Good Wednesday morning, Illinois. The Super Flower Blood Moon has nothing to do with the crazy last few days of the legislative session.

The state House passed a long-awaited plan Tuesday to create 110 new marijuana dispensaries on top of the 75 minority-owned retail shops that were delayed from opening last year because of problems in scoring lottery applications.

The bill now heads to the Senate where it’s expected to pass and be signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker later this week.

“This legislation further ensures those least likely to have already had a foot in this industry will see a bigger piece of the pie,” Pritzker said.

Illinois legalized cannabis in January 2020 after passing a law that took unprecedented steps to ensure people disproportionately hit by criminal enforcement of past drug laws reaped the benefits of the burgeoning industry. So, while the 2020 lottery was supposed to add more dispensaries, it became mired in controversy over scoring applications for the lottery. The new measure is designed to address those concerns.

The process was further slowed down by the pandemic, stifling industry growth. But the state has seen month-over-month revenue increases, signaling there’s plenty of room for more dispensaries.

“We’ve been waiting 400 days and finally we’re moving forward,” state Rep. La Shawn Ford, who carried the House bill, told Playbook. “Social equity applicants spent a lot of money to get into this emerging market only to have to wait,” he said, referring to the costs of consultants, lawyers, start-up costs and state fees that candidates had to pay to apply.

The 110 new cannabis licenses would be awarded through two lotteries directed toward Black, Hispanic and other minorities from disproportionately impacted areas. The 75 licenses stalled last year will be doled out in a third lottery.

All three are expected to be held before August, but the impact of the bill’s passage would be felt even sooner.

Construction sites will start popping up, existing sites will be built out, and local municipalities will begin addressing zoning issues. Companies will start hiring, too.

“Most important is that it finally allows the state to move forward to achieve its goal of diversity and an opportunity for social equity,” Pam Althoff, a former state lawmaker who now heads the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, told Playbook.

The bill also drew praise from existing cannabis companies, who have been waiting for the industry to expand. “It’s very exciting that there will be 185 new dispensary licenses to create ownership diversity in the Illinois cannabis industry,” said Jason Erkes, the chief communications officer for Cresco Labs, which has a stake in the Illinois market.

Democrats who control the redistricting process have now redrawn the state Supreme Court districts for the first time in nearly 60 years.

Here’s the reason. Democrats worry they could lose control of the court after Justice Thomas Kilbride, a Democrat of Rockford, lost his retention bid, thanks in large part to billionaire Ken Griffin’s efforts to fund an offensive.

“This map is about equal representation in the state’s most important court,” Rep. Lisa Hernandez, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, said in a joint statement from Senate and House Democrats.

Republican Justice Michael J. Burke’s 2nd district, Democratic Justice Robert L. Carter’s 3rd district, Republican Justice Rita Garman’s 4th district and Republican Justice David K. Overstreet’s 5th district “will be substantially equalized to better reflect the population and demographic shifts” that have occurred over the past 60 years, according to the Dems.

WBEZ points out: “While partisan make-ups of the new judicial districts weren’t immediately available, Kilbride’s old district was recalibrated to include all of DuPage County, the state’s second most vote-rich county and one that has trended heavily Democratic in recent election cycles.”

The Daily Kos tweeted a graphic showing how elections have gone in recent years

Political consultant and map-maker Frank Calabrese shows how the lines might look for a Supreme Court remap.

State Sen. Omar Aquino, chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee, pointed to the state’s changing demographics as a reason for the redraw. “Illinois is a very different state than it was sixty years ago, and the voters of Illinois deserve to elect members to our state’s highest court that reflect their values.”

Republicans weren’t surprised but criticized the move nonetheless, noting that there were no public hearings to discuss Supreme Court redistricting. “This is a total sham process, anti-democratic, done at the expense of Illinoisans,” said state Sen. Jason Barickman, a member of the Republican leadership, told the Tribune.


Proposed legislative maps slammed by GOP, community groups; Democrats provide few answers, reports State Journal-Register’s Ben Szalinski

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]

In City Hall at 10 a.m.. presiding over the in-person City Council meeting.

No official public events.

Touring the UCAN Nichols Center at 11:30 a.m. to commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 17 additional deaths and 808 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 22,650 fatalities and 1,377,249 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from May 18 through 24 is 2.1 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 3.0 percent.

Republican Bailey’s message to Chicago evolves from get lost to I’ll ‘make Chicago the great city that it should be’: “Asked about his 2019 resolution calling on Chicago to break away from the rest of Illinois, Bailey said, ‘Many times when two people are in a relationship or there’s a marriage and someone’s not happy, someone finally says I’m not happy. To me, that’s what that resolution was. It was a warning shot,’” by Sun-Times’ Andrew Sullender.

New compromise for elected school board in Chicago floated in Springfield: “The latest idea is to fully elect a 21-member board in 2027, with an interim hybrid 11-10 board taking over in 2023,” by Crain’s Greg Hinz.

Illinois tackles anti-Asian hate with the TEAACH Act: “Illinois is poised to become the first state to require that public schools teach their students the history of Asian Americans, who have endured an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The Illinois Senate passed the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History Act, known as the TEAACH Act, by a unanimous vote of 57-0 on Tuesday,” by Injustice Watch’s Rita Oceguera.

Legislators approve bill that would decriminalize HIV transmission: Sen. Robert Peters’ bill changes the current law that says an HIV-positive person does not have to transmit the virus in order to be charged with a felony and sentenced to up to seven years in prison. “Laws that criminalize HIV are outdated, dangerous, discriminatory, and out of line with current science,” Peters, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement. Tribune’s Jenny Whidden and Nara Schoenberg report.

Lawmakers advance bills to provide menstrual products at colleges, homeless shelters: “Both bill sponsors cited ‘period poverty,’ or the issue of not being able to afford products such as pads, tampons or liners to manage menstrual bleeding, as motivation for their legislation,” by Capitol News’ Grace Barbic.

School choice advocates push to keep tax credit scholarship program alive: “The group ‘Empower Illinois’ brought Virginia Walden Ford, one of the nation’s leading school choice advocates, to Springfield on Monday to call on state legislators to extend the life of the ‘Invest in Kids’ tax credit,” by WCIA’s Mark Maxwell.

The conservative Illinois Review blasts McConchie in editorial: The piece criticizes a constitutional amendment banning so-called “right to work” laws that passed with bipartisan support. It specifically calls out Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie. “He failed to emphasize the importance of this issue to his caucus. He failed to push his floor leader to whip the votes for Republicans to stand arm-in- arm as a line against providing complete public and private sector union control of the state. It is unexplainable. It is embarrassing. It is inexcusable,” the editorial reads.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Dozens of Illinois nonprofits and advocacy groups, including Heartland Alliance, are sending a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and members of the General Assembly are calling on them to use funding from the American Rescue Plan to address gun violence. The groups are calling for the state to invest at least 2 percent of ARP funding that Illinois receives in evidenced-based community violence programs that address trauma and support victims. “Young people across the state have been disconnected from schools and social supports. Historically high unemployment has increased stress and compounded community trauma. Domestic violence incidents have increased nationwide. And gun sales in the state increased by nearly 50 percent,” the letter states.

— It’s getting nutty in Springfield. Lawmakers, lobbyists, political insiders and even journalists celebrated the season by wearing seersucker Tuesday. That’s House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch in front. h/t to photographer John Berry.

— BLAME GAME: Lightfoot blamed gun violence on judges, but emails show her staff knew it wasn’t true: The mayor and police superintendent reasoned that if judges would keep more people locked up after arrest, then they wouldn’t be able to commit crimes. “But emails released to the public after a hack of the mayor’s office show that even as Lightfoot and police leaders continued to trot out the talking point, some of the highest-ranking city officials were aware the claim was wrong,” reports WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.

Lightfoot to unveil restaurant relief package: At today’s City Council meeting, “the mayor plans to propose extending the 15 percent cap on restaurant delivery service fees through year’s end and requiring delivery services to collect and remit Chicago’s restaurant tax,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

Lake Shore Drive could soon be renamed for Black explorer Jean Baptiste Point DuSable: “The Chicago City Council will decide whether to approve the name change after the city’s first non-Native Black resident Wednesday,” by WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel.

Aldermen pave way for sale of Thompson Center: “With the endorsement of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, the full City Council today will consider the measure introduced by Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) at the request of Gov. J.B. Pritzker,” reports WTTW’s Heather Cherone.

Alderman wants to cap ride-hail surge pricing: “Under the ordinance Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, said he will introduce to the City Council on Wednesday, surge pricing could only be set up to 150 percent of the normal fare during times of ‘peak demand,’” by Tribune’s John Byrne.

Low-income housing near McKinley Park asphalt plant on cusp of approval: “City Housing Commissioner Novara publicly opposed the project last year, citing health concerns,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.

Forensic investigation of Chicago police pension fund underway: The group of retired and disabled officers and widows who commissioned the investigation “hope the final report will result in much-needed changes that will improve the financial health of the PABF while also increas[ing] transparency and accountability for the operations of the fund,” reports Forbes’ Edward Siedle.

As Chicagoans mark the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, activists call for police reform, by Tribune’s Paige Fry

Lightfoot moves to fill two big holes in her fast-changing cabinet: Andrea Holthouse Cheng, a 16-year veteran of the Department of Water Management, takes over after holding down the fort since the ouster of Commissioner Randy Conner,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

‘I don’t have seizures anymore!’: 11-year-old with severe epilepsy undergoes rare operation to disconnect two sides of his brain: “Zach’s newfound freedom followed a rare and risky surgery at University of Chicago Medicine to disconnect the two sides of his brain. While such a disconnection can be debilitating in a healthy brain, Zach had suffered a stroke at birth that severely damaged the left hemisphere of his brain, creating a storm of electrical impulses that arced to his right brain and caused his problems,” by Tribune’s Robert McCoppin.

Federal jury finds veteran cop used excessive force against Cubs fan during 2016 World Series celebration: “The eight-person jury deliberated for about four hours Wednesday before finding in favor of plaintiff Asher Kaufman, who was hospitalized after he was arrested by then-Sgt. Andrew Dakuras and other undercover officers stationed in Wrigleyville in the early morning hours of Nov. 2, 2016,” by Tribune’s Jason Meisner.

THE FIFTY: Illinois ended cash bail and approved other police reform measures since George Floyd was killed by a police officer last year. The state will soon require police officers statewide to wear body camera gear, for example. States across the country passed 243 policing bills. Activists say more could be done, POLITICO’s Liz Crampton reports.

How can white people be Black allies? Steven Rogers offers specifics in ‘A Letter to My White Friends and Colleagues’: “What we know is 35% of Black people have zero net worth. And that’s not because we’re lazy, or we won’t work hard — it’s simply because of what’s happened to us, and what happened to us was done intentionally by the federal government,” the author tells the Tribune’s Darcel Rockett.

Trump teaming up with Newt for his own contract with America, by POLITICO’s Meridith McGraw

McConnell, the minority leader with ‘veto’ power, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett

Yang denounces attacks on his New York credentials as racist, by POLITICO’s Erin Durkin

Can Mississippi’s Last Abortion Clinic Survive? by Sarah Fowler for POLITICO magazine

Tribune CEO Terry Jimenez is out after Alden deal: “The New York-based hedge fund leveraged Tribune Publishing with two loans totaling $278 million, removed CEO Terry Jimenez and installed Alden President Heath Freeman to lead the company, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Tuesday,” by Tribune’s Robert Channick.

TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Ready Nation state director Sean Noble, former law librarian Scott Burgh, and The Development Consortium CEO Janet Mathis for correctly answering that the statue of Sen. Everett Dirksen features an elephant and donkey at his feet and an oil can. The reason: asked how he passed legislation with the support of Senate Republicans and Democrats, Dirksen often said: “The oil can is mightier than the sword.”

h/t to journalist Bernie Schoenburg, whose first Springfield byline was in The Pantagraph in 1977 about a bill to pay the widow of a late sculptor for his work making the Everett Dirksen statue on the statehouse grounds.

TODAY’s QUESTION: With fair season starting soon, which Illinois county has three county fairs and what towns host them? Email to [email protected]

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th), former state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, former state Rep. James Peyton “Pate” Philip, spokeswoman to CEO stars Devon Spurgeon, and Peninsula Hotel PR director Susan Ellefson.



via Illinois Playbook

May 26, 2021 at 07:31AM

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