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updated: 7/11/2014 5:10 AM

Quinn and Rauner both just say no to legalized pot

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  • Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, left, is running for re-election against Republican Bruce Rauner.

      Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, left, is running for re-election against Republican Bruce Rauner.

 
 

Retail sales of marijuana for recreational use began in Washington state this week, not long after an Illinois Supreme Court decision led many to view our state's already troubled financial future in an even gloomier light.

As Illinois continues the long process of preparing its medical marijuana program, would Illinois be a candidate to follow Washington and Colorado in legalizing pot and collecting the tax money that could come with it?

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This is where Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican opponent Bruce Rauner find some common ground.

They, as the saying goes, just say no.

Quinn signed the medical marijuana legislation into law last year. Asked if Quinn would be open to legalization, his spokeswoman had a simple answer.

"No," spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said.

Asked the same question, a spokesman for Rauner was similarly brief.

Rauner "opposes legalizing marijuana," spokesman Mike Schrimpf said.

That might be the end of that idea for now, even though last week's Supreme Court ruling cast doubt on whether cutting public employee retirement benefits will be Illinois' way out of its deep financial hole.

State lawmakers have shown many times, of course, that they'll try to do things governors don't want them to do. But considering how controversial medical marijuana is in Illinois and law enforcement's opposition to legalization -- especially considering concerns about driving while high -- going over a governor's head would be tough.

Decision day Tuesday?

Suburbs and counties in recent weeks and months have been adopting their own medical marijuana regulations. But Tuesday is an important day for the issue as a panel of lawmakers is set to meet and perhaps approve rules governing Illinois' future operations.

Though the law was approved last year, no one can legally get marijuana in Illinois until regulators are ready. If lawmakers approve regulations Tuesday, people who want to start growing and selling medical marijuana in Illinois can start applying for licenses, Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

There are limits on the number of growers and sellers, and state agencies will eventually make the call who gets the chance.

That will take time, too. Arnold predicts medical marijuana will first go on sale in Illinois in March.

Follow up

Republican candidate for Congress Bob Dold weighed in Thursday on legislation backed by his opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, that would seek to undo the effects of the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case over employer coverage of contraception.

Dold, of Kenilworth, said in a statement the court ruling was "indicative of the uncertainty that is still plaguing the Affordable Care Act."

Schneider, of Deerfield, and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates, joined Democrats nationally to support the legislation, which would require most employers that have group health plans to cover contraception, something Hobby Lobby owners don't want to do.

"I have always believed that a woman's health care choices must be left between her and her doctor and that all women ought to have access to the contraceptive care they and their physician believe is best," Dold said. "I also strongly believe we must preserve the constitutional right to religious liberty for all Americans."

Meanwhile ...

Both camps continue to show why the race is the biggest one in the Chicago area. Schneider says he'll report next week raising $795,000 in the second quarter of this year and having $1.9 million in the bank as of the end of June.

Dold says his campaign will report raising $610,000 over the same period and having $1.65 million in the bank.

Both sides say those totals are among the highest in the country for congressional races.

Taxes

Dold continues to call for Schneider to release his tax returns, including those from 2011 and 2012. Dold has released his since 2009.

Schneider campaign manager Jamie Patton says since Schneider became an elected official in 2013, he'll release that year's return after getting information back from some of the investments he holds.

Moving up

State Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican, was this week promoted to the spot of assistant Republican leader in the Illinois House.

He replaces another Lake County Republican, state Rep. JoAnn Osmond of Antioch, who stepped down at the beginning of the month.

"He has been willing to travel across the state to show support for other members and is often called upon for his advice," said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, a Western Springs Republican who made the appointment.

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