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Springfield Highlights – March 18, 2016


Illinois Election Results

On Tuesday, millions of Illinois voters took the polls and cast ballots in Republican and Democrat primary elections for a slate of candidates running for a range of offices from President to the state legislature.   A statewide voter turnout of nearly 40 percent caught many election officials unprepared with many counties extending voting hours after running out of ballots at polling places.   The large turnout can be attributed to a new law allowing same day voter registration along with the fact that for the first time in many years, no candidate in either major political party had secured the presidential nomination before the March primary election.  As a result, Illinois was in play and many candidates visited the state to make their case to the electorate.

In the presidential race, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton eked out a narrow 34,000 vote margin out of more than two million votes cast to defeat Senator Bernie Sanders.  Clinton swept five states this week and has earned two-thirds of the delegates needed to win the Democrat nomination.  If that occurs, Clinton will end a long drought and become the first Cabinet secretary to become a major party’s choice for President since Herbert Hoover in 1928 along with being the first female presidential candidate for one of the two major political parties.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump easily defeated three candidates and won more than 40 percent of the vote in Illinois.   He won four states on Tuesday and only John Kasich’s win in his home state of Ohio prevented Trump from sweeping all five states (IL, MO, FL, NC, OH).  Trump now has 661 delegates and needs 1,237 delegates to win the nomination.  There are 1,094 remaining delegates and Trump will need to win 53 percent of remaining delegates to capture the nomination.

In the race for United States Senate, current Republican Senator Mark Kirk and Democrat Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth easily won their respective primary elections and will meet in November.  Republicans currently enjoy a 54-46 majority in the Senate but many political pundits rank the Illinois race as the best opportunity for Democrats to pick up a seat so this will be very expensive and hotly contested over the next six months.

All eighteen seats in Congress are up for election in 2016.  In the only open seat, Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi handily won the primary for the chance to succeed Duckworth in this suburban district.  In Lake County, incumbent Republican Congressman Bob Dold will face former Congressman Brad Schneider for third time in a rubber match.  Downstate Republican Congressmen Rodney Davis and John Shimkus crushed their primary challengers and should win re-election in November.

In the General Assembly, every seat in the Illinois House of Representatives and two-thirds of State Senate seats will be contested in November.  There were two major races that drew media attention and millions of dollars in independent expenditures because they represented a microcosm of the battle between Governor Bruce Rauner and organized labor.

Republican Senator Sam McCann drew the ire of the Administration after voting with AFSCME and labor unions to send collective bargaining to binding arbitration.  As a result of this vote, McCann drew a primary election opponent who was funded by the Governor and his allies.  At the end of the night, McCann easily defeated the challenger with significant help from organized labor.

In the second race, Chicago Democrat Representative Ken Dunkin faced a primary opponent after bucking House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and siding with the Administration on some key votes. His opponent Juliana Stratton received millions of dollars in funding along with a personal endorsement from President Barack Obama.   Stratton crushed Dunkin by more than 10,000 votes and will win election in the fall.

The IMA has put together a more in-depth election analysis that you can review here.  We encourage Illinois manufacturing companies to help educate your employees so that they become “Manufacturing Voters” in November.

U.S. Senate Democrats Block GMO Labeling Bill

This week, Democrat members of the United States Senate defeated an effort by U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) to prohibit states from requiring GMO labels on food.  The IMA along with hundreds of companies and trade organizations have been fighting to block a state-by-state approach that creates a confusing and costly patchwork of regulations on food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.   We are deeply disappointed that the Senate failed to address this pressing issue facing the food and agricultural sectors before leaving for spring recess.

Under the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act (S. 2609), a new U.S. Department of Agriculture voluntary labeling standard would be created while pre-empting individual states from passing their own separate labeling requirements.   Urgent action is necessary because Vermont’s labeling law is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2016.

The procedural vote to invoke cloture so that the bill could receive a vote in the full Senate required 60 votes but it was defeated on a vote of 49-48.   Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow led opposition to the measure and requested that Democrats take a unified stance against cloture to force continued negotiations and further concessions.

The Senate’s rejection of the motion today does not mean that the bill is dead because Senators plan to continue negotiations over the two-week recess and in early April.  Congress previously passed labeling legislation in 2015.  It’s now incumbent for the Senate to act quickly when they return so that a final version can be sent to the President for his signature.

The IMA encourages its food manufacturing and distribution members to call both Senator Durbin and Senator Kirk to stress the importance of a fast resolution on GMO labeling.

State Senate Passes Appropriations Bill, Governor Threatens Veto

For the second time in three weeks, a chamber of the General Assembly passed an appropriations bill that seeks to fund higher education, Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) grants, Amtrak, and social service programs.  Sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton and passed on a partisan roll call vote, SB 2059 allocates nearly $4 billion for these programs in the final months of Fiscal Year 2016 that ends in June.

The Governor issued a statement immediately after the vote expressing opposition to increased spending because there is no money to pay for it. According to the Governor’s press aide, “rather than adding billions to our debt and risk further delaying payments to social service providers, The General Assembly needs to stay in Springfield and negotiate a balanced budget alongside structural reforms that create jobs and grow our economy.”

As the IMA has noted previously, Illinois is now in its ninth month without a state budget.  Nearly ninety percent of funds are being spent without a budget because of court orders, consent decrees, and the signed K-12 education budget.  Comptroller Leslie Munger has repeatedly warned that Illinois will likely have racked nearly $10 billion in debt by the end of June including $4 billion in this fiscal year.

Governor Rauner proposed a spending plan during his February Budget Address and both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are hosting hearings.  However, very little negotiation is occurring and a resolution is not imminent.

Illinois Energy Roadmap

The Illinois Energy Roadmap Project held two stakeholder meetings this week seeking long-term energy policy recommendations for Illinois.  The project represents collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) with a goal of developing a unified energy policy that can be used by Illinois EPA, the Illinois Commerce Commission, the legislature and the Governor’s Office moving forward.  It’s been decades since Illinois last undertook a comprehensive energy planning strategy.

It involves a data-driven approach for planning energy efficiency and renewable energy policies for Illinois.  The project began under the Quinn Administration and is scheduled to end by December 2016 after meeting four objectives including (1) creating a structure to facilitate ongoing engagement between agencies, (2) evaluate Illinois’ options in relation to the regional energy market, (3) engage stakeholders through structured dialogue, and (4) develop consensus goals and an implementation plan.

The framework set out by the project will be used to develop policies including changes to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and energy efficiency programs.  The Energy Roadmap Project is not designed to design or implement President Obama’s Clean Power Plan in Illinois.  These policies will have a significant impact on energy prices and policies affecting manufacturing.  The IMA continues to be a key stakeholder in the development of the Illinois Energy Roadmap and the Manufacturers’ Environmental Group is working on written comments to ensure the interests of our industry are represented in the report.

Senate Executive Committee Approves Pollution Control Board Measure

Members of the Senate Executive Committee unanimously approved legislation this week clarifying and codifying practices of the Illinois Pollution Control Board.  Sponsored by Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago), SB 2950 clarifies that a quorum is 3 of 5 members rather than the current requirement that four members be present to take action.

The most significant change involves the authority of the Pollution Control Board to address civil penalties through a fine.  Current law provides that fines can be issued for violations of the PCB rules and regulations but there is ambiguity about whether those fines can be issued for process violations of the Environmental Protection Act.

The IMA is working with the Illinois Pollution Control Board and Chairman Gerry Keenan to rectify minor concerns in SB 2950 to make sure that this legislation actually meets its intent to add clarity and not an expansion.

Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter to Keynote IMA Business Day!

The IMA is pleased that Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report will keynote Business Day on Wednesday, May 11 in Springfield.  Attendees can look forward to an astute and engaging discussion about the President race and national elections that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and Congress.

Over the past fourteen years, Amy has built a reputation as an accurate, objective, and insightful political analyst with unparalleled access to campaign insiders and decision makers.  Known as one of the best political journalists covering Washington D.C., she is the national editor of the Cook Political Report and the former political director of ABC News. She is an exclusive panelist on NBC’s Meet the Press and a regular panelist on PBS’ Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier.

Please visit the IMA website and sign up to sponsor or attend this year’s Business Day that will include the luncheon program, Capitol visits and gala reception in the evening.  Business Day is one of the best-attended events in Springfield and more than 120 lawmakers attend every year along with key staff and agency officials.