Good Wednesday morning, Illinois! A year ago today we were all snuggled in at Wintrust Arena to watch Lori Lightfoot take the oath of office. Remember all the hugs on stage?
Today will be one of those historic days in Illinois legislative history as lawmakers return to the state capitol for the first time in more than 10 weeks, all keeping a six-foot distance. They’re further divided by the politics of coronavirus.
Will renegade, downstate Republicans heed Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive orders to wear masks as they walk up the steps to the capitol or enter the Bank of Springfield Center?
House Speaker Michael Madigan isn’t taking any chances and threw down the gauntlet Tuesday. He announced he’ll immediately propose a rule change today that will “require members, staff and the public to wear masks, submit to temperature checks prior to entering the building each day and observe social distancing guidelines” inside the Springfield arena, where state representatives will meet to allow plenty of social distancing. WCIA’s Mark Maxwell has pictures of the working space. Senators will stay in the capitol.
“After the motion passes,” Madigan said with confidence in his emailed statement, “any member in violation of the rule change will face discipline, including potentially being removed from the chamber by a vote of the House.”
Reps. Darren Bailey and Brad Halbrook, who have belittled mask-wearing, did not immediately respond to Playbook’s questions about what they might do today (admittedly, it was late). All eyes will be watching.
At least three Democratic lawmakers won’t be in Springfield because of health concerns, including Sen. Robert Martwick, who told Nadig Newspapers he has “coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.”
Once lawmakers are settled in place and as comfortable as one can be wearing a mask all day, they’ll get down to the business of approving an austere budget — hefty draft here — with massive relief measures to help Illinois residents hurting emotionally and economically as a result of the coronavirus.
It’s a time crunch for state lawmakers as they have just three days in this special session to nail down a spending plan for the budget year that starts July 1 without knowing how much funding might come by way of another federal bailout package.
“The pandemic has created plenty of unknowns, not the least of which is how far work on a budget can progress without a clear picture of how much relief will be coming from Washington to counter plummeting tax receipts — even as demands for dealing with the state’s most vulnerable residents grows,” the Tribune writes this morning.
Approval on the budget and other issues should still move quickly given Democrats control majorities in the House and Senate, but Republicans won’t make the work easy.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: The Senate and House Republican caucuses are issuing a joint statement today opposing the emergency rules filed by the Pritzker administration Friday that allow law enforcement to charge businesses with a Class A misdemeanor if they open up in violation of the state’s stay-at-home order. The Republicans say the rule is designed “to criminalize individuals trying to protect their livelihoods.”
They’re calling on lawmakers of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules “to vote to suspend the administration’s emergency rules“ and say “it is time that we restore proper checks and balances to state government.” Pritzker has defended the rule, saying it “would only last until the end of this phase. That’s about 10 more days. And then in phase three a new rule would need to be issued. … It’s not something that would last five months.”
RELATED — RENT RELIEF in Illinois could be on its way, as state legislators rush to pass bills during three-day session, reports Tribune’s Ariel Cheung
CAPITOL STEPS: Today’s return to Springfield isn’t the first time Illinois lawmakers were in the spotlight on capitol steps. In 2009, Sen. Roland Burris’ faced a media circus when he arrived at the U.S. Senate after his controversial appointment. And in 2013, former Sen. Mark Kirk made an inspirational walk up those same Senate steps after he returned from a stroke.
Student voting rates surged from 2016 to 2018, and Illinois Democrats expected an even bigger boost in November. But that was before Covid-19 wreaked its havoc.
Now, with many campuses considering virtual classes in autumn, voting rates among university students may falter—and that could influence the tight race between Republican Rep. Rodney Davis and Democratic challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan in the 13th congressional district.
A few months ago, both parties expected the contest to be as close as it was last time—basically a coin flip with Davis edging out Londrigan by a mere 2,058 votes.
Londrigan has since built up her ground game in the district, including on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. And Davis isn’t taking anything for granted, either. POLITICO lists the race as a toss-up.
Coronavirus, which knows no boundaries and is impervious to politics, is adding another twist to the race. The edge Democrats thought they had for November could be slipping.
“We’re concerned about reduced voter turnout. We don’t know what the future holds,” Madelyn Foster, president of Illini Democrats on campus, told Playbook. For now, organizers are ramping up social media and email lists to get information to students about registering to vote.
Given many students could be taking classes remotely from their homes all over the world during their first semester, there’s a question as to whether they’ll take the step vote by mail, according to University of Illinois at Chicago professor and political scientist Dick Simpson. That could hurt Londrigan, who has strong support among campus Democrats.
“But Davis has the problem of having to defend the president and his handling of the virus and the economic recession that will hit in November,” says Simpson, who acknowledges he’s donated to Londrigan’s campaign.
Throw in the fact that it’s a presidential year and more people vote, and we’ve still got a toss-up.
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Presiding over the virtual City Council meeting.
Coronavirus videoconference briefing at 2:30 p.m. Watch here
No official public events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 146 new deaths Tuesday and 1,545 new cases of coronavirus. That’s a total of 98,030 cases, including 4,379 deaths in 100 counties in Illinois. The statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate, May 10-16, is 14 percent.
— Hospitalizations and ventilator use hit five-week low: “Despite 146 more deaths, a top public health official said the stay-at-home order and facial coverings factor into encouraging declines,” WBEZ’s Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold report.
… Pritzker preaches patience, expresses optimism as coronavirus metrics improve: “In addition to his daily dose of caution, Pritzker flashed some optimism, again reporting that the four regions of the state outlined in his reopening plan are on track to move on to phase three on May 29. Illinois transitioned into phase two of Pritzker’s reopening plan on May 1, with nonessential businesses remaining closed and a handful of outdoor activities allowed, while face coverings continue to be required in stores and other public settings where social distancing isn’t practicable,’” reports Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart.
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: The Illinois Covid-19 Response Fund distributed $6.3 million to 31 nonprofit organizations across the state. It’s the third and largest round of funding by the group established by the governor’s office, along with United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations. The relief fund has also raised more than $30.5 million from more than 2,800 donors since its launch on March 26.
“This is an all hands on deck effort to help our most vulnerable fellow Illinoisans at this time of such great need,” said Penny Pritzker, chairman of the relief effort and head of PSP Partners. “We are so grateful to the thousands of individuals and organizations who have stepped up to provide critical services and support for people in every part of Illinois.” Funds are disbursed to nonprofit organizations across the state serving individuals, families and communities hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic. With this most recent round, grants of $16.7 million have been made to 62 organizations.
— State-run mental hospitals see smaller toll from COVID-19, but ‘the threat has not dissipated’: “None of the 41 patients or staff at the state’s 7 facilities who have tested positive have died, though five new cases were reported on Tuesday,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— Study: McHenry, Will counties have higher-risk Covid-19 populations: “McHenry and Will counties have not been hit as hard by coronavirus as some other parts of the Chicago area but might see greater devastation if an outbreak occurs because they have a higher rate of chronic health conditions that are exacerbated by the disease, a new study shows,” by Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin.
— Statewide panel looking at inflammatory syndrome linked to Covid-19 in children: “Illinois health officials suspect a handful of children in the Chicago region have a syndrome connected to Covid-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health and a physician on a task force looking into the syndrome,” reports NPR Illinois’ Mary Hansen.
— RAHM EMANUEL: Food deserts are their own pandemic hot spots: “Amid horrifying Covid-19 racial disparities, America needs to expand access to healthy food,” writes Chicago’s former mayor.
— Remembering lives lost to coronavirus in Illinois, by Tribune staff.
— Husband and wife die within hours of each other: “Jennie Alvarado said her mother Juanita Melecio died Monday night from Covid-19 related illness… About four hours later, the love of [Melecio’s] life, her husband of more than 50 years, Luis Melecio Sr. died,” by WGN’s Patrick Elwood.
— 5th CTA worker dies of Covid-19: “Bus operator was a CTA employee since 2012, the agency said,” by Sun-Times’ Carly Behm
— Judge dismisses lawsuit against DCFS seeking reinstatement of in-person visitation during coronavirus pandemic: “Since March, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services suspended supervised in-person visits between parents and children,” by Sun-Times’ Matthew Hendrickson.
— Chicago McDonald’s workers file class-action alleging Covid-19 failures put employees and customers at risk, by Tribune’s Robert Channick
— Naperville Park District sues Pritzker, seeking authority to reopen facilities, by Naperville Sun’s Erin Hegarty
— Second lawsuit filed against Bria of Geneva nursing home over Covid-related death, by Aurora Beacon-News’ Megan Jones
— Lightfoot working on plan to reopen the lakefront — but safely: “Under pressure to loosen her iron-fisted grip, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she’s working on a plan to reopen the lakefront in a way that protects Chicagoans oblivious to the need to maintain social distance,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— Chicago’s skyline set to change as aldermen OK plan for Tribune Tower East: “Aldermen on Tuesday advanced a proposal to build what could become the second-tallest building in Chicago — and the third tallest in the United States — on what is now a surface parking lot next to the Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue. The $700 million proposal from developers CIM Group and Golub & Company would rise 1,422 feet in the air and feature 564 for-sale units and apartments along with a 200-room hotel on 102 floors,” reports WTTW’s Heather Cherone.
— Lightfoot opens up about family as she celebrates first anniversary in office: “In an emotional interview on “The Axe Files” podcast, the mayor discussed her daughter’s reaction to her dancing video, her hard-working father and the “ebbs-and-flows” of her relationship with her ex-offender brother,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.
— After the stage goes dark, teen performers in Chicago find their way online: “The teens’ original show with the Lyric Opera was canceled due to COVID-19, but they continue to rehearse, connect and perform online,” by WBEZ’s Adriana Cardona-Maguigad.
— SCOOP: Ditka on his iconic Ditka’s eatery closing: ‘It’s over and it was good,’ the legendary coach tells Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed.
— Created: The Timuel Black Jr. Grant Fund: “Landmarks Illinois has created a new grant fund in celebration of the life and work of acclaimed civil rights leader, educator, historian, author and WWII veteran Timuel D. Black Jr.,” according to Beachwood Reporter.
— The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois has joined the Illinois Kidney Care Alliance, a coalition of health advocates and professionals, community and patient groups, providers and businesses from around the state.
Fearful of a winter Covid resurgence, some colleges will start fall classes early: “In recent days, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and Marquette University in Milwaukee announced they will begin the fall semester earlier than usual and finish in-person classes by Thanksgiving. The goal, the schools say, is to limit student travel ahead of any potential resurgence of coronavirus infections anticipated for the winter,” by Tribune’s Elyssa Cherney
— NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS federation announces guidelines for ‘opening up’ athletics: “The Illinois High School Association has traditionally followed NFHS recommendations very closely,” by Sun-Times’ Michael O’Brien.
— ‘Hard stop’: States could lose National Guard virus workers: “Senators from New Hampshire, Connecticut, West Virginia and Illinois sought an extension through the fall. And several officials, including Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, have written letters asking for an extension until at least June 30,” by POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollstein.
— It’s not just digital: Four out of five school districts use devices and paper packets, too: “Illinois expects to receive more than $670 million from the federal government to offset the cost of coronavirus-related emergency spending. A Chalkbeat and Better Government Association survey of five of the largest school districts in the state showed that the bulk of expenses so far have been related to technology,” by Chicago Chalkbeat’s Samantha Smylie.
— As pandemic upends 2020 census, StreetWise vendors help reach undercounted community: “[V]endors are shifting to census outreach work among the homeless in Chicago. They will be paid by the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, which is among organizations getting state money to communities that risk being undercounted,” by Tribune’s Elvia Malagon.
— Franks fined after refusing to disclose details about Illinois Integrity Fund: “Friendly contempt order allows county board chairman to seek additional appeal,” by Northwest Herald’s Katie Smith.
TRUMP V. OBAMA: “In recent days, President Donald Trump and his administration have reinjected Barack Obama into the political fray. Privately around town, some Republicans have wondered about the wisdom of doing that, since polls consistently show that Obama is one of the best-liked people in public life,” write POLITICO’s Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer. Now comes Eric Schmeltzer, a progressive PR consultant, who paid $4,500 out of his own pocket to commission a poll looking at who would win in a head-to-head contest. PPP’s poll shows Obama would beat Trump, 54-43. The crosstabs
Casten, Underwood, Foster highlight inequalities in communities of color affected by Covid-19, by Joshua welge in My Suburban Life
— Trump’s push to reopen schools and day care gets chilly reception from voters by POLITICO’s Juan Perez Jr.
— Pelosi moving to revamp small business rescue program by POLITICO’s Zachary Warmbrodt and Heather Caygle
— CDC releases detailed guidelines for reopening, by POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn
Thursday: Democratic insiders Dana Gordon and Steve Sheffey are hosting a virtual reception to support Congressman Brad Schneider’s re-election campaign. Details here
Andi McDaniel named CEO of Chicago Public Media, by WBEZ’s Natalie Moore.
Resolute Public Affairs Executive VP Ami Copeland, state Rep. Mary Edly-Allen, Illinois Senior Adviser for Cannabis Control Toi Hutchison, and political activist Teresa Reyes Martinez.
May 20, 2020 at 07:36AM