LAWMAKERS MOVE TO HELP HOSPITALS
Illinois hospitals also had reason for optimism on February 26, after lawmakers approved a short-term borrowing plan to help the state catch up on overdue medical payments to Illinois hospitals.
Signed into law by the Governor on February 27, House Bill 1027 will allow for $510 million to be borrowed from two state funds to help match federal dollars earmarked for hospitals under the state’s hospital assessment program.
Though the measure passed unanimously, I joined with many of my Senate Republican colleagues in expressing our reluctance to vote for legislation that relies on short-term borrowing and repayment with accrued interest. If the state had been more responsible with its revenue, there would be no need to borrow the money that the hospitals desperately need to claim the matching federal funds.
NO MORE GAMES WITH PAY RAISES
The Senate State Government and Veterans Affairs committee approved legislation this week that would change the controversial manner in which legislative, executive, and judicial pay increases are approved.
Currently, the Compensation Review Board recommends a pay increase for members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. The General Assembly is then required to vote to reject the pay increases, or the recommendations will immediately take effect.
Senate Bill 190 requires the General Assembly to vote in favor of receiving a pay increase for each branch of state government before any raise takes effect.
Many lawmakers support this legislation, noting that the current system has allowed legislators to approve of pay increases simply through inaction.
NEW LAW REAFFIRMS JOINT COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATIVE RULES
A new law reaffirms the authority of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a bipartisan rulemaking committee that was consistently ignored by former Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Governor Pat Quinn said that by signing House Bill 398 into law he was “reaffirming this administration’s commitment” to adhere to the rulings and findings of JCAR.
Blagojevich’s disregard for JCAR’s decisions showed his contempt for the Legislature and the lawmaking process.
ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS SENATE ELECTION LAW IS CONSTITUTIONAL
Attorney General Lisa Madigan has affirmed the constitutionality of Senate Republican legislation that would allow for a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat currently held by embattled senator Roland Burris.
However, the measure was quickly buried by Senate Democrat leaders in a Senate subcommittee, and was not allowed to be considered by lawmakers.
Madigan issued an 11-page opinion, which confirmed that Burris’ appointment was a temporary appointment under the U.S. Constitution. She stated that Illinois lawmakers have the authority to move forward with legislation that would allow Illinois citizens to choose their U.S. Senator through a special election, regardless of whether the gubernatorially-appointed official had already been sworn in by the U.S. Senate.
It’s not known if Democrat lawmakers will allow the measure to be considered, but the outlook is not good. Often legislation is sent to a sub-committee to languish and is never considered by lawmakers.