State Rep. Lou Lang, a longtime Skokie Democrat and former top deputy to House Speaker Michael Madigan, announced his resignation from the Illinois House on Monday, two days before he was scheduled to be sworn in for another term.
Lang will join a lobbying firm headed by the late Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s former chief of staff Nancy Kimme. He started his tenure in Springfield in 1987 and became known for his advocacy for expanded gambling and for ushering in Illinois’ medical marijuana law.
Last year, Lang left his leadership post after a former medical marijuana advocate accused him of retaliation, verbal abuse and “inappropriate behavior.” Months later, the legislative inspector general wrote that “evidence does not support” the complaints, after the woman who made the accusations didn’t participate in the resulting investigation.
Lang won re-election in November. Asked on Monday if last year’s experience led to his resignation, he said: “Not at all.”
He put the state’s medical marijuana law and a proposal to deal with the opioid crisis among his top accomplishments.
“Medical marijuana is right at the top of the list,” he said. “We have close to 50,000 patients now who are having a much better quality of life with this product.”
Kimme’s lobbying success in Springfield came in part from her Republican connections after Gov. Bruce Rauner’s election. Now, Lang adds depth to the firm with the new Democratic domination in Springfield.
A new class of lawmakers to be sworn in Wednesday will give Democrats big majorities in the House and Senate. And Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker takes office Jan. 14.
After the accusation and his resignation from House Democratic leadership, Lang’s chances to replace Madigan as House speaker someday effectively ended.
He did not say who he prefers as his replacement, but his position as Niles Township Democratic committeeman means he’ll have a big say.
Chicago Tribune’s Rick Pearson contributed.
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January 7, 2019 at 12:36PM