State House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch on Thursday plans to announce his picks to lead the chamber’s committees — including some new ones — promising they will “be able to hit the ground running.”
Welch said the appointments are people who are experienced and “passionate about the job.”
“They’re knowledgeable,” the speaker told the Chicago Sun-Times. “They are people who I think will work well with people, and they’re gonna be able to hit the ground running after our rules are approved on Feb. 10. So, I’m excited. I don’t think anyone will be able to question the credentials and integrity of the people as they go through this list.”
Some representatives will remain the leaders of the committees they chaired in the previous General Assembly, such as state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, an Oswego Democrat who also ran for speaker. Kifowit, who served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, will keep her post as head of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Others, such as state Rep. Bob Rita will move up. The Blue Island Democrat will now lead the Executive Committee after serving as vice chair of that panel under Welch in the previous General Assembly.
Operating under the rules of the previous General Assembly, Welch also called for the creation of new special committees that will become standing committees once the House adopts its rules, which is slated to happen during a one-day session Feb. 10.
Those new committees and the House Democrats who will lead them include North Sider Kelly Cassidy for the Restorative Justice Committee; Northwest Sider Will Guzzardi for the Housing Committee; Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz of Glenview for the Immigration and Human Rights Committee, and Southwest Sider Frances Ann Hurley to head the new Police and Fire Committee.
In addition, South Side Democratic state Rep. Lamont Robinson will lead the new Tourism Committee “to make sure that, coming out of the pandemic, we remain a viable place for tourists,” Welch said.
And the new Ethics and Elections Committee will be chaired by state Rep. Kelly Burke of Evergreen Park.
As part of his focus on rebuilding trust in the House, the new speaker said the new committees were the request of the members who will chair them.
“I think not only the election of a new speaker, but an ethics reform package coming out of the General Assembly this session, will help us really rebuild trust in the Legislature and in the legislative process,” Welch said, referring to Burke’s new panel. “And I think by creating that committee with a focus on ethics and elections should signal to folks that that’s a top priority of ours.”
The vice chairs and members on the House’s committees will be announced next week, Welch said.
The new speaker announced his picks for his leadership team last week, keeping state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, as majority leader and state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, as deputy majority leader. Democratic Reps. Jaime Andrade and Delia Ramirez, of the North Side, and South Sider Marcus Evans Jr. and Robyn Gabel of Evanston were some of the new faces chosen for the assistant majority leader position.