Political Update from S4

Here’s the post-GOP-debate edition of S4’s weekly update on political news from the capital, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, and Minnesota!
The first big Republican presidential candidate debate was on Fox News last night, and it was quite the show. One of the moderators put it simply: “We don’t want to make it the Donald Trump show, but it is.” Trump was the only candidate unwilling to declare his support for whomever the GOP ends up nominating, stating he would consider running on an independent ticket instead, and he ended up with the most airtime of any candidate. Here are the 10 candidates who polled in the top 10 and were included in the main debate: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Chris Christie, and Gov. John Kasich.

The candidates who didn’t poll high enough to be in the main debate participated in an earlier broadcast. Though people referred to it as “the kiddie table,” one participant performed so well that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tweeted, “They should invite Carly Fiorina back for the 9 o’clockdebate.”

This early in the campaign season nothing is set in stone, so we can expect continued changes in polling status and top candidates for a while. The first national debate among Democrats will be hosted by CNN on October 13th in Nevada.

Please see below for news from Washington and around the country, and don’t hesitate to email me or our Director of Public Relations, Kayleigh Metviner (kmetviner@s4grp.com) with any questions.
All best wishes,
Yehiel Mark Kalish
P.S. S4 is hosting a conference call on healthcare policy with Venson Wallin, the Managing Director of BDO’s Healthcare Advisory practice, at 1pm Central on Tuesday, August 25th. More details to come, but save the date now!
President Obama drafted an executive order to require any companies contracting with the federal government to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The rule would apply to both contractors and their subcontractors, who would need to allow employees a minimum of 56 hours of paid sick leave per year and allow unused leave to accumulate. Read more.

Puerto Rico did not make the $58 million bond payment that was due Monday, effectively defaulting on its debt for the first time in its history as a US territory. The government did make the interest payment of about $628,000 but could not fund the rest of the payment.Read more.

The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal was not finalized as planned last Friday due to continued disagreements over Canadian dairy markets, Japanese car and rice imports, and US intellectual property protections over biologic pharmaceuticals.

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, who had been on the fence about the Iran deal, broke from the party and announced his opposition to the deal last night. Sen. Schumer is considered likely to be the next leader of the Senate Democrats when Sen. Harry Reid retires at the end of next year, and he is the most senior Jewish member of Congress.Read more.

The Senate Republicans’ attempt to pass a standalone bill to defund Planned Parenthood failed on Monday night, leaving senators to decide whether the issue is worth risking a government shutdown over. A group of senators led by Sen. Ted Cruz plan to do whatever they can to defund it, but other GOP legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, advocate caution and want to avoid a fight like the one that shut the government down two years ago over the Affordable Care Act. Read more.

President Obama finalized a rule that will force states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule sets a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 32% nationwide by 2030, and it also sets individual state goals. States can choose their own methods for cutting emissions as long as they meet one of the two federal goals: reducing total carbon emissions or reducing carbon emissions per megawatt hour of electricity produced. 15 states have already filed a lawsuit challenging the limits, and some business leaders have been preparing for years to argue that the rules will increase energy costs and prove bad for business. Read more.

For an interesting look at the differences between the draft plan released last year and the final ruling, read this article.

The bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures passed a resolution requesting that the federal government amend the Controlled Substances Act to allow states to set their own marijuana laws without federal interference. Read more.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved a rule to require all large public companies to disclose the pay gap between their CEO and their rank-and-file employees beginning in 2017. The SEC action is certain to spark debate and battles in Congress and in the courtroom. Read more.

Social services operations are coming down to the wire in Illinois, and there is still no budget in sight. Social services providers rely on about $3.1 billion per year in state funding, without which they will need to start laying off staff and shutting down – soon. Some organizations have already closed, and countless others have laid off as many workers as they can. A rehabilitation association based in Springfield estimates that those of its member organizations that have not already exhausted their reserve funds and credit lines will need to file notice of mass layoffs before the end of August and will not be able to make payroll by early September. Read more here and here.

A new case filed against the state today claims that, despite a 2011 Consent Decree requiring the State to fund services for residents with developmental disabilities and a recent acknowledgement that this funding would continue throughout the budget impasse, the State is only funding services to a specific group of beneficiaries. Read the motion here.

A Senate bill would distribute the remaining $4.8 billion in fiscal year 2016 federal money that would otherwise be stuck in Springfield, leaving programs like supplemental nutritional assistance, community block grants, and several others with no resources to run on. Even though the money is from the federal government and requires no state funds, the state is still responsible for distributing it. The Senate bill would allocate $98.7 million to statewide Area Agencies on Aging, which provide services including ombudsmen, elder abuse prevention, and home meal delivery. The bill passed the Senate this week and has the governor’s publicly stated approval, but the House is not set to debate it until next week. Read more.

Senate President John Cullerton’s property tax freeze bill also passed the Senate, but its future in the House is not clear because of the funding for Chicago Public Schools’ pension payments, which Speaker Madigan did not support in the past. He may be warming up to the bill, though.

A workers’ compensation reform bill passed the Senate, but Republicans and business groups were opposed because it did not go far enough. Gov. Rauner, however, said, “As with our property tax freeze proposal, substantial common ground exists among the various workers’ compensation reform ideas that have been proposed.” This could signal the potential for compromise in the near future.

Mayor Emanuel expressed frustration with Gov. Rauner during a speech focused on Illinois’s manufacturing industry. “I understand the Governor has an agenda. But having your agenda should not come at the expense of running down either the city or the state you’re out there promoting,” he said. Gov. Rauner is now accusing Mayor Emanuel of being “unwilling” to help persuade Democrats to rally behind the governor’s agenda. Read more here and here.

Sen. Darin LaHood sponsored a constitutional amendment to abolish the position of Lieutenant Governor starting in 2019, and Sen. Kwame Raoul sponsored separate oneto eliminate the office of the Comptroller as of 2018 and transfer those duties to the state Treasurer.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan successfully filed for an extension to the deadline for an appeal of the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling that declared a pension reform law unconstitutional in May. Madigan has not indicated yet whether she will file an appeal, but she now has until September 10th to decide. Read more.

Chicago Public Schools is launching an Independent Schools Program this year, which will allow 25 school principals more autonomy over their budgeting, training, and school oversight. Principals who have achieved “proficient” or “distinguished” ratings for the past two years and served in their roles for at least three years are eligible to apply before theAugust 10th deadline. 312 out of 520 principals will be eligible. Read more.

US Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is running to oust US Sen. Mark Kirk, may face trial for a ten-year-old complaint alleging workplace retaliation while she led the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. The case was dismissed by a federal judge in 2008, but after several appeals and narrowing the scope of the suit, a judge heard the complaint this week and tentatively scheduled a trial for April 2016. Read more.

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin may also join the race, which some speculate could take votes away from Andrea Zopp and help Rep. Duckworth’s bid.

Illinois’s pension crisis is nothing new, but it sure is complex. If you have a few minutes, check out this long read from Crain’s Chicago Business on the origins of the crisis up to today.

New York
The death toll in the Legionnaires Disease outbreak is now up to 10, and Mayor de Blasio is requiring owners of New York City buildings with water-cooling towers to hire environmental consultants to assess and disinfect the towers within the next two weeks. The New York State Health Department will provide free testing for the legionella bacteria for the next several weeks. Read more.

Gov. Cuomo has already endorsed Barbara Fiala, a former member of his cabinet and former Broome County Executive, to fill Sen. Tom Libous’s state senate seat, and this week the state Republican party announced its support for Broome County Undersheriff Fred Akshar. Read more.

The Health Department announced the five businesses granted medical marijuana licenses for the state. Each business will be allowed to open four dispensaries in certain territories, and all must be up and running within six months. Read more.

Etain LLC, New York’s only women-owned medical marijuana company, broke ground this week on its growing and production facility in Warren County. The facility is located in a former horse stable in the Town of Chester, and the owners expect to have finished products available to consumers by late January, 2016. Read more.

New York will not be one of the states filing suit against the new EPA limits on carbon emissions, and in fact will join nine other states to defend the rules against challengers. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman joined other attorneys general in writing a letter supporting the EPA rules, saying they espouse strategies that have proven successful at reducing emissions while boosting states’ economies. Read more.

Rep. Anthony Brindisi and the state Association of Small City School Districts are asking the new Education Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, to change how public education funding is distributed. Rep. Brindisi’s bill to change the funding formula to help smaller, poorer districts did not make it out of the Education Committee in either the Assembly or the Senate, despite its majority-party sponsors, but he is urging the new commissioner to address “the inequity of the state’s school aid formula.” Read more.

State Sen. Bill Perkins announced he will run for retiring US Rep. Charles Rangel’s seat in 2016. Sen. Perkins joins four other contenders for the seat: state Rep. Keith Wright, Rep. Robert Rodriguez, city councilman Adam Clayton Powell IV, and Rev. Suzanne Johnson Cook. Read more.

New Jersey
Standard and Poor’s (S&P) downgraded Atlantic City’s credit rating again, citing its shrinking tax base and uncertain fiscal future. S&P stated the city will run a deficit of over $100 million in fiscal year 2015. This will likely make it even harder for Atlantic City to attract investment. Read more.

The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) is expanding its contract program for businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, and the disabled/disadvantaged. The expansion will include larger purchases and more outreach to minority-owned businesses. Read more.

Gov. Christie is standing firmly against talk of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, but he has softened his opposition to a smaller raise, saying he would “talk about” a $10 minimum wage. Read more.

The New Jersey Education Association’s (NJEA) political action committee announced is endorsement of Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo and his running mate Colin Bell for the state Assembly. The NJEA endorsed all Democrats this year, largely because they voted to make full payments into the public-worker pension system. Read more.

State Sen. Jim Hughes plans to introduce a bill adding the “offense of violence” to the state law that allows authorities to board up problem buildings. Cities can currently close properties because of problems with drugs, prostitution, and blight, but no amount of violence can be used as grounds for shuttering a building. Read more.
A National Institute on Retirement Security report found that although about 50% of Indiana workers contribute to a retirement plan, which is higher than in most of the country, the amount of money they contribute is below the national average. This pattern is leaving Hoosiers dramatically under-prepared for retirement and future healthcare costs. Read more.

Now that President Obama announced the official new rules aimed at limiting carbon emissions nationwide, Indiana and 14 other states filed a lawsuit to challenge the limits. Indiana’s attorney general called the new requirements “an overreach of historic proportions.” Under the rule, the state is required to cut total carbon emissions by 28% or carbon emissions per megawatt hour of electricity by 38% over the next 15 years.Read more.

Gov. Pence is already considering not complying with the rules at all; the state has 9 months to submit an emissions reduction plan to the EPA if they are to comply.

Minnesota has passed several laws over the past few years that will likely make it easier for the state to reach its new EPA carbon reduction targets. Having already acted on laws requiring large utilities to transition to one quarter renewable energy by 2025 and to add solar energy to their production mix, Minnesota’s power producers are already on track to make significant carbon emissions reductions. Some feel that the state was not given adequate credit for its early actions and investments, however, and are unhappy with the high target for reductions. Read more.