Here’s what happened in politics this week

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Senate Democrats blocked the resolution to disapprove of the Iran nuclear deal yesterday, and the House changed its tactics to consider three separate measures in order to contend with divisions among Republicans. Representatives passed a resolution stating that President Obama violated the terms of congressional review law by failing to provide all documents related to the deal yesterday. Today, they voted to disapprove of the deal and to prevent the US from lifting any sanctions on Iran. Read more.

President Obama signed an executive order that will require federal contractors to allow employees up to seven days of paid sick leave per year when it goes into effect on new contracts in 2017. Read more.

House Speaker John Boehner may face a tough few months as the threat to unseat him from his role as Speaker becomes real. Some close to him also doubt he will run for another term as Speaker in 2017. Read more.

Harvard professor and political activist Lawrence Lessig officially announced his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination after reaching his self-imposed benchmark of $1 million in donations by Labor Day. Read more.

CNN announced the 11 GOP candidates who will participate in next week’s debate. Here they are, in order of CNN’s ranking: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. John Kasich, Gov. Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina. The earlier debate will have Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, and George Pataki.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman introduced legisaltion yesterday to prohibit federal agencies and contractors from asking job applicants about their criminal records until making a conditional job offer. The Fair Chance Act is meant to make it easier for those released from prison to find work. Read more.

Washington state’s Supreme Court decided charter schools, which are funded by tax dollars but are run independently, are unconstitutional. The future is unclear for the nine charter schools in the state and the 1,200 students currently attending, since school already started. Washington is the first state to declare charter schools unconstitutional, and it did so on the grounds that the schools are not under local control. Read more.


During a press conference on Wednesday, Comptroller Leslie Munger disclosed that the state will likely face a backlog of bills to the tune of $8.5 billion by January 1st, only halfway through this fiscal year. She also estimated that there is about $4.3 billion in state spending (on things like public universities and non-Medicaid social services) that is not currently covered by any appropriations measures, meaning without action of some kind, those entities will not be funded.

Senate Democrats then passed an appropriations bill to cover most of that budget hole, but the state still lacks the revenue to pay for most of it. Even if the House also passes the bill, Gov. Rauner will almost certainly veto it. Apparently, the governor and legislative leaders have not met with each other since the end of May.

DHS closed a public aid office that helped residents sign up for programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Cairo this week. Spokeswoman Veronica Vera said the closure was not due to the budget crisis but rather because the location and several around it are very low traffic offices. Read more.

Bruce Carter, Executive Director of the Wells Center for substance abuse treatment in Jacksonville, said the center’s detoxification program will shut down on October 1st because of the lack of budget and other state funding reductions. The Wells Center detoxification program currently serves an average of 30 patients per month from Calhoun, Green, Jersey, Morgan, and Scott counties. Read more.

After last week’s intense House session resulting in a failed veto override of the AFSCME union arbitration bill, the Illinois chief of the AFL-CIO (a national labor union federation) publicly announced his disappointment in Reps. Ken Dunkin and Scott Drury. Rep Dunkin was the only Democrat not to attend the House session, and Rep. Drury reportedly told AFL-CIO unions he would be voting in favor of the override but actually voted against it. Read more.

That House session did result in one successful veto override, and the Senate followed suit this week. Rep. Lou Lang’s Heroin Crisis Act is now law and will enable those seeking addiction treatment to receive it.

Gov. Rauner’s administration denied the proposed additions to the list of conditions that can be treated by medical marijuana,including migraines and post-traumatic stress disorder. An advisory board conducted research and heard testimonies before recommending 11 additional conditions to the Illinois Department of Health in May; the Department announced yesterday that it would not heed the recommendations. Read more.

Even as some Chicagoans criticize Mayor Emanuel’s $500 million tax hike proposal, market analysts warn it may not be sufficient to raise the city’s bond rating above junk status. Matt Fabian of Municipal Market Analytics said, “I would have preferred to see this as the first of several property tax increases and part of a more aggressive plan. Say, $200 million or $300 million every year for the next three or four years as opposed to one large one… The political cost of a $500 million raise probably makes this the only revenue raise – at least the only significant one that we’ll see in the near term. And that’s just not enough.” Read more.

State Sen. Darin LaHood won the special election for former US Rep. Aaron Schock’s 18th District House seat yesterday.

Former Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon, who served under former Gov. Pat Quinn, announced she is running for state Senate and hopes to take the place of retiring Republican Sen. Dave Luechtefeld. Simon ran unsuccessfully for comptroller last year against Judy Baar Topinka, who died a month later. Senate Republicans support Paul Schimpf for Sen. Luechtefeld’s seat, though Sharee Langenstein is running against him in the primary.

New York

The state Labor Department officially approved a wage board’s recommendation to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 per hour by 2021, and Gov. Cuomo announced he plans to work with the legislature when it returns next year to instate a $15 minimum wage for all. Business groups and Senate Republicans are already fighting against it. Read more.

Mayor de Blasio plans to initiate a new $30 million program to offer counseling and support in NYPD stations and housing project service areas to victims of violence. The program will place 166 “culturally competent” “victim advocates,” who will be hired from an outside vendor, in these locations to provide “supportive and crisis counseling to crime victims.” The first $30 million will cover a three-year phase-in, and the program is expected to cost just under $15 million per year after that. Read more.

Harlem Sen. Bill Perkins plans to introduce a package of legislation to overhaul the state’s corrections system policies in the wake of several inmate deaths. The measures include more training for corrections officers, requiring all workers at corrections facilities to be mandated reporters, and requiring medical and crisis staff to be on call at all state correctional facilities. Sen. Perkins also plans to run for retiring US Rep. Charlie Rangel’s House seat. Read more.

Former state Assemblyman Barry Grodenchick won the Democratic primary for the city council seat vacated by Mark Weprin several months ago. The Queens city councilor left for a job in Gov. Cuomo’s administration. Grodenchick will face Republican Joseph Concannon in November. Read more.

New Jersey
Three labor unions representing New Jersey state troopers and officers filed a petition asking the US Supreme Court to overturn the state Supreme Court decision ruling Gov. Christie’s 2011 pension reform law unconstitutional. The 2011 law would have forced the state government to pay billions more into the public pension system than Gov. Christie proposed in this year’s budget, and the administration sought to have the law declared unconstitutional because it would force the state to incur significant debt without voters’ consent.

A group of unions, including the state troopers’ unions, argue that the 2011 law was not unconstitutional and that it created a federally-protected contract between the state and the workers. By mid-week, 16 more public worker unions joined the petition. Read more here and here.

The Christie administration, the state legislature, and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Associations have all filed motions to have the Third Circuit Court of Appeals re-hear the state’s case to allow betting on sports games at casinos and racetracks. Professional sports leagues and federal courts have all come out against the bid, but New Jersey officials insist that legal sports betting is crucial for Atlantic City’s survival and moving money out of illegal betting operations. Read more.

US Sen. Bob Menendez gathered a group of elected officials at the PATH station in Harrison on Tuesday to announce $256 million in federal grant money to cover further repairs to the rail system. The funds are part of a $1.3 billion federal aid package that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had already been granted, but each allocation helps keep the repairs moving. Read more.

State Democrats are considering proposing a constitutional amendment on voting laws this year, as they anticipate a veto from Gov. Christie on the bill they passed in June. The bill would make it considerably easier to register to vote through a number of avenues, which a majority of New Jersey residents support, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll. Read more.

Akron held its Democratic primary election for mayor this week, and Daniel Horrigan, the Summit County Clerk of Courts, came out on top. Horrigan will compete against Republican Eddie Sipplin, an attorney, in the general election in November.

A group called Eight is Enough Ohio passed the first step in putting a term limit issue on the November 2016 ballot. The group’s constitutional amendment would limit state legislators to eight years in one chamber and 12 years overall in the General Assembly. Read more.


Indiana is one of the few states to limit how much money medical malpractice victims can collect, and the cap’s constitutionality is coming into question.The maximum amount plaintiff’s can recover right now is $1.25 million, which is what it was set at in 1999. Indiana Hospital Association lobbyist Tim Kennedy asks, “How can a program that hasn’t been looked at and updated in almost 17 years now be fair and just?” But a lobbyst for Indiana State Medical Association argues raising the cap would dramatically increase costs to physicians. Read more.

The chief of Indianapolis’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Dr. Charles Miramonti, says the state is struggling to contend with crime-related mental health issues. Although grants and community partnerships are helpful, Dr. Miramonti says stronger business models for mental health services and addiction treatment programs are needed. Read more.