Capitol Notebook: From health care to non-stop sessions

Capitol Bureaus

Play of the Week:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is trying to take the back door to universal health care. His administration filed an emergency rule on Wednesday to expand state-subsidized health care to an additional 147,000 adults on an "emergency" basis, more than doubling eligibility for a health-care program known as FamilyCare.

A family of four with a combined income of up to $82,600, or up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, can now join. Previously, income for a family of four had to be $38,203 or less, or up to 185 percent of the poverty level.

Lawmakers said the expansion - an end run around them - could cost $367 million annually once it's fully implemented.

It's not clear how Blagojevich intends to pay for this. But at least he's getting headlines.

Head Scratcher:

Not much news about nuclear weapons typically comes out of Springfield. That wasn't the case this week.

On Thursday morning, State Journal-Register political columnist Bernard Schoenburg reported that state Rep. Aaron Schock, a Peoria Republican running for the 18th District congressional seat being vacated by Ray LaHood, has proposed a plan to offer nuclear arms to Taiwan if China doesn't go along with U.S. policy toward Iran. On Thursday afternoon, one of Schock's rivals, Republican Jim McConoughey, held a news conference during which he said Schock's remarks "reflect a level of inexperience and overall lack of judgment and poor leadership."

Schock stuck to his guns, so to speak. His campaign issued a news release headlined, "Schock: It's Naïve for My Opponents to Sit Still While Iran Builds Nuclear Weapons."

Quotes of Note:

"It's a Dr. Strangelove idea." McConoughey, describing Schock's plan.

"As they used to say on the south side of Chicago, tings are OK."  House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, affecting a southside Chicago accent to describe progress on negotiations over gaming expansion.

Number to Know:

11. The number of months this year that the General Assembly has been in session in Springfield for at least one day.  Lawmakers could well return in December to consider a capital program, gaming expansion or a mass transit funding bill.

Coming Up:

Tuesday, Nov. 13: The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules meets in Chicago and is expected to vote on whether to suspend or reject Blagojevich's emergency rule to expand state-subsidized health care.