Stories about Illinois

Guerrero-Cuellar appointed to Illinois House of Representatives

On Feb. 25, Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar (D) was appointed to represent District 22 in the Illinois House of Representatives, replacing Edward Guerra Kodatt (D), who resigned on Feb. 24 after three days in office. Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) held the seat for fifty years prior to his resignation earlier this year.

Kodatt had been appointed on Feb. 21 after an endorsement by Madigan, who held 56% of the weighted vote in choosing his successor due to his role as 13th Ward Democratic committeeman. Three days later, Madigan called on Kodatt to resign due to allegations of misconduct. Kodatt worked for Chicago’s 13th Ward Alderman Marty Quinn at the time of his appointment.

“After learning of alleged questionable conduct by Mr. Kodatt, it was suggested that he resign as state representative for the 22nd District,” Madigan and Quinn said in a joint statement. “We are committed to a zero-tolerance policy in the workplace.” 

The 22nd District’s ward and township committeemen chose Guerrero-Cuellar, who had received the second-highest vote total when Kodatt was appointed, after Madigan threw his support to her following Kodatt’s resignation. At the time of her appointment, Guerrero-Cuellar worked in community services on COVID-19 education and contact tracing. 

The Illinois House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Illinois General Assembly. With Guerrero-Cuellar’s appointment, the partisan breakdown of the chamber is 73 Democrats and 45 Republicans.

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Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan resigns

Illinois state Rep. Michael Madigan (D) announced on Feb. 18 that he would resign from the Illinois General Assembly. Madigan has been a member of the state House since 1971, representing District 22. 

“Fifty years ago, I decided to dedicate my life to public service,” Madigan said in a statement. “Simply put, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I believed then and still do today that it is our duty as public servants to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and help hardworking people build a good life. These ideals have been the cornerstone of my work on behalf of the people of Illinois and the driving force throughout my time in the Illinois House.”

Madigan served as House speaker from 1983 until 1995, when the Republican Party gained control of the chamber, and again from 1997 to 2021. In 2017, Madigan became the longest-serving state House speaker in U.S. history. In 2021, he was not re-elected as speaker after Illinois utility company Commonwealth Edison admitted its involvement in an effort to influence Madigan to pass favorable legislation through offering jobs, contracts, and payments to his associates. Madigan was not charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of the scheme. Chris Welch (D) was elected to succeed Madigan as speaker on Jan. 13.

Vacancies in the Illinois General Assembly are filled by appointment by the party which last held the seat. Vacancies must be filled within 30 days by the respective party organizations covering the legislative district. As a member of the Cook County Democratic Party, Madigan has a role in choosing his successor.

The Illinois House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Illinois General Assembly. With Madigan’s resignation, the partisan breakdown of the chamber will be 72 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and one vacancy. 

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Doris Turner, Mike Simmons appointed to Illinois state Senate

On Feb. 6, two new state legislators were appointed to fill vacancies in the Illinois state Senate. Doris Turner (D) was appointed by the Democratic county chairs of the 48th Legislative District Committee to fill the seat formerly occupied by Andy Manar (D). Manar left office in January in order to take a position as senior advisor to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D). 

At the time of her appointment, Turner served as Ward 3 Alderman for the city of Springfield, Illinois. She previously worked for the State of Illinois for 33 years, 22 of which were with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Mike Simmons (D) was appointed by the Cook County Democratic Party committee to fill the District 7 seat left vacant by the retirement of Heather Steans (D) in January. Steans cited a need for “fresh eyes and fresh energy,” and that it was “time to pass the baton.” Simmons is the founder of Blue Sky Strategies & Co. and previously worked as a policy director for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, and for U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). 

When a vacancy occurs in the Illinois state Senate, the Illinois Constitution requires that it be filled by appointment by the political party that last held the seat. The new legislator must be chosen by the party organization covering the legislative district within 30 days.

The Illinois state Senate is the upper chamber of the Illinois General Assembly. With the appointments of Turner and Simmons, the current partisan breakdown of the chamber is 41 Democrats, 18 Republicans, and no vacancies.

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Heather Steans resigns from Illinois State Senate

Sen. Heather Steans (D) resigned from the Illinois state Senate on Jan. 31. She represented District 7 from 2008 to 2021. 

Steans ran uncontested for re-election on Nov. 3, 2020. According to ABC 7, Steans said she was resigning because “it’s time for fresh faces and new energy…I’ve benefited tremendously from the many perspectives of the people I’ve represented. We’ve made great progress together, and now it’s time to pass the baton.”

If there is a vacancy in the Senate, the Illinois Constitution mandates that the seat must be filled by appointment within 30 days after the vacancy. If a vacancy by a member of the Senate has more than 28 months remaining in the term, the appointment is interim until the next general election and in this case, a special election must be held to fill the balance of the unserved term. All other Senate vacancies should be made by appointment with the person appointed being a member of the same political party that last held the seat. The vacancy must be filled by the respective party organizations covering the legislative district. 

As of Feb. 4, 2021, there have been 22 vacancies in 17 state legislatures this year. Four of those vacancies have been filled, with 18 vacancies remaining. Stean’s vacancy is one of ten Democratic vacancies that have occurred in 2021. So far, two vacancies have been filled by Republicans, while two have been filled by Democrats.  

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Manar resigns from Illinois state Senate

On Jan. 17, Illinois state Sen. Andy Manar (D) resigned to become a senior advisor to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D). He will provide counsel on the state’s economy and plans for the COVID-19 recovery. 

In Illinois, vacancies in the state Senate are filled within 30 days by appointment by the political party that last held the seat. Manar’s replacement will be chosen by the Democratic Party chairs in Christian, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Montgomery, and Sangamon counties. His replacement will serve for the remainder of Manar’s term. 

Manar was elected to represent District 48 in the Illinois state Senate in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014. He was most recently re-elected in 2018, defeating Republican challenger Seth McMillan 56.8% to 43.2%. 

The Illinois state Senate is the upper chamber of the Illinois General Assembly. With Manar’s departure, the current partisan breakdown of the chamber is 40 Democrats, 17 Republicans, and two vacancies.

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Elections in New York’s 22nd and Iowa’s 2nd set to have narrower margins of victory than any 2018 Congressional race

As of December 9, the results of two U.S. House elections remain uncertain. The election in New York’s 22nd Congressional District is too close to call amid an ongoing legal challenge surrounding partial recounts. In Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) was certified as the winner by state election officials as winning by a margin of six votes. Runner-up Rita Hart (D) announced she would contest the results before the U.S. House’s Administration Committee. Both elections are on track to be among the closest Congressional races in recent decades.

In 2018, 1,894 elections within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope were decided by margins of 10 percentage points or fewer, including primaries where candidates won election outright.

Broken down by level of office, 105 of these races were federal, 1,217 were state-level, and 572 were local.

Federal races in 2018 were decided by a smaller average margin-of-victory (MOV) than in any even-year elections since 2012. The narrowest MOV in 2018 was 0.12 percentage points in Florida’s U.S. Senate election.

At the state level, the narrowest MOV was 0.008 percentage points in the election for Kentucky House of Representatives District 13. Among local races within our coverage scope, the narrowest margin was 0.017 percentage points in the election for one of Maricopa County’s seats on the Central Arizona Water Conservation board.

There were 258 races decided by margins under one percentage point in 2018. This includes 20 races where the MOV was ten votes or fewer. Two races in 2018 were decided by a single vote: the election for District 1 of the Alaska House of Representatives and the election for District 13 of the Kentucky House of Representatives.

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Robert Carter fills vacancy on Illinois Supreme Court

Robert L. Carter became a justice of the Illinois Supreme Court on December 8, 2020. Carter was nominated to the court on November 10 to replace former Justice Thomas Kilbride, who lost the seat after failing to meet the 60% vote threshold required by Illinois law for judges to remain on the bench. Kilbride received 56.5% of the vote in his retention election on November 3. 

Under Illinois law, the Illinois Supreme Court appoints its own interim members in the event of a vacancy, as in this case. Justice Carter will serve until December 5, 2022, when he will be required to run in a partisan election for the seat. The winner of that election will serve a full 10-year term on the seven-member supreme court. Including Carter, four justices joined the court through appointment; the other three justices were elected.

Prior to his appointment to the Illinois Supreme Court, Carter was a judge of the Illinois Third District Appellate Court from 2006 to 2020. He was appointed to the position to succeed Judge Tobias Barry. Before that, Carter was a judge of the Illinois 13th Circuit Court from 1979 to 2006. He became the chief judge in 1993.

Carter obtained an A.B. in 1968 and a J.D. in 1974 from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He also received his M.A. in administration from Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois, Springfield) in 1974. Before attending graduate and law school, he served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970.

In 2020, there have been 23 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, one vacancy occurred when a justice was not retained, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements.

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Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois decide ballot measures regarding state income taxes

Voters in 12 states voted on 19 ballot measures addressing tax-related policies on Nov. 3. Ten of the measures addressed taxes on properties, three were related to income tax rates, two addressed tobacco taxes, one addressed business-related taxes, one addressed sales tax rates, one addressed fees and surcharges, and one was related to tax-increment financing (TIF).

The three measures concerning state income taxes were on the ballot in Arizona, Colorado, and Illinois. Arizona voters approved a measure to add a surtax for income above a certain level to fund education. Colorado voters approved an income tax decrease. Illinois voters defeated a measure to allow for a graduated income tax.

Arizona Proposition 208 was approved by a vote of 51.75% to 48.25%. The measure enacted a 3.50% income tax, in addition to the existing income tax, on taxable income above $250,000 (single filing) or $500,000 (joint filing). As of 2020, the highest income tax in Arizona was 4.50%, which was levied on income above $159,000 (single filing) or $318,000 (joint filing). Based on the existing income tax rates, the ballot initiative has the effect of increasing the tax rate from 4.50% to 8.00% on income above $250,000 (single filing) or $500,000 (joint filing). The Invest in Education PAC was registered in support of the ballot initiative. The PAC received $21.6 million in contributions. The Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong Economy and No on 208 PACs were registered in opposition to the ballot initiative. The PACs received $5.7 million in contributions.

Colorado Proposition 116 was designed to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55% for individuals, estates, trusts, and foreign and domestic C corporations operating in Colorado. It was approved by a vote of 57.88% to 42.12%.

The Colorado individual income tax rate has been a flat tax rate since 1987. The flat tax was 5% from 1987 to 1998. It was lowered to 4.75% in 1999. The rate has been 4.63% since 2000. Energize our Economy (306 Real Fair Tax) and Americans for Prosperity Colorado Issue Committee raised $1.55 million in contributions to support the measure. Protect Colorado’s Recovery and Fair Tax Colorado reported $3.19 million in contributions to oppose the measure.

An amendment to authorize the state to enact legislation providing for a graduated income tax was on the ballot in Illinois where it was defeated by a vote of 45.46% to 54.54%. The ballot measure would have repealed the state’s constitutional requirement that the state’s personal income tax is a flat rate across income. Instead, the ballot measure would have allowed the state to enact legislation for a graduated income tax. In Illinois, income is taxed at a flat rate of 4.95%.

The Vote Yes For Fairness, Vote Yes for Fair Tax, and Yes to a Financially Responsible Illinois PACs were registered to support the constitutional amendment. Together, the committees had raised $60.33 million. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) contributed 94 percent of the PACs’ total combined funds.

The Vote No On The Blank Check Amendment, Coalition To Stop The Proposed Tax Hike, and Chambers Against Progressive Income Tax PACs were registered to oppose the constitutional amendment. Together, the committees had raised $60.86 million. Ken Griffin, the founder and CEO of Citadel, contributed 88 percent of the PACs’ total combined funds.

Going into the 2020 election, 43 states levied a tax on personal income. Of these 43 states, 11 states had a flat income tax rate, meaning there is a constant rate across income before deductions and exemptions. The flat income tax rates ranged from 2.00% in Tennessee to 5.25% in North Carolina. Tennessee’s income tax was scheduled to be reduced to 1.00% in 2020 and to be repealed entirely in 2021. Most (32 of 50) states had a graduated income tax, with different rates applied to different levels of income.

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Rodney Davis elected to fifth term in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District

Incumbent Rodney Davis (R) defeated challenger Betsy Londrigan (D) in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, winning a fifth term in the U.S. House.

The race was one of 56 U.S. House rematches taking place this year; Londrigan was Davis’ challenger in 2018 as well. That year, he won 51% to 50%, down from 60% to 40% in 2016 and 59% to 41% in 2014. Preliminary results suggest Davis expanded his margin over Londrigan this year, winning 55% to 45%.

Both parties’ national committees targeted this district; the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) named Davis to its Patriot Program and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) named Londrigan to its Red to Blue program. The NRCC and Congressional Leadership Fund spent a combined $5.5 million on the race, while the DCCC and House Majority PAC spent a combined $6.2 million.

Illinois voters reject constitutional amendment to allow for a graduated income tax

Illinois voters rejected a constitutional amendment to allow for a graduated income tax by a vote of 55% against to 45% in favor.  

The ballot measure would have repealed the state’s constitutional requirement that the state’s personal income tax is a flat rate across income. Instead, the ballot measure would have allowed the state to enact legislation for a graduated income tax.

More than $121 million was raised by supporters and opponents of the measure. Supporters raised $60.33 million, including $56.5 million from Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Opponents raised $60.86 million, including $53.8 million from Citadel CEO Kenneth C. Griffin.

This measure was the most expensive of 2020 outside of California.