Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network: NPR Illinois' State Week (June 15, 2019)
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Unbalanced doing limited basic after six thirty twenty eight thirty two dollars per month per line without a pay day to day organisation during additions maximum. Zeros. Restrictions apply. From springfield. This is state week a program of analysis and commentary on the events that made news this past week in Illinois state government and politics. Well, the spotlight on abortion rights shines on Illinois today as promised governor, Jay Pritzker signed a sweeping abortion access protection Bill, but not without protests before signing the reproductive health at into law. The governor stressed that abortion bans, endanger, women, adding that Illinois will always be state where women have the right to choose. Let the word go forth today, from this place that if you believe in standing up for women's fundamental rights. Illinois is a beacon of hope in the heart of this nation. We trust women. However, those of those people gathered as well to express their concern, I'll be damned. If you tell me that before exiting the miraculous. Home. That is her mother's womb, that she's not a living, breathing human person. Governor Jay Pritzker followed through on his promise this week, making Illinois. But many consider the most progressive state in the country on reproductive health rights, he signed legislation that deals with abortion and women's health, he'll discuss that issue and more coming up here on state week in Springfield. I'm Shawn Crawford and our panel includes Charlie Wheeler director of the public affairs reporting program at the university of Illinois Springfield and a longtime reporter and stay doubts observer, also with us in our stay house studio, we have Brian Mackey Illinois public radio statehouse, editor. And also joining us this week a couple of our reporters. Maureen McKinney as someone who's been covering state government forests in following this issue and another person who has been also following this topic throughout the legislative session and also a member of that public affairs reporting program, I mentioned, our intern for the last few months, Dana Volmer, both of you have been on this issue. We think both of you for being with us Dana. I'm going to start with you, though, the reproductive health act. That's the official. The name of this legislation. Give us an overview of what this actually does. So people have a better feel for what we're talking about with this legislation. So probably what the law does is make it a fundamental, right? For people to make autonomous decisions about the reproductive health so that includes things like contraception and sterilization, but what's really become the cornerstone of this legislation as access to abortion? So the intense in the first place was to protect abortion rights by repealing laws that we don't currently enforce, but could go back into effect if the federal courts overturn Roe versus Wade, so that includes things like spousal consent for abortion and criminalizing doctors who perform the procedures. So basically the intent was to get those off the books, so that abortion rights are protected in Illinois, regardless of what happens at the federal level. And that was really the, the Lynch pin here of what we were talking about this was going into the session, I think most people thought this was not going to be a topic that. That lawmakers dealt with in probably halfway through the session, it seemed to be stalled out and you know in subcommittee, where a lot of legislation just sets in languishes quite a bit. And suddenly here it comes, and it's one of the first bills that the governor signs after the sessions over. So it had to do more with what was going on not just here in Illinois. But really more across the country. Correct. Yeah. Actually Maureen might be a better option to answer that. But we have been seeing is that red states in the south and also even neighboring states like Missouri really cracking down and either eliminating access to abortions or really restricting the scenarios under which you can get the procedure, Illinois kind of always been known as a safe haven for reproductive health care in the mid west, and that's just kind of solidified our stance. Yeah. Kentucky Indiana to adapted really restrictive laws, the share following in the heels of Alabama. Where they virtually outlawed abortion. And I think that was really the linchpin that kind of kick started the discussion here was there was really total attention in the south to the issue that really whipped up interest in the advocates who are pro abortion, the anti abortion rights activists to brand new, that governor Pritzker being outspoken as he was on this. And in support of it that, that also played a key role in why it started moving in the legislature because of he wasn't going to back. It didn't seem like probably a lot of folks in the general assembly, some folks would not have probably voted for it or did not want to see it come for a vote, but his support it from what I could tell seem to really help. But this over the top, and that's a story. I think we've seen on issue after issue this spring, as compared to years. Past. Certainly, yes, he said as a candidate that he wanted to make Illinois. And I think you referenced this at the beginning of the show, he wanted to make Eleanor quote the most progressive state in the country when it comes to abortion rights and access. And we've seen that, you know, he by being willing to put his name on this. It certainly gives cover to Democrats who might be more nervous about supporting this now. The Democratic Party has been on the decline in southern Illinois in the more conservative parts of the state where you used to have more Democrats who opposed abortion rights, and even in Chicago where you had there were a number of strong Catholic legislators who opposed abortion rights few, oh, what was it probably five six years ago? Now, there was an attempt to push the sort of legislation where you'd require the ultrasound before a woman could access the procedure, and that was pushed by democrat from Chicago, but he retired. Third. Others have been voted out of office. The party has gotten stronger in the suburbs. Where this issue is more divided. I guess, and, and maybe you know, enough Democrats felt they could support this and this wasn't the sort of thing where you needed the supermajority either. But to your to your main point, Sean. Yes. On this issue. I think the governor, you know, his support speaks a lot in it's the same reason as we've said in the past, that we saw a gambling expansion package pass this year when it hasn't for many, many sessions before despite repeated attempts. And surely, of course, we have this big democratic super majorities in the state legislature. But as Brian mentioned, this does not always fall along party lines in historically, that's been the case in Illinois. Well, our history has been kind of. What would you say in a sense, almost like a, a con game in that right after Roe v? Wave was handed down by the US supreme court in the seventies, the Illinois legislature, Republicans and Democrats would pass very restrictive bills dealing with supporting the issue had to be addressed. Because when our old law was stricken by the US supreme court, there were no rules, no regulations. No standards nothing just the plank slate. And both antiabortion and pro choice, people realize there's gotta be some kind of a regulatory framework. So one was put in place, and then for years, the legislature would dutifully pass all kinds of restrictions. And Brian alluded to some of them, they would go and a lot of this happened when Jim Thompson was governor. They go to the governor to governor would veto them. They go back to the legislature, the legislature would override the vetoes the ACLU would go into federal court challenge and the courts would strike down the law, and it was kind of a game in that. Everybody knew what the routine was. And people could go home and tells her right to life groups. Well, we voted for it, and we voted to override, but it was at darn court that did it. And so that was kind of a cover in that sense. In now, the tenor has changed because I think for people who are pro choicers real concern that as the US supreme court has shifted dramatically to the right with President Trump's appointments Roe v. Wade is in real danger of being overturned, and then you see what happened in the southern states where they've probably gone further than anybody would ever imagined. And people who are very much for reproductive rights, realized that we better do something in Illinois, because if Roe v Wade is stricken gown. All these restrictive laws are still there on the books with some of these states next to us marine. That are you touched on that earlier some of these states adopting, much more conservative views, when it comes to abortion legislation more restrictive legislation. What does that mean for Eleanor here is this? I've heard people, of course, on the other side of this thing, this will be the abortion capital at the mid west people will come here to get. Is that is that truly going to happen? Didn't even really be able to talk about that or talked to both the house sponsor Kelly Cassidy, and Melinda Bush, the Senate sponsor, and they had different opinions on that Kelly Cassidy said, really Eleanor already is a haven, because we're surrounded by states that are. Are anti abortion red states and Bush thought, though, it's a shame that people in rural areas are going to have to travel. It is going to increase the visits from people out of state. And that's something, of course that the opponents to abortion have used quite often to say, we don't want people, you know, everybody flooding into Illinois to get abortions. But sure enough than it that may be the case of what takes place net Dana, when we use this term the most progressive legislation, you know, possibly in the country here. Why is that the case here in Illinois? What makes this legislation different from? Maybe another states that, that have less restrictive abortion laws. One of the things I think, is really interesting as we look at the coverage of this Bill was that you often hear that what we're doing is expanding abortion rights, but supporters of the legislation would say that it's simply just codifying what we're already doing so abortion was already allowed up to fetal viability, which is. Generally considered to be twenty four weeks. And then after that, you can still have an abortion, when it's medically necessary for the life and health of the patients. So that didn't change under this legislation. But the definition of health of a patient does, and that's kind of where opponents said it was a little too broad. Because it includes things like emotional health, familial, health and age. It's not entirely clear. What that means something that sponsoring state Representative kit Kelly Cassidy was asked about in committee, and on the floor, and it's seems to be as long as the doctor decides under the accepted standards of clinical care that an abortion is necessary. It can happen at any phase of the pregnancy. And I talked to Elizabeth Nash who files abortion policy for the good macaroni to, to which both supports abortion rights and those research, and reproductive rights, and she told me the what makes own. Annoys law. So progressive is that it covers things beyond abortion, like sterilization, and contraception and pregnancy care is there more legislation coming beyond this, that when it comes to reproductive health, what else is on the horizon. Yeah, I think the parental notification act was overlooked, probably because there was so much attention in this issue that would take away the requirement that parents give permission for abortions for people under eighteen surely might look back. I remember when that was put in place, parental notification before abortion, that seemed to be something that both sides. At least I would say, more moderates in the general assembly felt was something they could vote for in it. And it did pass with Democrats and Republicans voting for that have we. I seen such a shift on this issue through the years that these types of things are going to be revisited and possibly overturn. Well, I think what are the things that made that possible when it past years ago was that there was a provision in there, that would allow a minor woman who deserted an abortion, but was in a familial situation that was really harmful to a fruit sample as an extreme case. She was pregnant with a child that had been impregnated by her father. And she wasn't going to go to the father and ask for permission. There was a judicial bypass where the person could go before a judge. And explain what the circumstances were way she wasn't able to deal with the family and get a, a waiver of that notification. So that provision being part of it. I think was one of the reasons that helped to pass know what's going to happen going forward. I don't know. But there is a kind of a, a move afoot to allow minors. To make more decisions about healthcare if they are mature enough in the eyes of a doctor is of a court and it's not just on reproductive rights. There's also ongoing debate about children of parents who don't believe in vaccinations, allowing Myers of a certain age to get the vaccination without the consent of their parents, Brian, if they do take this up that would likely be in the fall or maybe certainly next spring right in time for these this presidential election and also congressional races that we're going to be seeing around the country and this issue of abortion, and just what is allowed is certainly going to be one of the big key topics of the next election season. It already seems to be that case. Republicans in many a- across the country are taking a look at this right now is me making an issue. Yeah. In our public radio colleague, Dave McKinney at WBZ in Chicago had. Story this week about how the nationally, the Republican party is looking to turn illinois's abortion rights law into a weapon to you know, as they're trying to retake the US house of representatives. And, you know, they as these campaigns do they're encouraging reporters ask, so in so democratic candidate where they stand on Ellen always, you know, abortion law. I think it's interesting, though, that you know, as I think Charlotte, Charlie, how did you refer to release? So there were sort of a, you know, an agreement that this, you know, once I does one thing they know it's unconstitutional than, you know, they count on the courts to sort of the backstop for these laws and that was even true with judicial bypass to some extent. I mean it it was passed. And then it didn't go into force for a decade or more. I don't remember the exact time line, but I know that it was passed. I think in the nineties, but it wasn't until the audits when it finally took effect, because the Illinois supreme court had never put in place, the rules that were. Secetary for this judicial bypass of the entire law was stayed. And then when chief Justice Robert, Bob Thomas was chief Justice. He's a very religious individual. He was heard interviewed on a suburban Christian radio station talking about how he was, you know, one of his things he was going to do is chief was to push these rules through and, and the court did finally, you know with, with a significant personnel change from. When the law had passed originally did put the rules through. And that's how that law is now in effect in Illinois. But there are that, that sort of a microcosm of the way the, the legislative political process has not been the way that this country has dealt with the issue of abortion. And there are activists even on the pro abortion rights side, who say you know what? Maybe, you know, ultimately, if Roe versus Wade, it's kind of a shaky precedent, you know, it's one of these things that depends on the sort of interpreting the constitution and reading things in between the lines of the concert. Petition. Maybe it would be best if that, you know, it might be terrible for individuals in the short term, as you know, abortion was, you know, from their standpoint was less available, but in the long-term if the country really has to wrestle with this through the political process instead of counting on the courts to do it from above. Maybe then you would see a more of a compromise or a more, you know, of a of a real resolution that people could buy into instead of this, you know, perennial battle that, that we have now. Dana wouldn't when we talk about this issue across the country, and I think it was NPR that just had a poll out this week talking about how the majority of Americans feel as though they supports keeping Roe versus Wade in place, keeping that ruling in place, but they do want some restrictions on abortion. Is there a point where Illinois may go too far here? And, you know, go against even when people in what is considered to be a blue state really want on this issue. Yeah. I think opponents argued that maybe what we just signed into law is, again, a little too broad. So we're talking about any of these decisions about when a post by ability abortion, can take places between the patient and the doctor and it is, including things like emotional health, familial health age, which I mentioned earlier, it's kind of unclear to the people that drafted this legislation. And to those of us watching it exactly what that means. And so I think some of the opponents would argue that they're super subjective. You could come up with a reason to perform an abortion post viability for, you know, I think Avery born and really drilled into this idea of meal health being you just decide that you already have three kids and three kids is enough. And so for your familial health, we can perform a post viability abortion, that is not the intent of the Bill and some of the democratic. While makers noted it's. They said it was -fensive to insinuate that a pregnant woman would choose to terminate a pregnancy that far along just because she didn't feel like having the baby or that a doctor would go ahead and perform that procedure if it wasn't actually necessary, so. And I think it's also worth sort of tacking onto that point, when we are talking about these possibilities of abortions very late in a pregnancy. This is a really really small percentage of the abortions, I'm reading online statistic that, you know after the twenty first week, it's something like one point three percent of abortions take place that late into a pregnancy. So this is, you know, the a lot of the argument in, in the passion in this debate is talking about a very small sort of the very edge cases, here, in supporters say that people are not making these decisions lightly and certainly not that late in a pregnancy, Shirley, I'll ask you that same question. Is there a point where even abortion rights supporters may say states like going too far I would suspect, probably not in the what Illinois has basically said, is this is a decision that should be between a woman. In her doctor in as Dana said the doctor following clinical practices, and so it's not going to be done willy nilly, and it's something that innocence. The general assembly is saying, this is a decision a very personal decision for a woman between her and the doctor the medical personnel and politicians really have no business getting engaged or folks who maybe don't agree with choice should not be intruding on something. So personal just a few minutes left here in this week's program. Let me turn to you Brian because state workers, at least some of them got some news that they probably are pretty happy about, and that is that some pay that they are owed from the state of Illinois. It's been in really tied up in the courts for a long period of time here that, that money may actually be at least on its way in the next few months, I guess, even FILA said, yeah. And I'm relying here on. Reporting by friend of the program. Doug thinki- at the state journal register who really took a hard look at this issue this week. These are the step increases sort of longevity pay raises, you get for being in your career in state government. You sort of start out at a lower pay rate in. It's supposed to be that after you put in the time, you're pay keeps going up. Well apps me members had been working under a frozen contract for most of almost the past four years, since the first year of governor rounders administration when he really tried to assert some changes to the state contract. What of the things he also did during that time froze? These so-called step increases, and governor Pritzker came in. He had run as a friend of the working man and said, you know, state workers deserve to be paid in a way that was fair tax payers as well. But he vowed early on that they would get their step back step increases. So again, according to the. State journal register there's some twenty five to thirty thousand state employees who are entitled to some back pay, they should be getting that probably by the end of September. Although there could be some even additional money after that because courts have said, they are supposed to get some interest on, you know, this money they should have had all during that time. So yet another cost of the strains, and impasses and loggerheads, that much of state government found itself in during the the rounder administration. And Brian, of course of the Pritzker administration has apparently struck a deal with apps me regarding a new contract that had been in limbo for number of years as well. So soon that may be in place, a new contract. Yeah, that's right. I, I think we're, we're still waiting to for the, the workers to, to fully ratify that and be able to get a look at those terms. But I don't think anyone is particularly surprised by this again. Governor pritzker. Campaign with strong strong union support. And we're we're seeing the consequences of the voter's choice last year and just saving a minute or so here at the end I mentioned at the start of the show. Dana Volmer has been a public affairs reporting intern for us for the last six months here and day. Now just wanted to get your thoughts on covering. What really was a pretty active legislative session was at more than you expected? I wanted to, you know, get that viewpoint of somebody that stepped into this for the first time. Yeah, I obviously don't have very much to compare it to. And I've heard that previous sessions have been crazy for different reasons. But it was a lot all at once. So, you know, they have months to go through and do all these legislative efforts, but it seems like at least with the big ticket items that really came down to the final week, which I think, in some ways worked in favor of governor. Jay Pritzker anything in other ways did kind of isolates Republicans who have probably already not been feeling very heard. So it was an interesting process and. Just happy to have been here. You have one session down. Nearly have about fifty more to go to match early. So, so good luck for them. Things for thanks for all of your work, and we're going to go now to our notes from the field. And Maureen, let's start with you. Now I talked to Kelly Cassidy and at the end of our interview, she told me that she was still dazed from the craziness of the session, and she forgot the word repeal an of a few days later, she didn't know what to say. When somebody said thanks for joining us. Remember her name? Right. Brian, we've talked before on this program about the new Chicago. Mayor, Lori Lightfoot. She had her second big city council meeting, the Chicago mayor sort of presides over that meeting. And there's a there's a sort of a public comment section, if you will where people get up and often, the politicians would kind of ignore people as they made their little brief speeches and complaints about city government, but. Mayor Lightfoot has been engaging with people, which has surprised a lot of observers up there. And there was based on reporting in politico this week. There was a testy exchange when an official with the Chicago fraternal order of police union went up there and ask the mayor, why the union wasn't included on her transition effort and said, you know, she would have difficulty achieving her goals, and as she has often done with these people who are publicly commenting and challenging her. She says, hey, if the police union wants to do something other than quote, obstruct, and object to reform. I'd be more than willing to meet with you. So taking taking an active approach to her management of the city council issues doing with the city and not afraid to, to punch back when somebody goes after her Charlie will, we've talked about all the huge issues, Dana looted to them that we saw this legislative session another significant issue that. Really hasn't got a lot of attention. Is that the legislature has passed and the governor is expected to sign a law that will require tougher rules on toxic coal ash sites. Now, Illinois has more coal ash ponds, which is the residue from burning coder generator like trysofi than any other state, several dozen that are closed. And the concern is that they contain very harmful materials things like arsenic lead, and that they can Leach out into the groundwater in this law will require. Companies to do cleanup and put in place plans for closing these in the future. And it also assesses fees so that the cost of cleaning up this environmental threat will be born not by tax payers. But by the industry, and I think it's become more more of a concern as we've seen this recent flooding, which has jeopardize the integrity of some of these storage ponds for this very toxic material, and Dana trial, started Monday for the man accused of kidnapping raping and murdering you'll by visiting scholar ING Zhong. There's been some interesting turns already the man, Brent christianson is pleading not guilty. But in their opening statements as defense attorneys said he did. It's the prosecutors also entered at some wiretap tape that his ex girlfriend. Retrieved for them in which he said that he's murdered twelve other women, there is no evidence to substantiate that yet but something to watch. Another interesting thing about this case, is that it's the first death penalty trial in Illinois, since the state abolish the practice in two thousand eleven that's something that's been a little confounding. Jurors and also the activists that really pushed to get death penalty off the books in Illinois of it, because it is a federal trial. The federal government could put him to death if he's found guilty. It will ramp up this week state week, members of our broadcast included, Shirley Wheeler, Brian Mackey, marine McKinney Dana Volmer can get a podcast of our show at NPR Illinois dot org and the production assistance for the program provided by Bob Meyer. I'm Shawn Crawford. You've been listening to state week a program of commentary and analysis of events and Illinois state, politics and government state week is produced in the state capital by public radio station. NPR illinois. This is ideal Illinois public radio. And here is one of the most popular pieces in the gallery. 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