Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Partial segment from the Appellate Ruling Affirming the Term Limits Amendment is Unconstitutional

the court found the Term Limits Initiative invalid under two constitutional provisions—article XIV, section 3, which governs ballot initiatives to amend the constitution, and article III, section 3, known as the free and equal clause (Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIV, § 3; art. III, § 3). On appeal, the Committee contends that the Term Limits Initiative satisfies the requirement of article XIV, section 3, that amendments must be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in the legislative article. The Committee also asserts that the Term Limits Initiative satisfies the requirements of the free and equal clause. Because the proposed No. 1-14-1937 -3- amendment violates both article XIV, section 3, and the free and equal clause, we affirm the circuit court's judgment.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Republican Senate Leader Radogno, Appoints Two Senators to Her Leadership Team

Springfield– Illinois Senate Minority Leader Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) has appointed two Senators to new leadership positions. Current Republican Whip Senator Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) has been named Assistant Senate Republican Leader and Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) has been appointed Republican Whip.

“Both Senators Bivins and Rezin have been leaders in our caucus since they were sworn in,” said Sen. Radogno. “As Republican Whip, Senator Bivins’ insight has proven invaluable to me and our Caucus. I look forward to continue building on that experience. Senator Rezin brings tremendous energy, fresh ideas and forward-thinking to her new role. Together our focus remains on building a bigger and stronger Caucus while working to improve Illinois for all its citizens.”

The Senate Republican Leadership team works hand-in-hand with Leader Radogno to develop strategy and an agenda on issues of importance to families in Illinois.

“Serving on the leadership team has given me, and the citizens of northwest Illinois, a better opportunity to guide the course of legislation and issues that affect us all on a daily basis,” Bivins said. “My new role as Assistant Senate Republican Leader will allow me to play an even stronger role in strategy and policy discussions as decisions are made about the future of our state.”

“I am truly thrilled to take on this new role to help lead our caucus, and I thank Senator Radogno for the opportunity,” said Senator Rezin. “I believe our team can and will make an immediate and positive impact on this state for all of its residents.”

Senator Bivins has served in the Illinois Senate since 2008. He has 32 years of experience in law enforcement, including 20 as Lee County Sheriff. A number of bills sponsored by Senator Bivins – covering ethics, local schools, law enforcement, protecting consumers from identity theft, and safe disposal of household hazardous wastes – have been passed by lawmakers. The 45th District Senator also finished all seven of his fiscal years with money to spare in his legislative account – which he returned to the state’s coffers.

Senator Rezin has served in the Senate since 2008. She has put her years of business experience to work in the General Assembly, fighting to improve the economy and working to reduce unemployment in Illinois. Inside her district, she has championed local causes, including leading the effort to improve flood prevention efforts to protect residents’ homes and businesses.

The position of Assistant Leader was recently vacated by outgoing Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), who left to become chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority.

“Senator Dillard’s years of dedication to the Senate and his contributions to public service have made an immeasurable difference for the citizens of this state and our caucus,” said Sen. Radogno.  “I will miss working with Kirk on a daily basis, but I am excited about our new leadership team and look forward to what we can accomplish together.” 


###

Monday, July 14, 2014

Attorney General Madigan Files Suit Over Student Loan Debt Scams

 Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed lawsuits targeting a new industry of student loan debt scams that seek to exploit people struggling to repay their debt. The lawsuits are the first in the nation to crack down on an emerging industry of scam operations charging large upfront fees for bogus services or for government services that are already free of charge.
 
Madigan filed the suits earlier today against First American Tax Defense LLC, based in Chicago, and Broadsword Student Advantage LLC, based in Frisco, Texas, alleging the unlicensed companies engaged in deceptive marketing practices and illegally charged consumers hundreds of dollars in upfront fees to reduce or eliminate their student loan debt burden. In reality, Madigan alleges, the companies sought to scam vulnerable people into paying as much as $1,200 upfront for bogus services, including assistance enrolling in a fake “Obama forgiveness program,” or for government services that are already free of charge.
 
“These companies illegally charge fees for services that student loan borrowers can obtain themselves through government programs at no cost,” Madigan said. “My office will be aggressive in cracking down on scam operations that prey on student loan borrowers for profit.”
 
Student loan debt levels have grown to historic proportions, now affecting nearly 40 million Americans who have $1.2 trillion in outstanding debt. Madigan’s lawsuits targeting these scam operations allege that First American and Broadsword Student Advantage are doing an end-run around an Illinois law that she wrote to ban companies from charging people upfront fees for so-called debt settlement services.
 
Madigan’s lawsuits allege First American and Broadsword Student Advantage have advertised heavily on the radio in Chicago and downstate, offering consumers a myriad of options to ease their debt burden based on the companies’ alleged expertise and false affiliation with the U.S. Department of Education to consolidate or forgive their loans. The companies are alleged to offer to cut student loan payments in half or eliminate them entirely, and specifically offer public service employees a loan debt forgiveness program for which the companies could not qualify them. The lawsuit against First American specifically advertises an “Obama forgiveness program” that is not an actual government program.
 
The lawsuits allege the companies are in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, the Credit Services Organizations Act, and the Debt Settlement Consumer Protection Act. In 2010, Madigan crafted and helped pass the Debt Settlement Consumer Protection Act to ban companies from charging upfront fees to consumers for help with debt relief. Today’s lawsuits allege the companies are not complying with the requirements of the Debt Settlement Consumer Protection Act and in addition are not providing any meaningful assistance to reduce consumers’ student loan debt.
 
In announcing the lawsuits, Madigan urged current and former students never to pay upfront for help with student loan debt relief. For information on legitimate sources of free assistance, consumers can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the National Consumer Law Center. For problems with your student loan servicer or a debt collector, consumers can also contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Loan Ombudsman at 1-877-557-2575 or www.ombudsman.ed.gov, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or Attorney General Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-386-5438.
 

“We applaud the Attorney General for cracking down on scammers targeting student loan borrowers,” said Dev Gowda of Illinois Public Interest Research Group. “Consumers experiencing problems with their student loans such as fraudulent activity should bring their complaints to the Attorney General’s office, and also to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which our report, ‘Private Loans, Public Complaints’ has found to get real results for students.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

RAUNER TO RELEASE TAX INFO, CALLS ON GOV TO OPEN UP ON NRI



Press Release from the Rauner Campaign, July 8, 2014

Bruce Rauner today pledged to release his 2013 tax returns and called on Pat Quinn to directly answer critical questions about the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative:

“Seven months ago, I was happy to pro-actively release three years of tax returns, disclose every company that does business in the state and pledge to put all my assets in a blind trust when I am elected, and I look forward to releasing my 2013 returns when they are ready.

While I’ve gone above and beyond what is required, Pat Quinn is refusing to answer critical questions about his failed $55 million anti-violence program. Pat Quinn needs to release all documents and emails pertaining to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

Pat Quinn also needs to explain why he waited until the Fourth of July to disclose months-old federal grand jury subpoenas of his senior staff. He needs to come clean about why and how his senior staff approved a day care center to provide felon re-entry services. And he owes the taxpayers an explanation about why his administration paid $800,000 to the Woodlawn Organization, despite years of acknowledged financial irregularities. Taxpayers deserve to know how this all happened and the only way to find out is for Quinn to release all the documents in question.”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Senate President Cullerton Responds to Supreme Court Ruling in Kanerva v Weems

Senate President John J. Cullerton issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Kanerva v. Weems, 2014 IL 115811:
“Today, the Illinois Supreme Court made it very clear that the Pension Clause means what it says.  
The Court cannot rewrite the Pension Clause to include restrictions and limitations that the drafters did not express and the citizens of Illinois did not approve.  

The Clause was aimed at protecting the right of public employees and retirees to receive their promised benefits and insulate those benefits from diminishment or impairment by the General Assembly.

If the Court’s decision is predictive, the challenge of reforming our pension systems will remain.  
As I have said from the beginning, I am committed to identifying solutions that adhere to the plain language of the constitution.”

IL Supreme Court Says Healthcare Benefits for Retirees Protected Under the Diminishment Clause of the Constitution

THIS IS HUGE NEWS, and not good news for those in State Government trying to get a handle on the rising cost of pensions and benefits to workers and retirees.    The Illinois Supreme Court just issued a ruling that HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE is a benefit akin to Pension benefits, and therefore the healthcare coverage for beneficiaries cannot be diminished.

 Here is a line from the IL Supreme Court's ruling
"We conclude that the State’s provision of health insurance premium subsidies for retirees is a benefit of membership in a pension or retirement system within the meaning of article XIII, section 5, of the Illinois Constitution,"

Here is a link to the entire ruling by the Court in the case of Kanerva v Weems

http://www.state.il.us/court/Opinions/SupremeCourt/2014/115811.pdf