Veto session week 2 recap

Veto session week 2 recap

Action, or lack thereof, on the 2011 income-tax hikes, a minimum-wage increase, SEIU training and more affect Illinoisans in the wake of a lame-duck death.

The 2015 veto session in Springfield has come to a close, but the results of the Illinois General Assembly’s actions, and inactions, during the past week will have resounding effects on citizens across the state. Here’s a look at some of the issues Illinois lawmakers discussed, negotiated and voted on during this last week of veto session:

Income-tax extension

With the General Assembly adjourned until the next legislative session, when Gov. Elect Bruce Rauner takes office, the issue of extending the historic 2011 income-tax hikes has officially ben put to rest. With no action taken on the subject during veto session and with the Illinois House adjourning without a chance of a lame-duck session, Illinois taxpayers won the battle against unfair tax increases and will receive a pay raise in 2015 as their income-tax rate is reduced to 3.75 percent from 5 percent.

Minimum-wage increase

In the final minutes of the 2014 veto session, the Illinois Senate passed a minimum-wage bill that would incrementally increase the minimum wage statewide to $11 an hour from its current rate of $8.25. However, the passing of the bill in the Senate was largely ceremonial as the House had already adjourned for the year and will not return until the next legislative session. Before adjourning, House Speaker Mike Madigan proclaimed the minimum-wage issue dead in the House after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council passed a measure by a vote of 44-5 to raise the minimum wage in the city to $13 an hour by 2019.

Mandatory training and SEIU recruitment

Despite the best efforts of state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, to implement a measure to make mandatory a training program for home health care providers participating in the state’s Home Services Program; quick action from Illinois Policy, being the first to point out to legislators and staff the negative implications of the bill while taking up a major lobbying campaign to fight its underlying adverse effects on caregivers, helped to diminish support for the measure.

On the surface, mandatory training sessions do not seem overtly harmful. But these “training” sessions have been found to be an unnecessary burden for caretakers of loved ones with disabilities; not to mention, these state-funded training sessions have been managed by the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, who have been using these sessions as union membership drives. The bill, with a lack of support, failed to be called for a vote.

Ridesharing regulations

After state Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, failed to find enough support to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of crippling regulations on ridesharing during the first week of veto session; members from both the taxi and ridesharing industries came together to find common ground in an amendment to SB 2774. With cab and ridesharing companies agreeing on new legislative language, the measure found easy support and passed both chambers of the Illinois House of Representatives before being sent to Quinn desk for his signature. The final bill, while still restrictive in nature and more burdensome than Chicago’s recently adopted ordinances to regulate ridesharing, will allow for ridesharing services to continue in the state.

State-funded health insurance exchange

Even with federal deadlines looming, the numerous unanswered questions surrounding this major, troubled component of Obamacare lead to a lack of legislator commitment to pass a measure that would provide Illinois federal startup funds to establish a state-funded ObamaCare exchange. While the bill was being championed by state Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, the measure failed to find enough votes for the sponsor to ask for a vote and the issue subsequently died. The chances that the state would give itself another fiscal black eye before the new year died with it.

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