Today’s News & Commentary — May 15, 2015
Politico reports that two lawsuits against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s pension-reform law will now commence after a judge placed them on hold. One lawsuit is being brought by public-sector unions and the other by public employees. A Cook County Circuit Court judge had placed both lawsuits on hold pending resolution of an Illinois case involving a similar law penned by then-Gov. Pat Quinn. On May 8, however, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the “fix” was unconstitutional. Mayor Emanuel had enacted the current law in 2014 to plug a $900 million shortfall. The pension cuts reduced the cost-of-living adjustments and increased employee contributions for 61,000 Chicago employees and retirees.
According to The LA Times, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors passed a measure by a 3-2 vote to sever the county’s contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Since 2005, the contract had allowed ICE agents to work in county jails and trained jail employees to determine the immigration status of inmates. At the same time, the Board expressed its support for a new measure known as the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). President Obama had announced the program last year when he promised harsher immigration enforcement on “felons, not families.” PEP is meant to replace the problematic and often criticized Secure Communities program. However, many advocates and officials argue that PEP “falls short of resolving the issues that plagued Secure Communities.” Hilda Solis, L.A. County Supervisor, who voted in support of PEP, noted that the county would keep an open eye and take a “trust, but verify” approach to the new program.
In international news, the European Union has announced plans for a new quota system that it hopes will “more evenly” allocate the burden of migration emergency across member states. Currently, more than 70% of asylum applications in the EU are filed in Germany, Sweden, Italy, and France. The new system would provide for a more “equitable distribution of migrants” though Britain, Ireland, and Denmark will continue to be exempt due to an existing arrangement with the EU. The plan would reallocate the burden on each member state depending on each state’s gross domestic product, unemployment rate, total population, and the number of refugees the state has already accepted.