Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (11/14)
November 14, 2022
November 14, 2022
— Chicago, Cook County COVID-19 threat level rises to medium, health officials say, by The Chicago Tribune.
Despite pre-election predictions, Democrats kept their supermajorities in both chambers of the Illinois state legislature, losing at one, possibly two, Senate seats but gaining at least four House seats.
Moreover, Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Westchester) announced today he has secured enough Democratic party votes to continue his tenure as the majority leader.
In the state Senate, Democrats lost the seat currently held by Sen. Kris Tharp (D-Bethalto) – who was appointed in early 2022 to fill the office of U.S. Attorney Rachelle Crowe – and could potentially lose Sen. Michael Hastings’ (D-Frankfort) seat in a race still too close to call. On the other hand, Sen. Doris Turner (D-Springfield) defeated Springfield Republican Rep. Sandy Hamilton, and Rep. Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island) beat Republican Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms.
In the House, Democrats racked up wins in 77, and possibly 78, of the House’s 118 seats as Illinois House Republican incumbents – including Rep. Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich), Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), and Rep. Mark Batnick (R-Plainfield) – all lost their bids for reelection. The GOP did, however, flip the 114th District seat red with Millstadt Republican Kevin Schmidt ousting Rep. LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis).
— Governor Pritzker Releases Five-Year Forecast Showing Projected Long-term Budgetary Deficits Nearly Eliminated: “The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) released the annual Illinois Economic and Fiscal Policy Report showing under Governor Pritzker’s leadership Illinois is in its best fiscal shape in decades,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.
— In year’s final session, Illinois legislators set to consider changes to SAFE-T Act but likely to leave gun control, abortion for 2023: “With Gov. J.B. Pritzker winning a second term and Democrats holding onto their supermajorities in the General Assembly, Illinois lawmakers this week head into their final session of the year with an agenda that could include tweaks to key provisions of a controversial criminal justice law,” by The Chicago Tribune.
— Pritzker Administration Announces More Than $1 Billion in Emergency Rental Assistance Disbursed to Renters and Landlords: “Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) today announced that with the closure of the Illinois Rental Payment Program Round 2 (ILRPP2), nearly $1.02 billion in emergency rental assistance provided by Congress to the state of Illinois has been distributed to 137,372 households since 2020,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her aldermanic allies Monday blocked a special City Council meeting to discuss a measure that would give voters the choice during the February election to establish a progressive rate structure for the real estate transfer tax to fight homelessness.
The proposed Bring Home Chicago Plan (R2021-919) – which currently lists 20 cosponsors – would require owners of properties that sell for $1 million or more to pay $13.25 for every $500 of the sale price. Supporters of the proposal say the change will generate approximately $160 million annually to help fund affordable housing and provide services to the nearly 66,000 Chicagoans who are unhoused.
However, the meeting was canceled when aldermen supporting the measure were one short the number of attendees needed to hold a public hearing. At least nine alderpeople — all allies of the mayor — were at City Hall at the time of the hearing but declined to participate.
Mayoral allies have introduced proposals for three advisory questions to be included on the Feb. 28 ballot. If all three are approved by the City Council, the Bring Chicago Home measure cannot be asked given the maximum of three questions allowed on the ballot. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless released a statement saying the act is “clearly an attempt to bump our question off the ballot, without creating any meaningful change.”
— Mayor Lightfoot Joins 56 Regional Mayors to Support $850 Million Investment in Chicago-Based Passenger Rail: “Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot spearheaded a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Federal Railroad Administration administrator Amit Bose to support Amtrak’s proposed $850 million Chicago Hub Improvement Program (CHIP). If successful, Amtrak would use funds from a federal Mega Grant to improve Chicago Union Station, create more routes into the city, and open a variety of new service options,” from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.
— Indicted Ald. Carrie Austin ‘not medically fit’ for trial, her lawyers say days after she voted on city budget: “Lawyers for indicted Chicago Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) told a judge Friday she is ‘not medically fit to stand trial’ and that they will seek to have her prosecution put on hold. Austin, who is in her early 70s, has faced a federal bribery indictment since July 2021,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.
— Where is Ald. Walter Burnett Jr.’s missing $300,000 in campaign money?: “The long-tenured Chicago City Council member says when asked what happened to that money: ‘I don’t feel comfortable talking about that with you. It’s not my city business,’” by The Chicago Sun-Times.
The midterms were poised to usher in a “red wave” in the House and potentially the Senate, teeing up a heavily Republican U.S. legislature in 2023, based on the disapproval of President Biden, record inflation, and traditional losses for the party that holds the White House. But on election night, the results painted a different picture for the future Congress. Democrats appeared to defy historical odds, as the Republican landslide political pundits had been predicting for months failed to materialize.
The 2022 election remains in the balance, as the battles for both chambers are still too close to call, with Republicans favored to win what increasingly looks like a narrow majority in the House and Democrats moving closer to retaining their Senate majority. As the votes continue to be counted, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin break down the results of key midterm races and offer some early election takeaways.
Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.
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