Chicago Tribune. January 24, 2023.
Editorial: A week’s paid leave? What took Illinois so long?
Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he intends to sign a bill, passed by Illinois’ Democratic-controlled General Assembly, that would require employers to offer an hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, allowing employees to accrue and bank at least five days a year. The measure would take effect Jan. 1.
What reasonable argument could be constructed against this humble and humane provision? We can’t think of one.
The U.S. is an outlier among developed countries when it comes to mandating at least some paid time off. That means the lowliest workers, those with the least ability to bargain for better, are the most vulnerable to getting no leave at all, whether it be for vacation, illness or to care for a family member, either ailing or newly arrived. The vast majority of legally employed Illinoisans already enjoy much better leave policies, of course, as voluntarily provided. But it’s not true of everyone.
We understand that many Illinois businesses believe that Springfield has created a whole barrage of legislation and red tape designed to increase their costs of doing business and make it harder to thrive here. So stipulated. But this particular bill doesn’t fall into that category and, we believe, will actually incentivize employees to stay in their positions.
If you need time off for a personal emergency, and you have no leave accrued, what is your most likely recourse? You quit. But if your employer is giving you a few paid days, say, to schedule a surgery that needs doing, then not only are you going to feel better about where you work but you are more likely to stick around to enjoy the benefit.
The pandemic taught us all that a sick employee showing up for work instead of losing money can end up putting colleagues at risk, leading to entire teams falling ill, causing chaos in the workplace. And since most employers are doing better than this already, the cost of a week’s paid leave should be manageable.
That’s likely why the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is not opposing this bill. Earlier in the process, the bill looked set to be overambitious and excessively difficult for businesses.
For example, there initially was a plan to piggyback the proposed state requirement on top of existing mandates from individual municipalities for paid leave. That would have been a reach and against the spirit of this bill, which is to say that at least a week’s paid leave each year to deal with life is reasonable enough and undeniably fair for all workers. If you’re getting it elsewhere, that’s great.
Given the brevity of this leave, as proposed, it makes sense to keep it simple and let employees use it to recharge their batteries, or to get well, or to look after a loved one, and to make their own choice. We think that will be good for Illinois business in the long run.
A week’s paid leave for all Illinoisans, at a minimum, is what Pritzker is being asked to sign. And sign he should.
Chicago Sun-Times. January 26, 2023.
Editorial: Legal assaults on Illinois’ sensible new gun law are a travesty
No one can go to school, to church, to a concert, to a celebration, to a park or to a movie without fearing they suddenly will be targeted by a slaughterer wielding deadly weapons.
When a gunman with a weapon of war stormed into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and gunned down 20 small children and six adults, many people thought our nation might finally come to its senses about gun violence.
But, no. Here we are, a decade later, and cold-blooded gunslingers continue to burst into cherished places of safety and kill and maim as many people as they can.
No one can go to school, to church, to work, to a concert, to a celebration, to a park or to a movie without fearing they suddenly will be targeted by a slaughterer wielding deadly weapons.
This unconscionable state of affairs was highlighted in by the Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles, who reported that the lawyers who helped strike down New York’s concealed carry law are now challenging Illinois’ new and sensible limits on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in a National Rifle Association-linked lawsuit. The Illinois State Rifle Association has filed its own federal lawsuit and others have been filed in state courts.
These callous attacks on the new Illinois law are occurring just as 18 people were killed this week in the California communities of Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay. Just as a South Shore mother and her daughter were killed Monday afternoon in a shooting in which three others were wounded. Just as 12 people were injured in a mass shooting Monday inside a Baton Rouge lounge.
Is there any doubt that going to court to knock out gun laws designed to protect people will lead to more unnecessary deaths?
Why can’t we live in a society in which you can watch your loved ones walk out the door and not worry a bullet will end their lives before you see them again?
Why can’t we enjoy a meal at a restaurant and not worry someone in body armor might start shooting the place up?
Why can’t we walk Chicago’s streets, sit on a porch or have a children’s birthday party without the risk of taking a stray bullet from someone shooting a gun? Just last weekend in Chicago, seven people were killed by gunfire and 26 others were wounded. On Monday, two more were killed and five more were wounded. Were gun deaths and injuries not so common, people would be shocked and astounded by such grim news.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, 2,937 people have already been killed by guns this year as of Wednesday. There have been 40 mass shootings.
Why do we sit by as the law is twisted to give gunmen the right to kill us? Why must we, as Americans with revered ideals that are the envy of the world, allow the forces of gun violence to see us as nothing more than potential fodder for their weapons?
Do our lives and health mean nothing more than that? Do some lawmakers, some high court justices and gun manufacturers not see how the under-regulated arsenal of firearms in the hands of those willing to use them grinds up lives?
America now has more guns than people. Has that made us safe? Or are people dying every day?
Let’s hope the courts finally come to their senses. When lawyers turn up to make arcane legal arguments that invite death, agony and the lifelong pain of loved ones left behind, let’s hope the courts begin to say, no, that is not what America is all about. Let’s hope lawmakers at every level seek sensible new laws that will continue to make it harder for people to shoot others with guns.
The flowers at countless improvised memorials have long since wilted and disappeared, and the lost voices they commemorated call to us. Maybe we as a nation did not come to our senses after Sandy Hook. But there is no reason we can’t do so now.
Champaign News-Gazette. January 29, 2023.
Editorial: Pritzker’s windmill flip will be a flop in much of Illinois
Saying one thing and doing another.
State officials frequently say they support allowing local officials to make decisions on controversial issues.
And they often do, right up to the point where local officials take positions their “betters” do not share. That’s when support for local authority comes to a screeching halt.
Take the issue of wind farms. State officials like Gov. J.B. Pritzker favor them, but many local officials do not, because their constituents do not like them or want to be near them.
In 2019, the governor signed legislation giving counties and municipalities the authority to establish standards to develop wind farms in Illinois.
Last year, when he was running for re-election, Pritzker specifically rejected the idea of creating statewide controls over the siting of wind and solar projects, saying that he had “specifically avoided that” approach.
With his re-election safely behind him, Pritzker is now ready to give the go-ahead to legislation — H.B. 4412 — passed in the recent lame-duck session of the outgoing legislature that bars counties from banning the projects.
The Illinois Farm Bureau and 70 counties oppose the legislation, which creates a commission that will oversee and approve wind farms statewide except for Chicago.
Nuclear power and coal provide much of the state’s energy supply, roughly 70 percent, while wind energy provides about 10 percent. Wind energy supporters contend it’s one of the solutions to the problem of clean energy.
But many backers of these projects probably are just as enamored of the vast government financial incentives designed to encourage the growth of the industry.
Legislators who support the change viewed some counties’ reluctance to embrace wind farms as an affront. One Democrat said their actions undermine our “climate, jobs and justice goals secured in our nation-leading climate bill.”
Another support heaped scathing criticism on counties unwilling to host wind farms, claiming they were victims of “radical misinformation campaigns” carried out by “out-of-state fear mongers.”
That’s an interesting way to dismiss those who fear the presence of large, noisy, bird-killing windmills will have a negative impact on their quality of life.
There is nothing inherently wrong with allowing those who will have to live with a project like windmill farms to have an effective say about where they are located. One might even call that a common-sense approach.
Indeed, the position is so eminently reasonable that the governor once enthusiastically embraced the concept. Of course, that was before the “out-of-state fearmongers” poisoned the windmill farm well.
Location of these windmill farms is the issue in places where they aren’t wanted.
But there are larger ones as well. Are wind farms really a realistic option in the search for clean energy?
Those who really want clean energy might consider nuclear power. Instead, zealots are rushing back to the future with windmills while they demonize those who will have to live with the fallout.