Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (12/14)

December 14, 2022


Illinois Coronavirus Updates: COVID Levels Rise in State, Mask Recommendations, by NBC 5 Chicago.


Victims testify in support of assault weapon ban

Victims of gun violence provided testimony Monday in the House Judiciary – Criminal Justice committee in support of legislation that would ban assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in Illinois.

The “Protect Illinois Communities Act” (HB 5855) would also increase the Firearm Owner Identification Card age from 18 to 21, boost the state’s firearm restraining order (red flag laws) from six months to one year, and create an Illinois State Police Strike Force to prevent interstate gun trafficking.

Monday’s hearing – the first of three subject matter hearings on the bill – focused on victims of gun violence and family members of victims. Multiple survivors from the recent mass shootings in Highland Park on the Fourth of July and in East Garfield Park on Halloween night shared their personal stories from the attacks and urged state lawmakers to pass the proposed legislation.

The two upcoming hearings later this week and early next week will include input from gun owners and Second Amendment rights advocates, who have been vocal in their opposition to HB 5855.

Democrats hope to pass the bill in early January when lawmakers return to Springfield for a brief lame-duck session.


Pritzker will sign into law measure to prohibit state investments in Russian companies: “State pension funds would have to pull millions of dollars in investments from Russian stocks and bonds under a measure the Illinois General Assembly has approved and that the governor is expected to sign into law,” the News-Gazette.

Pritzker Administration Releases More Than $37 Million in Funding for Five Innovation Hubs: “Governor JB Pritzker announced today the release of $37.3 million to launch facilities for five hubs of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), created to accelerate job creation and economic growth through groundbreaking education, research, and discovery,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

SAFE-T Act faces next test in court, where opponents say it violates state constitution: “Kankakee County Circuit Court Judge Thomas W. Cunnington is set to hear oral arguments Dec. 20 over claims brought in roughly 60 lawsuits, now combined, from prosecutors and sheriffs around the state,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

 Challengers take on longtime mayors in DuPage, Kane counties: “Mayoral races got off to a quick start Monday in DuPage and Kane counties, with candidates stepping forward to challenge the entrenched incumbents in Carol Stream and Wayne. The filing period for seats on city councils, school boards, park boards and library boards continues through Dec. 19. That process will set the ballot for the April election,” by Daily Herald.

As Stellantis mulls Belvidere’s future, Pritzker moves to sweeten new EV incentives: “Under the measure, expected to be put to a vote in the General Assembly’s January lame-duck session, Gov. J.B. Pritzker would get the huge ‘deal-closing fund’ that other governors have. Insiders say the lack of such a fund recently cost the state a battery plant which, instead, was won by Michigan,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.


Attempt to end annual property tax hike stopped in committee

Aldermen voted down an effort to eliminate Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s annual inflation-based property tax increase, capped at 5% per year, during a Chicago City Council committee meeting Monday.

The City Council Finance Committee voted 17-11 against an ordinance introduced by Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) that would repeal Lightfoot’s policy of increasing property taxes annually in relation to the consumer price index, citing concerns that eliminating the yearly increase would negatively affect Chicago’s credit and bond ratings and bring back the practice of large, one-off hikes.

During the 2020 budget process, aldermen passed Lightfoot’s automatic property tax increases through 2058 in an attempt to improve the looming crisis in the city’s underfunded employee pension funds.

Although Lightfoot agreed to forgo the property tax increase for 2023, the mayor and her allies believe eliminating it entirely will have detrimental effects a few years down the line when the city is not able to keep pace with its continuously growing pension obligations.

Ald. David Moore (17) and Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38), who both voted in favor of keeping the annual property tax increase, said Chicago can’t afford to “keep kicking the can down the road” when it comes to paying the city’s pension funds. Sposato outlined the choice by saying the city could either “pay a little now or pay a lot later.”

Chicago Plan Commission approves amendment to Bally’s casino planned development

The Chicago Plan Commission on Monday approved an amendment for the proposed $1.74 billion Bally’s casino and entertainment complex in River West.

The plan is to redevelop the site of the Freedom Center printing plant to include an exhibition hall, a 500-room hotel, a 3,000-seat theater, and an event center, with 11 restaurants as well as 4,000 gaming positions, including slot machines and table games. Measures approved in May made the casino exempt from liquor moratoria and required a $40 million upfront payment from Bally’s to the city’s pension fund.

The newly approved amendment adds casino usage to the planned development, originally approved in 2018, and rezones the area to include additional green space, a water taxi stop, a pedestrian river walk trail, a dedicated bike lane, and increased underground parking accommodations, on top of eliminating controversial parts of the original plan such as an outdoor theater and pedestrian bridge.

The Plan Commission voted 12-1 to approve the amendment, with Commission Chair Laura Flores providing the sole vote against the proposal and three members recusing themselves of the vote. If the full City Council approves the plan in their vote today, then the casino will only need signoff by the Illinois Gaming Commission.

Bally’s plans to open a temporary casino at Medinah Temple by June, awaiting the permanent casino’s opening which is expected by 2026.


Petition challenge hearings for mayoral candidates begins, launching days of records exams and contention: “Mayoral candidates and their attorneys traded barbs Monday as the Chicago Board of Elections kicked off hearings for challenges to candidates’ petition signatures to get on the Feb. 28 municipal election ballot. Rickey Hendon, who works with mayoral hopeful Willie Wilson’s campaign, last week filed challenges to the petitions filed by Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) and community activist Ja’Mal Green. Green is in turn challenging Wilson’s petition signatures,” by The Daily Line.

García Claims ‘Front Runner’ Status by 7 Points in Race for Mayor, Says Poll Commissioned by Operating Engineers Union: “The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 backed García in the mayor’s race shortly after the poll was conducted, and has committed $1 million to García’s campaign to deny Lightfoot a second term and defeat nine other candidates,” by WTTW.

Finance committee OKs new Red Line Extension TIF, final vote set for Wednesday: “The proposal to create a new tax-increment financing (TIF) district that is expected to fund $959 million of the CTA’s $3.6 billion extension of the Red Line to Chicago’s southern boundary gained nearly unanimous approval from a key City Council committee Monday, teeing the measure up for final council approval Wednesday,” by The Daily Line.

Mayoral hopefuls agree solving crime is the answer — no matter what the question: “Eight of the 11 candidates vying to be the next mayor of Chicago discussed everything from taxes to the environment at a forum on the Northwest Side Tuesday evening — but they spent much of their time talking about crime in the city, often veering back to the topic when answering questions on other matters,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Delaying access to Chicago police radio calls threatens public safety, media coalition says: “A coalition of news organizations, including the Sun-Times, affiliate Chicago Public Media and the Chicago Tribune, oppose the city’s policy that gives reporters and the public access to encrypted channels only after a 30-minute delay. The news outlets argue the delay hurts their ability to provide timely information,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

City Panel Gives Green Light to $8M Subsidy for New Near South High School: “Efforts to build a new $120 million high school on near South Side land owned by the Chicago Housing Authority advanced Monday with a vote by a key city panel to use $8 million from the area’s Tax Increment District to subsidize the project,” by WTTW.

Proco Joe Moreno Should Be Kicked Off 1st Ward Ballot, Objectors Argue In Complaint: “Two neighbors of candidate Sam Royko are challenging Moreno’s bid for office in part because of his criminal history, while a longtime backer of the former alderperson also is trying to get Royko tossed from the race,” by Block Club Chicago.


2023: The Year of the Moderates?

  • Although former President Trump is the only declared candidate for 2024 thus far, several in the GOP will seek to claim the mantle of the MAGA movement. Meanwhile, President Biden will lay the groundwork for his re-election with his unique brand of progressive institutionalism.
  • Senator Raphael Warnock’s (D-GA) win last week gave Democrats an outright Senate majority in the 118th Congress, but under divided government, all of the Senate’s legislative output will require bipartisan consensus.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) Republican majority will be similar to what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had to manage over the last two years with a vocal minority, but with moderate members’ electoral victories having provided the majority.

Read the full Cozen Currents article here.

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.


Biden signs historic bill codifying same-sex and interracial marriage: “President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law at a White House ceremony — cementing his legacy as a champion of LGBTQ rights,” by Politico.

Federal lawmakers announce ‘framework’ on bill to avoid government shutdown: “Lawmakers leading the negotiations on a bill to fund the federal government for the current fiscal year announced late Tuesday they’ve reached agreement on a ‘framework’ that should allow them to complete work on the bill over the next week and avoid a government shutdown,” by the Chicago Tribune.


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