My bill works to do what 32 other states have already done, and that is to require a photo ID to prove you are eligible to vote. Voting is an important responsibility and right, and it is important that we prove ourselves eligible. We live in a state where there are rampant rumors of voter fraud. What concerns me is that we are devaluing legitimate voters by allowing someone to vote who is not legitimately registered.
A voter registration photo ID card will be available for free for those people who do not have driver’s licenses, military IDs or state ID cards.
The Executive Subcommittee on Election Law voted March 22 to hold Senate Bill 3750.
Senate Bill 3777 would require legislative approval of collective bargaining agreements between the Governor and state employee labor unions.
Currently, there are 38 states that have collective bargaining, and 14 of those states require that part of their public union contract be approved by the legislative body in some manner.
This legislation brings transparency, fiscal responsibility and a more ethical environment to contract negotiations between the Governor’s office and public employee unions. It will help curb political shenanigans when contracts are being negotiated during campaign seasons, often at the expense of the taxpayers of the state.
The Executive Subcommittee on State Government Operations voted March 23 to hold Senate Bill 3777.
OTHER BILLS IGNORED BY SUBCOMMITTEES
A number of other Senate subcommittees met during the week to consider other bills targeting ethics, transparency, and fiscal responsibility.
Several of those bills also failed to advance out of the Senate Executive Subcommittee on State Government, lacking Democrat approval.
Senate Bill 3646 would mandate that those who are required to file a statement of economic interests – including legislators – must disclose the name of any immediate family member who is a registered lobbyist. Senate Bill 3647 would require registered lobbyists to report any familial relationships that the lobbyist might have with state officials.
Senate Bill 3649 would bar legislators from negotiating for employment with lobbying entities during their term in office. The measure would also prohibit lawmakers from receiving payment for lobbying members of the General Assembly for one year after leaving office. Senate Bill 3648 would create the Legislative Ethics Reform Task Force to study current governmental ethics law and identifying provisions that need to be expanded or clarified.
Senate Bills 3646, 3647, 3648 and 3649 were all held in subcommittee.
ELIMINATING REDUNDANT, OUTDATED LAWS
The Subcommittee on State Government did choose to advance legislation creating an “Office of the Repealer” charged with weeding out and eliminating redundant and outdated laws and regulations.
Senate Bill 3681 was introduced in response to the many state laws that remain on the books long after their purpose has expired. These aged polices, and the associated red tape, can hurt Illinois’ employers and hinder economic activity. Similar efforts have been pursued in other states with positive results.
Senate Bill 3681 now advances to the full Executive Committee for consideration.
LEARNING HOW OTHER STATES HANDLE MEDICAID
Seeking to learn more about federal Medicaid requirements and how other states approach their state-financed health care programs, the Senate convened a special “Committee of the Whole” hearing March 22 for an in-depth Medicaid presentation by Joy Johnson Wilson, Health Policy Director of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The state’s unsustainable Medicaid growth is a top budget concern facing Illinois, as state leaders seek to eliminate the program’s deficit, which is projected to top $21 billion in five years.
Ms. Wilson shared insight about how other states have tackled growing Medicaid debt, noting a common hurdle lies within the Federal Affordable Care Act. Under the new federal law, changes to Medicaid eligibility standards, methodologies or procedures are prohibited until 2014. However, Ms. Wilson acknowledged that the prohibition has not yet been challenged by any state.
Ms. Wilson noted changes to optional programs, such as adult dental care, have provided the most flexibility for states seeking to cut Medicaid costs. Other states have also realized savings by reducing provider reimbursement rates; reducing the scope and/or duration of services; placing other restrictions on mandatory benefits; and expanding the use of co-payments. Improving management of prescription drug programs and durable medical equipment and supplies were also areas identified for potential cost-savings.
CLOSING FACILITIES TO HAVE GREATER IMPACT
Reports recently submitted to the General Assembly show that Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed closure of state-owned facilities may have a greater impact on surrounding communities than initially suggested.
Governor Quinn said the closures would result in a cumulative loss of 2,300 jobs. However, recent studies released by the University of Illinois indicate the employment and economic costs may be much greater, as the loss of jobs and associated revenues ripple throughout the communities and the surrounding region.
For example, according to reports, closing Tamms Correctional Center would not only result in a loss of 295 prison jobs, but would lead to the loss of approximately 43 positions in the surrounding communities. Similarly, the same study examined the impacts on other facilities at Chicago, Dwight and Peoria; those would result in 419 direct job losses and 55 indirect job losses.
Direct and indirect job losses translate into lost revenues for local businesses, communities and schools. The economic output of the four facilities is estimated to be slightly more than $101 million.
The study also examined the impact on sales and income taxes as a result of the job losses. At the local level, tax revenues would only be compounded by employees potentially leaving Dwight, Peoria or Tamms. The report pointed out that a trickle-down loss of property taxes, charitable giving and other socio-economic factors would almost assuredly be expected.