“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Posted on by Steve Reick | 2 Comments

H.B. 4244: Tightening the Screws on COVID Vax Dissent

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

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Today’s lesson about not learning the lessons of the past and thus being condemned to repeat them comes courtesy of Illinois State Representative Bob Morgan.

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Bob has introduced a bill in the House (H.B. 4244), the synopsis of which says in part:

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Amends the Immunization Data Registry Act. Provides that health care providers, physician’s designees, or pharmacist’s designees shall (rather than may) provide immunization data to be entered into the immunization data registry. (Emphasis mine)

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The Data Registry Act allows disclosure of immunization data under certain limited circumstances, among them:

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Data in the immunization registry may be used only for the following purposes:

…..(6) To accomplish other public health purposes as determined by the Department.

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It’s this particular provision that troubles me. The Pritzker administration has not hesitated to issue ever more stringent mandates every time there’s a variant in the COVID virus, even though each variation has proven to be less deadly than the last. I fear that if this bill passes, his administration will propose agency rules that broaden those “public health purposes” to the point where there’ll be no limits on those purposes at all. Everything will be fair game.

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The bill provides that one may request exemption from such reporting by filling out a “written immunization data exemption form”, which no doubt will also be entered into the registry, thus marking the person requesting exemption as a member of a suspect category by those who make such decisions.

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And of course it won’t end with COVID, because like the virus that caused the 1918 Spanish flu, COVID is becoming endemic and thus these rules will long outlive the hysteria that surrounds this virus. And who’s to say how those rules will be used in the future, against what perceived emergency, and against whom? Because, like the virus, once they’re in place, they never go away. This will become just another wrench in government’s toolbox allowing it to intrude upon our liberty.

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History is replete with examples of government segregating people on the basis of characteristics over which they have no control. And history is also replete with examples of government segregating people in order to further its own ends. This bill takes a large step toward blurring the distinction between those two statements.

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The Onion Runs a J.B. Pritzker Campaign Ad

J.B. Pritzker just put out this campaign ad:

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Talk about false advertising:

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• Right off the bat he talks about keeping one’s word. This from the guy who promised he’d never sign gerrymandered election maps when he was running for the job.
• At the 16-second mark he talks about Illinois not paying its bills and piling up interest penalties. What about the $4.5 billion unpaid Unemployment Insurance trust fund deficit that he could’ve paid off last year, with unpaid interest having now climbed to $25,524,243.84?
• He touts a balanced budget. That’s easy to do when the Federal government drops $8.1 billion in one-time money in his lap. Where did all that money go, Governor? Is it going to show up next year in an increased baseline?

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If it didn’t say at the end that his campaign had paid for the ad, you’d swear it’d been put out by the Onion or the Babylon Bee. Keep it coming, J.B.

Posted in 2022 Election, Illinois Budget, State Government | Tagged | Leave a comment

It’s Time for Pritzker to Discard His Scientific Hobgoblins

After the last session of the Illinois legislature, you have to wonder what we’ll do this year to top it. After all, we:

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• Singlehandedly solved the climate crisis;
• Took away from parents the right to be informed if their daughters were getting an abortion; and
• Made sure that feminine hygiene products would be stocked in boys’ bathrooms in every school in the state.

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We didn’t defund the police, but we did the next best thing by trying to do away with qualified immunity, which is causing police officers to retire in droves and discouraging those who would replace them from applying for the job. We need only look at our crime statistics to see how well that’s working.

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A bow was put on all this by the issuance of gerrymandered election maps that J.B. Pritzker promised he’d never sign when he was running for the job but now figures that being Governor means you never have to say you’re sorry.

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Of course, we couldn’t do much substantive work because the Governor continues to rely upon the disaster declaration he’s been xeroxing since March of 2020 so he could basically run the state on his own through executive order. He reminds me of this guy.

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Nonetheless, there are serious issues that demand serious attention. I wish we could convince the Democrats to take their job (and their constituents) seriously and address a few of them. However, there’s one big hurdle that needs to be overcome before we can be allowed to fulfill our Constitutional role, and that’s to once again be a fully functioning co-equal branch of government.

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Covid-19 dictated the agenda on everything that has happened since 2020 and has given J.B. Pritzker the colorable pretext to do whatever he damn well pleases. The mantra justifying this has been the Governor’s insistence that he “follow the science”. It’s time for the General Assembly to reassert itself as the voice of the People of Illinois and tell the Governor that it’s time for that mantra to end.

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The first reason to stop it is that the experts have often been wrong. They’ve told us to lock down, mask up and socially distance for nearly two years, and the virus continues to mutate and spread. Also, Covid outbreaks haven’t been limited to areas which have disregarded the public-health community. Right now, New York City, which has some of the earliest and strictest Covid policies in the country is reporting record numbers of cases.

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Now we have the CDC making value judgments. In recent days the CDC has decided to cut the number of quarantine days in half to five, not because of changing science but more in practical consideration of maintaining a functioning society. As Rachelle Walensky told CNN, “It really had a lot to do with what we thought people would be able to tolerate.”

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Anthony Fauci conceded that because so many people will be infected by such a highly transmissible form of Covid in the coming weeks, if everybody had to quarantine for ten days, “that might have a negative impact on our ability to maintain the structure of society, of all the essential workers you would need if you keep them all out for a period of ten days.”

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I guess this might be a backhanded concession to what’s becoming more evident every day, which is that the latest variant, while more transmissible, is less deadly and its symptoms are often confused for those of the common cold, with the same severity. It’s probably why Walensky, Fauci and Pritzker continue to flog the case count. They must think it’s their only hope of jumping off the back of this tiger without ending up inside.

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At the beginning of the pandemic, it made sense to trust the scientists, because we’ve dealt with pandemics in the past and those experiences tended to justify the strict reactions we saw early on. However, “trust the scientists” has now become an empty platitude meant to shut down any objection to ongoing Covid policies.

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But put aside the fact that expert guidance has not proven effective in preventing the spread of Covid. Even if the guidance were more effective than it has been, it still wouldn’t justify blindly “trusting the scientists.” The job of infectious-disease scientists is to focus on providing guidance on how to combat infectious diseases, not tell us how to live our lives.

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Unlike 2020, we now have vaccines and boosters which substantially reduce the risk of serious illness. In 2022, the Covid pill Paxlovid will become widely available. It’s clear that the threat of contracting a serious form of or dying from Covid is not the same as it was in early 2020.

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But now we’re no longer debating whether to spend a few weeks in quarantine. We’re debating permanent changes: from children wearing masks all day in school and at day-care facilities to whether people should have to show evidence of vaccination to do the normal things incident to living in a free society. In December, Dr. Fauci testified before Congress that permanent masking on commercial flights should become mandatory.

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There are people who will in good faith end up on different sides of these questions. But the consequences of what we’re going through are broader than the spread of the virus. The risks of canceling routine health care treatments, the damage done to our children who are being pulled from pillar to post in what has become an ever more frenetic conflict between warring constituencies, the increase in drug abuse and suicide and the steady decline of respect for the rule of law all need to be added to the other side of the scale. A scientist merely interested in combating a virus does not have to pay attention to all of these concerns, that’s the job of our lawmakers.

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H.L. Mencken once famously said: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” Covid isn’t imaginary, but the constant drumbeat of fear buttressed by expert opinion that shifts at every turn makes Mencken sound prescient.

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It’s the job of policy makers, and ultimately, the people, to balance the risk of the disease against these other considerations. That’s why, as we convene for our new session of the 102nd General Assembly, it’s time that we reassert our constitutional role and put a stop to the serial nightmare of the Governor’s executive overreach. Let the people speak.

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I’m Running for Re-Election for IL District 63

Since 2017 it’s been my privilege to serve McHenry County as State Representative in the Illinois House. I’m announcing today that I am running for re-election in the newly drawn 63rd District.
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While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone in Illinois to contend with a multitude of issues over the past several years, the current administration and unelected bureaucrats have effectively excluded the people of this State from making their voices heard. A never-ending series of disaster declarations and executive orders have handed Illinois over to one-man rule.
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Throughout this time, I have spoken up against this overreach. As a member of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules I led the charge to keep the Governor from turning business owners who were fighting for their survival from being branded as criminals for simply keeping their businesses open, as well as requiring that non-public schools be given the same due-process rights as public schools before having their recognition status revoked due to noncompliance with COVID mandates. I’ve co-sponsored legislation that would require the General Assembly to approve of any extension or re-issuance of a general disaster declaration and have been at the forefront of holding the Governor to account for his failure to repay the $4.4 billion deficit in the state’s Unemployment Insurance trust fund. As Republican spokesman on the Revenue and Labor Committees, I’ve been able to speak with authority on measures that help create jobs and expand economic opportunity.
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While I’ve consistently advocated for cutting government waste, property tax relief, and a solution to our crushing debt, I wasn’t afraid to take a tough vote that will bring almost $300 million in needed infrastructure improvements to McHenry County. In addition, as a result of that vote, the County receives $250,000 in additional revenue per month, and our municipalities and townships have shared in that revenue as well. We’re all seeing the benefits of that in the improving quality of our roads and bridges.
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A large part of a representative’s duties is constituent service, and during the past 5 years, my office has helped with hundreds of issues, from helping constituents renew their FOID cards to obtaining many other state services which they as taxpayers have paid for. That commitment to constituent service will continue.
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While the boundaries of the 63rd District have changed, my commitment to the people of McHenry County has not. With your help, I will remain your independent voice in Springfield.

Posted in 2022 Election | Tagged | 1 Comment

Gov. Pritzker Just Cost Illinois $800 Million (And Counting)

Last week I wrote a post explaining my decision to remove myself from the “Agreed Bill Process” relating to the deficit in the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. My primary reason was that the Governor could have (and should have) paid off the $4.4 billion deficit with money from the nearly $8 billion the state received under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) without accruing interest (which has now grown to $10.7 million).

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In my post I said we didn’t know how much of that original $8 billion was left. Well, now we know. In the most recent weekly update from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), we learned that there isn’t enough left to fully pay the shortfall:

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“What should happen, and what employers, led by IRMA, have consistently called on Governor Pritzker to do, is use the $3.6 billion in remaining federal ARPA funds to reduce the deficit and then assign even responsibility between labor and business to address the remaining $1.4 billion problem. That would mean each side would be responsible for $700 million. Failing to use the ARPA funds in this manner would mean that even if the responsibility was evenly divided between business and labor, each side’s share would be more than the previous deepest Trust Fund deficit.”

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I spoke this morning with IRMA’s President who told me that he was shocked when he learned that there was so little left of the original ARPA money. While IRMA was figuring a $5 billion deficit when in fact it’s “only” $4.4 billion, this leaves us with at least an $800 million shortfall which will be paid for by employers if labor walks away from the process, which it did in 2011, sticking employers with the entire tab. Either way, there’s an $800 million hit coming to the people of Illinois even if the ARPA money is used to pay down the deficit. If it isn’t used to pay down the debt, the people and businesses of Illinois will be on the hook for the whole $4.4 billion, plus interest. Thanks, J.B. The least you could do is tell us where all that money went.

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Here’s hoping this works!

Before he went to Glasgow to tell the assembled elites about his windmill wonderland, Pritzker went to London to lobby businesses to start operating here. But if you were thinking of opening up a factory in Illinois, wouldn’t you think twice if you knew that right from the get-go you were going to be expected to help pick up the tab on this bit of financial profligacy?

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This is 100% the Governor’s fault. While he globetrots to tout legislation that may have a microscopic effect on the earth’s climate a century from now, he’s turning his back on Illinois’ current needs, and is making it more difficult for us to dig ourselves out of the hole in which we find ourselves.

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He thinks money grows on trees, and neither he nor those closest to him realize that the money needed to run this state actually comes out of the pockets of people with jobs. If he keeps this up, there will be fewer of them left with pockets to pick.

Posted in Cost of Government, Illinois Constitution, State Government | Tagged , , | Leave a comment