gave a thumbs up to a $300,000 contract proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to create a data platform for a Neighborhood Health Index.
The project, which will be funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, will assist the City in using its data to predict trends in crime, public health, and economic development in Chicago neighborhoods. Emanuel hopes to save some dough for the city’s budget with a more integrated, efficient delivery of city services that are data-driven. We’ll see.
Data Dump Gets a Prize – The deluge of official City of Chicago data with which Mayor Emanuel has flooded the city’s Web site to the delirious glee of policy wonks and wonkettes has won an award. The Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit organization, has given Chicago an A+.
The Sunny Award, which honors the most transparent government websites in the nation, was awarded to 214 government entities out of 6,000 government websites.
Emanuel has released over 300 data-sets, including salary information, crime data going back 10 years, lobbyist disclosures, debarred vendors, and abandoned buildings. Since May 2011, Chicago’s Data Portal has logged more than 960,000 views, and number mavens have gazed at over 40 million rows of data. Zzzz.
Three Cheers for the New Guy – Brendan O’Sullivan, who just scored a big win as campaign manager for Democratic Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis, moved to take over the Illinois Senate Democrats’ political operation on March 23, much to the glee of Cook County Democratic Party political director Scott Cisek who has nothing but oodles of praise for O’Sullivan’s campaign skills.
Don’t Quote Me – Rumor and gossip that’s not quite fit to print, but, what the heck, we’re including it anyway as a public service because we’re sure you’ll find it as titillating as we do… Snake Eyes… Gaming expansion negotiations in Springfield are reportedly going nowhere. Fast. The casinos, the track owners, and the horsemen are deadlocked over a new formula to generate revenue and divide the proceeds. Unable to overcome Governor Pat Quinn’s opposition to allow slots at tracks and unable agree on a new formula, the groups are stymied. Unless they can cobble together a pact after lawmakers return from their two-week spring back or unless they can find 71 votes in the House and 36 in Senate to overturn a threatened Quinn veto of the bill currently idling on Senate President John Cullerton’s desk, gaming is likely dead for the spring session, sources say… Go, But No Dough… There are rumblings that a Republican opponent could be appointed to challenge House Democratic hopeful Robert Martwick on Chicago’s northwest side, but the word is that Illinois House Republicans will provide no cash for the contest…
What Were They Thinking?… A new national poll reveals that 50% of likely U.S. voters want the Supreme Court to overturn President Barack Obama’s health care law, and 54% predict that that’s what the court will do. Meanwhile, 37% want the court to uphold the law.
What’s a Work Day?… Plug In and Go – Governor Pat Quinn will hold a press conference with Illinois Tollway officials, 350Green LLC, State Rep. Bob Rita (D-Chicago), and 7-Eleven folks at a press conference today to introduce the availability of the nation’s largest network of fast-charging electric vehicle stations at Tollway Oases. Quinn & Co. will be at the O’Hare Oasis, in Schiller Park, at 2:30 p.m…. A Chicago Built, Re-patched to Last – Mayor Emanuel today appeared at the Chicagoland Laborers’ Training and Apprentice Center, 5700 W. Homer Street, at 11:00 a.m., to announce a $7 billion, three year, 30,000 jobs infrastructure program.