Erickson: The clutter that comes with crafting a budget

2014-06-01T07:00:00Z Erickson: The clutter that comes with crafting a budgetKurt Erickson
June 01, 2014 7:00 am  • 

As is usually the case, the focal point of the final week of the legislative session was piecing together a budget.

But members of the House and Senate also moved dozens of pieces of legislation to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk as the clock ticked down on Saturday's adjournment deadline, ranging from cheaper hunting and fishing licenses for senior citizens to ballot questions on, for example, whether millionaires should pay a steeper income tax rate.

Amid the clutter of the end-of-session budget-making, here is a look at some of the non-budgetary proposals now awaiting the governor's signature:

Ticket quotas: Under this measure, counties, cities and state police would be prohibited from implementing ticket quotas. The measure says nothing about doughnut quotas.

Poker runs: In an effort to undo a previously approved law that had over-enforced poker runs, the House and Senate signed off on changes to the rules governing this popular fundraising tool for motorcycle enthusiasts, in which bikers ride from one tavern to another collecting poker hands. The new rules take enforcement out of the hands of the state and gives counties the authority to issue licenses for the events.

Cyber bullying: A proposed new law will require schools to address electronic bullying, even if it doesn't happen on school grounds. Principals and other school administrators will now be the vanguards of free speech.

Pot law changes: Even before the state's landmark medical marijuana law goes into effect, Chicago was able to change the guidelines for how cities can regulate where pot is grown and sold. The change only affects Illinois' largest city.

Farmers' markets: In an effort to stop cities from over-regulating farmers' markets, a proposed new law would preclude municipalities from passing regulations that are stricter than state laws. The asparagus lobby is excited.

Public aid fraud: Some proposed laws make you wonder why there weren't already similar laws on the books. House Bill 5682 is one of those. It makes is a Class C misdemeanor to assist someone in applying for welfare benefits in exchange for cash or a portion of those benefits.

School safety: In a move that could drive up the cost of school construction, a proposed new law would require all new schools to have storm shelters.

Income tax 

In the debate over whether the state's 2011 temporary income tax increase should roll back from 5 percent to 3.75 percent on Jan. 1, some Democrats were spinning the rollback as the biggest tax cut in Illinois history ... even though the lower rate would still be higher than the pre-2011 rate of 3 percent.

The looming change had some lawmakers hoping for the best.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the moving vans full of families and businesses moving back to Illinois once that happens," quipped state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline.

Election talk 

Gov. Pat Quinn's campaign team teased his Republican rival Bruce Rauner last week for failing to reveal how he plans to balance the state's budget.

They said it's been 450 days since the wealthy businessman launched his bid for governor and he still hasn't outlined his budget plans.

They then listed some of the things that could be accomplished within 450 days, including:

A humpback whale could complete gestation and be born, weighing over one ton.

Someone could watch the movie "Gone With the Wind" more than 2,700 times.

Kim Kardashian's marriage to Kris Humphries could have played out over six times.

Thomas Jefferson could have conceived, written and edited the Declaration of Independence 26 times.

Roofing news

If there ever was a perfect illustration of what's wrong with Illinois, it was news last week that the roof on the governor's mansion is leaking.

What makes it emblematic of the way things are run here is that Gov. Pat Quinn doesn't want to fix the roof because that wouldn't match his populist, for-the-little-guy campaign theme. What kind of person is more worried about his image than fixing a leaky roof?

Like everything else, a real solution will have to wait until after the November election.

Jesse White news

Secretary of State Jesse White became the longest serving secretary of state on Friday, besting James A. Rose, who served from 1897 to 1912.

White, a Democrat from Chicago, has been around since 1999.

Kurt Erickson can be reached at

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