Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (11/16)

November 16, 2022


Latest omicron variants BQ.1, BQ.1.1 make up nearly half of new COVID cases, but bivalent boosters still thought to offer protection, by The Chicago Sun-Times.


Workers’ Rights Amendment passes

The Associated Press confirmed Tuesday the Workers’ Rights Amendment to the Illinois Constitution was officially passed by voters. The amendment makes collective bargaining a constitutional right in Illinois, ensuring workers have the right to unionize for better pay, hours, and working conditions and forbidding right-to-work laws for the private sector.

To pass, the measure required either 60 percent of those voting on the question to vote “yes” or 50 percent of all votes cast to be in favor of the amendment. It passed on the latter requirement, garnering about 53 percent of the total vote with more than 95 percent of the ballots counted.

The amendment’s passage makes Illinois the first state to ban right-to-work laws through a constitutional amendment, which allow individuals to avoid union dues as a condition of employment. This historic achievement comes at a time when right-to-work laws are increasingly gaining traction throughout the Midwest, signaling potential national implications.

Opponents of the amendment have yet to concede the race; they argue that the amendment will drive up taxes, give unions too much power, lead to more strikes on arguably irrelevant subjects, and worsen Illinois’ reputation among businesses.

The constitutional amendment will officially pass into law once the Illinois State Board of Elections certifies the election results; the board is set to meet on Dec. 5.

Cook County property tax bills arrive after months of delays

After months of delays, Cook County property tax bills were available online Tuesday and are due Dec. 30, with paper copies expected to arrive in mailboxes around Dec. 1.

The second-installment tax bills, typically mailed by early August, are more than 150 days late this year due to months of finger-pointing and bureaucratic disagreements among Cook County officials.

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi blamed the setback on delays with the assessment process and a failed computer system upgrade, while Cook County Board of Review Member Larry Rogers, Jr. said Kaegi was at fault for not incorporating the old system along with the new to get the bills out on time.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she is “grateful for the efforts of the separately elected officials to ensure tax bills are issued in 2022 to allow property owners to take full advantage of state and local tax deductions in their federal taxes.”

For Chicagoans, this tax bill reflects the first reassessments by Kaegi’s office. Initially, his office predicted lower tax bills for homeowners but assessment cuts to commercial properties by the Board of Review likely mean Chicago homeowners will see their property tax bills either plateau or increase slightly.


Curran ousts McConchie, McCombie follows Durkin as Republicans shake up General Assembly leadership: “The Senate Republicans selected Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove) as their new caucus leader with current Minority Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Wood) stepping aside. On the House side, Republicans backed Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) to be current Minority Leader Jim Durkin’s (R-Western Springs) successor,” by The Daily Line.

County budget could be OKed by a Board of Commissioners vote Thursday: “The Cook County Board of Commissioners could approve the county’s annual budget as soon as Thursday. A special meeting of the board and the Cook County Finance Committee are both scheduled for Nov. 17 at 9 a.m. to act on the 2023 budget. The finance committee must approve the budget before it goes for a vote before the full 17-member board,” by The Daily Line.

Illinois state Sen. Michael Hastings wins reelection: “Democrat Michael Hastings could claim a narrow reelection win in a state Senate race in the south suburbs after officials reported updated vote totals Tuesday, overcoming accusations of domestic violence to edge Republican challenger Patrick Sheehan. In a statement, Sheehan said he had conceded the race. The concession came hours after Will County officials released the results of their tabulation of hundreds of ballots from the Nov. 8 election,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

Republican concedes race for Cook County Board, leaving the party with one seat after narrow defeat in Northwest Side, suburban district: “In a Facebook post from his campaign account on Monday afternoon, pollster and logistics manager Matt Podgorski, the GOP candidate for the Cook County Board’s 9th District, said even though he was leading the race by less than 200 votes, it was ‘almost a statistical certainty’ that he would fall behind because ‘Democrats are winning about 75% of mail-in votes,’” by The Chicago Tribune.

Democrats sweep in election for four Metropolitan Water Reclamation District seats: “In addition to countywide wins for Cook County Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections, Democrats also performed a clean sweep of all four open seats on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD),” by The Daily Line.

Illinois Senate Republicans aim to stiffen penalties for dealers of fentanyl-laced opioids: “Republican state Sens. Sally Turner and Sue Rezin introduced Senate Bill 4221 during a Tuesday press conference at the Capitol. They hope the bill sees some action during the six-day veto session that started Tuesday,” by The State Journal-Register.

Lawmakers interested in recommendations on improving appointment process for Prisoner Review Board amid ongoing controversy: “Prisoner Review Board (PRB) leaders appeared Tuesday in front of the bicameral Legislative Audit Commission to review the Fiscal Year 2019 and 2020 audit with lawmakers. Lawmakers drilled in on the board’s membership, which received heavy scrutiny in the spring after lawmakers rejected appointments by Pritzker causing the board to briefly lose a quorum,” by The Daily Line.


Transit TIF district proposed to support 5.6-mile southern extension of CTA Red Line

Mayor Lori Lightfoot during a City Council meeting today proposed a new Transit Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to help fund construction and administration costs for the $3.6 billion CTA Red Line Extension (RLE) from 95th Street to 130th Street on the Far South Side.

The proposed Transit TIF legislation includes three measures that would generate up to $959 million in local funds. According to Mayor Lightfoot’s press release, the measures include:

  • The designation of a RLE Transit Facility Improvement Area (TFIA), where TIF revenues could be spent on the project. The TFIA includes property located within one-half mile of the existing and proposed Red Line right-of-way between Madison and 130th street.
  • The designation of a RLE Redevelopment Project Area (RPA), where new property tax growth would provide TIF assistance for the project. The RPA includes 7,726 parcels on approximately 1,445 acres of land located within one-half mile of the Red Line right-of-way between Madison and Pershing Road.
  • The adoption of a RLE TIF Redevelopment Plan, which outlines the project scope, budget, and use of TIF funds.

The Red Line is the CTA’s most heavily used rail line, providing 24-hour north-south service to more than 67 million riders in 2019. A Far South Side extension has been under consideration since 1958.


Aldermen Give Initial OK to $13.5M in TIF Funding To Rehab Six Save-A-Lot Grocery Stores: “Aldermen on Monday gave an initial OK to a measure that would give $13.5 million in tax-increment finance (TIF) dollars to a company planning to lease and rehab six Save-A-Lot grocery stores in the city,” by Block Club Chicago.

Applications for City Council vacancy in 12th Ward due by Wednesday: “The position is open because Ald. George Cardenas is resigning from the City Council at the end of this month. He was just elected to the Cook County Board of Review. Mayor Lori Lightfoot will pick a successor to serve as the next 12th Ward alderperson until the end of the term in May. Applications are due by Wednesday,” by CBS News Chicago.

Mayor Lightfoot Celebrates INVEST South/West Three-Year Anniversary with Austin Groundbreakings: “On Tuesday, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot joined City leaders, local community, philanthropic, and corporate partners to commemorate the three-year anniversary of INVEST South/West, an unprecedented revitalization strategy for 10 historically disadvantaged West and South Side communities,” from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.


Cozen Currents: Post-Midterms Governing 

  • Midterm elections are often a referendum on the president and his party in power. But in 2022, it was a referendum on both Bidenism and Trumpism as President Biden and former President Trump continue to remain atop their respective parties despite a majority of Americans wishing otherwise.
  • After an unexpectedly strong midterm’s performance from the Democrats, they have found themselves still in control of the Senate and with an outside chance to retain the House.
  • As Democrats and Republicans sort themselves geographically, urban areas have become central to the Democratic Party’s base of support. Rising homicide rates since the pandemic, particularly in major cities, have posed a significant political challenge for progressives, however.

Read the full Cozen Currents article here.

Beltway Briefing: Takeaways From 2022 Midterm Elections (So Far) 

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.


Donald Trump announces he will run for president again in 2024 amid GOP losses, legal probes: “Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will mount a third White House campaign, launching an early start to the 2024 contest. The announcement comes just a week after an underwhelming midterm showing for Republicans and will force the party to decide whether to embrace a candidate whose refusal to accept defeat in 2020 pushed American democracy to the brink,” by The Chicago Tribune.


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