In one of his first acts as governor, Republican Bruce Rauner issued an executive order banning out-of-state travel.

"Today we start the process of putting our state back on the road to fiscal stability by reviewing agency spending, stopping contracts and grants, and selling excess state property," Rauner said in a statement back in January.

Sometimes, however, even the best intentions can run afoul of common sense.

As this summer's budget impasse between Rauner and the Democrats who control the Legislature has droned on, it has given us time to review the various orders, proposals and political maneuvers that have taken place in 2015.

One of those was the travel ban and how it affects certain state officials.

Take the folks who inspect ambulances.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has a staff of four people who make sure that vehicles used to transport sick and injured people meet all current regulations.

Under state law, any ambulance that travels from other states to Illinois more than six times a year also is required to be inspected.

Thus, the public health inspectors occasionally must travel out of state to do their work.

And that's where the governor's out-of-state travel ban gets squirrely. Most of the out-of-state ambulances affected by the inspection process aren't in places like Hawaii or California or Florida, where it would make sense to curtail travel during a budget crunch.

Rather, these inspectors are having to get special permission -- a process that can take weeks -- to drive 10 minutes across a bridge.

For example, an Illinois inspector standing in Moline might be able to see an ambulance across the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa. But the order bars them from driving over there and inspecting it out without permission from on high.

Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold explained how the process works in the current environment.

"As with all out of state travel, staff are required to provide the reason and funding source for travel, and get department and Governor's Office of Management and Budget approval," Arnold said.

Arnold said the department has worked out a way to ensure the travel ban doesn't get in the way of timely inspections.

"We can schedule inspections up to 60 days prior to the expiration of the ambulance license, so we make sure our travel requests are submitted well before the inspection and timing is not an issue," she noted in an email.

Two months seems like an awful lot of advance planning for someone who merely needs to cross a bridge.

Continuous session

House Speaker Michael Madigan has worked hard this summer to convince the media and the voters that the House is working hard to solve the budget impasse.

Although the House has met only one or two days each week since the regular spring session ended in May, Madigan continually reminds us that the House is in "continuous session."

Last week, however, the House announced it would not be meeting again until August 25, essentially taking off 12 continuous days in a row.

How, we asked the speaker, can you say the House is in continuous session if you are taking nearly two weeks off?

Said Madigan, "We are in continuous session. We're on the job."

The speaker clearly believes if you repeat something enough times, it simply becomes true.

Senate returns

While members of the House toil away in their continuous session, the Illinois Senate will be in actual session on Wednesday, which also happens to be Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair.

It is shaping up as a potentially ugly political day.

First, Rauner and his fellow Republicans will gather at the fair for rallies and picnics.

Any goodwill generated by those events is likely to quickly evaporate when the Democrat-controlled Senate gavels in at 3 p.m.

At that point, the Senate could take up votes to overturn Rauner's vetoes of union friendly legislation, as well as another budget bill.

So much for the veil of cooperation and conciliation Senate President John Cullerton was attempting to cultivate with Rauner during the budget impasse.

Fair food

As statehouse legend has it, Madigan eats an apple every day, methodically peeling and quartering the healthy snack during high-level meetings in his third floor office.

So his answer to the standard Illinois State Fair question last week was not a surprise.

Reporter: Favorite fair food?

Madigan: Do they have apples out there?

Follow Kurt Erickson on Twitter @Illinois_Stage


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