Are more lawmakers fleeing Springfield than usual?
What has seemed like a glut of announcements by local state lawmakers who say they're leaving office or won't run again continued this week with the upcoming departure of state Sen. Dan Kotowski and the news that state Rep. Elaine Nekritz is interested in becoming the state's top auditor.
Is this kind of turnover showing exasperation with brutal budget battle that's set to continue as the leaves start changing? Or is this kind of turnover normal?
Coming into this year, the only suburban lawmaker who didn't return to the Illinois Senate was Republican Kirk Dillard, who became chair of the Regional Transportation Authority after a narrow loss to Gov. Bruce Rauner in last year's primary.
For next time, Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, is leaving in three weeks and Republican Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington won't run again in 2016. Plus, Democratic state Sen. Mike Noland of Elgin is running for Congress. And three downstate senators are leaving so far, one to replace former Rep. Aaron Schock in Congress.
But the Illinois House flipped a bunch of names coming into this year.
Now, in the suburbs, only Republican Reps. Ed Sullivan, of Mundelein, and Mike Tryon, of Crystal Lake, say they won't be back. Nekritz says if she doesn't win the auditor general post, she'll remain in the House.
But coming into this year, the suburbs lost a lot of veterans: Tim Schmitz of Batavia, Darlene Senger of Naperville, JoAnn Osmond of Antioch and Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst all passed on re-election. Republican Sandra Pihos lost in a primary and Democrat Keith Farnham left office for more nefarious reasons.
All these announcements are happening now because candidates are gathering petition signatures to get on the ballot, and incumbents need to get out of the way now and give hopefuls a chance. But those signatures aren't due until the end of November, so more shuffling is still possible.
U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam made big waves on the Iran nuclear deal when he pushed House Republicans to take a different course on their opposition, wanting to focus on his argument that the Obama administration hadn't revealed so-called side deals made with the country.
The Wheaton Republican was asked by Washington publication The Hill whether the high-profile move meant he was angling for a spot in the GOP House leadership. Roskam bid for the No. 3 post last year and lost.
"I wouldn't rule it out," he said.
But also this: "What I've observed in politics is people who spend an extraordinary amount of time plotting and scheming and this-ing and that-ing end up pretty unsatisfied. Life passes them by as they're scheming for the future. I choose to live for now."
Congress and House Speaker John Boehner face a big challenge in the coming weeks as a potential government shutdown looms at the beginning of next month if a new budget plan isn't approved.
In Illinois, that may sound familiar.
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat, introduced legislation Thursday that would send federal money to local police to pay for body cameras.
Illinois this year has its first law to both try to pay for the body cameras and regulate their use. Both the author of the law and Lake County investigators told the Daily Herald last week that such a camera may have helped in the investigation into the death of Fox Lake Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz if he had been wearing one.
"As many have said, justice delayed is justice denied," Foster said in a statement. "Arming our police force with body cameras will go a long way to ensure justice is served swiftly, both for citizens and the officers assigned to protect us."
Foster's proposal would also outline procedures for the cameras' use.
It ain't over
Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger's move to start paying for disability care for infants and young children without a budget drew praise from the Ounce of Prevention Fund led by Diana Rauner for avoiding "costly litigation" over the issue.
But also this: "We are pleased with the reinstatement of funds for Early Intervention but we remain concerned that all children will not continue to receive the life-changing services they need without a fair, fully-funded budget that invests in young children and families."
Past, prologue, etc.
Last week, Munger in this column suggested more lawsuits could lead to more state payments even without a state budget. This week, she made the decision on the early intervention program and a federal judge said the state has to pay for in-home senior care covered by Medicaid.
Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs called this week to say he's hoping to "shine a light" on how the ongoing Illinois budget stalemate can affect college students.
"There's a lot of anxiety on campus," he said.
Most colleges and universities are floating students the money for the state-guaranteed Monetary Award Program scholarship that isn't being paid out during the impasse. If the fight doesn't end, students will have to worry about whether their schools will float the money again for the spring semester, Frerichs said, leaving them to wonder whether they'll have the money to return to the dorms after leaving for winter break.
"Do you pack up all your clothes?" Frerichs said.