Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (1/13)

January 13, 2023

Editor’s note: Illinois Insights will not publish Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Updates will resume on January 18th


New ‘kraken’ mutation is most contagious sub variant of COVID yet. Here’s what the Chicago area needs to know, by the Chicago Tribune.

IDPH Reports 59 Illinois Counties at an Elevated Community Level for COVID-19, from the Illinois Department of Public Health.


General Assembly leadership teams announced 

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) announced the members of his House Democratic leadership team, with State Rep. Robyn Gabel (18th) as majority leader, and State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (92nd) as speaker pro tempore and chief budgeteer. Their combined posts were previously held by retired leader and budgeteer Greg Harris.

Other appointments include:

  • Deputy Majority Leader / Dean of the Caucus: State Rep. Mary E. Flowers (31st)
  • Deputy Majority Leader: State Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez (2nd)
  • Assistant Majority Leader: State Rep. Jay Hoffman (113th)
  • Assistant Majority Leader: State Rep. Natalie Manley (98th)
  • Assistant Majority Leader: State Rep. Kam Buckner (26th)
  • Assistant Majority Leader: State Rep. Aaron Ortiz (1st)
  • Assistant Majority Leader: State Rep. Barbara Hernandez (50th)
  • Assistant Majority Leader: State Rep. Marcus Evans (33rd)
  • Assistant Majority Leader: State Rep. Robert “Bob” Rita (28th)
  • Assistant Majority Leader: State Rep. Kelly Burke (36th)
  • Majority Conference Chair: State Rep. Theresa Mah (24th)
  • Majority Officer / Sergeant at Arms: State Rep. Nick Smith (34th)

Speaker Welch has expressed pride in his team, calling his members “diverse, courageous, fiercely passionate, and driven by a strong moral compass that will continue to provide clear direction for our caucus and our House.”

On the Republican side of the aisle, House Minority Leader Tony McCombie (89th) – the first woman to serve as Republican House Leader –  has named state Reps. Norine Hammond (94th) and Ryan Spain (73rd) as deputy minority leaders.

Other GOP leadership appointments include:

  • Assistant Minority Leader: State Rep. John Cabello (90th)
  • Assistant Minority Leader: State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer (100th)
  • Assistant Minority Leader: State Rep. Jackie Haas (79th)
  • Assistant Minority Leader: State Rep. Mike Marron (104th)
  • Assistant Minority Leader: State Rep. Charlie Meier (109th)
  • Minority Conference Chair: State Rep. Jeff Keicher (70th)
  • Minority Floor Leader: State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (117th)

Illinois Senate Republican Leadership:

  • Republican Leader: State Sen. John Curran (41st)
  • Deputy Leader: State Sen. Sue Rezin (38th)
  • Caucus Chair: State Sen. Neil Anderson (47th)
  • Assistant Republican Leader: State Sen. Terri Bryant (58th)
  • Assistant Republican Leader: State Sen. Dale Fowler (59th)
  • Assistant Republican Leader: State Sen. Steve McClure (54th)
  • Assistant Republican Leader: State Sen. Jason Plummer (55th)
  • Republican Caucus Whip: State Sen. Sally Turner (44th)
  • Republican Caucus Whip: State Sen. Jil Tracy (50th)

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (39th) has not yet announced the members of his Senate Democratic leadership team.


Gov. Pritzker Signs Sweeping Reproductive Rights Protections Into Law: “Today, Governor JB Pritzker signed HB4664, a reproductive rights and gender affirming care omnibus bill that protects health care providers and their patients from legal attacks by neighboring states and expands health care access and options across the state,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

New Republican leadership prepares to navigate super minority status as Harmon, Welch settle in for second full terms as chamber leaders: “With a record 78 House Democrats and Senate Democrats holding a super majority in the Senate, Republicans are entering the 103rd General Assembly with new leadership and a request to be included in bill negotiations,” by The Daily Line.

Ex-US Rep. Luis Gutierrez allegedly lobbied Speaker Michael Madigan for ComEd board appointment for Juan Ochoa, according to new filing: “Two months ahead of trial, federal prosecutors late Tuesday revealed new details and evidence they intend to use against four people accused in an alleged bribery scheme between Commonwealth Edison and then-House Speaker Michael Madigan,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Service upgrades, ethics policy on Alexi Giannoulias’ initial agenda as Illinois secretary of state: “Giannoulias’ goals for his first 100 days in office and beyond are laid out in a report compiled with the help of a transition team comprising business and civic leaders, including elected officials. Some 800 surveys filled out by citizens through his campaign website were also used to assemble the report,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Expressway shootings drop significantly in 2022 across Chicago, state police reports: “Gun violence on Chicago-area expressways declined in 2022 compared to the prior year, according to the Illinois State Police. Three people were killed in expressway shootings last year across the city compared to the 24 who died in 2021. Non-fatal shootings dropped from 119 to 60, and the number of shootings reported on expressways fell almost by half from 264 to 140,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.


Finance Committee approves $5M city grant program to revitalize downtown’s LaSalle Street corridor

The City Council’s Finance Committee on Thursday approved Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $5 million grant program to turn the “monoculture” of offices and high vacancy rates along Chicago’s LaSalle Street into a “mixed-use corridor” where people live, work, and play.

The LaSalle Street Reimagined initiative would use tax-increment financing (TIF) dollars (O2022-3937) from the Small Business Improvement Fund to offer grants of up to $250,000 for projects on the ground-floor along LaSalle Street downtown.

Deputy Planning and Development Commissioner Mary O’Connor said the program will not “be assisting with things like roofs or things above those [ground-floor] areas.”

“It can’t be a franchise. No liquor stores. We won’t have any sort of bars or banquet halls. Residential is not permitted. There could be residential above. But SBIF won’t fund upper floors,” she said.

Program applicants would be able to receive reimbursement for up to 90 percent of eligible costs, with the maximum a single property can receive being capped at $1 million. The program is not available for properties that have previously received direct city assistance.


Lightfoot apologizes for campaign’s solicitation to CPS, City Colleges students that was ‘clearly a mistake’: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday the attempt by her reelection campaign to recruit students at Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges in exchange for class credit was ‘clearly a mistake’ by a single campaign staffer that will never happen again,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

First televised Chicago mayoral debate to air next week: “Chicago voters will get to see all nine mayoral candidates square off in their first live televised debate Jan. 19 on ABC7,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Downtown office vacancy hits another new high: “The vacancy rate among downtown office buildings finished 2022 at an all-time high of 21.4%, inching up from 21.3% at the end of the third quarter, according to data from real estate services firm CBRE. The new rate is up from 19.7% at this time last year and remains far higher than the 13.8% vacancy rate when the COVID-19 pandemic began nearly three years ago,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Bill Awaiting Pritzker’s Signature Would Allow CPS Principals to Unionize, Advocates Say Move Overdue: “The bill would allow Chicago Public Schools principals and vice principals to unionize, but not strike,” by WTTW.

Six Candidates Are Challenging Ald. Nicole Lee In The 11th Ward: “Two teachers, an attorney, an entrepreneur, a police officer and a firefighter are challenging Lee in the Feb. 28 aldermanic election. Here’s a look at the seven candidates,” by Block Club Chicago.

Bennett Lawson Will Likely Succeed Ald. Tom Tunney In 44th Ward After Challenger Knocked Off Ballot: “Lawson is now unopposed in the race to replace powerful Ald. Tunney, who is retiring. Nathan Bean, who was booted from the ballot, is suing to reverse the ruling,” by Block Club Chicago.

Greg Mitchell Will Likely Be Reelected 7th Ward Alderman After Challengers Booted From Ballot: “Mitchell is all but certain to win a third term representing the South Side ward after challengers Jocilyn Floyd and Tony Blair were knocked off the ballot,” by Block Club Chicago.


Cozen Currents: How Things Will Get Done in a Divided Congress

Conservative Republicans hold more power this year in Congress, but different factions among conservatives are dividing the GOP on not just what they stand for but how they will operate in the year ahead.

Last week was a testament to the power of House conservatives, but moderates shouldn’t be counted out in 2023.

While progressives were forced into legislative compromises last Congress, their influence on President Biden’s executive agenda and nominees will likely continue even as they navigate a divided Congress and new House Democratic leadership.

Read the full Cozen Currents article here.

Beltway Briefing: Historic Drama in the House of Representatives 

After a chaotic week of harsh rhetoric, backstage maneuvering, and brinkmanship politics, Rep. Kevin McCarthy became the 55th speaker of the House on a historic post-midnight 15th ballot early Saturday, finally breaking impasse and overcoming a fierce challenge to his leadership by hard-right defectors that led him to make steep concessions. For better or worse, this exercise represented the most thorough review of House rules and processes since the chamber’s reorganization efforts in the mid-1970s.

On a somber two-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin discuss the stalemate not seen on the House floor since 1923 that laid bare the divisions among House Republicans and tested McCarthy’s and the new GOP majority’s ability to govern effectively in the 118th Congress.

NOTE TO LISTENERS: this episode was recorded at 9 a.m. on Friday, January 6, after the House had finished its 11th Speaker vote.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing podcast here.


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