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The Majority Report 07/28/18 - Senate probes contractor diversity goal failures


State contractor diversity goals focus of Senate hearing

Senate hearingIn response to the state’s poor record of contracting with women and minorities, a special Senate committee opened a new inquiry Tuesday.
Many of Illinois’ public universities did not come close last year to meeting the state’s goal that 20 percent of their contract dollars be spent with businesses owned by minorities and women.
State Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago), chair of the Special Committee on Supplier Diversity, said he wants to find out why universities failed to meet the requirements of the state’s Business Enterprise Program. He also wants to know what is being done to make up ground and how the state can better force compliance.
State Senator James Clayborne Jr. (D-Belleville), who has advocated for supplier diversity, also wants answers.
“For years I’ve been asking why the state can’t include minorities and women, and I always get the same excuses – ‘We’re working on it,’ ‘It’s difficult to do,’ ‘We already have established relationships with most of our vendors,’” he said. “We need solutions, not excuses, for these failures.”


Stadelman tax credit expansion becomes law

Sen. Steve StadelmanA special economic development tool that spurred significant business investment in Rockford, Peoria and other river cities will be available to other Illinois communities that wish to replicate their success.

An expansion of the River Edge historic preservation tax credit program was signed into law Thursday in Peoria. The measure was sponsored by State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) with State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) as a co-sponsor.

In Rockford, the program has been used for projects like a $12 million renovation at the Prairie Street Brewhouse.

“This tax credit has been a vital tool to spur the economic growth of downtown Rockford,” Stadelman said. “I’m excited about the possibilities that await our state by expanding this credit statewide.”

In Peoria, it will help clear the way for a nearly $100 million investment by OSF Healthcare, which has plans to take over the former Caterpillar Inc. headquarters downtown.

“It’s far more beneficial to help someone invest in a historic building or a struggling neighborhood than to let that property languish and become an eyesore,” Koehler said. “Revitalization puts people to work, increases property values, boosts pride in the community and leads to vibrancy and growth. There’s no down side.”


Manar seeks regional balance on commerce commission


Appointments to the Illinois Commerce Commission – the panel that approves electric rates and monitors railroad crossing safety – would be geographically balanced to ensure the interests of rural and downstate taxpayers are represented under a measure introduced today by State Senator Andy Manar.

The plan requires that at least two commissioners on the five-member panel live outside of Chicago and the collar counties. Of the remaining three members, one would be appointed from Chicago, one from the suburbs and one would be an at-large member who could live anywhere in the state.

Since taking office in 2015, Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed five members to the commission; none live outside of Cook and DuPage counties. It’s the first time in a century there have been no downstate members on the panel.

“The consumers I represent in the Senate work hard and want to know someone will represent their interests when the state approves electric rates or fails to address problems with rural cell phone coverage. The families in my district want to trust their teenagers will be safe driving home at night because someone on the ICC board understands the dangers of rural rail crossings where the corn is high,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat.

“But right now, the 4.5 million Illinoisans who live outside of Chicago and the collar counties have no one representing their interests on this commission.”


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State Senator Cristina Castro, Elgin: Fireworks erupt at Senate hearing on tollway contracts | Daily Herald

State Senator Laura Murphy, Des Plaines: Lawmakers question possible conflicts of interest in Tollway contracts | Chicago Tribune

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