The Chris Welch coming-out party had its latest event this week when the new speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives laid out his views on a host of issues he faces at a most difficult time for the state of Illinois.

From COVID-19 to the state’s brutal fiscal distress to equity and education issues, Welch touched on each of them. In a 20-minute speech, followed by 40 minutes of Q&A, Welch also talked about his legislative agenda for the spring session: ethics reform, the state budget, passage of the health care portion of the Legislative Black Caucus agenda and more.

One comment in particular stood out because, with it, the new speaker laid down a marker on an issue that has ramifications across state government: fixing the state’s badly gerrymandered electoral maps.

Welch’s comment — stating that he will view any proposed map based on its impact on equitable representation — is important because it is the first by a major player in the mapmaking process to specifically state a nonnegotiable demand.

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David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.

Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.