Illinois House Democrats launch new working groups addressing top issues

Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch has created four new working groups for the Illinois House.
Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch has created four new working groups for the Illinois House.(Source: Gray TV)
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 7:30 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch announced the creation of four new working groups Monday to help find solutions to critical issues for the state. The new groups will try to address serious concerns about the future of reproductive health following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, firearm safety, mental health awareness, and the rise of online extremism.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) will lead the reproductive health and Dobbs decision working group alongside Representatives Dagmara Avelar (D-Bolingbrook), Lakesia Collins (D-Chicago), Terra Costa Howard (D-Lombard), Margaret Croke (D-Chicago), LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis), Greg Harris (D-Chicago), Anna Moeller (D-Elgin), and Ann Williams (D-Chicago).

Cassidy said she is eager to prepare responses to the devastating impact of the Dobbs decision on Illinoisans and neighbors from other states imposing penalties on abortion patients and providers. She explained many members of her working group have already been working to identify things lawmakers need to do to ensure abortion protections in Illinois remain strong. Cassidy said her group will bring together constitutional experts, advocates, and stakeholders to provide the most robust protections possible.

“I am particularly pleased that our mission covers addressing the rights and protections that were telegraphed in the decision and Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurrence such as access to gender-affirming care, birth control, marriage equality, and all of the rights established by the recognition of a fundamental right to privacy,” Cassidy said.

Rep. Bob Morgan (D-Deerfield) was chosen to lead the working group focused on firearm safety and reforms. Morgan will work with Representatives La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago), Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-Glenview), Sonya Harper (D-Chicago), Barbara Hernandez (D-Aurora), Maura Hirschauer (D-Batavia), Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea), Nick Smith (D-Chicago), Denyse Stoneback (D-Skokie), Kathleen Willis (D-Addison), and Lance Yednock (D-Ottawa).

Morgan was participating in the Highland Park Fourth of July parade when a gunman killed seven and injured many others in a violent rampage. After helping his community recover over the past month, Morgan said he has never been more committed to finding a solution to make sure no other town anywhere in Illinois has to go through what Highland Park experienced.

“We have the opportunity to work on creating and passing common-sense legislation to reduce the violence and trauma communities across the state and the country have faced as a result of the inadequate gun laws and mental healthcare in Illinois,” Morgan said. “We plan to lead our state forward and work diligently with anyone in our state or locality who wishes to put an end to the scourge of gun violence.”

Rep. Deb Conroy (D-Villa Park) will chair the mental health working group for the House. Representatives Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates), Mary Flowers (D-Chicago), Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar (D-Chicago), Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), Fran Hurley (D-Chicago), Lindsey LaPointe (D-Chicago), Camille Lilly (D-Oak Park), Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan), Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg), Bob Rita (D-Blue Island), and Maurice West (D-Rockford) will join Conroy on the mental health working group.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago) will lead the social media and online extremism working group. Representatives Carol Ammons (D-Urbana), Jonathan Carroll (D-Northbrook), Daniel Didech (D-Buffalo Grove), Edgar Gonzalez (D-Chicago), Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora), Lamont Robinson (D-Chicago), Curtis Tarver (D-Chicago), and Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) were chosen to work alongside Andrade.

Welch said he has full confidence in the leaders and members of each of the working groups. The Speaker said each group will begin working immediately to develop and introduce meaningful legislative solutions.

“Illinois has done a lot of important work to ensure we remain an outlier in the Midwest in protecting reproductive health and shielding our citizens from the nationwide scourge of gun violence,” Welch said. “But after the extremist Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and the tragedy that took place in Highland Park, it is apparent that we have more work to do. I have created these working groups to take a balanced and research-driven approach to meaningfully reform our laws in Illinois.”

The House public safety working group will also continue to find ways to holistically address the concerns of people across the state. Speaker Pro Tempore Jehan Gordon Booth (D-Peoria) leads that working group alongside Representatives Kam Buckner (D-Chicago), Eva Dina Delgado (D-Chicago), Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-Glenview), Natalie Manley (D-Joliet), Justin Slaughter (D-Chicago), and Dave Vella (D-Rockford).

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