Delivering On Promises: Speaker Welch’s First 100 Days (Springfield, IL) – Today marks 100 days since House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch was sworn in to serve as Illinois’ first Black Speaker of the House. In just under four months, Speaker Welch has worked tirelessly to ensure his promises to address our state’s toughest issues are being kept.
“In my inaugural address, I vowed that I would work with all members of the Illinois House to make this state better,” said Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch. “While I understand we are one of the most diverse states in the country, we are all here to represent the people of Illinois and make their lives better.”
In an effort to restore the public’s trust in government, Speaker Welch ushered in a new set of House rules that included a 10-year term limit for leadership positions in the General Assembly. He then supported further codifying these limits by the working to pass House Bill 642, which was unanimously passed in the House on Thursday. The Speaker also continues to work on an ethics reform package, something he’s vowed since he earned the speakership.
“We know we need to strengthen the trust Illinoisans have in their elected officials. We will do that through reform, with a renewed focus on transparency, prohibitions on conflicts of interest and a renewed commitment to work in the best interest of the people of Illinois,” said Speaker Welch.
To ensure we’re producing tangible solutions that will have a positive effect on families and children, here is a sample of legislation we’ve passed:
- HB 25, led by Representative Gong-Gershowitz, which paves the way for legal representation for people facing immigration proceedings;
- HB 374, led by Representative Smith, which enables the creation of affordable housing on community college campuses;
- HB 3418, led by Representative Carroll, which prohibits employers from requiring nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases;
- HB 219, led by Representative Carroll, which changes time out and restraint policies in public schools
- HB 576, led by Representative LaPointe, which allows kids to take sick days to aid their mental health; and
- HB 376, also led by Representative Gong- Gershowitz, which incorporates Asian American history into our schools’ curricula.
When it comes to a critical kitchen table issue, Leader Delia Ramirez championed legislation that helps to remove barriers to housing for families that have been devastated by COVID-19. In addition to pausing foreclosures, it helps expand access to assistance for renters and provides relief for homeowners.
To build on the racial equity platform pushed by the Black Caucus, Rep. Camille Lilly put Illinois on the path toward health equity by passing House Bill 158. This legislation creates an Anti-Racism Commission to eliminate systemic racism prevalent in health care and requires implicit bias training for all medical professionals.
Prior to joining the General Assembly, Speaker Welch served 12 years on the Proviso Township High School Board of Education. He has always placed an importance on education and better serving our state’s youth. That was also highlighted with the passage of legislation that would create an elected school board in Chicago, which will divide Chicago into 20 electoral districts as determined by the General Assembly for seats on the Chicago Board of Education. The 21st seat is a city-wide election for the board’s president.
“This is another excellent bill by Leader Ramirez and I’m so proud of the entire caucus for getting it through the chamber,” said Speaker Welch. “We have been working for years to help create a more equitable Board of Education in Chicago and this is one step closer.”
Speaker Welch has placed an importance on a new style of leadership, one that is more inclusive and represents the diversity throughout the state. This starts with his leadership team, which is the most diverse in the state’s history. He hired the first Black Communications Director and the first female Press Spokesperson, in addition to appointing some of the most diverse committee chairs and vice chairs.
“Members of the General Assembly have noticed a more open, decentralized leadership style that allows everyone to advocate for their communities and work their bills as peers,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Jehan Gordon-Booth. “Between the substance of legislation and the availability of grief counselors after the death of Adam Toledo, we see the positive effects of having a more inclusive leadership team and staff.”
As today marks the deadline for 3rd reading, a number of other critical bills are expected to pass the House and head to the Illinois Senate. Concurrently, the House will consider Senate-passed bills as Democratic leaders in both chambers work in the interests of women, working-class families and communities of color up and down the state.
Delivering On Promises: Speaker Welch’s First 100 Days