Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (2/3)

February 3, 2023

PUBLIC HEALTH 

IDPH Reports 4 Illinois Counties at an Elevated Community Level for COVID-19, from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

ILLINOIS

Illinois Attorney General sues PFAS manufacturers

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced Wednesday he is suing the makers of several large chemical companies that produce perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), arguing that manufacturers “have been aware of the dangers of PFAS yet still promote the chemicals as being safe to use.”

PFAS falls under a class of chemicals used in non-stick pans, clothing, furniture, water and stain repellents, food packaging, and thousands of other products. The so-called “forever chemicals” have been linked to liver damage, some types of cancer, and other health conditions. Additionally, environmental officials have identified more than 100 drinking water systems in Illinois with measurable levels of PFAS.

The attorney general’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Circuit Court of Cook County, seeks to hold the named companies “accountable for the widespread contamination to our natural resources.”

AROUND THE STATE 

Illinois EPA Invests Over $75 Million in Wastewater and Drinking Water Projects in Second Quarter of FY23: “The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) is announcing the issuance of $75,867,318 in water infrastructure loans to local governments and water districts for the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2023 (October – December 2022),” from the Illinois EPA.

Illinois House passes rules removing pandemic-era remote voting: “In order for legislative activity to begin in the 103rd Illinois General Assembly that was seated last month following November’s election, the House and Senate must approve new rules that dictates legislative policies and procedures and how committees are to function. Removed from the House rules are the pandemic-era provisions that allowed for remote voting,” by The Center Square.

Illinois Ranked Number One for Workforce Development: “Illinois has been named the number one leader for workforce development in the Midwest region for 2022, up from number two in 2021. The ranking highlights Illinois’ commitment to providing innovative workforce programs, career training, and employment services that create resources for jobseekers and ensure businesses continue to thrive,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

CHICAGO 

Chicago to receive $60 million federal grant to fight homelessness

U.S. Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge announced Thursday that Chicago will receive $60 million in federal funding to address homelessness – the largest single grant to be awarded from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s $315 million pot.

Fudge said she picked Chicago partially because of its “amazing” grant proposal and also to highlight the need for homelessness services in the City. “We tend to focus a lot of our attention on the coasts. I am from the heartland. And we have problems as well,” Fudge said

The grant money will provide housing and clinical and housing stabilization services to people without shelter and will add over 700 units of permanent housing with “no time limits,” along with “intensive case management and support services” for those recipients.

A 2020 report from Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimated Chicago’s homeless population to be over 65,000 – a number significantly higher than the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s estimate of 5,300, which does not consider people who are temporarily staying with others to be homeless.

MORE FROM CITY HALL 

Norfolk Southern’s massive rail yard expansion plan for South Side nabs City Council approval after previous delay: “A massive rail yard expansion on Chicago’s South Side — in the works for 15 years and requiring the acquisition of hundreds of homes in one of the city’s most struggling areas — won City Council approval Wednesday despite lingering concerns over its environmental impact and whether remaining residents will benefit,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Mayor Lightfoot Announces Chicago Resiliency Fund 2.0 is Now Accepting Applications from Domestic Workers and Undocumented Residents Seeking Financial Relief: “Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) Commissioner Brandie Knazze announced that domestic workers and undocumented residents are now eligible to apply for the Chicago Resiliency Fund 2.0, which will provide one-time, $500 relief payments to populations that had difficulties accessing and qualifying for federal relief payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The City plans to award relief payments to up to 7,000 domestic workers and 10,000 undocumented residents,” from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.

Editorial: For mayor, the Tribune Editorial Board endorses Paul Vallas, by the Chicago Tribune.

Mayor Lightfoot Invites Community Proposals for Equitable Development Projects Near Transit: “As part of $10M initiative to foster vibrant, affordable communities connected to transit, City offers grant funding and technical assistance to community-led development projects,” from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.

FEDERAL 

Cozen Currents: What Makes the GOP McTick in Divided Government

  • House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will have one of the most consequential relationships in Washington, DC over the next two years as Republicans try to govern and position themselves for 2024.
  • Tight labor markets and President Biden’s advocacy of a worker’s rights agenda have fostered an environment in which states are increasingly taking action on labor policy.
  • The Biden administration is pursuing an ambitious two-pronged industrial policy to “promote” the semiconductor industry by bolstering domestic chip manufacturing and also to “protect” national security interests by restricting China’s access to advanced chips.

Read the full Cozen Currents article here.

Beltway Briefing: Divided Government Returns

Since making concessions to his holdouts and winning a protracted Speaker’s race as a result, GOP leader McCarthy has appointed several Freedom Caucus members to the powerful House Rules Committee. Their appointment to the Rules panel gives them significant influence over when legislation is brought to the floor and how it is debated in the 118th Congress.

Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Rodney Davis, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin break down the first three weeks of the Rules Committee work. And, now that a split Congress is upon us again, with Republicans looking to deploy their power with a fragile majority in the House and Democrats looking to advance their own policy priorities in the Senate, they discuss the status of inter-party negotiations over several must-pass bills and ponder how the new era of divided government translates into the 2024 presidential politics.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.

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