Eye On Illinois: Rapid resignation underscores need to pass ‘No Exit Bonus’ law

Sometimes an extreme outlier helps illustrate a glaring loophole. That’s the case with Edward Kodatt, who assumed Mike Madigan’s old 22nd District House seat on Sunday and resigned it Tuesday under pressure for “alleged questionable conduct,” according to Madigan and 13th Ward Chicago Ald. Marty Quinn. After Kodatt quit, Comptroller Susana Mendoza blitzed media with a reminder the law allows him to collect a full month of legislative base pay — $5,788.66 — despite doing little more on the job than taking the oath.

Mendoza used the occasion to promote her “No Exit Bonus” proposal to change state law so legislator salaries are prorated, ending the practice of letting all lawmakers to collect a full month of pay even if they quit on the first day or start on the last. Her proposal is active again through Senate Bill 484 and House Bill 3104. Mendoza also preemptively asked new 22nd District Rep. Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar, appointed Thursday, to co-sponsor the legislation and to refuse to take a February paycheck “to help restore faith in government.”

Mascot legislation returns

Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, filed House Bill 735 on Feb. 8, an amendment to the Interscholastic Athletic Organization Act. Co-sponsors are Reps. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, and Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park. The legislation would allow high schools to keep Native American logos, mascots or imagery under four conditions: 1. Written approval from a tribe within 500 miles of the school, renewed every five years. 2. A school wide Native American culture program at least twice per academic year. 3. An elective course on Native American contributions to society. 4. Filing an annual report with the state Board of Education detailing those programs. Noncompliance would result in exclusion from state tournaments.

West introduced virtually the same plan a year ago, but the COVID-19 shutdown sidetracked it and many other proposals. HB 735 is much more likely to get a fair shot in 2021. There is sure to be opposition, but consider West’s plan is lenient compared to Colorado Senate Bill 21-116, if approved, would outright ban all native mascots at public schools, including colleges, and allow the state to fine holdouts $25,000 per month after June 1, 2022.

Judges needed

In Illinois, high school juniors and seniors ages 16 and older can serve as election judges. The all-day gig pays $200 and requires a three-hour training class through a county clerk’s office, likely scheduled in March ahead of the April 6 election. Students must have a 3.0 grade point average and get written approval from a school principal and responsible adult. This is a fantastic way to be involved in the democratic process

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Local News Network. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.