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Doug Finke

Inactive state boards get the ax

Rauner orders 53 of them to be eliminated

Rauner orders 53 of them to be eliminated

Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order last week eliminating 53 boards and commissions that he said haven’t functioned for years.

At the same time, Rauner issued an executive order to curtail nepotism in state government. It prohibits executive agency heads from appointing, promoting or recommending a relative to any agency or department under their control.

It is the second time this year that Rauner has eliminated unnecessary boards and commissions. Earlier he put the ax to 19 others. Illinois still has over 500 authorities, boards, bureaus, commissions, councils and task forces.

“This is a matter of good government through transparency,” Rauner said in a statement. “The people of Illinois need to understand the ongoing work of the state. They should not be led to believe that people are still at work doing tasks that were completed 10 years ago or that they are supporting advisory roles for which the need expired in the 1990s.”

One of the organizations Rauner eliminated is the State Government Accountability Council, which hasn’t recorded any activity since it was formed in 1999, the administration said.

The council was also targeted for elimination by former Gov. Pat Quinn in 2013. It was part of a large group of boards and commissions Quinn tried to eliminate. However, Quinn included organizations created by state law on the list and lawmakers voted to reject it.

Rauner split Friday’s eliminations into two groups: those he can eliminate on his own and those that can be rejected by the legislature if they choose. The council is one that Rauner can eliminate on his own.

Other organizations eliminated by Rauner’s order include the Taxpayer Action Board, Illinois Pet Advocacy Task Force and the Safe Games Task Force on Violent and Sexually Explicit Video Games.

Rauner said his nepotism executive order will bring Illinois in line with half of the states including Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky and Michigan.

As part of the order, agency heads who must file economic interest statements must file a supplemental report disclosing the names and positions of any relatives elected to or working for a governmental body. People not required to file the statements must nonetheless report that information to an ethics officer.

Information from those reports will be available to the public.

Changes to salary

history bill sought

For the second time, Rauner has taken his amendatory veto pen to a bill prohibiting employers from asking the salary history of applicants.

The bill is aimed at eliminating the pay gap between male and female employees. Women often are paid less than men in similar positions and asking for a salary history was seen as a way to continue depressing wages for women.

Some business groups are against the legislation because they fear it would spark lawsuits against employers.

In his veto message, Rauner noted that House Bill 4163 “substantially resembles” the bill he vetoed in 2017.

“Since that time, the gender wage gap has remained,” Rauner wrote. “My mind has not changed – I am committed to eliminating the gender wage gap and I strongly support wage equality.”

Rauner said that last year he recommended Illinois adopt the approach used by Massachusetts which he called a “best-in-the-country approach.” He said that is “properly balanced” with the interests of the business community.

In Massachusetts, employers cannot asks for a wage history unless it is part of the public record or the person is seeking another position within the same company. Employers can ask for a wage history after a person has been offered a job, something critics said could lead to an employee getting smaller raises or bonuses in the future.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, could not be reached Friday afternoon. She released a statement saying she will attempt to override Rauner’s action.

“Gov. Rauner has proven once again he is no friend to women in Illinois,” Moeller said in a statement. “By repeating his misguided veto from last year, he has let down Illinois workers who need this protection and let down women who too often face a cycle of discrimination when they are unfairly underpaid throughout their careers.”

Moeller and Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, the Senate sponsor of the bill, are scheduled to hold a news conference in Chicago Monday to discuss the amendatory veto.

The bill passed with 87 “yes” votes in the House, but only 31 in the Senate, far less than what is needed to override a veto.