New year, lawmakers, administration: State of 2019

IFB director of state legislation discusses the new, but familiar challenges Illinois will face in coming year.

Fresh off its bicentennial, Illinois starts 2019 with much new, but familiar challenges.

By Kay Shipman

Fresh off its bicentennial, Illinois starts 2019 with much new, but familiar challenges.

The General Assembly serves as a prime example.

“When the 101st General Assembly convenes, the biggest thing people will notice is the 50 new faces out of 177 legislators. This is a very large turnover,” said Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation.

Lawmakers will be sworn in Wednesday, Jan. 9.

“Illinois Farm Bureau will be working with new legislators to introduce them to agriculture, farming practices and other rural life issues,” Semlow said.

The new trend continues next week with the seating of a new governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, along with the incumbent secretary of state, treasurer and comptroller. Those elected officials will be sworn in Jan. 14.

The inauguration of Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker will include “the changing of the guard at several agencies,” Semlow noted. “We anticipate that will happen swiftly. Gov. Bruce Rauner and his staff have worked to provide a smooth transition in preparation for this change.”

In addition to Pritzker, new constitutional officers will include Lt. Gov.-elect Juliana Stratton, who will become the state’s first African-American lieutenant governor, and Attorney General-elect Kwame Raoul.

All the constitutional officers will be Democrats. Democrats also strengthened their majorities in both chambers with veto-proof supermajorities.

However, legislators and new administration will confront familiar challenges.

“We anticipate the General Assembly will face the continuing state financial struggles,” Semlow said.

During the campaign, Gov.-elect Pritzker identified several key issues that are expected to resurface, according to Semlow. These include incorporating a graduated state income tax, a capital development plan, legalization of recreational use of cannabis and the state budget in general.