Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (10/5)

October 5, 2022


As COVID-19 stabilizes, Chicago’s top doc warns of flu season: “For the first time since May, the entire state of Illinois is either at a low or medium COVID-19 community level, the city’s top doctor said Tuesday,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Tackling misinformation key to future success of public health departments, experts say: “Americans are weary of COVID-19, health officials acknowledged, and that’s continuing to cause challenges for officials trying to ensure the virus’ spread remains limited. But as the pandemic transitions into its endemic phase, which means COVID-19 will likely remain in society, health officials say it’s still difficult to cut through misinformation spread online about the virus and other issues public health departments face,” by The Daily Line.


Illinois’ first social equity cannabis growing facility opens in Rockford

The Illinois Department of Agriculture held a ribbon cutting Monday for “Star Buds,” the state’s first cannabis craft grow. The Rockford-based pot business and craft grower is 66% Black-owned.

Star Buds is the first of over 340 licenses given out in the last year to open its doors. Of the 2021 licensing cohort of which Star Buds is part, 67% of those licensees identified as non-white. One hundred percent of new licenses were issued to Social Equity Applicants.

“Thanks to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, I am proud that 100% of our Craft Grow licensees are qualified social equity applicants,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This is how we build an equitable cannabis industry and begin to repair the devastating harm done by the War on Drugs on communities of color.”


Gov. Pritzker Announces Eleven Appointments to Boards and Commissions, from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

Task force helping counties prepare for Pretrial Fairness Act implementation regardless of local prosecutors’ support for changes: “An Illinois Supreme Court task force is enlisting the help of independent experts to help counties prepare to make changes to their pretrial processes. Experts from the Center for Effective Public Policy spoke to the task force Thursday and highlighted how they are working with Franklin, Gallatin, Hancock, McDonough and Kane Counties as part of a pilot program to help the counties craft changes to their systems when the Pretrial Fairness Act takes effect on Jan. 1,” by The Daily Line.

Lawmakers, criminal justice leaders convene first task force meeting on reducing crime with report due within 5 months: “Illinois leaders held the first meeting Tuesday of the Crime Reduction Task Force that was created by a bill passed in the spring as lawmakers sought to come up with solutions to violent crime in Illinois and Chicago. The task force, which is run by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) and chaired by Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria), was created by HB4736 that was led by Gordon-Booth and Peters and passed in April along with several other bills meant to address crime,” by The Daily Line.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces disaster declaration to help those affected by Austin apartment building collapse: “Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a disaster declaration Tuesday for the apartment building in Austin that collapsed in September, killing one person. The declaration will allow those affected to apply for loans not covered by insurance, according to a news release,” by The Chicago Tribune.


City awards $2 million in grants to support the City’s Small Business Storefront Activation Program

Mayor Lightfoot and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) today announced they have awarded 18 local community and economic development organizations grants to work closely with small business owners, artists, and landlords in activating vacant storefronts.

The Small Business Storefront Activation Program, in coordination with the Chicago Recovery Plan, is designed to provide relief to storefront owners – especially brick and mortar businesses that rely on foot traffic to drive sales – who have seen significant increases in commercial corridor vacancy rates as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information on the program and the list of grantees can be found here.


Mayor Lightfoot Launches Community-Police Mediation Pilot to Address Select Police Misconduct Complaints: “The pilot program, which provides an alternative to the traditional complaint investigation, is the outcome of engagement with Chicago residents, community leaders, police officers, and stakeholders. The pilot will run until the end of March 2023,” from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.

City Council committees including those that rarely meet in line for budget hikes in 2023: “Chicago City Council committees, including those that have met only once or not at all this year, are set to see across-the-board boosts to their budgets under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed budget,” by The Daily Line.

Mayor announces new climate and environmental equity office during annual budget address: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot used her budget address Monday to announce plans to establish an executive office dedicated to overseeing the city’s climate and environmental policies. But the announcement seems to fall short of a promise the mayor made during her first campaign. The mayor’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget recommends the creation of a Mayor’s Office for Climate and Environmental Equity,” by The Daily Line.

Chicago judge named counselor to Chief Justice Roberts, creating new uncertainty in Burke case: “A longtime federal judge in Chicago has agreed to serve as chief of staff to Chief Justice John Roberts — and in doing so has thrown new uncertainty into the three-year-old racketeering case against Ald. Edward M. Burke. The Supreme Court announced Monday that U.S. District Judge Robert Dow Jr., who has served on the bench in Chicago since December 2007, had been appointed Roberts’ new counselor. The court said Dow would serve as Roberts’ chief of staff in that role,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago Voted “#1 Best Big City in the U.S.” For Historic Sixth Straight Year by Readers of Condé Nast Traveler: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Choose Chicago Tuesday announced that Chicago has been named the Best Big City in the U.S. for the sixth straight year by Condé Nast Traveler through their 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards,” from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.


Cozen Currents: Do Election Polls Matter Anymore? 

  • Everyone loves to hate polls, and with some good reason. But as the midterms near, they provide an important, yet limited, tool for gauging the election.
  • The conventional wisdom is that gridlock will block the passage of anything except must-pass bills. Yet there is room for bipartisan legislation to advance under a divided government on a handful of meaningful issues, including Big Tech, crypto, and telehealth, just to name a few.
  • Although a divided government will still present opportunities for bipartisan legislative achievements, the Democratic agenda will now shift increasingly to focus on regulatory policy.

Read the full Cozen Currents article here.


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