The House convenes at 9:30 this morning followed by the Senate at noon. Only one committee posted this morning—House Vets Affairs at 1:00 this afternoon. Both chambers are scheduled to return on Monday and will remain in the Capitol until adjournment of the spring session.
TODAY’S AGENDA--I suspect that the House will convene for limited floor actions. (NOTE: The House was called to session, there were several announcements, and they have adjourned.) Admittedly, I am a little confused by the Senate’s delay start time.
THINGS ARE GETTING HARDER--It appears that the ongoing discussions with the overarching issues of the spring session are getting harder to resolve. So far, these ongoing discussions have been behind the scenes and have not consumed floor time of the chambers.
BUDGET—Illinois is getting more money than expected from the federal stimulus programs. Additionally, tax receipts from sales and income taxes are better than projected. At issue is U.S. Treasury’s preliminary rules that prevent governmental recipients from using the federal stimulus funds for debt payments. The governor and democratic legislative leaders agreed to use a portion of Illinois’ stimulus funds for repayments of the loan from the Federal Reserve. Even with this good news, there is a $1.3 Billion budget hole that will need to be addressed. The governor is working with federal officials for clarity on Treasury’s preliminary rules on the use of federal stimulus funds.
REDISTRICTING—There is a secret secure room in the Stratton Office Building for the House democratic map operation. Its existence is no secret in Springfield. Democratic legislators have been shown their new districts and have been able to add input to the map drawing process. By this time 10 years ago when the last remap process occurred, Republican legislators were exposed to redrawn districts. This is not the case today. The democratic chair of the House Remap Committee held a presser yesterday, and rambling responses to questions presented by the State House media corps could be characterized as general and nonresponsive. This is a brewing issue that will soon ignite.
CLEAN ENERGY PACKAGE—Ongoing discussions are being held on a complicated issue. Exelon is not at the table, but at stake is the continued operation of their subsidized nuclear power plants. The governor and progressives in the General Assembly want to move the state to green and clean energy. There is also the optics of fixing the energy reform package passed several years ago that is now at the forefront of the U.S. Attorney’s ongoing inquiry and indictments of lobbyist and associates of former Speaker Madigan.
BRIDGE PHASE--On a positive note, the governor announced that Illinois moves to the “Bridge Phase” moving to Phase 5 (normalcy--no restrictions). In short, the Bridge Phase increases the percentage thresholds for establishments. Restore Illinois Guidance on the Bridge Phase