Illinois State Capitol. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Illinois House bill could block transition healthcare for trans youth

SPRINGFIELD — A bill in the Illinois House Human Services Committee could prevent doctors from giving any transition related healthcare to transgender youth. The Youth Health Protection Act was filed by St. Rep. Thomas Morrison (R-Palantine) last month. It was assigned to the committee on March 5. A hearing for the bill in committee is set for Wednesday, March 13, tomorrow.

Illinois State Capitol. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Battle and passage expected for abortion legislation in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — New legislation that would mean Illinois gives more access to abortion services than almost anywhere else in the country. With a Democratic supermajority, the bill is very likely to pass. However, that doesn’t mean anti-abortion forces won’t fight against it. From Capitol News Illinois:
“Right now, this bill is passing,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel for the Thomas More Society, a conservative, pro-life law firm. Leading the push in the House are Reps.

Study: Illinois demand could outpace supply if cannabis is legalized

CHICAGO — A new study found that demand for legal weed in Illinois could be far higher than what licensed growers can produce. Some say this means that opportunities should expand to meet the demand, including in communities hardest hit by arrests for cannabis. From the Chicago Tribune:
The study, performed by the Colorado consulting firm Freedman & Koski, lends support to those who argue that Illinois’ fledgling marijuana industry should expand and diversify, allowing the participation of more black and Latino entrepreneurs — people whose communities have disproportionately suffered during America’s war on drugs. “We have a whole industry that’s treating it like the gold rush, but you have generations of folks who are still living with all the impacts of what the criminal justice system did to them,” said Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights. “It’s unfair to discuss this in any other way.”

The possibility of full marijuana legalization has stirred up a robust lobbying effort from many of the state’s 16 licensed growers, who have said that absent proof to the contrary, they believe they are capable of meeting demand.

Lambda Legal Midwest Director Brian Richardson

Lambda Legal announces Brian Richardson as new director of Midwest regional office in Chicago

CHICAGO — Lambda Legal announced Friday that Brian J. Richardson, former Deputy Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Health, has been named Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Director, based in Chicago. “We are delighted that Brian has chosen to bring his energy and expertise to Lambda Legal and look forward to the leadership he will provide across the Midwest,” Lambda Legal Interim CEO Richard Burns said. “Our hard-won civil rights are under attack from many directions, so we need a strong presence in homes across the heartland. With his experience, Brian will allow us to expand our reach and remain vigilant.”

“I am thrilled to join the Lambda Legal team to build on decades of work winning greater equality for LGBTQ people and everyone living with HIV,” Richardson said.  “To be clear, the progress we have won is under assault as LGBTQ people continue to face discrimination under the law. We must redouble our efforts at the state level and through the courts to both preserve our hard won gains and also move all communities and states further towards justice.”

Richardson’s career spans the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Illinois State Capitol. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

State rep pushes for ‘nondiscriminatory’ textbooks that include LGBTQ

SPRINGFIELD — A bill before the Illinois House would require books bought with state funds to also include contributions from LGBTQ people. Capitol News Illinois reported that that bill, sponsored by State Rep. Anna Moeller (D-Elgin), moved out of committee on Feb. 6 and is now before the full House. “Historically, they’ve been ignored, and either deliberately or inadvertently left out of our history books,” Moeller told the news service. The bill would require any textbooks bought with state textbook block grants to include the impact and involvement of everyone included the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Illinois State Capitol. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Bill would change how Illinois awards electoral votes

SPRINGFIELD — Tim Butler, a Republican state representative from Springfield, has filed a bill that would award Illinois’s electoral votes based on the proportion of the vote a candidate gets. From WEEK-TV in Springfield:
Under the current electoral college process, each state gets one electoral vote per congressional seat, plus two more for their two Senate seats. Illinois uses a winner-take-all method, where the candidate who wins the most electoral votes in the state takes all 20 Illinois votes. “A single state now has a multitude of differing regional interests within it. Illinois is a perfect example because we have a huge metropolitan area like Chicago in the northeast, but close to half of the population is spread across the other ¾ quarters of the state,” said Butler.

Governor signs $15 minimum wage into law

SPRINGFIELD — On Thursday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill that raised the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. The State Journal-Register of Springfield reported that this also fulfilled one of Pritzker’s campaign promises. From the State Journal-Register:
Illinois is on track to be the first state in the Midwest to push its base wage to $15. It increases from $8.25 by $1 on Jan. 1, and jumps to $10 on July 1, 2020.

New progressive caucus forms in the Illinois House

SPRINGFIELD — A group of Illinois House members have formed a caucus to push for progressive causes like cannabis legalization and campaign finance reform. The State Journal-Register of Springfield reported that the new Progressive Caucus announced goals at a press conference on Thursday. From the Journal-Register:
Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, said the formal structure of a caucus will give them more power in the legislative process. In the caucus’ statement of principles, the group states the government must “dismantle structures of inequity and replace them with a framework that promotes justice.”

“We believe there’s an unjust concentration of power at the very top, and the government has an important responsibility to provide basic decency and equity and dignity for everyone,” Guzzardi said. Most of the members are from the Chicago metro area with Rep. Carol Ammons, a Democrat from Urbana, being the only member from downstate.

$15 minimum wage bill could reach Pritzker this week

SPRINGFIELD — A vote on a $15 minimum wage in Illinois was scheduled for Thursday in the Illinois House and Democrats think it could be on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk the same day. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that it’s expected to pass with no Republican support. From the Sun-Times:
We’ll call it on the floor [Thursday] sometime after 1:30 in the afternoon, and my expectation is the bill will pass,” House Speaker Mike Madigan said. “My expectation is that there will be no Republicans in the House voting for the bill.”

Republicans, on the other hand, said the fast-tracked advancement of the measure puts an end to a short-lived era of good feeling between the parties at the Capitol. “This is a change of attitude since last month,” Republican House Leader Jim Durkin said.