WBEZ | Republicans http://www.wbez.org/tags/republicans Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The politics behind the pension vote http://www.wbez.org/news/politics-behind-pension-vote-109301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/dan montgomery.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois lawmakers have approved a long-awaited plan to restructure retirement benefits for state employees and Gov. Pat Quinn says he&rsquo;ll sign the bill into law.</p><p>But labor groups are vowing to sue, saying the measure unlawfully cuts the pensions of their members.</p><p>And even though the dialogue around changing the pension benefits of state employees started years ago, the proposal sets up a big fight for next year&rsquo;s election.</p><p>Legislative leaders gave themselves a week - a holiday week, at that - to sell the bill to their own members. Senate President John Cullerton spent Tuesday morning meeting privately with his senators to get them on board.</p><p>Republican House Leader Jim Durkin says the short timeframe made for a busy home stretch.</p><p>&ldquo;I had people running in and running out over the last 24 hours,&rdquo; he said in an interview after Tuesday&rsquo;s vote. &ldquo;Talking to every member, every question.&rdquo;</p><p>Except, Durkin said, there may have been an ulterior motive behind some of the questions he was getting from his own fellow Republicans.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll say some questions weren&rsquo;t exactly sincere. So that&rsquo;s politics. That&rsquo;s what we live in,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But there was a lot of - to say that it got a little tense is an understatement.&rdquo;</p><p>Durkin said some Republicans had legitimate concerns. For instance, he says some downstate GOP representatives have a lot of state employees in their districts, especially those with prisons. Meantime, others want to move state pension funds into 401K style plans -- and nothing else would do.</p><p>&ldquo;Some people I will just say that their reasoning is not reasonable and I question it because of the dynamics of what&rsquo;s going on in the State of Illinois over this next year,&rdquo; Durkin said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a political season and some people believe that we shouldn&rsquo;t deliver a win to the Democrats.&rdquo;</p><p>The logic goes: If Republicans blocked yesterday&rsquo;s pensions vote, Democrats - and Governor Pat Quinn - would look bad for not getting the job done come Election Day. That&rsquo;s a claim reiterated by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, who&rsquo;s also chair of the Illinois Democratic Party.</p><p>&ldquo;I find Bruce Rauner to be particularly disingenuous with his approach to this,&rdquo; Madigan said.</p><p>Rauner is a venture capitalist running for governor who opposes the pension deal.</p><p>&ldquo;My view is that (Rauner) would like to blow it up so that he would maintain a campaign issue,&rdquo; Madigan said. &ldquo;So with the passage of the bill and the anticipated signature by the governor, why, Rauner has lost one of his campaign issues.&rdquo;</p><p>In response to Madigan&rsquo;s claim, a Rauner spokesman said the Republican thinks the plan is a bad one. After the vote, Rauner released a statement saying the pension bill doesn&rsquo;t go far enough.</p><p>When asked if Rauner and his allies made the pension vote more complicated for Republican senators, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said, &ldquo;Absolutely it made it more complicated.&rdquo;</p><p>She said if the vote had taken place at another time - and not three months before the primary - the votes might have been different. When asked why Rauner, who&rsquo;s never held political office, could influence lawmakers so much, Radogno said it&rsquo;s not just about Rauner&rsquo;s political influence, but also his money.</p><p>And Rauner has a lot of it.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean, people think about campaign funding. They think about what support they&rsquo;ll get when they&rsquo;re running. They think about their own political futures. They think about the people that are around Bruce Rauner and how they relate to them and their campaigns,&rdquo; Radogno said.</p><p>There are three other Republicans in the primary for governor.</p><p>State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, was the only candidate to support the pension bill.</p><p>Twenty percent of the current budget&rsquo;s revenue goes toward pensions. Brady says that number will only get worse - and the remaining money isn&rsquo;t enough to pay for education and other government services.</p><p>State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Westmont, wanted more time to review the legislation - and voted no. But his pick for Lieutenant Governor in next year&rsquo;s campaign, State Representative Jil Tracy of Quincy, voted yes.</p><p>Treasurer Dan Rutherford said he thinks it&rsquo;s unconstitutional.</p><p>On the Democratic side, incumbent Pat Quinn, who&rsquo;s running for re-election, could face some opposition from a group who previously supported him: labor unions.</p><p>&ldquo;I do think, as I said, this is the triumph of politics over the rule of law in this state, so I would imagine there are political consequences all around,&rdquo; said Dan Montgomery, the head of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.</p><p>When asked what those consequences will be, Montgomery replied, &ldquo;Well, that&rsquo;s yet to be seen.&rdquo;</p><p>But with a lawsuit from the unions imminent, the issue isn&rsquo;t likely to disappear before next year&rsquo;s election.</p><p>Already, Chicago and Cook County officials are wondering how the vote will affect their own pension systems.</p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement shortly after the legislature approved the pension bill.</p><p>&ldquo;The pension crisis is not truly solved until relief is brought to Chicago and all of the other local governments across our state that are standing on the brink of a fiscal cliff because of our pension liabilities,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>State lawmakers agree.</p><p>State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Buffalo Grove, said that while some of the state&rsquo;s pension systems are poorly funded, Chicago&rsquo;s teachers&rsquo; retirement plans are perhaps even worse.</p><p>&ldquo;Our work on pensions is by no means done, but this will let a lot of air back in the room to start addressing the other systems,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said county employees&rsquo; retirement system&rsquo;s unfunded liability grew by $1 billion last year, and also needs state intervention.</p><p>Meantime, House Republican Leader Durkin said he&rsquo;ll work with Mayor Emanuel, even though he&rsquo;s with the opposing political party.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.&nbsp;</em><em>Illinois Public Radio&rsquo;s Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/AmandaVinicky">@amandavinicky</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 04 Dec 2013 13:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics-behind-pension-vote-109301 Stalled immigration reform takes toll on Polish theater group http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/stalled-immigration-reform-takes-toll-polish-theater-group-109029 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Republicans immigration.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A small Polish theater company says they&rsquo;re another victim of stalled legislation on immigration reform. Teatr Brama Goleniow is regrouping after U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services denied eight of their company members visas to bring a stage production to the Logan Square/Avondale neighborhood.</p><p>The group had planned Chicago showings of Emotions in Sound &nbsp;in late September, a production they&rsquo;ve previously brought to the Ukraine, Peru, Scotland and Greece. But the U.S. visa snafu has delayed their plans to share the production with U.S. audiences.</p><p>&ldquo;In the beginning we applied for tourist visas,&rdquo; explained Jennifer Crissey, actor and project manager at Teatr Brama.</p><p>Crissey said she had been advised by officials at the U.S. embassy in Warsaw to apply for B-visas because their company was small, and did not view their intended travel as one that would yield commercial profit.</p><p>&ldquo;The actors going wouldn&rsquo;t be receiving salary, they wouldn&rsquo;t be getting paid to do this project,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Crissey said when the group went to the U.S. embassy in Warsaw for their visa interview in August, however, they were told that they should instead apply for artists&rsquo; visas.</p><p>&ldquo;So they essentially advised us one thing, and then changed their mind,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Crissey said that&rsquo;s when she asked the company&rsquo;s Chicago-based partner, Voice of the City, to sponsor their petition for P-3 visas, a class of visa specific to culturally unique artists and entertainers.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it was very evident in the application that this was geared for commercial exchanges on a scale that we just weren&rsquo;t doing,&rdquo; said Dawn Marie Galtieri, artistic director of Voice of the City, an arts alliance based in the Logan Square/Avondale neighborhood, &ldquo;so it started to make us very nervous.&rdquo;</p><p>Galtieri said she had to obtain a letter from the American Guild of Musical Artists to support their petition, as well as provide additional paperwork attesting to the wages and hours of the actors, contracts detailing the parameters of the production, and flyers and press releases about the show.</p><p>&ldquo;Really, it&rsquo;s a process for big stars,&rdquo; Crissey said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s when some big name comes from another country to play here, and they&rsquo;re playing at like United Center or some big stage like that.&rdquo;</p><p>Crissey estimated that in total, Teatr Brama spent nearly $3,000 in applying for the visas. Still, they were denied.</p><p>&ldquo;And I never in a million year thought that after providing them with all of the evidence that they asked for that we would get such an empty answer like, &lsquo;this isn&rsquo;t culturally unique enough,&rsquo;&rdquo; said Crissey, &ldquo;because, who can be the judge of that?&rdquo;</p><p>Crissey and Galtieri said they are now cobbling together an ensemble of actors from Chicago and across Europe who have authorization to travel to the U.S., and that they plan to move forward with the production in the absence of the original cast.</p><p>The show will be staged in mid-November.</p><p>A representative from Congressman Michael Quigley&rsquo;s (D-Illinois) office said that if Congress had moved on immigration reform this summer, Teatr Brama&rsquo;s visa woes might not have happened.</p><p>Poland, unlike many of its European Union counterparts, is not included in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. without first obtaining visas. Quigley and other members of Illinois&rsquo;s congressional delegation have &nbsp;been <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/polish-community-may-get-travel-perk-immigration-reform-107412">pushing to expand the parameters of the program</a> to include more countries, such as Poland.</p><p>In addition to a standalone bill that he has introduced in the House, Quigley also helped ensure that language to broaden the program be included in immigration legislation that the U.S. Senate passed in June.</p><p>Meanwhile, with just 18 days left in the House legislative calendar this year, pressure continues to mount for U.S. House Republicans to take up an immigration bill.</p><p>On Tuesday, hundreds of conservatives from business, faith and law enforcement groups converged on Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers to nudge them toward bringing legislation to the floor for a vote.</p><p>&ldquo;Ultimately, if you&rsquo;re going against this legislation, you are absolutely going against the entire faith community and you are also going against essentially what every respected economist in America has been asking for,&rdquo; said Sheriff Mark Curran of Lake County.</p><p>Curran is among a handful of conservatives from Illinois joining the effort. The effort is organized by the Partnership for a New American Economy, the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network, FWD.us, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.</p><p>Earlier this month, House Democrats introduced a comprehensive immigration bill, after a bipartisan committee failed to produce its own bill. Congressman Jeff Denham (R-California) is the sole Republican to cosponsor the bill, along with 185 Democrats.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 29 Oct 2013 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/stalled-immigration-reform-takes-toll-polish-theater-group-109029 Morning Shift: The music of Curtis Mayfield http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-26/morning-shift-music-curtis-mayfield-108776 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/vinyl music thursday Flickr by Peter Organisciak.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tony Sarabia and Richard Steele welcome Reggie Torian to talk abou the soulful, complex sounds of Curtis Mayfield. We also hear about Bears head coach, Marc Trestman, and check in with an organizer of the world&#39;s second oldest LGBT film fest.</p></p> Thu, 26 Sep 2013 12:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-26/morning-shift-music-curtis-mayfield-108776 For GOP hopefuls, Labor Day is for politicking http://www.wbez.org/news/gop-hopefuls-labor-day-politicking-108585 <p><p>The Republican field for the 2014 Illinois governor and lieutenant governor races began to crystalize Monday, as Tuesday marks the day that candidates can begin gathering signatures to get on the ballot for March&rsquo;s primary.</p><p>Among the Republican gubernatorial hopefuls who spent their holiday politicking was Illinois State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, who greeted voters with his two frisky golden retrievers at Schaumburg&rsquo;s Labor Day parade.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a good opportunity to visit and mingle with the voters, people who care about Illinois,&rdquo; Brady said before Monday&rsquo;s parade stepped off. &ldquo;This election&rsquo;s gonna be about who can best lead our state. Clearly [Democratic Governor] Pat Quinn&rsquo;s failing.&rdquo;</p><p>The parade&rsquo;s marching order put Brady not far from a navy blue-shirted troupe of volunteers supporting Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist seeking to be the GOP gubernatorial candidate.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s about shaking up Springfield and turning it around,&rdquo; said Rauner, who has sought to play up his role as a political outsider. &ldquo;Taking the government in Springfield back from the corrupt, career politicians who are controlling it for their own benefit, and get it so it&rsquo;s responsive to the voters again.&rdquo;</p><p>Earlier in the day, Dan Rutherford, the Illinois treasurer, announced a Chicago attorney as his lieutenant governor pick.</p><p>Rutherford revealed on Twitter that his choice is Steve Kim, a 42-year-old attorney who lives in Northbrook. Kim, who has served as a Northfield township trustee, unsuccessfully challenged Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in 2010.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bruce%20Rauner.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 5px; height: 290px; width: 285px;" title="Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist seeking the 2014 GOP gubernatorial nomination, talks with supporters before Schaumburg’s 2013 Labor Day parade. (WBEZ/Alex Keefe)" />&quot;He comes from having been on the statewide stage before,&quot; Rutherford told The Associated Press. The Chenoa Republican said his first priority was choosing someone who could succeed him if he wins. Rutherford said he would release more details Thursday at a news conference.</p><p>Rutherford became the first among the four Republicans and two Democrats seeking the state&#39;s highest office to announce his running mate.</p><p>It&#39;s the first time that candidates for governor will run with their lieutenant governor choices. The change was instituted after 2010 when it was revealed after the primary that the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor &mdash; Scott Lee Cohen &mdash; had past troubles including domestic battery charge. Cohen dropped out after pressure from Democratic leaders who feared it would hurt Quinn.</p><p>Other Republicans are expected to announce their picks soon.</p><p>Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale scheduled a statewide fly around with his pick for Tuesday. Sen. Brady has said his choice is also coming soon. The other candidates &mdash; including Rauner and Chicago Democrats, Gov. Pat Quinn and his challenger former White House chief of staff Bill Daley &mdash; have said they&#39;re not in a rush to make their choices public. Rutherford said he considered Kim&#39;s business experience and his background.</p><p>Kim is a managing partner at Rosenberg Kim &amp; Jimenez, Ltd., which does international and trade law and business development law, among other areas. Kim is also Korean American. He immigrated with his family as a young boy and is a U.S. citizen.</p><p>Rutherford said Kim has the ability to reach out to Illinois&#39; diverse residents, particularly the growing Asian population.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re a state where there is a very strong and vital immigrant community,&quot; Kim said, adding that his family&#39;s immigration story was one that would resonate with many groups.</p><p>Kim declined to talk specifics on where he stands on issues, like gay marriage, saying that he still formulating his opinions.</p><p>He said his focus is improving Illinois&#39; business climate.</p><p>&quot;I understand how to create jobs,&quot; he said. &quot;I strongly believe the climate in Illinois is not right now best suited for jobs and economic growth. We can change that.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 02 Sep 2013 15:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gop-hopefuls-labor-day-politicking-108585 Conservative conference draws lawmakers, picketers http://www.wbez.org/news/conservative-conference-draws-lawmakers-picketers-108356 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/repubs.png" alt="" /><p><p>CHICAGO &mdash;More than a thousand conservative lawmakers and business executives from across the nation are gathering in Chicago to craft policy proposals that could be pushed in state capitols next year.</p><p>Attendees at the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council were countered Thursday by a roughly equal number of protesters upset by the close ties between big businesses and lawmakers.</p><p>The council has backed model legislation passed in Republican-led states that has sought to invalidate key portions of the federal health care law, reduce union powers and cut taxes. Participants discussed ways Thursday of injecting more private-sector involvement in state Medicaid programs and pushing laws that bar union membership from being a requirement for employment.</p><p>Protesters outside the meeting accused the organization of corporate greed and union busting.</p></p> Thu, 08 Aug 2013 13:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/conservative-conference-draws-lawmakers-picketers-108356 Illinois Republicans start bickering in potentially crowded field for governor http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/illinois-republicans-start-bickering-potentially-crowded-field-governor-105136 <p><p>Republican primary voters might see a long list of candidates next year for Illinois governor.</p><p>Several potential candidates are already explaining why they would be the ideal candidate. But ask each one what the ideal GOP candidate looks like, and you&rsquo;re likely to get a different answer from each.</p><p>&ldquo;The perfect template of a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor needs to be a suburbanite with strong downstate roots,&rdquo; said Kirk Dillard, a state senator who represents parts of Chicago&rsquo;s Western suburbs in Springfield.</p><p>&ldquo;I think some people that are looking at running again are going to have trouble getting that necessary support to run,&rdquo; said U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock.</p><p>The Peoria Republican held a 20-minute <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/gop-rep-aaron-schock-considering-run-governor-105128" target="_blank">news conference</a> with Chicago reporters Thursday about the race for governor.</p><p>&ldquo;I see the Republican primary voter as going to be looking at who has the best shot at winning the governor&rsquo;s office,&rdquo; said Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford.</p><p>State Sen. Bill Brady and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner are also considered potential candidates.</p><p>But despite the high level of interest, the chairman of the Illinois GOP, Pat Brady, said he wants to avoid a crowded primary. He said it&rsquo;s premature to talk about the possibility of the party slating a candidate before the primary. But that process worked out for Wisconsin Republicans in the election of Scott Walker as governor.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s out of the conversation like it was four years ago,&rdquo; Pat Brady said, who&rsquo;s not related to Sen. Bill Brady.</p><p>Pat Brady said the Republican nominee has to perform better north of I-80 around Chicago than in 2010, when Democrat Pat Quinn won election.</p><p>Meanwhile, Rep. Schock had some harsh words for his fellow Republicans who are also interested in becoming governor.</p><p>Schock criticized both Democrats and Republicans who, like him, have expressed an interest in running but haven&rsquo;t yet announced.</p><p>&ldquo;As a Republican in this state, I&rsquo;ve watched cycle after cycle a lot of the same horses trot out on the track that have proven nothing more than they can lose an election,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Schock later said he was referring to State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, both of whom ran for governor in 2010 and lost.</p><p>In response, Dillard said the 31-year-old Schock is young and &ldquo;has a bright future in politics.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a little early for these political shenanigans and posturing like this and, you know, I think may show a little bit of immaturity,&rdquo; Dillard said of Schock&rsquo;s comments.</p><p>Schock has also been in an ongoing public battle with Rauner. <a href="http://www.sj-r.com/opinions/x1665862994/Bernard-Schoenburg-Schock-Rauner-already-at-odds-in-possible-governor-race?zc_p=0">Rauner recently told the Peoria Journal Star</a> Schock isn&rsquo;t qualified to be governor.</p><p>Schock on Thursday all but directly accused Rauner of funding <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_6V3DxEJsY&amp;feature=youtu.be">ads running in his home district</a> criticizing the representative for voting in favor of the so-called fiscal cliff bill in the House of Representatives.</p><p>&ldquo;Any time someone spends the lion&rsquo;s share of their time, energy and money attacking someone as opposed to talking about themselves, I think says a lot about that person,&rdquo; Schock said.</p><p>The infighting among the possible gubernatorial candidates comes as some GOP committeemen have been <a href="http://www.wbez.org/facing-rebellion-state-gop-chair-rejects-calls-resign-over-gay-marriage-support-104807" target="_blank">criticizing</a> chairman Pat Brady for supporting gay marriage.</p><p>Brady said that debate within the party will be resolved by the time the primary comes around in March of 2014.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s still early and we&rsquo;ll see what happens, but we&rsquo;re prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure we have a good, strong, well-funded, well-supported candidate,&rdquo; Brady said.</p><p>On the Democratic side, incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn has said he wants to keep his job. Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/politics&amp;id=8961303">told ABC 7 Chicago</a> she&#39;s interested in the job. And former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/bill-daley-considering-run-illinois-governor-104511">has also said </a>he&#39;s considering challenging Quinn in a Democratic primary.</p></p> Fri, 25 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/illinois-republicans-start-bickering-potentially-crowded-field-governor-105136 GOP support helps move immigrant driver's licenses http://www.wbez.org/news/gop-support-helps-move-immigrant-drivers-licenses-104179 <p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill.&nbsp; &mdash; Illinois legislative Republican leaders&#39; support of allowing illegal immigrants to get driver&#39;s licenses should help move the issue.</p><p>Advocates expect the Senate to take up the matter on the floor Tuesday.</p><p>House Minority Leader Tom Cross of Oswego and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno announced at a morning Capitol news conference that they&#39;ll back the proposal.</p><p>The plan awaiting a Senate floor vote would allow the 250,000 illegal immigrants who are already driving the chance to be tested, licensed and buy insurance.</p><p>Cross and Radogno were no-shows two weeks ago when Chicago Democratic Senate President John Cullerton announced the plan.</p><p>Cross says he hadn&#39;t seen the legislation but supports it now. Radogno says both parties have worked on it for five years.</p></p> Tue, 04 Dec 2012 11:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/gop-support-helps-move-immigrant-drivers-licenses-104179 GOP tries immigration sleight of hand with new visa bill http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-12/gop-tries-immigration-sleight-hand-new-visa-bill-104162 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5305_20100321 Gutierrez by Peter Holderness CROP.jpg" style="float: left;" title="U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an immigration advocate, does not support the STEM Act. (AP/Peter Holderness)" />You may have noticed that post-election the GOP seems to be going out its the way to recast itself with Latinos, particularly around immigration issues. But the keyword here is <em>seems</em>.<br /><br />Last Friday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/30/house-visa-immigrants/1736081/">the STEM Act</a>,&nbsp;a bill designed to facilitate U.S. visas for foreign nationals studying science, technology, engineering and math at American universities. With these visas, such students could stay in the U.S. after graduating, rather than go home and begin the process of coming back alongside everyone else who wants to come here.<br /><br />GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor told <em>USA Today</em> said that such a visa program is needed to help grow the U.S. economy, because immigrants are currently awarded the majority of U.S. patents in STEM fields; a quarter of all STEM businesses, he said, were created by immigrants.&nbsp;</p><p>But here&rsquo;s the part of the bill Republicans <em>aren&rsquo;t </em>talking about: The STEM Act kills the Diversity Visa Program, better known as the green card lottery, essentially by replacing it.</p><p>As proposed by the GOP, the STEM Act would take over all 55,000 slots for worldwide visas. But, precisely because the STEM visas require specialization, it would likely give out closer to 30,000 visas at most, but probably considerably less.<strong> </strong>There simply aren&#39;t that many qualified people to fill those slots. In other words, the STEM act would in effect&nbsp;<em>cut</em> immigration to the U.S.</p><p>About 80 percent of visas are distributed in Europe and Africa; about half the people who currently come to the U.S. legally through the green card lottery are from Africa.&nbsp;But green card lottery winners come from everywhere and always have. The lottery is designed that way: Visas are distributed on a regional basis, with regions that have sent fewer immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years receiving the most visas; no single country can receive more than seven percent of the total number of visas. But the STEM Act does away with regional balance: It would look strictly at individual qualifications, meaning that places such as Africa and Latin America would probably have very few slots, while China and Southeast Asia would likely become the biggest providers of visa-holders.</p><p>The bill isn&#39;t likely to make it past the Senate, and last Thursday, Democrat U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez took to the floor of the House <a href="http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-local/38717-rep-gutierrez-stem-visa-bill-a-shell-game-that-starts-immigration-reform-debate-on-the-wrong-foot.html">to decry the Republican effort</a>.</p><p>&quot;Which immigrants do they want to exclude in order to play this game?&rdquo; he asked.&nbsp;&ldquo;People from around the world who want a chance to make a new life for themselves in the U.S. You know, people like the fathers and mothers or grandparents of almost every member of Congress.&rdquo;</p><p>In case you&rsquo;re wondering if the lottery is a thinly disguised amnesty program for undocumented immigrants, this is what it says on <a href="http://immigrationequality.org/issues/immigration-basics/diversity-visa-lottery-faqs/">the program FAQ page</a>: &ldquo;If you are undocumented and you receive a notice . . . that you have won the DV lottery, the notice will instruct you to return to your country for processing. If you follow these instructions and leave the U.S., <em>you will almost certainly not be allowed to return to the U.S.</em>&quot;</p><p>Who came up with this dastardly program? George H.W. Bush, the last Republican moderate, back in 1990.</p></p> Tue, 04 Dec 2012 09:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-12/gop-tries-immigration-sleight-hand-new-visa-bill-104162 Indiana Dems stop right-to-work debate http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-dems-stop-right-work-debate-95302 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-04/Indy GOP speaker Brian Bosma.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It’s a new year with a new legislative session, but an all-too-familiar story is recurring in the Indiana Statehouse, at least from the Republican viewpoint: House Democrats once again held up any work because they oppose a GOP proposal to make Indiana a right-to-work state.</p><p>Wednesday was to have been the start of the new legislative session, but House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) couldn’t even call the session to order. While Republicans were ready and seated, only a few Democrats arrived to the chambers as the roll call was read about 12:30 p.m. CT.</p><p>A Democratic representative told Bosma that the party was caucusing, but something else was actually going on — Democrats were staying away.</p><p>Democratic House leader Patrick Bauer of South Bend described the action as a filibuster, not a protest or a walkout.</p><p>“We refuse to let the most controversial public policy bill of the decade be railroaded through with the public being denied their fair and adequate input,” Bauer said. “What’s the urgency? Are they ignoring the public input? They have not made the case that Indiana is in dire need of an anti-paycheck bill.”</p><p>Bauer said unless GOP leaders agree to hold hearings throughout the state on the right-to-work bill, Democrats won’t be coming back anytime soon.</p><p>“The public needs to be informed. The process [by the Republicans] is to avoid the public,” Bauer said.</p><p>Bauer said the Democrats plan to remain in the Indiana Statehouse, unlike last year, when they fled to Urbana, Illinois. They returned some five weeks later, when Republican leaders abandoned their right-to-work proposals.</p><p>House Speaker Brian Bosma, a Republican, said Democrats shouldn’t expect the same outcome.</p><p>“That was an accommodation that was made last year,” Bosma said. “This is the number one jobs issue that we can address this session and the number one issue is jobs. These are middle class jobs that we’re talking about. It’s about personal freedom.”</p><p>If adopted, right-to-work legislation would prohibit an employer from forcing an employee to pay union dues as a condition of employment if a union is already in place. About two dozen states, mostly outside the industrial Midwest, now have such laws in place.<br> Democrats say the bill would undermine unions that, by federal law, must represent all employees — even ones who are not union members and pay no dues.</p><p>Wedneseday's action drew thousands of pro-union representatives to the Indiana Statehouse, many of whom chanted down Republicans and hailed Democratic efforts.</p><p>“It’s a shame to think that we’re going to lose our benefits and our health insurance,” said Chris Roark, a Teamster union member from Gary, Indiana. “They think this bill is going to help Indiana. It’s not going to help Indiana.”</p><p>Northwest Indiana’s Democratic contingent opposes the bill. They’re joined by at least one Republican House member from the region: Ed Soliday of Valparaiso.</p><p>“I will vote against it,” Soliday told WBEZ. “I don’t see what we get for it. I’m not convinced of what I’ve seen. I don’t provoke labor. There’s no point. I have an honest disagreement with some of my colleagues.”</p><p>Republican Speaker Bosma tried three times Wednesday afternoon to gavel the House into order, but each time no more than five of the 40 Democratic members were on the floor.</p><p>Bosma said he’ll try to have the House meet again Thursday.</p></p> Thu, 05 Jan 2012 01:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-dems-stop-right-work-debate-95302 Indiana lawmakers to debate ‘right to work’ http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-lawmakers-debate-%E2%80%98right-work%E2%80%99-95257 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-03/RS4852_AP120103128050-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana’s legislative session will be short this year —&nbsp;it’s expected to last until March — but judging by the political tone set before the start of the session Wednesday, the debate will be furious.</p><p>The Republican leadership, as well as Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, have already vowed to make so-called right-to-work legislation the centerpiece of their agenda — a move that’s already stirred an uproar among Hoosier Democrats.&nbsp;If approved, the legislation would prohibit companies from making employees pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.</p><p>The GOP attempted to push the issue through the General Assembly in 2010, but Hoosier Democratic state representatives scuttled debate by fleeing Indiana and holing up in Illinois for more than a month.</p><p>Indiana Legislative Insight Publisher Ed Feigenbaum does not expect such a boycott this time.</p><p>“I think there will be a number of parliamentary maneuvers that Democrats will employ that will be to their strategic advantage that will show their displeasure,” he said.</p><p>Those maneuvers could include delays in showing up for quorum calls or otherwise disrupting business without leaving the Statehouse.</p><p>Supporters of current right-to-work proposals say Indiana needs such a law to attract businesses. Democrats say the move is an attempt to hurt organized labor and that such laws in other states have driven down wages.</p><p>Pro-union supporters say they want to get a jump on the debate and are expected to flood the Statehouse Wednesday afternoon, but they may encounter resistance. State police last week announced a new 3,000-person cap on the number of people allowed inside the Statehouse at any given time.</p><p>Unions quickly shot back, calling the limit a move by Daniels’ administration to stifle debate.</p><p>Republican Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman said Tuesday that the rules don’t discriminate against anyone, and that the limit is based on public safety concerns. He added that the limits will be evaluated daily.</p><p>Aside from union legislation, lawmakers are also expected to again consider a statewide smoking ban, legislation that failed to get past the committee level in 2011. Supporters want such a ban to be implemented in time for the Super Bowl, which will be hosted in Indianapolis next month.</p><p>A statewide smoking ban has been sought by Indiana state Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary) for years without success.</p><p>With no budget to approve, this session is considered the “short session” and must be completed by March 14.</p></p> Wed, 04 Jan 2012 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-lawmakers-debate-%E2%80%98right-work%E2%80%99-95257