Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (12/16)

December 16, 2022


As respiratory viruses surge, health officials stress vaccinations and boosters, by Crain’s Chicago Business.

IDPH Reports 86 Illinois Counties are at an Elevated Community Level for COVID-19, from the Illinois Department of Public Health.


Cook County sued over delinquent property tax sales system

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday by two low-income Black residents and two community groups alleges Cook County’s practice of turning over properties with delinquent taxes are discriminatory against Black and Latino Chicagoans.

“By depriving homeowners who fail to pay their property taxes of the entire value of this asset, and by disproportionately affecting Black and Latino homeowners, the tax sale system widens the racial wealth gap that has plagued this region for years,” said John Bouman, director of Legal Action Chicago and co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

Under Illinois’ current system, a third-party tax buyer can purchase the outstanding property tax debt of a homeowner and get a lien on the property; if the homeowner cannot pay back the debt, plus penalties and interest, within 30 months, tax buyers can confiscate the property.

Nearly 75 percent of the properties offered in Cook County’s 2021 delinquent tax sales were in Black or Latino communities, even though those racial groups make up only 50 percent of county residents. Although there is a county program to reimburse homeowners who lost their homes, called an indemnity fund, the fund is $22 million in debt and eight years behind in payments.

The Cook County Treasurer’s Office declined to comment on the lawsuit, but Maria Pappas has been outspoken about the inequities in the system in the past and previously proposed a series of reforms to the state’s tax sale law. The lawsuit will be handled by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.


Second hearing on bill raising FOID card age, banning ‘assault weapons’ focuses on data behind gun violence: “The hearing on HB5855 in front of the House Judiciary- Criminal Committee was the second of three hearings being hosted this month to give lawmakers a chance to hear a variety of testimony on the high-profile legislation. After the first hearing focused on victims of gun violence, Thursday’s hearing featured testimony from experts and activists who explained data behind gun violence,” by The Daily Line.

Retiring Secretary of State Jesse White ready to step aside and reflects on experiences that shaped him: “Jesse White, 88, will retire on Jan. 9 when Alexi Giannoulias is sworn in as secretary of state. It will conclude 24 years as the head of the state’s most public-facing office and 48 consecutive years in elected office for White, who previously served as a state representative and Cook County recorder of deeds,” by The Daily Line.

Pritzker, unions herald adoption of Workers’ Rights Amendment: “Illinois labor leaders and Gov. J.B. Pritzker took a victory lap Thursday, celebrating passage of the Workers’ Rights Amendment with a proclamation certifying that it’s taken effect,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Bears float stadium-development subsidy plan for Arlington Heights: “The Chicago Bears are floating in Springfield the possibility of creating new form of tax subsidy for their pending redevelopment of Arlington Park, one which would give them financial help but not penalize local school districts as harshly as conventional tax increment financing district,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.



Chicago mayoral election: New poll shows Lightfoot trailing Garcia, Vallas: “Congressman Chuy Garcia won 28 percent; former Chicago Public Schools’ CEO Paul Vallas was at 19 percent; Mayor Lightfoot was at 15 percent and businessman/philanthropist Willie Wilson was at 13 percent. Other contenders were in single digits,” by Fox 32 Chicago.

Links Between García, Lightfoot to Indicted Founder of Crypto Firm Blasted: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot and U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García – the frontrunners in February’s election, according to a recent poll – are facing a barrage of criticism for their links to the now-indicted co-founder of crypto exchange FTX,” by WTTW.

Bike lane law makes it easier to ticket, tow drivers blocking paths. Supporters say it will save lives: “The law makes it easier to ticket and tow drivers parked in bike lanes and would require signs to warn bikers of closed lanes. It also raises fines to $250 for drivers blocking paths,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

City Council OKs crackdown on illegal gun possession: “Fed up with what he called the “revolving door” at the state’s attorney’s office,  Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41) persuaded his colleagues on Wednesday to levy hefty fines and impose jail time against anyone caught illegally possessing a firearm in Chicago,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

With approval of Chicago casino and Red Line extension TIF, Lightfoot scores two wins amid reelection bid: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot cleared key hurdles to two longtime goals of her first term Wednesday, delivering Chicago’s long-sought casino and extending the CTA Red Line south to 130th Street,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Aldermen want to use COVID-19 relief money to give property tax loans to struggling Chicagoans: “As Chicagoans face down a holiday deadline to pay their property tax bills, Ald. Michael Rodriguez has unveiled a proposal to spend $10 million in unallocated federal COVID-19 recovery funding to help low-income Chicagoans meet the deadline,” by the Chicago Tribune.

City Council Introduces Bodily Autonomy Ordinance 2.0 in an Effort to Further Protect Those Seeking Reproductive or Gender Affirming Care From Discrimination and Retaliation, from the Office of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.


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.


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