Welch: ‘Marital equality, increased minimum wage’ passed under Madigan (Springfield, IL) – Newly-elected House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Westchester) looks back on the scandal-plagued Mike Madigan era as progressive for women’s and voters’ rights.
“Illinois is a very progressive state and we won some big things under Madigan’s leadership, including marital equality, increased minimum wage, we passed the ERA, we passed three huge bills that protect women’s reproductive health,” Welch said during a recent WTTW interview posted to YouTube. “HB 40, RHA and a number of other things put women at the forefront, while we have states around us that are taking rights away. We’re also very ahead of our neighbors when it comes to voting rights and a lot of that is due to the leadership of Mike Madigan.”
Welch’s defense of Madigan comes at a time when debate continues in Springfield about Democratic lawmakers’ decision not to tackle ethics reform in a major way during the current legislative session and in the aftermath of Madigan finally being pushed from power amid a federal corruption probe.
“The House has so far failed to act on any major ethics reform legislation or anything to reduce the tax burden on Illinoisans, or to improve our jobs creation climate,” state Rep. Tom Bennett (R-Pontiac) recently told the Peoria Standard.
Bennett is hardly the only Republican leader demanding change. The House GOP offered an “End the Silence on Illinois Corruption” petition calling for a special session on ethics reform.
In addition to the ComEd scandal, former Rep. Luis Arroyo was recently slapped with federal bribery charges and former state Sen. Martin Sandoval pleaded guilty to pocketing bribes and filing a false tax return. Madigan has not been charged and admits no wrongdoing.
Officially installed as Madigan’s successor and as the first black person elected as House Speaker in January, Welch has vowed that his tenure will come to serve as a shining example to all of what can be.
“You have to understand what it means for black boys and black girls out there right now who are told that they’re not going to achieve things in life,” he told ABC News. “You know, and they don’t believe that they can achieve things in life. And now not only can they believe it, but they can see it.”