The state of the State

Switching political affiliation
GOV. DAN WALKER'S primary victory in 1972 was generally attributed to a federal district court decision that resulted in a situation where party membership couldn't be tested when voting in a primary. The case, Pontikes v Kusper. 345 F. Supp. 1104, held invalid an Illinois requirement that 23 months elapse before a voter could change his party affiliation in a primary election. Supposedly many Republicans asked for Democratic primary ballots and voted for Walker instead of the regular organization candidate, Paul Simon. (The U.S. Supreme Court later upheld the decision in Kusper v. Pontikes. 414 U.S. 51, Nov. 1973.)

Senate Bill 18 (Nimrod, R., Skokie) which would have corrected the situation failed to pass May 23 by a close vote, 27-25. An attempt to revive the provision by adding it to House Bill 2435 in the Senate failed when the House nonconcurred in the change.

Essentially, the Nimrod provision would require voters to register their party affiliation 28 days before a primary. Opponents argued that many voters would forget to register party affiliation and so would be kept out of the primary. If no legislation is enacted, Illinois will edge over toward the group of states with "open" primaries where one may vote in a primary regardless of party affiliation. The issue represents a conflict between a high degree of freedom for the individual voter and of loyalty for the parties.

Campaign costs too high?
Two political powerhouses—Attorney General William J. Scott, a Republican (5/30/75), and Secretary of State Michael J. Hewlett, a Democrat (5/29/75)—withdrew in May from the 1976 race for governor. Both intend to seek reelection to their present offices. It will be the only "oddball" two-year term, but necessary in order to begin what the new Constitution requires: separating the governor's race from the Presidential election. The short term may be a problem for Gov. Walker.

Beginning in 1978, Illinois will return to the usual four-year terms for state executive officers.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times (5/20/75), Gov. Walker spent more than two million dollars in his 1972 campaign, leaving him with a debt of $1.6 million. This has been almost erased by fund-raising efforts, including a $1,000 per couple dinner in March at the Palmer House in Chicago, which raised more that $300,000. A major problem for gubernatorial candidates in 1976 is: how can they raise a two million dollar campaign fund for a short term?

The governor's personal wealth
Gov. Walker reported (5/8/75) his net worth at $365,818. His total income during 1974 was $148,365 which included his $50,000 salary, $90,177 from the sale of personal stocks, $7,688 in dividends and interest, and $500 in an honorarium check from the National Town Meeting which he turned over to the United Way Campaign. He paid $54,659 (37 per cent of his income) in federal, state and local taxes.

Major components of his assets were holdings in a blind power of attorney agreement, $98,482; unimproved farmland in Lake County, $125,000; and the family home in Deerfield, $85,000.

State personnel
State employees total less, but their salaries are more than a year ago. There were 118,206 employees in March 1975, 367 less than the same month a year previous, Comptroller George W. Lindberg reported (6/3/75). Employment in educational institutions was down 2,502 but up in other agencies by 2,135. State payrolls totaled $107,655,645, an increase of 13.7 per cent over a year before.

Malpractice insurance
Malpractice insurance rates for Illinois physicians were to rise by 46 to 89 per cent on July 1, the Illinois State Medical Society announced (5/8/75). Illinois doctors in the "high risk" categories, such as orthopedic skeletal surgery or anesthesiology, will have the largest rate hikes. The rate change was anticipated in January when the society began planning renewal of its coverage plan with the Hartford Insurance Co.

Grand juries
The requirement of grand jury indictment in criminal cases "impedes speedy trial and is a waste of time," the Illinois State's Attorney Study Commission asserted in a report to the governor and legislature (June 1975).

"The requirement of an indictment in every case should be eliminated by General Assembly action, although the grand jury might be retained as an option for the state's attorney. As an alternative, the prosecutor should be able to proceed on information but with a preliminary hearing making a finding of probable cause as a prerequisite for prosecution."

House Bill 1444 (Getty, D., Chicago) would permit prosection for felonies on information, rather than indictment by a grand jury, after a preliminary hearing before a judge finds probable cause. The bill passed the Senate June 18 (Knuppel, D., Virginia) and was sent to the governor. Senate Bill 286 (Rock, D., Chicago), also providing for bypassing the grand jury, passed the House June 20 (D. L. Houlihan, D., Chicago) and was also sent to the governor.

Testing for pressures
Pressures of lawmaking were documented near the end of May when a blood pressure testing center was set up for House members as the deadline for passage of House bills neared. Several legislators found they had very high counts, and one of them—Rep. Giddy Dyer (R., Hinsdale)—was taken to the hospital May 20 and then sent home for a rest. The testing routine was the idea of Rep. Gerald Shea (D., Riverside), majority leader.

New state buildings
Two new office buildings, each with 500,000 gross square feet, are planned for the Capitol Complex, Springfield. 

August 1975/Illinois Issues/247

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