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Illinois Govt

Daniel Biss holds Town Hall at Illinois College

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss began his tour of college at Illinois College in Jacksonville last night. Speaking to a crowd of more than 100 students and community members, Sen. Biss spoke on both his personal journey in politics as well as his platform. He shared his path from mathematics professor to community organizer to state senator, and the hardships that came along the way.

Campaign finance was one of the primary topics of the night. Biss spoke repeatedly about not being a billionaire. Instead, he joked that he was probably only barely a “thousandaire.” Two of his opponents in the primary, Chris Kennedy and JB Pritzker, have contributed vast amounts of their own money to their respective campaigns, as has Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. Biss warned that a Pritzker victory would likely doom the Democratic Party to view personal wealth as a prerequisite for governor, even if Pritzker proved to be an effective leader. This is not to say that Biss is at an impossible fundraising disadvantage. Biss told his supporters they have actually raised more cash than Kennedy.

During the Q&A session, Biss explained his support for a “ranked choice” voting system. Ranked choice allows voters to rank the choices on the ballot instead of casting a single vote, which supporters argue gives voters a better voice in elections. He also discussed how strengthening the funding for publicly funded elections would lessen the importance of big donations. A bill he passed in the Senate would provide candidates a publicly funded option with a 6:1 state match for small donations. After the event, Biss told me that his plan had a statewide cap of $50 million, and so did not represent an uncapped liability for the state.

You can watch the full town hall below:

The Democratic primary for governor will be held March 20. To learn more about Daniel Biss or the other candidates running for governor, check out our Campaign Headquarters.

Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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Illinois Govt

Rep. Jimenez’s Legislation to Move State Jobs Back to the Capital City Signed into Law

Staff Contributor

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State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez’s push to return state jobs to the capital city today culminated in the signing of a new law mandating that Sangamon County be the default location for state positions in agencies under the Governor. House Bill 4295 directs state agencies to set a geographic location for each job, and if there isn’t a geographic necessity for the state job, then it should be located in Sangamon County.

“For all of my time as state representative, I have made it a priority to push State agencies to identify positions within State government that can and should be located in Sangamon County. A recent report identified hundreds of jobs that could potentially be relocated to the capital city. By making Sangamon County the default location for state jobs in state law, it sends a clear signal that state jobs should be in the capital city, unless they need to be located somewhere else in the state to best serve our residents,” said State Representative Jimenez (R-Leland Grove), the legislation’s chief sponsor.

Rep. Jimenez previously spearheaded passage of a resolution urging agencies under the Governor to compile a report listing the number of state employees in each county, including justification for the location. The report released indicates the potential for nearly 400 jobs to move back to the capital city. The new preference contained in House Bill 4295 takes the next step in the process, requiring the Director of Central Management Services to relocate to Sangamon County all State employment positions under the Personnel Code that are not required by their nature or function to be located in another area. It also requires that all new positions created be located in the Capitol City unless required to be located in another specific location.

The relocation provisions will apply to currently vacant positions and as they become vacant in the future.

“The home of Illinois’ state government should also be home base for as many state government employees as possible. That will help streamline the process of providing services and also save taxpayer dollars in the long run – two improvements we need now more than ever,” Representative Jimenez said.

For more information and detail about this bill, previous efforts and the report from 2016, visit www.repsara.com.

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2018 Election

New automatic voter registration law won’t slow efforts to reach out to potential new voters face-to-face

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A new automatic voter registration law in Illinois won’t slow efforts to reach out to potential new voters in an old-fashioned way.

Sharon Alter is vice president of voter services and co-chair of voter service with the League of Women Voters of Illinois. She says in-person, face-to-face registration always will have a place of importance.

“People still like the personal contact,” Alter said. “And that contact is important not just with prospective older voters, but also prospective younger voters. During the course of the in-person voter registration, some voting questions can come up, so there’s an education process, especially for a first-time voter.”

The League of Women Voters of Illinois is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Portions of the automatic voter registration law have begun to roll out. Earlier this month, Illinois’ Department of Motor Vehicle employees began to check for a customer’s voter registration online and allow citizens to sign-up if they wish to “opt-in”. Eventually, any eligible resident interacting with the DMV automatically will be registered to vote.

“The League of Women Voters Illinois is part of a coalition that supported the passage of this legislation,” Alter said. “Obviously, what all of us have to do is an education campaign. And that education campaign for voters about the process and the alternative here is just beginning.”

Illinois previously opened up online and same-day registration as part of a sweeping change to election laws in 2014. Alter says that didn’t really slow the demand for in-person sign-ups.

“When online voter registration started, as lot of people thought in-person voter registration would die out, but it really hasn’t,” Alter said. “And I would say at least for a while, even with automatic voter registration, in-person voter registration will still continue.”

Alter says she’s noticed a recent increase in voting interest across the board, but particularly among younger citizens.

“There’s an undercurrent of activism and interest and that’s across the board in ages, but particularly among younger voters,” Alter said. “A number of organizations have increased their membership, certainly since the November 2016 election, including the League of Women Voters.

Meanwhile, as part of the state’s membership in a national voter database, Illinois is required to try to reach people who are eligible to vote but who aren’t registered.
That means the state soon will spend $240,000 to send letters to unregistered voters.

 

Article by Scot Bertram, for more news visit ILnews.org

 

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Illinois Govt

Rauner says taxpayers could save $3.5 billion if consolidation recommendations enacted

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Illinois taxpayers could save more than $3 billion a year from government consolidation and mandate relief, according to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Rauner signed House Bill 5123 Monday in DuPage County that allows for affected county clerks to absorb the county’s election commission, a move the governor’s office said will save $300,000, improve efficiency and streamline election reporting in DuPage County.

DuPage County had some election reporting problems on election night for this year’s March 20 primary. The Daily Herald reported elections officials with the county’s election commission failed to test ballot-like cards for it’s optical scan voting machines.

County Clerk Paul Hinds, who will be taking over elections operations for the county under the law Rauner signed, said Monday the consolidation will be good for taxpayers and voters.

“I look forward to a smooth transition moving the duties from the election commission to the county clerk’s office and I will work with the chairman and the county board to administer secure and accountable elections,” Hinds said.

County Chairman Dan Cronin said DuPage County has been a testing ground for consolidation for the past 6 years, saving taxpayers $120 million.

“We have focused on service and cost sharing, collaboration and working with our local and state partners to imagine new ways to deliver public services in the most efficient manner possible,” Cronin said.

Rauner said this needs to happen all over the state. If lawmakers passed all of Rauner’s proposed recommendations, he said taxpayers would save big.

“The estimate was we’d save Illinois taxpayers $3.5 billion per year,” Rauner said. “$3.5 billion per year if we actually implemented the 27 recommendations our task force laid out.”

The Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force created by a Rauner executive order issued a report in December 2015 that laid out ways “to reduce the heavy burden on Illinois taxpayers by empowering citizens and government officials to streamline local government through consolidation and eliminating unnecessary state mandates,” Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti said in the report.

Among the 27 recommendations was a mix of ideas to consolidate and to reduce mandates.

For consolidation, recommendations included, among others, a moratorium on creating new local governments, expand DuPage County’s pilot program to all 102 counties, allow township consolidations with coterminous municipalities, incentivize school district consolidation, and encourage sharing of public equipment, facilities and other resources regionally.

Mandates to be repealed, the report suggested, included prevailing wage laws, providing third-party contract mandate relief for school districts, making collective bargaining permissive rather than mandatory, eliminating minimum manning from collective bargaining, merging downstate and suburban public safety pension funds into a single fund, and others.

“I do want to thank members of the General Assembly on a bipartisan basis, (House Bill 5123) got passed, also 10 other bills got passed that took small pieces of our recommendations and got them into law,” Rauner said. “All steps in the right direction. We need to keep working every day, every session, get more legislation passed to lift the mandates, allow consolidation of government, and bring more efficient, effective government to the people of Illinois.”

Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of local government, hundreds more than any other state, something Rauner said goes hand in hand with the state’s second-highest property tax burden.

“We suffer In Illinois from some of the highest property taxes in America and it is not a coincidence that we also have more units of local government that any state in America,” Rauner said.

But Rauner doesn’t just want to give consolidation power to local elected officials, he wants voters to have also have a say.

“People are outraged,” Rauner said. “If we give power to the people, give power to the homeowners and the voters, rather than only elected officials, we’ll see dramatic change and lower property taxes as a result.”

 

Article by Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org 

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