End of an Era

Civic Action, Legislation | 01/13/2021

Jessica Handy
Government Affairs Director

The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind in the Illinois capital. “Lame duck” session refers to the few days in January before the new General Assembly is sworn in. This year, when regular session and veto session were cut short by the global pandemic, lawmakers packed their “lame duck” agenda full to the brim.

First and foremost, the Black Caucus’ education reform bill passed both houses and heads to the Governor, who has praised the package. The bill expands early childhood programs, reforms developmental education so more students make it through college, ensures every high schooler has access to the courses they need for college admission, and brings equity to the placement in advanced coursework, among other changes.

Thank you for taking action and asking your legislators to support the bill. Please take a moment to thank the sponsors, Sen. Kimberly Lightford and Rep. Carol Ammons, for their leadership.

In session until 6:30 this morning, the General Assembly passed the Legislative Black Caucus criminal justice reform bill and an economic development measure.

Among many provisions included, we supported an important one to end cash bail, which moves from a money-based bail system to a risk-based one, ensuring that people who have not been convicted of their crime are not detained solely for their poverty.

They came back a few hours later to finish up the “lame duck” session, and then…

…the House elected its first-ever Black Speaker of the House, Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch! After almost 40 years of leading his caucus, Michael Madigan is no longer the House Speaker. It is truly the end of an era on many fronts. We look forward to working with Speaker Welch to continue advancing equity in our education systems.

As we head into the next session, please don’t forget to say a quick thank you to the dedicated women who made sure the educational equity bill passed in time.

We’ll keep you updated as the new General Assembly convenes and we work to advance an agenda to improve opportunities for all Illinois children.

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