The (Champaign) News-Gazette
While Illinois legislators wrestled with the issue of legalizing marijuana, their counterparts in Oregon were addressing an unanticipated problem from their decision to legalize it.
Oregon is suffering from a glut of the stuff, to the point that elected officials there are trying to rescue legal sellers from the falling prices caused by the sellers' decision to grow too much.
"The harsh reality is we have too much product on the market," said Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.
The governor is preparing to sign legislation that would allow the Oregon Liquor Control Commission additional authority to deny — based on the economic concept of supply and demand — new pot-growing licenses.
Why is Oregon up to its neck in dope?
Previously decriminalized, marijuana was legalized there in 2014. But a funny thing happened on the way to the pay window. Prices fell through the floor.
What Oregon producers really want is not help from the state government, but from the federal government. If Congress would just legalize marijuana in all 50 states, they assert, Oregon could ship its marijuana elsewhere.
That's not likely to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, it's hard times — not high times — for pot growers in Oregon. As for the users, getting stoned is a bargain, at least in terms of dollars and cents.
The (Moline) Dispatch and Rock Island Argus
We focus today on the hypocrisy and disregard for the democratic process at the center of what our state leaders refused to do yet again: create a path to independent legislative mapmaking that would allow voters to pick their state lawmakers rather than the other way around.
Leadership's long opposition to giving voters the power to change the constitution leaves Illinoisans working to end political gerrymandering one last shot to get an amendment in voters' hands. If one isn't approved by lawmakers next year, Speaker Mike Madigan's cartographers will use pinpoint technology to cement his control over who gets elected for another decade.
Voters can expect more of the same when leaders are faced with an independent maps amendment next year. They also shouldn't count on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to lead the charge for change, his April voters'-choice comments notwithstanding. Remember, when he was asked his views on fair maps, candidate Pritzker said only that he would veto an unfair map. In addition, it seems unlikely he would endanger leadership's goodwill on that issue with pieces of his ambitious agenda still pending.
That leaves the fight for fair maps where it always has been: In the hands of voters who must convince their lawmakers to stage the legislative coup required to make them a reality.
Victory remains a long shot, of course. But the path to independent elections won't get any easier if those in power get the chance to control who gets elected for another decade.
So stay active, alert, and involved.
(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald
It took a little good ol' fashioned Illinois political sleight of hand to put a question regarding a graduated income tax before you. But when you vote on the matter a year and a half from now, political tricks aren't going to be the deciding factor.
You are. Prepare yourself to make a reasoned decision.
If you didn't know better over the past year, you'd think from the rhetoric on both sides that lawmakers were arguing over whether to convert the state's flat 4.95-percent income tax to a graduated system with rates that vary according to a person's income. But that, of course, is not what they did this week. They merely agreed to put on the November 2020 ballot the question of whether to remove the requirement of a flat tax from the Illinois Constitution. Then, through legislation, they established the rates and income levels that would go into effect if voters remove the flat tax requirement.
Some people may wonder what it says about Republicans that they fought so hard to block the public from having its say on the flat tax. Others may see portents in the way Democrats, especially in the House, maneuvered to make it possible — replacing two outspoken suburban Democrats at the last minute on a committee taking a key vote, offering the prospect of a property tax task force to warm the feet of and provide political cover for the reluctant, considering a meeting to be a continuation of a session started days before because the term "adjourn" had not been used when the first session broke up.
From all this, everyone can see a vision of what's in store between now and November 2020. It's a daunting picture. But what's reassuring, if you have faith in democracy, is that at least now the matter is in our hands. We, the voters, will decide. We have 18 months to examine it from every angle. Let's use them well.