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A history-soaked pair of inaugurations seated the 103rd Illinois General Assembly Wednesday in Springfield.

Illinois’ first Black speaker of the House, Chris Welch (D-Hillside), took the oath of office a second time, as did the first woman to lead a caucus in the House, Minority Leader Tony McCombie (R-Savanna). The House inauguration was at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Downtown, Capitol construction pushed the Senate proceedings to the Old State Capitol, site of Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech. Sworn in there were President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Minority Leader John Curran (R-Downers Grove)

Welch referred to himself as “a Black kid from the woods – Maywood and Bellwood,” while Harmon quoted a Chicago police commissioner’s warning to rookies: “if you lack integrity – get out now.”

Harmon and Curran voted for one another for Senate president, while the House speaker voting was strictly partisan.

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January 12, 2023 at 09:48AM

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