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

March 3, 2023

PUBLIC HEALTH 

IDPH Reports 18 Illinois Counties at an Elevated Community Level for COVID-19, from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

ILLINOIS

AG Raoul issues guidance on reproductive health discrimination

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, in coordination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), released a guide Thursday outlining the state’s discrimination protections regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and reproductive health.

The guide: clarifies the state’s anti-discrimination laws as it relates to pregnancy and other reproductive health decisions, including abortion; explains the rights of individuals in a variety of settings, including in the workplace, housing, health care, schools, retail and service establishments, and other public accommodations; and informs citizens of the filing process for discrimination-related complaints.

“Under Illinois law, everyone has the right to make decisions about their reproductive health free from discrimination,” Raoul said in a statement. “This guidance will assist women in exercising their rights, as well as help employers, housing providers, health care practitioners and others avoid discriminatory practices.”

AROUND THE STATE 

Illinois Ranks #2 State in the Nation for Corporate Investment: “Site Selection Magazine – an international industry-leading business publication — released its annual corporate expansion and relocation rankings, naming Illinois 2nd in the nation for corporate projects and Chicago the Top Metro for the 10th year in a row. The publication noted 487 Illinois projects in 2022, moving the state up from the number three spot in the previous year’s rankings,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker. 

Governor Pritzker Announces New Partnership Between Illinois Universities and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: “Governor Pritzker Thursday congratulated the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago for being selected by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) to launch the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Chicago (CZ Biohub Chicago) – a NEW biomedical research hub that will bring together leading scientific and technology institutions to study human tissue with the goal of creating new, groundbreaking therapeutics,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

Unruly school board meetings among the hot-button topics highlighted in annual education report: “Unruly public behavior at school board meetings is among the key issues highlighted in newly released polling data from the fifth annual State of Education Report released Thursday by the Illinois Education Association,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Lawmakers take step closer to making all-day kindergarten reality in all school districts: “The House Child Care Accessibility & Early Childhood Education Committee advanced a proposal Thursday that could be the first step toward making all-day kindergarten a reality in each of the state’s schools. The committee passed HB2396 by Rep. Mary Beth Canty (D-Arlington Heights) in a 14-1 vote, which would require all school districts to make all-day kindergarten available starting this fall,” by The Daily Line.

Gov. Pritzker Announces Nearly $60 Million in Grants for 118 Local Park and Recreation Projects Throughout Illinois: “Governor JB Pritzker along with state and local leaders and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wednesday announced nearly $60 million in state grants are being awarded for 118 local park projects throughout Illinois to help communities acquire land and develop recreational opportunities,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

CHICAGO 

Indicted Ald. Carrie Austin resigns from City Council 

Indicted Ald. Carrie Austin (34) officially stepped down from the Chicago City Council Wednesday after 29 years in office.

Austin was indicted on bribery offenses in July 2021 for conspiring to receive home improvements from contractors seeking city assistance for a development project in her ward and for lying to the FBI.

Austin asked a federal judge in November to declare her medically unfit to stand trial, but surveillance conducted by FBI agents in the weeks following found that Austin is “alert, lucid, and responsive” and able to move about on her own without assistance.

Austin has pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted, Austin would become the thirty-eighth City Council member convicted of a crime in the last 55 years. She is due in court for a hearing on May 25.

Austin’s 34th ward was moved across the city following redistricting and is now located in the 21st district under the new ward map, where Ronnie Mosley and Cornell Dantzler will face off in a runoff election April 4. Bill Conway won the 34th Ward seat Tuesday night.

Vallas busts campaign contribution cap, nets former secretary of state endorsement

On Thursday, mayoral candidate Paul Vallas donated $100,100 to his campaign, a move that lifts contribution restrictions ahead of the upcoming mayoral runoff election and opens the door for wealthy businesses and individuals to donate vast sums of money to both candidates.

Candidate Willie Wilson’s $5 million self-donation in the first round of the mayoral election similarly lifted the fundraising cap, so Vallas’s move is not expected to change the campaign landscape drastically. Prior to the runoff election, Vallas’s campaign had raised a total of $2.75 million to Johnson’s $1.82 million.

On Thursday, Vallas also received a key endorsement from Illinois’ longest serving secretary of state Jesse White, which could prove crucial for Vallas to receive more endorsements from other Black elected officials, as both candidates are vying to secure the black vote.

MORE FROM CITY HALL 

Search is on for CPD Supt. David Brown’s replacement, but the bench of insider candidates is thin: “Both candidates in Chicago’s mayoral runoff have declared they prefer an insider to replace departing Chicago Police Supt. David Brown,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Majority of Police District slate candidates who faced ballot challenges outright winners in historic election: “After facing challenges that reached up to the Illinois Appellate Court, a majority of candidates who ran for election as part of three-member slates for the new police district councils swept their races in the election Tuesday,” by The Daily Line.

Brandon Johnson questions past critical race theory comments from Paul Vallas, who says he’s focused on ‘issue-oriented’ campaign: “Two days after voters declared them finalists to become Chicago’s next mayor, Brandon Johnson raised issues with Paul Vallas’ past remarks where he said critical race theory in schools was harming families and taking emphasis off more important subjects,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Aldermen to consider Lightfoot’s proposal to use cameras for bike and bus lane traffic enforcement: “The City Council Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety will meet virtually Friday to consider a proposal from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Chicago Department of Transportation and some aldermen that would establish a pilot program for automatic bike and bus lane violation enforcement,” by The Daily Line.

City Council candidates backed by Democratic Socialists Chicago chapter see mixed success after election: “Four of the five sitting aldermen endorsed by the Chicago DSA chapter won their races outright on Election Day, but just one of five challengers endorsed by the chapter is headed to a runoff election in April after capturing the largest vote share in her race on Tuesday,” by The Daily Line.

FEDERAL

Beltway Briefing: A Historic Visit on A Grim Anniversary

On President’s Day, after a clandestine journey involving a 10-hour train ride from Poland, President Biden made a surprise and historic visit to Ukraine, to show solidarity with a war-torn democratic nation battling for its survival and try to break an impasse as Russia’s invasion enters its second year. It was the first time in modern history a U.S. president entered a war zone where there was not an active U.S. military presence.

Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Rodney Davis, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin discuss Biden’s trip to Ukraine and the sharp response it drew from Congressional Republicans who have been critical of the U.S funding of the war effort and accused the President of neglecting issues back at home. They also break down the political fallout over the Administration’s response to a toxic train derailment and the resulting environmental disaster in Ohio that had the White House take bipartisan heat.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.

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