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Briefs: Illinois Legislature overrides pension veto

Illinois: Legislature overrides pension veto

Illinois lawmakers overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a law that gives Chicago a partial break on its pension payments to police and fire retirement funds.

The House followed the Senate’s vote Monday to nix the veto. Rauner, a first-term Republican locked in a record budget impasse with Democrats who lead the legislature, vetoed the bill on Friday. The law gives Chicago 40 years instead of 25 to get its public-safety pensions to 90 percent funded and reduces this year’s required contribution to the public safety pensions by $220 million. Mayor Rahm Emanuel had slammed Rauner’s veto, saying it would force a property tax increase.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the taxpayers of Chicago to say we’re going to double your property tax bill this year,” Rep. Barbara Currie, a Democrat from Chicago, said before the House voted to override the veto. The bill “is a responsible approach to funding pension problems.”

On Sunday, Rauner described the bill he vetoed as “bad policy,” saying it would allow Chicago to reduce pension payments, costing taxpayers money in the long run. Previously, the governor had said he would consider signing the bill if it was part of a package of structural changes. The veto is “harmful to taxpayers,” according to a statement from Emanuel on Friday.

—Bloomberg News


Texas: Schools urged to ignore transgender directive

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas’ lieutenant governor on Tuesday encouraged the state’s 1,200 school districts to defy the Obama administrative and ignore a directive calling on schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

The advice from Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick kept Texas at the forefront of resistance to the bathroom directive. Last week, Texas and 10 other states sued Obama administrative over the federal recommendation to U.S. public schools earlier this month.

Patrick, who has previously said Texas is willing to forfeit $10 billion in federal education funding rather than comply, said he was sending a letter to all school district this week emphasizing that the state will support schools that defy the directive.

“Transgender students deserve the rights of anyone else. It does not mean they get to use the girls’ room if they’re a boy,” Patrick said.

His announcement was immediately followed by several of parents of transgender students rebuking his comments.

“You, specifically you, are endangering my child’s life. You have now told everyone in the state of Texas it is OK to harass my child,” said Ann Elder, mother of a 10-year-old transgender child near Houston.

—Associated Press


Wisconsin: 5 congressional districts feature primaries

MADISON, Wis. — Candidates in five of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts look headed for primaries on Aug. 9. Nomination papers aren’t due until Wednesday, but here’s an early look at the probable match-ups:

  • The highest-profile race is in southern Wisconsin’s 1st District, where House Speaker Paul Ryan faces a challenge from inventor Paul Nehlen of Delavan. U.S. Army veteran Ryan Solen of Mount Pleasant and plumber Tom Breau of Janesville, face each other in a Democratic primary. The Republican and Democratic survivors will meet in the November election.
  • In east-central Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District, Michael Slattery of Maribel and Sarah Lloyd, a Wisconsin Dells farmer, will face off in a Democratic primary. The winner will advance to face incumbent Republican Glenn Grothman in November.
  • Four Democrats — Mary Hoeft of Rice Lake, Phil Salamone of Schofield, Joel Lewis of Wausau and Ethel Quisler of Wausau — are vying in the primary in northern Wisconsin’s 7th District to take on incumbent Republican Sean Duffy in November.
  • The race is crowded to replace retiring Republican incumbent Reid Ribble in northeastern Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District. The Democrats include Jerry Kobishop of Sturgeon Bay, Wendy Gribben of Wausaukee and Tom Nelson of Appleton. The Republicans include Gary Shomburg of Lakewood, Terry McNulty of Forestville, state Sen. Frank Lasee of DePere and Mike Gallagher of Green Bay. The winners in each primary will face each other for the seat in November.
  • Incumbent Ron Kind of La Crosse faces former high school history teacher Myron Bucholz of Eau Claire in a Democratic primary in western Wisconsin’s 3rd District. No Republican had announced a run as of Tuesday.

—Associated Press


Wisconsin: Report due on VA painkiller abuse

MADISON, Wis. — A report on a yearlong investigation into painkiller abuse at Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center is due to be released.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson plans to release the preliminary report Tuesday in conjunction with a congressional committee field hearing in Tomah. Johnson is chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

The VA’s troubles in Tomah have already been a flashpoint in Johnson’s race against former senator Russ Feingold. The Democrat and Johnson have blamed each other for not doing enough to address allegations at the medical center that some have called “Candy Land” because of overprescribed opiates.

Inspectors for the VA in 2014 found that doctors were over-prescribing painkillers. The deaths of three people who were cared for at Tomah remain under investigation.

—Associated Press

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