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Madigan Announces Appointment of Rep. Greg Harris as Majority Leader
2019-01-11

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Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan issued a statement Jan. 10 announcing his appointment of state Rep. Greg Harris as House majority leader:

"At my request, Representative Greg Harris will serve as House majority leader. This is the first in a series of leadership appointments that will be announced in the coming days reflecting the diversity of our state, and reflecting our caucus' approach to the coming legislative session.

"Throughout his tenure, Representative Harris has shown a dedication to meeting our state's biggest challenges head on. Throughout his career, he has worked to advance progressive ideals, while also building bipartisan consensus.

"He led a historic effort to make Illinois one of the first states to pass legislation ensuring equal rights for same-sex couples; he has spearheaded complicated Medicaid reforms with an eye toward compassion and expanded access to health care; and his leadership was most critical during the budget crisis, when Representative Harris was instrumental in bringing together Democrats and Republicans to enact a bipartisan budget that protects lifesaving services like breast cancer screenings, child care, health care for the elderly and much more.

Harris—who is openly gay and HIV-positive—is replacing Barbara Flynn Currie, who had held the position since 1997.

"Honestly, it's a huge honor—but it's also going to be a lot of work," Harris told Windy City Times. "I hope to be able to work with Gov. Pritzker in turning our state around and stabilizing our fiscal situation.

When asked what he thinks the most difficult aspect of his new post will be, Harris said, "Over the last four years, Gov. Rauner plunged us into billions of dollars of debt. There's a structural shortfall in the budget, and that gap's going to have to be closed. We're going to have to make some very difficult decisions."

In a separate statement, Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson said, "[Madiagan's] appointment of Leader Harris further demonstrates the Speaker's commitment to LGBTQ equality and representation."

—Andrew Davis

* * *

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Speaker Michael J. Madigan issued the following statement Thursday announcing his appointment of state Rep. Greg Harris as House majority leader:

"At my request, Representative Greg Harris will serve as House majority leader. This is the first in a series of leadership appointments that will be announced in the coming days reflecting the diversity of our state, and reflecting our caucus' approach to the coming legislative session.

"Throughout his tenure, Representative Harris has shown a dedication to meeting our state's biggest challenges head on. Throughout his career, he has worked to advance progressive ideals, while also building bipartisan consensus. He led a historic effort to make Illinois one of the first states to pass legislation ensuring equal rights for same-sex couples; he has spearheaded complicated Medicaid reforms with an eye toward compassion and expanded access to health care; and his leadership was most critical during the budget crisis, when Representative Harris was instrumental in bringing together Democrats and Republicans to enact a bipartisan budget that protects lifesaving services like breast cancer screenings, child care, health care for the elderly and much more.

"In 1997, I asked Barbara Flynn Currie to serve as the state's first female majority leader. Following in her historic tenure, today's appointment again represents House Democrats' commitment to building an inclusive, welcoming Legislature where all are represented. As the first openly gay majority leader, Representative Harris will also continue to reflect our caucus' commitment to working across the aisle and making the tough decisions."

—From a Press Release

* * *

Equality Illinois Celebrates the Appointment of Openly Gay State Rep. Greg Harris as Illinois House Majority Leader and Thanks Speaker Michael J. Madigan for his Leadership.

A statement from Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state's civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer ( LGBTQ ) Illinoisans:

"We are excited by Speaker Michael J. Madigan's appointment today of State Representative Greg Harris to be the next Illinois House Majority Leader. This is a historic appointment. Leader Harris is the first openly gay person to hold the important role of Illinois House Majority Leader.

"We know Leader Harris as a true champion of advancing justice and equality for LGBTQ people and all historically marginalized communities. We look forward to working with him in this significant leadership role to continue advancing justice in Illinois.

"We thank Speaker Madigan for his significant leadership in advancing LGBTQ equality in Illinois. Just yesterday, we heard in nominating speeches of the Speaker's critical role in passing marriage equality legislation in Illinois. Today, his appointment of Leader Harris further demonstrates the Speaker's commitment to LGBTQ equality and representation."

—From a Press Release


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