Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (7/13)

July 13, 2022


Governor Pritzker Continues Effort to Ramp Down COVID-19 Requirements with Updated Executive Order: The updated executive order amends testing requirements for some unvaccinated health care employees and removes mandates for some other industries. Read the full press release here

— COVID Update: IL reports 5,124 new cases, 12 deaths, ABC 7 reports

Monkeypox continues to spread. 105 Chicagoans infected as vaccines roll out, health officials say, by The Chicago Tribune.


Gov. JB Pritzker appoints new head of Illinois Department of Public Health 

Governor Pritzker announced Tuesday his nomination of Dr. Sameer Vohra to serve as the permanent director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) beginning August 1.

A practicing pediatrician and healthcare policy expert, Vohra is Founding Chair of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s (SIU-COM) Department of Population Science and Policy. Additionally, he has been personally involved in the State’s response to COVID-19, serving on the Illinois State Board of Health, the Illinois Medicaid Advisory Committee, and the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund Steering Committee. His full bio can be read here.  

“I am humbled that the Governor has entrusted me to serve the people of our State as the 20th Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health,” Vohra said in a statement. “Governor Pritzker, along with the dedicated staff of IDPH, have served our State admirably during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am honored to lead this agency into the future, continuing to keep us safe from emerging illnesses, supporting our public health workers, and promoting wellness in every community across Illinois.”

Vohra will replace Dr. Amaal Tokars, who has served as interim director of the agency since March following the departure of former director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.


Pritzker pushes for assault weapons ban, federal action: “Gov. J.B. Pritzker is calling for a ban at both the state and national levels on military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines,” by The Daily Herald.

A bit of good news on Illinois pensions: “The Illinois State Board of Investment was the top-ranked public pension unit in the country in the year ended June 30, 2021, racking up a nifty 19.8% annualized return over the past 10 years on its private-equity investments, net of fees,” by Crain’s Chicago Business. 

Measure to ban ‘assault weapons’ in Illinois gains cosponsors and criticism: A measure to ban the sale, transfer, or possession of certain types of firearms and magazines is gaining Democratic support at the Illinois State House. From The Center Square.

Gov. Pritzker Announces Ten Appointments to Boards and Commissions and Senior Executive Positions, from the Office of Governor JB Pritzker. 

Illinois DCFS awards college scholarships to 72 current and former youth in care, from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. 

Governor Pritzker Announces $60 Million Competitive Grant Program for Early Childhood Construction in Illinois: “Funding will support the construction, expansion, and renovation of facilities that support early student learning.” From the Office of Governor JB Pritzker. 


Committee vote on overhaul to city’s ethics rules delayed until Friday

A City Council committee vote on a stalled overhaul of the city’s ethics rules has been delayed again as negotiations continue. 

Ethics and Government Oversight Committee Chair Michele Smith (43) first introduced the new ordinance (O2022-1100) in April 2022 to “significantly strengthen” Chicago’s ethics code, which had not been updated in nearly three years. The measure would disallow former aldermen from lobbying sitting members on the City Council floor, expand conflict-of-interest restrictions to apply to city employees’ relatives, and direct aldermen who recuse themselves from votes to fully leave City Council chambers. A full summary of the proposal is available here.

The ethics package was first delayed by Ald. Rod Sawyer (6) in April, who used a parliamentary maneuver to block routine consideration of the ordinance. Sawyer has since signed on as a co-sponsor.

Then in May, two allies of Mayor Lori Lightfoot blocked a routine vote to re-refer the ordinance back to the Ethics Committee, a rare move which surprised Smith and delayed the vote by at least another month. 

The delay until Friday is “in order to honor the [Lightfoot] administration’s request to amend language, and to provide the opportunity for City Council to review language in advance of the meeting,” Smith’s office shared. 

City’s annual series of Budget Engagement Forums set to begin this month 

In a press release from last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) announced the dates of the City’s Budget Engagement Forums, where Chicago residents and community leaders will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the City’s 2023 spending plan and priorities regarding City services. 

The public engagement forums will include presentations from Budget Director Susie Park and other City leaders, followed by small roundtable sessions, and public comment. Participants in the forum will also have an opportunity to have a dialogue with the Mayor, Budget Director, and other City department representatives.

The feedback from each forum will be compiled into a public report published by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Great Cities Institute, detailing the data collected from public input. These inputs will then be presented with the 2023 Budget Recommendations in order to create a “clear and transparent process for how the city plans to incorporate the community engagement feedback into the budget and city operations.”


Riverside chose Dem challenger in 21st District race: “Incumbent Zalewski defeat included losing his home precinct.” From Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.

South Shore condo program ‘one piece of the puzzle,’ but organizers want more action to stem gentrification: “Ald. Leslie Hairston (5), left, and Chicago Department of Housing Asst. Comm. Will Edwards speak during a meeting of the City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate Tuesday,” by The Daily Line. 

Chicago ranks second on new list of best cities worldwide — what to know:Out of the best cities worldwide, Chicago ranks number two and is the only U.S. city to make the top 10,” by Fox 32 Chicago. Time Out Index has more information here

Cook County Jail Detainees Had A Higher Voter Turnout In The Primary Than The City As A Whole: “About 20 percent of voters turned out citywide compared to 25 percent of detainees at Cook County Jail. Recent legislation made the jail a polling place with same-day registration, boosting turnout there,” by Block Club Chicago. 


Beltway Briefing: The Narrowing Legislative Window

  • Democrats all share the same goal of trying to maintain as many seats in Congress as possible, but how they should go about doing so depends on who you ask.
  • Meanwhile, Republicans are poised to retake power and are focusing on laying blame on the Biden administration while seeking to minimize their own unforced errors.
  • Amidst high inflation, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have both voted to increase authorized military spending beyond the level President Biden requested, a sign that rising prices may lead to a bigger boost in appropriations.

Read the full update here


Forced ‘down a dark, agonizing path,’ Illinois needs federal help as ‘island’ for reproductive rights, Stratton testifies: “Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton’s appearance in Washington comes as 10 states have already banned abortions and Illinois remains in the spotlight as a place for women to seek reproductive care,” by The Chicago Sun-Times. 



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