Dan Reitz | IOGA Lobbyist
Bridge Session Review: In early January, the Illinois General Assembly returned to Springfield for the first time in over 7 months. The Legislature used these final days to close out the end of the 101st General Assembly and address several unresolved issues before the start of the 102nd General Assembly. Listed below are a few items of that may affect our members.
The biggest legislative item was a series of bills, developed through the Summer and Fall by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) to address many of the social injustice and equity issues which predominated much of 2020. The ILBC worked around 4 pillars – Criminal Justice Reform, Education Reform, Economic Opportunity Reform, and Healthcare Reform.
HB 3360 passed both Houses- it will allow for the recovery of prejudgment interest in personal injury cases.
Leadership shift in the Illinois House-Despite all the legislative activity that was occurring during the lame duck session, the biggest shake-up was the decision by long-time House Speaker Michael Madigan to remove his name from consideration for the office. Although Madigan had the overwhelming support of majority the caucus, 19 caucus members refused to support him which made it impossible for him to get the 60 votes needed to be elected Speaker. Once he withdrew his name from consideration, Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Westchester), emerged as the caucus’ preferred candidate. Representative Welch was elected to the post of Speaker, making him the first Black to hold that position. Speaker Welch accepted the position and immediately called on both parties to work for common ground and most importantly respect each other.
Speaker Welch announced his leadership team this week, it includes: Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) – Majority Leader; Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) – Deputy Majority Leader / Speaker Pro-Tempore; Rep. Mary E. Flowers (D-Chicago) – Deputy Majority Leader and Dean of the Caucus; Rep. Jaime M. Andrade, Jr. (D-Chicago) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Romeoville) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Marcus C. Evans, Jr. (D-Chicago) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) – Assistant Majority Leader; and Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) – Democratic Conference Chair
In addition to the leadership appointments, Speaker Welch announced the creation of 6 Whips, they are as follows: Will Guzzardi (Progressive Caucus Whip); Kam Buckner (Black Caucus Whip); Theresa Mah (Asian Caucus Whip); Larry Walsh Jr. (Downstate Caucus Whip); Deb Conroy (Women’s Caucus Whip); and Aaron Ortiz (Latino Caucus Whip)
Senate Leadership-Don Harmon will continue to serve as the Senate President and Dan McConchie is the new of Minority Leader, filling the vacancy left when Bill Brady announced he was stepping down. Along with Senator Brady, Senators Heather Steans and Andy Manar have also retired since the new session started.
Legislative Session: The legislative session is off to a slow start due to the change in leadership in the House and the uncertainty with scheduling session days at the Capitol in the middle of the pandemic. The past two sessions for the House have been held at the Bank of Springfield Center to provide enough space for 118 legislators and staff. It is cost prohibitive to keep meeting there. The House is formulating a plan to meet at the Capitol.
The Senate is scheduled to meet on March 2. The House adopted their Rules on February 10. The major changes in the Rules for the House included term limits for legislative leaders and a rule that allows for remote meetings. Both chambers have cancelled all other session days in February. The Senate has already adopted their Rules that allow them to hold remote committee hearings. The scheduled end of session is May 30.
Bill Introduction: The slow start to the new session has impacted bill introductions as well. There have been very few in the House or the Senate at the time of this report. None to date affect our industry directly.
Committee Chairmen: Committee chair appointments were just released. Most are still in their old chairmanships. Sonya Harper remains chair of Agriculture and Conservation, Larry Walsh is still chair of Public Utilities, Marcus Evans remains chair of Labor and Commerce and Ann Williams is still chair of Environment and Energy. Bob Rita is the new chair of the Executive committee.