Tag: state constitution

ENDORSEMENT: NO on Missouri Personhood Amendment

The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives advanced a so-called “personhood amendment” to the Missouri Constitution out of committee on a party-line vote. If placed on the ballot by both houses of the Missouri General Assembly and approved by voters, the so-called “personhood amendment” would grant more legal rights to zygotes, embryos, and fetuses than women, and, in effect, ban abortion, many forms of contraception, and stem cell research in Missouri.

Should the so-called “personhood amendment” be placed on the Missouri ballot, I strongly encourage Missouri voters to vote NO on the proposed amendment.

The so-called “personhood amendment” effectively grants more legal rights to fetuses, which are dependent on the would-be mother for survival, than women. Unlike what Republicans and bible-thumping bigots claim, life legally and biologically begins at birth, not conception or at any other point before birth. The so-called “personhood amendment” would strip Missouri women of their legal right to control their own body and make their own health care decisions.

Voters in states like North Dakota and Mississippi have rejected similar measures in recent years, and I believe that Missouri voters should, if it appears on their ballot, vote NO on the so-called “personhood amendment”.

The Bruce Rauner shutdown begins in Illinois

Starting today, Illinois state government employees won’t get their paychecks that they earned because Republican Governor Bruce Rauner shut down our state’s government and is holding the people of Illinois as political hostages because he wants a series of non-fiscal political policy proposals, which don’t belong in the state budget, to be rammed into law as part of the state budget.

The political ransom that Rauner is demanding includes:

  • Changes to rules pertaining to liability lawsuits and workers’ compensation designed to make it harder for Illinoisans to receive compensation from those who legally wronged them and to pay for medical expenses related to on-the-job injuries.
  • Enacting term limits for high-ranking Illinois politicians, which, depending on the specific language of the legislation on that subject, I may or may not support as a separate measure to put a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution on the ballot, but not as part of the state budget.
  • Enacting a more impartial and/or more independent method for congressional and/or state legislative redistricting, which is something that I would support as a separate measure to put a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution on the ballot, but not as part of the state budget.

None of these items that Rauner is demanding have very little, if anything at all, to do with the state’s budget or the state’s finances, and policy proposals, regardless of my opinion on the policy proposals themselves, should be dealt with as separate legislation from the state budget.

Sadly, Rauner has repeatedly advocated for shutting our state’s government down as part of his hostage politics scheme. Rauner needs to realize that the State of Illinois is not his plantation, and that he can’t buy and bully his way to enacting a right-wing, anti-worker political agenda.

Bruce Rauner wants to amend the Illinois Constitution in order to steal pension benefits

With the possibility that the Illinois Supreme Court may strike down at least part of former Democratic Governor Pat Quinn’s pension theft legislation looming, incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is already pushing for an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that, if ratified, would steal pension benefits from our state’s public employees. While a formal amendment has not been proposed yet, the amendment would, if ratified, force at least current public employees to choose between reduced pension benefits or a 401k-type plan.

Make no mistake about it, the Rauner pension theft amendment would be disastrous for Illinoisans.

First off, the amendment would effectively force our state’s public employees to make a lesser-of-two-evils decision: either take lower pension payments once they retire, or take payments from 401k-type plan once they retire. Lower pension payments would mean less money for retirees to spend on goods and services, resulting in many of them becoming impoverished and dependent on social safety net programs in order to survive. On the other hand, 401k-type plans provide no lifetime guarantee of payments, meaning that it’s possible for a beneficiary of a 401k-type plan to outlive their benefits.

If the Rauner pension theft amendment were to be ratified by voters, it would likely result in the loss of thousands of Illinois private-sector jobs. That’s because many Illinois businesses, even businesses located hundreds of miles from Springfield and/or Chicago, are dependent on retired public employees spending money on goods and services in order to survive. While our state’s pension system is badly underfunded, pension theft would leave our state even worse off than it currently is.

60% of all members of both houses of the Illinois General Assembly, which is controlled by supermajorities of Democrats, would need to approve of the Rauner pension theft amendment in order for it to appear on the Illinois ballot. If that happens, Illinois voters will be able to vote yes or no on the Rauner pension theft amendment in a ratification referendum. Either 60% of those voting on the referendum or 50%+1 of all votes in the election in which the referendum is held for the “yes” option would ratify the amendment. If the Rauner pension theft amendment appears on an Illinois ballot at any time in the future, I strongly encourage a “no” vote on the amendment.

ENDORSEMENT: NO on Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Amendment

On the April ballot in Wisconsin, there will, more than likely, be a proposed amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution to give justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court the power to elect one of their own to be the chief justice to the court (currently, the most senior justice is automatically chief justice).

I strongly encourage Wisconsinites to vote NO on this proposed amendment.

This amendment, if ratified, would make an already polarized and politicized Wisconsin Supreme Court, whose conservative majority is more concerned about implementing a right-wing agenda by judicial fiat than actually interpreting the law, even more polarized and politicized. However, unlike the corporate media, I’m not about to give up and concede that this amendment is going to be ratified with voters without a fight, and I hope Wisconsin Democrats and progressives don’t concede to the right-wingers without a fight.

Wisconsinites should send a strong message against Scott Walker’s court packing scheme, which also includes a proposed mandatory retirement bill, designed to force the lone moderate justice and the current chief justice off of the bench of Wisconsin’s highest court entirely, that will not be on the ballot, by voting against allowing the Wisconsin Supreme Court justices to select their own chief justice.