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The politics of Pritzker’s vetoes

Shia Kapos' must-read rundown of political news in the Land of Lincoln
Aug 21, 2023 View in browser

By Shia Kapos

Good Monday morning, Illinois. It's gonna be a hot week, via Tribune.


Gov. JB Pritzker, right, and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson at a political event in June. | AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Gov. JB Pritzker’s recent vetoes — lifting a moratorium on nuclear power facilities and nixing a plan to allow Ameren to build new transmission lines without going through a competitive process — are turning heads among some fellow Democrats.

The measures were supported by legislative allies in Pritzker’s party, including Democratic state Rep. Lance Yednock, who carried the bipartisan nuclear legislation and says he didn’t learn of the veto until 30 minutes before it happened. “I was very surprised. It angered me. No doubt about it,” he told Playbook. Yednock said he plans not to run for reelection, something he decided before the veto. (More on that below.)

The left pushed back: Environmentalists, including the Illinois Environmental Council, criticized the bills, citing they would be costly to consumers.

Pritzker says its policy, not politics: His team had bristled at how the Ameren bill was pushed through by old-school lobbyists with little discussion, a tactic that Pritzker bristled at. As for the nuke bill, Pritzker’s spokesperson said its "vague" wording "could allow for larger nuclear plants to open and that’s not something the governor supports because our current statutes are not currently up to date enough to properly regulate new larger scale nuclear plants.”

The political lens: Still, there’s buzz that the vetoes help Pritzker politically by aligning him with the Democratic Party’s left wing. He’s not running in 2024 but may have ambitions to run again — either for a third term as governor in 2026 or as a presidential candidate.

Pritzker’s political team has always been good at looking ahead at where the electorate might be. At a time when the left is making inroads in the Democratic Party, Pritzker might want to continue to beef up his liberal bonafides. Vetoing a plan to lift the moratorium on nukes fits the bill.

That, and Pritzker’s support of eliminating cash bail, expanding abortion access and raising the minimum wage all put him in good stead with progressives.

He could point to those accomplishments if the left were to criticize him for opposing other measures, such as, say, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s plan to raise the transfer tax on high-end homes. That proposal would need legislative approval. And, perhaps, could face a veto, too.

Yednock’s lament: The Democratic state rep from the 76th District says he made plans not to seek re-election before the governor’s veto. But his comments are telling: “My moderate views at times can make for strained relations in this current House Democratic Caucus,” he said in a statement to Playbook. His full statement is here.

Eyeing Yednock’s seat: His chief of staff, Murri Briel. “I am exploring to see if I have support in the community for a successful run,” she told Playbook.


America’s fight over tipping at restaurants comes to its biggest battleground yet: “Chicago restaurants say they will have to boost prices, cut staff if ‘sub-minimum wage’ proposal becomes law,” reports Wall Street Journal’s Heather Haddon.

“Some places are just getting by. I’m pretty nervous,” said Scott Weiner, co-owner of Chicago’s Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, who estimated his costs for around 500 service staff would escalate 62 percent under the proposal.

The proposal has prompted a debate between restaurant groups in Chicago, home to more than 7,000 restaurants that have gotten increased national attention due to the popular FX series “The Bear.” If the ordinance passes, Chicago would become the second-biggest U.S. city to eliminate the tipped-wage system, after Los Angeles and the rest of California ended the practice in 1976.


In Urbana at 10 a.m. to give remarks marking the first day of University of Illinois classes.


At Beidler Elementary at 8:30 a.m. for Chicago Public Schools' first day of school. — At Brighton Park Elementary at 9:45 a.m. — At Kenwood Academy at 10 a.m. — At Jackie Robinson Elementary at 2:45 p.m. for a Home Run Inn pizza event for students.

Where's Toni

No official public events.


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— Sorry, Fox News. Trump says he’s not going to the debate: “I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!” Trump wrote on Truth Social. POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro and Steven Shepard report.

— Why Trump might regret passing on the first debate, by POLITICO’s Steven Shepard

— Iowa Poll: Donald Trump holds commanding lead in first test of 2024 Republican caucus field, via Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll

— Meanwhile: Atlanta takes center stage in the political trial of the century, by POLITICO’s Teresa Wiltz

— POLITICO will be at Wednesday’s debate. Will you? Send me a line at [email protected]

2024 WATCH

— Rep. Eric Sorensen is getting support from high-profile Democratic donor Fred Eychaner in his reelection bid. Eychaner, a huge donor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, is headlining a fundraiser for Sorensen on Tuesday. Details here.

— Rep. Lauren Underwood headlines a fundraiser tonight for her reelection bid. Details here

— Chicago Ald. Jessie Fuentes is running for committeeperson in the 26th Ward. She’s holding a fundraiser Wednesday.


— Dr. Nathaniel Horn, husband of Congresswoman Robin Kelly, has died. He was 68. “My husband was a remarkable man. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him and loved him,” Kelly said in a statement on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Whether he was ‘dad,’ ‘grandpa,’ or “Nate,’ his impact on all who knew him and loved him will never be forgotten.” No cause of death was given.


— State Sen. Willie Preston came to the rescue of a truck driver whose semi had flipped on its side, trapping him inside. Preston was driving when he saw the truck on its side and smoking. He stopped and used a tool from his car to break the windshield to get the driver out of the cab. ABC 7 has video

— State Treasurer Michael Frerichs found a side gig auctioning off unclaimed property like a pro. Video here

— Mary Smith has been elected president of the American Bar Association. The Chicago attorney is the first Native American woman to serve as ABA president, by ABA Journal’s Julianne Hill.

— Illinois GOP Chair Don Tracy did a flip in his pool during a party fundraiser at his home in Springfield last week. The point: The Illinois GOP wants to flip the state from blue to red. Not to be outdone, Illinois Republican National Committeeperson Richard Porter followed with a cannonball.

— Architect Jeanne Gang’s St. Regis Chicago has opened. It’s the tallest skyscraper ever designed by a woman, writes Dobrina Zhekova for Travel & Leisure.

— Chance the Rapper relives the ‘Acid Rap’ era with emotional United Center blowout, reports WBEZ’s Ayana Contreras


— Gov. Pritzker signs bill combating food deserts across Illinois: “The new measure will support existing grocers and help encourage new grocers by allowing stores receiving grants to be able to receive tax credits and other incentives,” by Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles.

— The Civic Federation is out with a summary about what’s up with the state’s budget. A takeaway: “The state is paying off the remaining $450 million in Railsplitter Tobacco Settlement Authority Bonds, which is expected to save Illinois up to $60 million in interest costs and will free up an ongoing revenue stream to support the Medicaid program.” Here’s the full report

— Thousands of jobs, pennies on the dollar: How Illinois uses prison labor, by State Journal-Register’s Patrick Keck


— Lincoln Yards and The 78 are developments that are years off, but nearly $140M in TIF funds are flowing: “The public dollars are set to pay for constructing and improving roads and bridges within and around both developments,” reports Tribune’s A.D. Quig.

— It’s the first day of school in Chicago. Here are five things to watch this year, by Chalkbeat’s Reema Amin

— CPS juggles funding, bilingual staff to welcome thousands of new migrant students, by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa ad Michael Loria and WBEZ’s Nereida Moreno

— Chicago’s traffic means the economy is moving, according to a report, via CNBC’s Celia Fernandez

— 13 best hotels in Chicago for architecture aficionados, by Meena Thiruvengadam for Architecture Digest


— Tinley Park action: Renee Cipriano, the former head of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and environmental attorney Elizabeth Harvey, have been tapped to lead cleanup efforts at the site of the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center. A new state law gave the city’s park district ownership of the long-vacant property.

— Can preservationists save 121-year-old railroad depot in West Chicago? Daily Herald’s Katlyn Smith reports

— How an Elgin restaurant owner became an inflation warrior, by Daily Herald’s Orrin Schwarz

— New owners of state's oldest bar are ready to build on traditions, by Daily Herald’s Steve Zalusky


— 2 former Chicago police officers charged in $2M Covid relief fraud, by Sun-Times’ Frank Main.

— Stalled Justice: Lawsuit on boy’s 2011 death is long over, but Cook County still hasn’t tried his mom for murder, by Tribune’s Joe Mahr


— Rev. Leslie Sanders of Hope Presbyterian Church marked 50 years in the ministry with a gala over the weekend. Celebrating him and his wife, Julie Sanders, were some big names in government and politics, including Mayor Brandon Johnson, State Comptroller Susana Mendoza, former Congressman Bobby Rush, County Commissioners Bill Lowry, Donna Miller and Dennis Deer, Chicago Alds. Pat Dowell, Chris Taliaferro, David Moore and Stephanie Coleman, Judge Nathaniel Howse and political insiders Lissa Druss, Fred Lebed, former Sen. Tom Cullerton and businessman Craig Huffman.


Enter the “room where it happens”, where global power players shape policy and politics, with Power Play. POLITICO’s brand-new podcast will host conversations with the leaders and power players shaping the biggest ideas and driving the global conversations, moderated by award-winning journalist Anne McElvoy. Sign up today to be notified of the first episodes in September – click here.

Reader Digest

We asked what quality of yours you hope your grandkids inherit:

Vincent Brandys: “My sense of humor and work ethic.” Pic!

Daniel Goldwin: “A passion for hearing and telling dad jokes.”

Lucas Hawley: “Midwestern kindness, thoughtfulness and tolerance.”

Myrna Mazur: “Generosity and understanding with a healthy dose of forgiveness.”

Kim Morton: “My faith as it provides hope.”

Cheryl McGarry: “Grit, discipline, empathy, humor.”

Dennis Potthast: “Social skills, the ability to interact with people.”

Andy Shaw: “The value of humor in daily life.”

Alison Pure-Slovin: “Respect for all people.”

Reem Townsend: “My assertion.”

Patricia Ann Watson: “Never willing to compromise integrity.”

Steve Weiss: “The ability to say no when everyone else wants to say yes.”

What’s your best piece of advice to an intern? Email [email protected]


— Black Bench Chicago announced its next fellowship cohort of emerging Black leaders in a range of industries. Here’s the list


— Franklin News Foundation has purchased Advanced Digital Media, which operates, an Illinois version of C-Span. Franklin is the parent company of Center Square news organization whose board chair, John Tillman. launched the libertarian-conservative Illinois Policy Institute. E&P has the release

— Court documents suggest reason for police raid of Kansas newspaper, by The Associated Press


— EXCLUSIVE: Kamala Harris seeks a second act as GOP attacks intensify, by POLITICO’s Eugene Daniels

— Why the U.S. was unprepared for a deadly summer, by POLITICO’s Ariel Wittenberg

— Indiana GOP chair Kyle Hupfer to step down, by POLITICO’s Adam Wren and Brakkton Booker


FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Judith Hamill and Tiffany Sostrin for correctly answering that many chicks born at the Museum of Science and Industry are sent to Lincoln Park Zoo, where some are eaten by the animals.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Why was Illinois’ northern border adjusted 60 miles north of its territorial border when it became a state? Email [email protected]


Circuit Court Judge Ilana Rovner, attorney Jonathan Leach, Mariano’s branding exec Amanda Puck, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt (who turns 104!) and belated greetings to Lian Nicholson, special assistant to the lieutenant governor, who celebrated Friday.



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Shia Kapos

This post first appeared on Test Sandbox Updates, please read the originial post: here

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The politics of Pritzker’s vetoes


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