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May 2008 Newsletter

Springfield Update

As you probably know, this last week was a wild ride at the state capitol!  And the constitutional amendment to allow for recall provided some fascinating political theater.

A constitutional amendment requires a 3/5 majority vote by both the House and Senate and approval by voters at an election.  This Sunday, May 4 is the deadline for legislative action to place an amendment on the ballot for November.  With that date quickly approaching, the pressure was on.

The House previously passed a constitutional amendment that would allow for recall of all statewide officials as well as House and Senate members.  This week, the Senate introduced its own version that included not only state officials but also all county and municipal officials.  In addition, it tied the fate of the governor and lieutenant governor together – if one was recalled, then they would both be recalled.  After a lot of drama over whether the House would be willing to stay in session all weekend to consider the Senate proposal if it passed, it turned out that the Senate version failed (even though our local senators all supported it) and the Senate then quickly adjourned without considering the House version.

Like almost everyone, I am deeply disappointed by the actions of our Governor.  Recent revelations in the trial of Tony Rezko are extremely disturbing.  But the constitutional amendments being considered were not just aimed at this administration.  They would change the constitution for all times.  And the history of recall in this country demonstrates that it is typically driven by deep pocket special interests or multimillionaires – not dissatisfied citizens.  Furthermore, the threat of recall diminishes the likelihood that elected officials will be bold leaders – and there is already a belief that our elected officials lack backbone.  As Alexander Hamilton said “The recall will render the senator a slave to all the capricious humors among the people.”  So while I am not a defender of our current Governor, I do not feel that recall is the answer and I voted against the proposal constitutional amendments.

Illinois American Water Rate Hikes

It has come to my attention that Illinois American Water is proposing another rate increase before the Illinois Commerce Commission.  Last year in March, IL American Water increased its rates for water and sewer for many customers around Illinois, including many of you residing in House District 57.

If you are paying your water or sanitary sewer bill to IL American Water, I encourage you to go online towww.icc.illinois.gov and voice your concerns and comments about a rate increase.  You can also call the ICC Informal Complaint Line at 1-800-524-0795.  Right now, the ICC plans to hear the case at the end of May, and pending its decision, customers could see an increase an soon as July of 2008.

Rentbetter.org:  A Voucher Lottery for Those in Need of Low Income Housing

Through a new state program funded by a $10 fee on the recording of deeds, mortgages and other legal documents, low and moderate-income families will have an opportunity for rent relief on the housing of their choice.  Through RentBetter, also known as the Chicago Housing Choice Voucher program, 40,000 residents will be chosen to be on a Wait List for vouchers that will allow them to pay only 30 to 40% of their adjusted income in rent for housing in the private market.

To get on the Wait List, individuals or families must register for a lottery; registration is now open and closes on May 15th.  In late May, 40,000 names will be randomly chosen for the Wait List.  As vouchers become available, those on the list will be contacted to determine if they still need housing and meet the income requirement and other criteria.  Voucher holders can use the voucher toward rent on their existing housing, provided the rent meets program guidelines and the housing passes an inspection or they can find another apartment, town home, or house in the private market.  Eligibility for RentBetter depends on total family income, and income limits are revised annually; current limits range from about $26,000 a year for an individual to $50,000 a year for a family of 8.  Please visit www.rentbetter.org or call 1-312-786-3676 for more information.

 

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