Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (12/12)

December 12, 2022


Gov. Pritzker issues disaster proclamation, executive order in response to the recent surge in respiratory illness 

The number and severity of COVID-19 cases has risen drastically across Illinois in the last week – 74 counties in the state are now at an elevated level of the virus, and 29 of the 74 counties are at a ‘high’ community level of the virus, according to data from the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health.

In response to the recent surge in respiratory illness, Gov. JB Pritzker filed a new COVID-19 disaster proclamation and executive order that took effect across the state on Friday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported over 21,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week, as well as 56 deaths during that same period.

“These elevated COVID-19 community levels, along with rising flu levels, are leading to a surge of respiratory infections and increased hospitalizations,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “I recommend all Illinoisans – and especially those most vulnerable including young children and individuals over 65  – take all preventative steps to protect themselves, their families and friends.”



Hearings For Illinois’ Proposed Assault Weapons Ban Begin Monday. Here’s What the Bill Says: “Hearings for HB 5855, a wide-ranging gun control bill known as the ‘Protect Illinois Communities Act’ are set to begin Monday at 11 a.m. among Illinois Lawmakers who sit on the House Judiciary committee,” by NBC 5 Chicago.

Senate to consider bill Pacione-Zayas hopes will add transparency to Chicago Public Schools’ principals hiring process: “When the Senate returns for lame duck session in January, HB4933 awaits final approval in the Senate. Under the bill led through the Senate by Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago), the Chicago Board of Education would be required to make a public list of applicants for a principal position at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) available to Local School Councils and provide a rubric to help candidates who aren’t hired for a position understand why they were rejected,” by The Daily Line.

After high-profile botched police raids, Cook County prosecutors implementing new requirements on search warrants: “In the midst of a number of high-profile botched police raids, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office is requiring officers who ask a prosecutor to review search warrants for probable cause to report back on the outcome, a change meant to increase accountability for officers executing searches, the office announced Friday,” by the Chicago Tribune.

State Sen. Scott Bennett, 45, dies unexpectedly of brain tumor: “State Sen. Scott Bennett died unexpectedly on Friday due to a brain tumor, his family said in a statement,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Illinois State Rifle Association criticizes proposed gun control measures: “Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson told The Center Square that Illinois needs to do a better job enforcing its current laws to avoid events like the suburban Highland Park mass shooting where seven people were killed and dozens injured during a July 4 parade,” by The Center Square.


Mayor Lightfoot names Anabel Abarca new 12th Ward alderman

Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot nominated attorney Anabel Abarca to carry out the term of former 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas, who left his post in November to take on his new role as an elected commissioner at the Cook County Board of Review.

Cardenas, who is a close ally of Mayor Lightfoot and served as her deputy floor leader, endorsed Abarca in the race. Abarca is a former staffer to Cardenas and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley and is one of several candidates running for the office in the Feb. 28 election.

“Anabel Abarca is a pillar of the 12th Ward community,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Her passion for public service and deep connection to her community makes her the best candidate to serve the residents of McKinley Park, Brighton Park, and Little Village. I look forward to working with Anabel, and I thank the 12th Ward vacancy committee for their collaboration in this process.”

Red Line Extension tax increment financing district faces key vote

The Chicago City Council’s Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Monday to consider a proposal backed by Mayor Lightfoot that would use property tax revenue from downtown property taxes to fund the Far South Side’s $3.6 billion CTA Red Line Extension (RLE) from 95th Street to 130th Street.

The TIF proposal is expected to generate nearly $950 million in funding – a move that, along with funding from the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) capital funds, would enable the city to reach its federal grant match goal of $2.16 billion.

Lightfoot’s plan to create a new tax increment financing district (TIF) using property tax revenues from the 42nd, 3rd, 4th, 11th, and 25th wards to help pay for the extension of the southern line miles away has been controversial amongst City Council members. However, in 2017, City Council passed a similar Transit TIF to fund the reconstruction of the Red, Purple, and Brown lines on the North Side with little controversy (a 48-0 vote).

Lightfoot has called the 5.6-mile extension of the Red Line to the city’s southern border one of the “most critical investments in CTA’s history” and said it will “undoubtedly be a transformative development for our Far South Side community.”

Plan Commission meeting Monday to consider Bally’s planned development amendments 

The Chicago Plan Commission is set to hold their final meeting of the year virtually Monday with an agenda that will cover a proposed planned development amendment for the size, scope, and uses of the anticipated River West casino buildings.

The proposal (O2022-2629) would amend Planned Development 1426 in Bally’s application to allow an undisclosed fee – estimated between $10 million and $15 million – to support industrial spending inside the North Branch Industrial Corridor, meaning Bally’s will have to pay into a dedicated fund (devised by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel) to grow and preserve industrial and manufacturing jobs north of the site.

In May, the City Council approved two ordinances (SO2022-1316, SR2022-587), allowing plans for the casino to proceed. The measures authorized a casino as an allowable use in Chicago’s zoning code and exempted the casino from liquor moratoria. Additionally, the measure required a $40 million payment from Bally’s into the city’s pension fund.

If the amendment passes at the Plan Commission meeting this morning, it will be added to the Zoning Committee agenda for their meeting tomorrow. While the Bally’s casino proposal faces stiff residential and aldermanic resistance, the plan has Mayor Lightfoot’s support and is likely to get approval from the City Council, leaving the proposal contingent on approval by the Illinois Gaming Commission.


Aldermen will have to make a tough vote on property taxes two months before facing voters: “A proposal to eliminate annual property tax increases tied to inflation pushed through by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2019 is up for a committee vote on Monday, forcing many aldermen to make a hard decision they avoided in the fall. Introduced by Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, in July and currently co-sponsored by 12 of his colleagues, the ordinance would completely wipe out the annual increase that is pegged to the rise in the previous year’s consumer price index or 5%, whichever is lower,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Aldermen discuss ‘innovative’ options for treating PTSD among police officers, need for funding assistance: “The City Council Committees on Public Safety and Health and Human Relations met Friday to hear from officers who have undergone Stellate Ganglion Block treatment and a professional who administers the treatment,” by The Daily Line.

As Sadlowski Garza Steps Aside, 5 Candidates Are Vying For The Southeast Side’s City Council Seat: “Óscar Sanchez, Ana Guajardo, Peter Chico, Jessica A. Venegas and Yessenia Carreón are in the running for the 10th Ward race,” by Block Club Chicago.


Outside-the-Beltway Edition: State Perspectives on Midterm Elections

On November 8, voters across the country cast their ballots for governor, U.S. Senate, the House, and several down-ballot seats. Americans in 37 states also voted on 132 statewide ballot measures, including cannabis legalization, guns, abortion rights, voting policy, and sports betting. The results were consequential for both the states and the nation as a whole.

Public Strategies’ Jim Davis, Katie Schwab, Matt Glavin, John Reich, and Julia Hammond provide a state-by-state breakdown of the results of the midterm races in Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Minnesota, and Virginia. They also offer an overview of the nationwide midterm election results and their impact from the perspective of their respective state politics.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.


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