The 21st Show

New Speaker Of The House And Criminal Justice Reform

Illinois State Rep. Emanuel

Illinois State Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, D-Hillside, takes the Oath of Office to become the Illinois Speaker of the House for the 102nd General Assembly for the Illinois House of Representatives at the Bank of Springfield Center, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Springfield. Justin Fowler/Pool/State Journal-Register

Two major developments out of Springfield. The Illinois House has elected its first Black speaker to replace the longest-serving legislative leader in modern U.S. history. Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch will take over the gavel from Michael Madigan, who has led the chamber 36 of the last 38 years but was facing a bribery investigation. Madigan issued a statement conceding that “it is time for new leadership in the House” after a morning Democratic caucus cast a majority of its votes for Welch, of the Chicago suburb of Hillside. Welch, an eight-year House veteran from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, garnered 70 votes from the 118-member House. 

Meanwhile, the Illinois General Assembly passed an expansive criminal justice bill on the last day of the lame-duck session, which, among other changes, would end the use of cash bail and impose new certification requirements for police officers. The measure was a part of a slate of bills spearheaded by the Legislative Black Caucus.

The 21st spoke to two politics reporters from Illinois to talk about the new General Assembly, what legislation has passed in the last few days and domestic violence allegations against the new Illinois Speaker of the House. 


Rachel Hinton, Chief Political reporter for Chicago Sun-Times

Tony Arnold, Politics reporter for WBEZ


Prepared for web by Zainab Qureshi

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