Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (7/25)

July 25, 2022

PUBLIC HEALTH 

Public Health Officials Announce 32,268 New Cases of Coronavirus Disease Over the Past Week: The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday reported 32,268 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 52 deaths since July 15, 2022. From the Office of Gov. J.B. Pritzker. 

With 202 monkeypox cases and not enough shots to go around, Chicago prioritizes vaccine: “Until there is enough vaccine to meet the rising demand, Chicago has a plan to distribute the limited supply of monkeypox vaccine.” From The Chicago Sun-Times. 

Governor Pritzker Calls on Federal Government to Increase Monkeypox Virus Vaccination Efforts: Last week, the governor called on the head of the US Department of Health and Human Services to take more aggressive action to counter the monkeypox virus outbreak. From The Office of Gov. J.B. Pritzker. 

ILLINOIS

Progressives launch “Protect Our Court” campaign to support Democratic candidates running for state Supreme Court in 2 open districts

Illinois progressive leaders have launched a get-out-the-vote campaign ahead of the November election focused on increasing voter turnout in support of Democrats vying for three seats on the Illinois Supreme Court, including one justice who is up for retention. 

“Often people don’t pay much attention to judicial races,” U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said at a news conference Friday launching the campaign. “Nothing could be more important on the ballot.”   

Two open Supreme Court districts are on the ballot this November. 

  • 2nd District: 2020 Republican U.S. Senate nominee and former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran (R-Libertyville) will face off against Lake County Judge Elizabeth Rochford (D-Lake Forest). The district includes Lake, McHenry, Kane, DeKalb and Kendall Counties. 
  • 3rd District: Incumbent Supreme Court Justice Michael Burke (R-Elmhurst) is trying to fend off a challenge from Appellate Judge Mary O’Brien (D-Essex). The district includes DuPage, Will, Kankakee, Iroquois, Grundy, LaSalle and Bureau Counties. 

First District Justice Mary Jane Theis, who represents Cook County on the court, is also up for a retention vote in November.  

The battles for court seats are expected to be expensive – conservative donor Ken Griffin has already donated $6.5 million to Citizens for Judicial Fairness to promote Republican candidates for the court. 

“We don’t have a lot of money to match that,” co-director of Citizen Action Illinois Will McNary said.   “We’re going to match their money with people power.” 

Progressive leaders say they are hoping voters will be responsive to the message that voting for judges matters

The “Protect Our Court” campaign will not officially endorse any candidates,

If Curran and Burke both win, the state Supreme Court will flip to a 4-3 Republican majority. Progressive leaders say they fear a Supreme Court Republican majority could strike down Illinois laws supporting abortion, restricting access to firearms, protecting voting rights, and enforcing environmental regulations. 

AROUND THE STATE

ICC Orders Cost/Benefit Analysis of Ameren’s Membership in MISO or another RTO: “On Thursday, the ICC accepted the recommendations of a Staff Report directing Ameren Illinois to study the benefits and costs of continued participation in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), a regional transmission organization, versus participation in PJM Interconnection, another RTO.” 

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker returning to in-person work after Paxlovid, negative COVID test: “Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said on Sunday he is feeling better after contracting COVID last week,” by Fox 32 Chicago. 

Deadline for expiring Illinois driver’s licenses extended to Dec. 1: “Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has again extended the deadline for residents to renew expiring driver’s licenses and identification cards, this time to Dec. 1,” by The Chicago Tribune. 

CHICAGO

Mayor Lightfoot begins process to fill 43rd ward vacancy 

Mayor Lightfoot will have yet another opportunity to appoint a new alderperson to fill a vacant City Council seat (her third time this year) after Ald. Michele Smith (43) announced Thursday her decision to retire August 12, citing “deepening responsibilities towards family and friends.” 

In a press release Friday, Mayor Lightfoot announced the process to fill the 43rd ward vacancy, which includes parts of Lincoln Park, Old Town, and Gold Coast. 

The mayor’s office will be accepting applications through 5:00 p.m. CT on August 5. Prospective candidates must have lived in the 43rd ward for at least one year prior to their appointment. 

Once applications close, the names and resumes of each applicant will be made publicly available, and a committee will begin reviewing each application thoroughly. The appointed alderman will serve until the aldermanic election February 28.

Additionally, Mayor Lightfoot is seeking input from 43rd ward residents on their priorities for the ward and for their new Alderman, something she did not do for her previous two appointments. Feedback can be submitted here

MORE FROM CITY HALL

Proposal would prohibit hemp CBD shops in Chicago from calling themselves ‘dispensaries’: “A proposed ordinance would prohibit CBD shops in Chicago from advertising themselves as ‘dispensaries,’ in an attempt to distinguish them from state-licensed recreational cannabis shops,” by The Chicago Tribune. 

A massive influx of federal anti-violence dollars starts to hit the streets of Chicago: “The $2 million paid out in June is the first down payment on a pledge to spend $250 million in federal funds on violence prevention,” by The Chicago Sun-Times. 

One year after City Council approval, organizers demand Lightfoot act on stalled civilian police oversight commission: “Last week marked one year since the City Council approved an ordinance  (SO2019-4132) creating a civilian commission empowered to oversee the Chicago Police Department. But the city has blown past multiple deadlines laid out in the ordinance, and members of the commission have yet to be confirmed.

Uptown apartment mega-project an ‘exemplar’ for housing density near transit as city expands ‘TOD’ policy, officials say: “The Chicago Plan Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to deliver the City Council a proposal (O2021-2638) by developer K Giles to gut the landmarked Immaculata High School Building at the corner of Irving Park Road and Marine Drive and fill it with up to 245 mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments. The builder is also proposing to erect a 23-story senior apartment building with up to 200 units on the school’s parking lot,” by The Daily Line. 

Exclusive look at Lightfoot’s plans to pitch a dome for Soldier Field: “The mayor is prepping three Soldier Field scenarios: One calls for letting the Bears depart for the suburbs. Another would add a roof to the historic stadium,” by Crain’s Chicago Business. 

FEDERAL 

Beltway Briefing: Is everything really broken?

Looking ahead at the critical midterm elections, perhaps no issue is likely to motivate Americans more at the polls than the state of their own finances. So just like it was in 1992, is it “the economy, stupid” again in 2022 and, if so, which economy? The one reflecting soaring gas, food, and housing prices and historically high inflation, or the one indicating a tremendous labor market, sustained consumer spending, and continued strong business investment? Meanwhile, in a recent poll, only 13 percent of voters said the country is on the right track, prompting some in the media to note that “everything is broken.”

Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin discuss the economic crosswinds and the fact both Democrats and Republicans are pouncing on the economy’s diverging paths to support their policymaking pursuits ahead of the midterms. And they ponder whether the system is indeed fundamentally broken or if it’s still strong enough that it can be repaired.   

You can listen to this and any of the previous Beltway Briefing podcast episodes on any of the platforms here.  

IN OTHER FEDERAL NEWS

Longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon convicted of contempt charges after defying subpoenas from Jan. 6 House committee: “Bannon faces up to two years in a federal lockup when he’s sentenced. Each count carries a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail,” by The Chicago Sun-Times. 

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