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Insight on Illinois

July 30, 2020

Since our last newsletter, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois charged utility giant ComEd with a bribery scheme that implicates powerful Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, prompting growing calls for the Speaker to resign both his government and political posts. Further, ComEd has agreed to pay a fine and cooperate with the US Attorney. While it is difficult to assess the time frame for additional action from the US Attorney, or whether the calls for Speaker Madigan’s resignation will eventually wane, this news affects everything that is happening in Springfield. On the policy side, the threat to Madigan’s leadership complicates any legislative initiative. In addition, the types of charges that have been brought against ComEd will have an effect on how government affairs work is done in Springfield. On the political side, Madigan himself will become an issue in legislative races, where Democratic candidates will want the Speaker’s assistance while at the same time will seek to distance themselves from the Speaker. It is an interesting situation that we will be watching closely.

Lawmakers are also focused on COVID 19 issues, as Illinois’ COVID positivity rate continues to inch higher, and communities struggle to plan for students to return to school in the fall. In Washington, deliberations continue on the next round of COVID 19-related stimulus, including whether and at what level to extend unemployment support payments and how to shield businesses from certain COVID-related liability. There are many moving parts, and our Washington, DC colleagues are on top of them all. 

Here is what we are watching now: 

COVID-19 Developments

  • Chicago reinstated certain Coronavirus restrictions on July 24th 
  • Bars without food licenses are prohibited from serving patrons indoors
  • Property managers need to limit residents to five guests per unit
  • Services requiring removal of facemasks such as facials are prohibited
  • Gyms required to reduce capacity
  • Chicago also requires travelers coming from additional states to quarantine.
  • Travelers from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah required to quarantine upon entering Chicago
  • Travelers from Missouri, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Nebraska will be required to quarantine beginning July 31st 

Illinois House Speaker Implicated In ComEd Bribery Scheme

  • Electric utility ComEd, which was facing allegations that they bribed the Speaker of the Illinois House, Michael Madigan, in an effort to gain favorable treatment for their legislative initiatives, agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement, in which the company agreed to pay a $200 million fine
  • The Speaker’s Office was served a subpoena shortly after the deal with ComEd was announced, although federal investigators have not announced any charges against the long-serving House Speaker
  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker have said that if the allegations against the Speaker are true, he should step down

Upcoming Meetings

Thursday, July 30th, 10 a.m. – Cook County Board of Commissioners

News of the Week

Commonwealth Edison Agrees to Pay $200 Million to Resolve Federal Criminal Investigation Into Bribery SchemeUS Attorney’s Office – Northern District of Illinois

Commonwealth Edison Company (“ComEd”), the largest electric utility in Illinois, has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a years-long bribery scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago announced today.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Illinois House progressives say Speaker Michael Madigan should step down if allegations involving ComEd are trueChicago Tribune

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said if allegations involving Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who for decades has been at the controls of whether legislation lives or dies inside the State Capitol, and the state’s largest utility, Commonwealth Edison, are true then he should step down.

Feds Subpoena Speaker Michael Madigan For Records About AT&T, Walgreens, And Rush In Widening ProbeWBEZ

Federal investigators pursuing possible corruption within Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s orbit subpoenaed his state office Friday, seeking records involving AT&T, Walgreens, Rush University Medical Center, and a host of political operatives and lobbyists.

U.S. attorney has Madigan in his sights, but will case really come together?Chicago Sun-Times

One of the most politically powerful entities in this state, ComEd, has basically admitted bribing the most politically powerful person in this state, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and agreed to pay $200 million and continue cooperating with federal investigators for at least the next three years. And, yet, Madigan himself was not charged, although he was finally served with federal subpoenas the same day ComEd’s “deferred prosecution agreement” with the feds was announced.

Senate GOP releases Covid proposal amid internal divisionsPolitico

Senate Republicans released their $1 trillion coronavirus relief proposal Monday afternoon, setting off what could be weeks of tough political battles with Democrats over unemployment insurance, state and local aid, and liability protection for businesses and schools as the pandemic continues to batter the U.S. economy.

White House, Senate GOP race to finalize coronavirus package ahead of Monday rolloutThe Hill

The White House and Senate Republicans are working to finalize a coronavirus relief package ahead of a Monday rollout. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows were back in the Capitol on Sunday for a second day of meetings with GOP staff as they work to lock down the forthcoming proposal.

Federal aid package could allow Illinois cities flexibility to use already released COVID-19 resources for lost revenueThe Center Square

The next phase of federal aid from Congress amid the COVID-19 pandemic could allow state and local governments to use already released federal funds for tax revenue shortfalls from government shutdowns. State Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva, said such flexibility will be important, but it shouldn’t negate the need for state government to address problems that have plagued Illinois since before the pandemic, he said.

Lightfoot tightens regulations on bars, restaurants, gyms after COVID-19 spike among young peopleChicago Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot wasn’t messing around when she warned of a rollback if young people didn’t stop their risky behavior. Now, bars, restaurants, gyms and salons are paying the price. With the 7-day “rolling average” of coronavirus cases at 233 — up from 192 a week ago — Lightfoot on Monday authorized a series of “surgical steps” aimed at preventing an even broader retreat.

Bracing for evictions, City Council approves ‘Fair Notice’ ordinance to protect rentersChicago Sun-Times

Bracing for “mass evictions,” a divided Chicago City Council agreed Wednesday to give renters more notice — up to 120 days — before landlords terminate their leases or raise their rents. The final vote was 35 to 14. Proponents called the protections the “bare minimum” for renters who have lost jobs or had paychecks cut during the pandemic.

Downstate region hits Illinois’ ‘warning’ level of days with increases in coronavirus positivity rateWGN

A region of Illinois counties outside St. Louis hit health officials’ “warning” number of days with an increase in the percent of coroanvirus [sic] tests which come back positive Monday, approaching the state’s “failsafe” level where reopening measures could be rolled back. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the “Metro East” region in southwest Illinois has seen an increase in test positivity rates for seven over the past 10 days, hitting the “warning” level outlined in the updated “Restore Illinois” plan.

Pritzker blames ‘virus deniers’ as state sees highest daily COVID-19 caseload since early June: ‘The enemy is you’Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois sees its worst day for new coronavirus cases in more than seven weeks, the testing positivity rate steadily rises — and Gov. J.B. Pritzker sees only one place to point the finger. “The enemy is not your mask. If you’re not wearing a mask in public, you’re endangering everyone around you, so the enemy is you,” the Democratic governor said Wednesday.

Illinois’ mail-in ballot applications being sent to all recent voters this weekThe Center Square

Enhanced mail-in voting was approved by state lawmakers as a way to increase options for people to vote without being exposed to COVID-19, and authorities promise it’s secure. If you voted in a recent election in Illinois, expect to get a vote-by-mail application if you haven’t already. August 1st is the deadline local election officials have to be sent out mail-in ballot applications.

Cook County Board to vote on reducing funds to sheriff’s officeWGN

After a resolution passed Monday, the Cook County Board will vote on redirecting funds from the sheriff’s office. Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson sponsored the proposal that has some support, but there’s some opposition too. The resolution references disgraced Chicago police commander Jon Burge and to “redirect funds from policing and incarceration to public services.”

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