Rep. Adam Kinzinger announced he is not running for reelection after the Illinois General Assembly reworks the Congressional map. Two liberal democrats in Congress will face off as a result of the remap. Rep. Marie Newman says she’ll run against Rep. Sean Casten even though she’s now technically in Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s district.
Also approved during the fall veto session, the repeal of the state’s parental notification act which Gov. J.B. Pritzker vowed to sign. The law requires parents receive at least 48 hours’ notice before their minor child can receive an abortion.
“We are seeing it all over the country, anti-abortion politicians all across the country are seeking to curb our access to abortion for anyone and everyone. They literally want to force us all to keep every pregnancy to term regardless of what’s happening, regardless of the risks to our lives,” state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said. “Illinois is different and it’s going to stay different, and we’re going to finish the work today by closing the loophole in our firewall.”
And state lawmakers eliminate vaccine refusal from the Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which was intended to protect doctors from having to perform medical procedures to which they’re morally opposed, namely abortions.
Teachers, nurses and other workers are citing the law as a reason to avoid compliance with workplace mandates that they wear masks, get tested for the coronavirus or receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The Health Care Right of Conscience Act was never intended to cover a pandemic where we’re trying to keep people alive,” Pritzker said on Wednesday. “An individual just yelling out ‘conscience’ and saying ‘I don’t want to do it’ isn’t good enough. We have to keep people healthy and safe. That’s the whole purpose of the mitigations that we’ve put in place.”
In city news, aldermen blocked an attempt to repeal the mayor’s vaccine mandate. Mayor Lightfoot delivered an impassioned defense of her requirement that city workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 and accused her opponents of “fear mongering.”
“Just stop it!” Lightfoot told alderpeople, calling it “shameful” that members of the Chicago City Council have “trivialized and politicized” the city’s public safety challenges.
U.S. District Court Judge John Lee declined on Friday to immediately block Mayor Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker from requiring city and state workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Lee ruled that the 130 employees — most of whom are members of the Chicago Fire Department — were not likely to succeed on any of their claims, which included arguments that the vaccine requirement violated the right to free exercise of religion under the First Amendment.
“The court will not second-guess the informed and rational scientific and public-policy judgments upon which the city and state have based their vaccine and COVID testing policy,” Lee ruled.
Meanwhile, a Cook County judge will rule on the police union’s challenge to the mandate Monday.
Despite the vaccine mandate pushback, the mayor found common ground in City Council this week with her $16.7 billion budget sailing through with a slight property tax hike.
The budget, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2022, includes a property tax hike that will add $38 per year to the tax bill for the owner of a home worth $250,000 to cover the increase in the cost of living and to start paying off the city’s infrastructure plan, according to city officials.
The final vote on the tax levy was 32-18. The budget itself passed 35-15.
Lightfoot hailed the budget as the “most progressive and forward-looking budget in our city’s history.”
Flush with $1.9 billion in federal COVID-19 relief cash, Lightfoot was able to ensure her spending plan’s approval by funding a range of programs, including a plan to use $31.5 million to send cash assistance to Chicagoans struggling amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
That plan will send 5,000 low-income households $500 per month for a year as part of what will be the nation’s largest test of a universal basic income.
Repercussions continue rippling from the Blackhawks team’s mishandling of an alleged sex abuse scandal. Joel Quenneville quit his head coaching job in Florida after meeting with the NHL commissioner. That follows the ouster of the Hawks general manager, Stan Bowman.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks asked to have former video coach, and previously convicted sex offender, Brad Aldrich, removed from the Stanley Cup after he was accused by former player Kyle Beach of abuse.
And the new Chicago Public Schools CEO, Pedro Martinez will be paid $40,000 more than Dr. Janice Jackson as the district is experiencing another enrollment drop, losing 11,000 students since last year.
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