Corruption, Pensions, Nuclear NIMBY, Old Trains and Storytelling!

Legislative Update:

Thanks to everyone who participated in our shred event and food drive last Saturday. We had 107 cars come through and everyone was generous with their donations of food. This week I was once again in Chicago for a Personnel & Pensions Committee meeting as we seek to find a way out of our pension mess. And while we were reminded this week of the blessings of air conditioning, Governor Pritzker took the opportunity to veto two pieces of legislation aimed at providing affordable, reliable, and clean energy. I’ll talk about both of these below. But we’ll start out by talking about the corruption trial that concluded this week in Chicago. 

Madigan’s Long-Time Chief-of-Staff Found Guilty on All Charges

After a three-week trial Michael Madigan’s former top aide Tim Mapes was convicted on perjury and attempted obstruction of justice charges by a federal jury, which found that he lied to a grand jury two years ago in an attempt to protect Madigan from a widening political corruption investigation. He now faces up to 20 years in prison on the attempted obstruction count, while the perjury conviction carries a maximum of five years behind bars.

This trial is shining a light on the corrupt system Madigan set up in the House and underscores the need for real change in the House. I found it amusing that Speaker Welch commented after the verdict that: “(i)n addition to electing a new Speaker, hiring a new chief of staff, and building a new, diverse leadership team, the House recently passed comprehensive ethics reform, which Republicans voted against, and hired a new Legislative Inspector General who has a reputation of tenacity and independence.”

All you need to do, Mr. Speaker, is to introduce ethics legislation with some actual teeth in it and we’ll be happy to vote for it.

I also think it’s funny that certain political commentators are tripping all over themselves, pointing out that more than half of the Democratic caucus wasn’t even elected until after Madigan had stepped down. As if that’s going to stop the excesses that come from the accumulation of power in the hands of the current Speaker whose caucus now holds 78 of 118 seats in the House. We need to be constantly reminded of the words of Lord Acton: “All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The current Speaker is not immune from that injunction.

You can read more about the trial here

Personnel & Pensions Committee

This week the Personnel & Pensions Committee met in Chicago and heard testimony on pension buy-outs and potentially adding a new Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) provision to our already expensive pension plans. Testimony from the various state pension administrators made plain the point that these DROP plans are almost always an added cost to a pension system and would do nothing to fix our Tier 2 “safe harbor” problem. 

As I’ve written to you about in previous weeks, my priority for immediate pension reform is to address the likely noncompliance of Tier 2 with Federal safe harbor provisions. As a quick reminder, the federal government sets standards for public retirement plans that do not enroll their employees in social security. The immediate need is to correct the Tier 2 pension system to bring it into compliance with these federal guidelines. 

I have signed on as a chief co-sponsor to a bill that addresses the Tier 2 issue because we must work in a collaborative and bipartisan manner to fix Tier 2 and pay down our pension debt. However, that bill is an “omnibus bill” which goes beyond the safe harbor fix and also includes potential pension sweeteners like this new DROP provision. I am opposed to addressing our pension issues with an omnibus bill. We should work on a narrowly crafted Tier 2 fix and then address other pension provisions in separate legislation. That’s what I’m working towards. 

Hot Topic of the Week: 

Governor Vetoes Bipartisan Energy Legislation

Over the last two weeks, Governor Pritzker vetoed Senate Bill 76 and House Bill 3445 which were aimed at providing affordable, reliable, and clean power to Illinois residents. 

Senate Bill 76 removes the decades-old moratorium on new construction of nuclear power plants in Illinois. With the goal to reduce carbon based electrical generation, new nuclear power technology would provide reliable base load power generation that is both affordable and environmentally responsible. That’s why this bill was supported by a broad bipartisan group of legislators. As our electricity prices have risen significantly, Illinois needs a path forward that includes the option to build new nuclear generation facilities. 

Additionally, House Bill 3445 would allow faster development of transmission lines bringing more power into Illinois. Just a few years ago, Illinois was a net exporter of electricity, meaning that we produced more power than we consumed. That has reversed in large part due to the many closures of coal-fired power plants in the southern half of Illinois. Now, as our demand is not being met by our supply in Illinois, transmission lines are needed. 

Governor Pritzker’s decision to veto these bills that would provide access to reliable, affordable, and clean energy show where his priorities lie. He chose to side with the radical environmental interests over affordable, reliable, clean electricity for families across the entire state. While the Governor states publicly that he supports nuclear power, he’s trying to play to both sides with his attempt to cut the nuclear baby in half.

I was part of a bipartisan group of legislators who supported this legislation and I hope that we will come together to override these vetoes. As we have seen the cost of everything increase including our electricity, Illinois must have a path forward that includes reliable, clean, and affordable energy generation. 

Upcoming Flu Vaccine Event

Mark your calendars! Our office is hosting a flu vaccine event on September 5th from 10:00am – 1:00pm at the Algonquin Township building in Crystal Lake. For more information, call my office or visit

Happenings Around McHenry County:

Illinois Railway Museum’s Rides After Dark

If you are a certified train geek like I am, you need to circle your calendar for Labor Day weekend. On September 2-3, the Illinois Railway Museum will remain open late and will be operating special trains after dark, carrying museum visitors until 9:30pm. Take a step back in time and experience the thrill of rail travel as it used to be. Find more info here

After having been shut down during COVID, my longtime friend Jim May is bringing back the Spring Grove Storytelling Festival on September 23rd. Jim is an Emmy award-winning professional storyteller and author who will once again bring together an all-star cast of storytellers who will provide master classes along with great stories of all types. The festival concludes with “Ghost Stories Under a Late September Moon”. This is entertainment for the whole family and a great way to greet the onset of autumn.

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