Illinois lawmakers adjourn for the year without addressing casino bill

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Lawmakers in Springfield adjourned the fall veto session Thursday and ended Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's hopes of getting a Chicago casino bill passed this year.

Lightfoot traveled to Springfield Tuesday to talk to lawmakers and push for their vote on the bill that would allow for a new casino in the city. It would also bring an estimated $200 million dollars in new revenue to the city and state coffers.

There was some maneuvering Thursday and it appeared Democrats had enough votes to get it passed, but Republicans called for more information, and the issue did not make it to the floor.

But the man shepherding the bill in the House, Bob Rita, promised to try again next year.

“We’re going to continue to work,” he said.

In a statement, Lightfoot said she’ll also keep trying.

“While we are disappointed that a much-needed fix to the gaming bill won’t be made during this compressed veto session, the Chicago casino is still very much in the sightline thanks to the progress we’ve made with our state partners,” the statement said.


So while there was no action on the mayor’s agenda, other items moved.

Lawmakers approved Governor JB Pritzker’s top priority during veto session, a plan to consolidate 650 downstate and suburban police and fire pensions.

“This consolidation marks a vital step forward for our fiscal future,” Pritzker said.

The measure forms two new statewide investment pools in an effort to boost returns.

And the governor said the legislation lowers costs.

“Your local property taxes are significantly being affected and raised in many cases because you’ve got to deal with local fire and police pensions,” he said.

The bill does not address Chicago’s public pension issues. Pritzker’s pension task force will keep working on that.

“Our work is not yet over,” he said.

Also Thursday, the legislature took a crack at ethics reform.

The House and Senate passed a last-minute bill requiring more public disclosure from lawmakers and lobbyists, small steps while a commission studies public corruption.

“What’s happening here is some window dressing is some wallpaper of a big ugly festering wound,” Margot McDermed (R-Frankfort) said.

“Do we really need a commission to be able to come up with a common sense solution that is I would say practical but also the right thing to do?” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said.

Pritzker said Springfield needs more time.

“This is much needed reform but it’s not enough and there is much more comprehensive ethics legislation that needs to be introduced and passed,” he said.

Lightfoot also picked a fight with Uber. Wednesday, Lightfoot accused the company of “paying off black ministers by offering them 54 million dollars” to fight her congestion tax.

But Thursday, the mayor softened her language.

“Uber, in an effort to try and divide and conquer and use scare-mongering tactics among black communities propagated a false narrative which is that the proposal that we have to regulate rideshare is going to disproportionately impact in a negative way black and brown communities,” she said. “And that’s just utterly false. And in trying to divide and conquer they offered up a potential quote, un-quote investments. Now the one thing I’m not going to do is let Uber do is divide me from black ministers or them from me.”

An Uber spokeswoman said the mayor`s claim is completely inaccurate and that she mistook as a payoff a counter offer Uber proposed that would raise $54 million dollars for the city.




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