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Breaking down Friday’s most intense House debate

Monday, Apr 1, 2019

* Illinois News Network

After a heated debate, calls of racism, and shouting, the Illinois state House of Representatives voted to require all publicly held companies in the state to have at least one woman and one African-American on the company’s corporate board.

State Rep. Chris Welch’s bill, which passed Friday, would require any publicly-traded company headquartered in the state to have at least one woman and at least one African-American on its corporate boards starting in 2021.

Maybe I missed something, but I heard no explicit “calls of racism.”

The bill is here.

* To the debate

Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna): No disrespect, Representative, but is this a real bill?

Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside): This is a real bill.

McCombie: Who writes this stuff? I mean this is, this is getting crazy here. Just because you have the super majority, the super-duper-duper majority doesn’t mean you have to keep continuing to pass bills that haven’t passed over the last three or four different years. This is blowing my mind. You guys are gonna put your governor, our governor on the books for being the biggest business busting person in the nation.

Welch: No, I think Rauner has that title already.

McCombie: You are putting him on a spot here that is not going to help him, I’m telling you. I strongly urge, this bill is really quite offensive. I agree with Davidsmeyer, why are we not talking about seniors, why are we not talking about different religions, why are we not talking about people that are disabled? Why are we getting in, why are we continuing to get in the private businesses? Destroying our ability for this state to grow. And we all agree in this room, every single person we agree that we have to grow our way out of this mess. I strongly, strongly urge a No vote and, you know, Representative, you have always been one that comes forth with a bill that sometimes I disagree with and then you come back and you change a mandate to a ‘may’ and it’s a better bill. This is a bad bill. This is a horrible bill. I don’t even, you guys gotta get it together here. No offense, but this is, this is something else. I urge a No vote.

Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood): The previous speaker said ‘No offense.’ I’ll just say ‘Offense taken’ in that respect. Offense is already taken. I often say when I sponsor diversity bills that I wouldn’t have to do them if people would act right. We wouldn’t have to do these kind of things if all of us act right.

* Leader Davis went on like that for a while and Rep. Steven Reick (R-Woodstock) decided to add his own “contribution”

I don’t care whether you are offended or not by the fact that we are against this bill. The fact remains that you’re not gonna get anything in this country in the way of being treated equally if you’re gonna take offense at every damned thing that comes up.

Whew.

* The response from Rep. Margo McDermed (R-Mokena), who sits down the row from Rep. Reick…

Agreed.

* But the Republicans were not finished

Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst): Just out of curiosity, if we set a precedent with this bill, could we then pass a bill saying that we mandate Christian men be represented on a corporate board?

Rep. Welch: You have the right just like I did to file your bill. If you like that, file the bill.

Mazzochi: Can we mandate that conservative Republicans have to have a seat at the table on corporate boards?

Welch: You can certainly file that bill.

Mazzochi: Well, I’m asking, if that bill gets filed would you then support it?

* All heck kinda broke loose

Welch: Listen, Representative, I’m not gonna stand here as a black man with a five-year-old daughter and be ashamed that I’m fighting for her to have a seat at the table… If you believe corporate Republicans and conservative Republicans have a right [to be] at the table, file the bill! We can debate it, just like we’re doing here today. But I’m not going to be ashamed to stand here and fight for the people that sent me here! Let’s stand up for our people! You should be ashamed of the arguments coming out of the other side today.

And that’s when Mazzochi asked if Rachel Dolezal, the woman who claimed she was black and wasn’t, and whether a white woman from South Africa would also qualify.

McCombie eventually rose to defend herself, saying people who know her understand she wasn’t trying to make this about race, and Welch said he wanted to make a change to the bill and pulled it out of the record. Several minutes later, Welch said he had changed his mind and asked for a “Yes” vote.

* House Republican Leader Jim Durkin rose to clarify

Durkin: Rep. Welch, let’s make this perfectly clear that this doesn’t apply to any privately held corporation, correct?

Welch: It applies to publicly held corporations. […]

Durkin: I’ve been down here many years when sometimes the debate on this floor gets heated. And I think sometimes our emotions carry over. And I just witnessed it and I think it’s best for us to take a deep breath and I want to talk about my caucus. This is a bill that is important to us because we believe in the free market system. And we traditionally have. We disagree about how we are to manage corporate America. We take the position that we think government should take a step back, let those entities make decisions on their own. We believe that the more that government micromanages the private businesses and corporations in Illinois and in this country is not the best way for us to move forward and to grow our economy. So I speak on behalf of the caucus that our objections are nothing more than we just have a difference of agreement of how our free market, our private markets should work. And I hope that we do not turn this matter into something that I’ve gathered through this last hour of how this debate went because that doesn’t reflect my caucus.

Durkin went on to say “There clearly are places and times when there has to be some oversight,” of business but, on the whole, Republicans are for free markets. He called Rep. Welch a “gentleman” and said “Let’s just take a vote.” It passed with 61 votes.

* But it wasn’t over yet. Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) rose at the end of Friday’s session to give this speech

I’m extremely disappointed that two women, two founding women of our House Democratic Women’s Caucus chose to vote ‘No.’ These are individuals who stood before the Women’s Caucus and said they would stand up for women, they would stand up for our rights, they would stand up for us across the board. But yet they chose to vote ‘No’ on a bill that would’ve empowered women. I’m extremely disappointed with their vote.

* Politico

The bill passed 61 to 27 with a few Democrats opposed, including Kelly Burke (Evergreen Park), Anna Moeller (Elgin) and Deb Conroy (Villa Park). Conroy is co-chair of the House Dem Women’s House Caucus. Dem Rep. Rita Mayfield (Waukegan) called out the women who opposed the measure in a point of personal privilege after the vote.

A check of the roll call shows that Burke, Moeller and Conroy did not vote either way on the motion. No Democrat explicitly voted against the bill.

In the end, taking a walk or voting “Present” have the same impact as voting “No.” They do not necessarily have the same intent, however.

…Adding… As Rep. McDermed points out in comments, she voted “Yes” on the bill.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

53 Comments »
  1. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:11 pm:

    I give Leader Durkin credit for trying to put the worms back in the can.

    That is tough to do after Rep. Reick gives a “You people” Speech on the House floor and Republica. Members if the General Assembly are holding rallies that draw people waving Confederate flags.

    Good luck with that.


  2. - NIU Grad - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    Margo’s reaction is similar to mine whenever I tune in for House debates…


  3. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    “The fact remains that you’re not gonna get anything in this country in the way of being treated equally if you’re gonna take offense at every damned thing that comes up.”

    Ah yes, the old “I’ll give you something to be offended by” technique.


  4. - phocion - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:17 pm:

    How many publicly owned corporations that are headquartered in Illinois don’t have a female and an African American on their board currently?


  5. - Margo McDermed - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:17 pm:

    Rich, you should have added that I voted YES.


  6. - lake county democrat - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:20 pm:

    From the bill: (1) “African American” means a citizen with at least partial Sub-Saharan African ancestry and who self-identifies as being African American.

    Rachel Dolezal could qualify as long as a spec on one of those mail-in DNA tests turned up in the Sub-Sarahra.


  7. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    People, if you read the bolded text directly above the comment box you’ll see I have a new policy that weighs heavily against anonymous commenters.


  8. - Iggy - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    =Is there any precedent for this?=

    California


  9. - Downstate Illinois - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    It’s an unconstitutional bill that if passed will waste state tax dollars trying to defend the indefensible in court. It’s a quota system that runs afoul of the First Amendment.


  10. - Chicagonk - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    Not sure how this bill is Constitutional. Hopefully this dies in the Senate.


  11. - Last Bull Moose - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    Are there publicly traded companies headquartered in Illinois whose Boards would change to comply with this law?

    I dislike laws that put race and gender requirements in place. They do not help us get to a race blind and gender neutral society.


  12. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    –McCombie: You are putting him (Pritzker) on a spot here that is not going to help him, I’m telling you. –

    I missed the announcement that Pritzker had appointed McCombie his House floor leader.

    Did he rely on her for strategery in racking up 2.5 million votes last November?


  13. - Just Observing - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:24 pm:

    I oppose this bill — not that I think public boards shouldn’t strive for public diversity — and I’m okay if people want to shine a light on public boards that are not diverse, but I don’t really disagree with this approach for a number of reasons. I would be more comfortable if the mandate was for a minority or person of color, not just an African American. Why not Latinos, Asian Americans, etc. who probably are also underrepresented.


  14. - Steve - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:29 pm:

    This would be a nice federal lawsuit. Illinois has extra cash to spend in federal court defending a quota system?

    https://www.arnoldporter.com/en/perspectives/publications/2018/10/hurdles-ahead-for-cas-female-director-mandate?utm_source=Mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=View-Original


  15. - A Jack - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:29 pm:

    I am generally a Democrat, but I am also a stock holder and I take offense that someone is telling me who I can or cannot put on my board of directors. We should be able to have the best qualified people, not someone dictated by the General Assembly.


  16. - City Zen - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:30 pm:

    Not a bad idea to require publicly held companies to have at least one woman and one AA on the company’s corporate board. Many already comply.

    Would Welch be willing to hold the trade unions to the same scrutiny?


  17. - Hal - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:31 pm:

    These types of bills/laws are dumb. We’ve had a black president. Blacks and women on the supreme court. Blacks and women in the highest offices in the land. They earned those spots and we live in a country where they are able to obtain them. I’m not naive to think that racism and sexism aren’t occurring, but when you give away roles instead of forcing them to be earned, it just creates a culture of chaos in those board rooms.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:36 pm:

    The most defeating thing here, for me, is this idea and premise that this GOP caucus, select members, deem the politics of racial divide and inserting racial thoughts into policy is a winning strategy, while also using state geography as a leveraged way to be an, ironically, minority party in Illinois.

    There’s this thought that pandering to regional fears will grow a party that is excluding so many.

    It’s as though “winning the day” has now gone full “owning the libs” which is in reality owning themselves in a cocoon of isolation.

    These select GOP members aren’t helping.


  19. - JS Mill - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    Man, that discussion really devolved fast. Whew.

    I am not crazy about the notion of telling companies who they have to include. That said, historically government has had to act to open doors for people that prevented from participating fully in our society because of bias and bigotry.

    Smart, successful companies are diverse in many different ways. Poor companies are not.

    I would vote “no” on this if only to let lousy management/leadership sink their own ship.


  20. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:46 pm:

    ===Would Welch be willing to hold the trade unions===

    That’s a very good question. Best of the thread, which in some ways mirrors Friday’s debate.

    Chaos! Oh, my goodness. /s


  21. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:55 pm:

    =Would Welch be willing to hold the trade unions to the same scrutiny?=

    Federal law would preempt a state attempt to limit who trade unions could appoint to their boards. Also would subvert the democratic elections that serve to elect these officers.


  22. - Soccermom - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:55 pm:

    Here’s a question: Would the Theranos story have had a different ending if there had been women on the board? I’m betting yes.


  23. - chi - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:56 pm:

    ===Would Welch be willing to hold the trade unions===

    Federal law would preempt and prohibit a state from getting involved in a union’s democratically held elections.


  24. - Mongo - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:57 pm:

    This issue is sweeping the nation. The issue being the diversity of boards, whether publicly held or privately held. I an one of the owners of a privately held company and in the last two years, I have heard more than in the prior ten years, that the leadership faces on our website are all white males. There are many ways to address it, including recruitment changes, offering jobs to people who are qualified and change our look, but a part of the answer may also be this bill. I do agree with the comments about specifying one ethnic group, as opposed to using the term minority group. And yes, apply this concept to union leadership as well.


  25. - Annonin' - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 1:59 pm:

    It ia always fun to watch GOPies try to mask their true instinctive nature in moments like this. Reick is a total magoo and the others are all part of the GovJunk masterplanning.
    Durkie might have been funniest when he was lecturing all about how GOPies trust biz and should not tell biz what to do —- unless you run the GovJunk poison plant. They look like fools much too often


  26. - Siriusly - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:01 pm:

    Dear Rep. McDemod

    We’ve never met, but anyone seeing those pictures has a great deal of empathy for you at that moment. We all have “that uncle” or “that friend”.

    I am happy you voted yes, and we’ve all been there.


  27. - ThisIsFine - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:02 pm:

    –Just Observing–

    Good point, and that will be the downfall of the bill. It will held unconstitutional in short order. You cant carve out a swath for some ‘disparate impact’ groups and not others. It flies in the face of constitutional law and most at the Capitol should know this.


  28. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:03 pm:

    In Illinois the Hispanic population closely mirrors the size of the African American population, why not also force public boards to include a Hispanic?


  29. - SinkingShip - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:03 pm:

    Apologies, the anonymous comment @ 1:15 pm was me.


  30. - hisgirlfriday - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:03 pm:

    @phocion - just a quick look at some illinois fortune 500 companies…

    boeing complies. cat complies. adm complies. united complies. allstate complies. exelon complies. john deere complies. mcdonald’s complies

    walgreens may need to add an african-american board member but they don’t put pictures up so not sure.

    state farm is privately held so didn’t check.


  31. - illini - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:05 pm:

    @RichMiller - I posted twice this morning and did not notice the new rules. But, thank you very much, for imposing the new rules for “anonymous” commenters. This has been an issue with me for years and my rule was to never acknowledge any commenters who are so lazy and disrespectful to you and the rest of us not to have a name that we can reply to or recognize.

    And I will still not use the ( ! ) or any banned words.


  32. - Been There - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:07 pm:

    While I agree with his goal of diversifying corporate boards this is not the way to do it. Or one the definition of corporate headquarters. Most of the big corps that say they are headquartered here are actually docimiled in Deleware. McDonalds, etc. So it sure how that would work.
    Instead Welch’s should have filed a bill that would incentivize corporations in this state to have diverse boards. Or they don’t receive the incentive ( I guess you could look at that as a penalty). Either way this bill took the wrong path.


  33. - Careless - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:43 pm:

    “The most defeating thing here, for me, is this idea and premise that this GOP caucus, select members, deem the politics of racial divide and inserting racial thoughts into policy is a winning strategy”

    How could the GOP be “inserting racial thoughts” into a bill proposed and supported by Democrats that is explicitly calling for racial quotas?

    And unconstitutional ones, at that


  34. - phocion - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:49 pm:

    Thanks @hisgirlfriday. Good to see publicly traded corporations appear to already have inclusive board memberships. That being the case, what was the point of this bill?


  35. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:51 pm:

    ===How could the GOP be “inserting racial thoughts” into a bill proposed and supported by Democrats that is explicitly calling for racial quotas?===

    Hmm…

    ===McCombie eventually rose to defend herself, saying people who know her understand she wasn’t trying to make this about race===

    … and yet, a need as felt to say comments weren’t about race.

    ===…calls of racism…===

    Hmm…

    ===Maybe I missed something, but I heard no explicit “calls of racism.”===

    … and yet the worry of discussion is the GOP and race, even to a bill confusing to the thought how race effects these entities the bill is designed to… change.

    It’s not as though the GOP here, rightly or wrongly, is seemingly on the side of… racial blindness.

    That’s the point.


  36. - Ducky LaMoore - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:53 pm:

    @James

    Thanks for the word salad.

    @Republicans

    Seemingly on every issue that I agree with you on, you can make yourselves look like complete fools and make me question why I support said issue.


  37. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 2:59 pm:

    While we’re at it, how about demanding some diversity in the Illinois Republican Party. I mean it would be tough love, but it would help them.


  38. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    ===While we’re at it, how about demanding some diversity in the Illinois Republican Party. I mean it would be tough love, but it would help them.===

    The irony is the monolithic ways of this GOP is what some think is the strength of the party, a party based on purity and platform, that magically seems to only attract a smaller racial grouping than society.

    In other words… diversity, in all facets of the party hurts it.

    The observation/solution is the irony of thinking they speak for a majority.


  39. - Julian Aguilar - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    Michelle,

    As a Hispanic Republican,

    A) there is diversity in the IL GOP
    B) Many Hispanics that run are IMMEDIATELY tagged as “Racist” by the Democratic Party. Almost all live in heavy Latino areas so how can Hispanic Republicans win legislative seats like that?

    -Julian. I welcome your thoughts in a respectful manner as I hope you do to mine.


  40. - Hamilton - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 3:06 pm:

    In my experience saying “I wasn’t trying to” usually means “I was trying to but now I feel scared at the potential consequences of what I was trying to do.”


  41. - illinois_citizen - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    Honestly this is just another straw that will eventually break the camel’s back. Could someone explain to me why anyone would come to this state and I mean anyone


  42. - The Original Name/Nickname/Anon - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 3:53 pm:

    ==I dislike laws that put race and gender requirements in place. They do not help us get to a race blind and gender neutral society. ==

    I feel like there are many things way ahead of this on the list of issues that are preventing a race blind/gender neutral society.

    ==but when you give away roles instead of forcing them to be earned==

    I believe that they will be able to find very qualified individuals that meet the legislative criteria to fill those roles. And to point out the obvious, for years unqualified individuals filled roles in all sorts of positions because of who they knew, who they were related to, etc. I bet you can guess the gender and race of most of those people.


  43. - Lobo y Olla - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 3:57 pm:

    Rita “I voted no on the ERA amendment” stood up to school who on equality?


  44. - Anyone Remember - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 4:33 pm:

    Does McCombie oppose the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” ??


  45. - DuPage Bard - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 4:34 pm:

    There are many other protected classes. Why just these two? What about Senior Citizens, Latino’s, Asians, Jewish, LGBTQ?


  46. - A Jack - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 5:20 pm:

    This just seems like a good reason for a corporation to move its executive offices out of Illinois and for corporations not to move here. Its not the diversity issue, but the fact that Illinois is trying to control corporate governance which a stockholder’s right.

    I wish Durkin had spoken more strongly against this bill. It is really pretty far to the left whether the company is private or public.


  47. - Careless - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 5:28 pm:

    Oswego Willy, this is simple: you can’t insert something for the first time into something that already contains what you try to insert into it.

    The Republicans could not insert race into something the Democrats created that was about race.


  48. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 5:41 pm:

    ===this is simple: you can’t insert something for the first time into something that already contains what you try to insert into it.===

    … lol… and yet, it’s the GOPers confused that they don’t want it about race?

    I guess you’re saying racial issues are going well for the GOP?

    ===The Republicans could not insert race into something the Democrats created that was about race.===

    The choice of how the GOP handles issues inserts a negative spin upon them.

    Keep up.

    Even agreeing with them here, or not…

    ======McCombie eventually rose to defend herself, saying people who know her understand she wasn’t trying to make this about race===

    You said…

    ===The Republicans could not insert race into something the Democrats created that was about race.===

    So….


  49. - Pundent - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 8:09 pm:

    =This just seems like a good reason for a corporation to move its executive offices out of Illinois and for corporations not to move here.=

    Sure. Not being able to find a competent woman and/or African American to serve on a board would be reason to order up the moving vans. I can’t see how this would be the motivating factor for any corporation to locate in one state or another. Most publicly traded companies have embraced board diversity as good governance particularly since there are shareholder groups already measuring this. So I suspect the bill will have little impact other than to put Republicans in the position of arguing against it. And on that score it was probably quite effective.


  50. - A Jack - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 9:05 pm:

    If shareholder groups want diversity and have the votes for it, then that is fine. This bill, however, is government interfering with how shareholders wish to run the company. It sets a precedent that I suspect most shareholders will consider to be a problem. I certainly do.


  51. - Pundent - Monday, Apr 1, 19 @ 9:40 pm:

    I suspect that very few publicly traded companies in Illinois will be impacted by this as most likely meet or exceed the requirement. The days of publicly traded company boards being all white men are largely gone as boards need to reflect the composition of their shareholders, customers, and employees.


  52. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Apr 2, 19 @ 6:17 am:

    This reminds me of the time the GOP got all upset about legislation prohibiting discrimination in the work place against people because of their perceived sexual orientation.

    And then it turned out that the majority of major companies already had policies in place which prohibited discrimination against people because of their perceived sexual orientation.

    Board diversity is a widely recognized best practice. We codify best practices all of the time, even for private companies.


  53. - A Jack - Tuesday, Apr 2, 19 @ 7:43 am:

    I don’t care if the bill mandated all old white guys on the board, I would oppose it still. This is government interfering with free enterprise. I am fine with government interfering with business to protect citizens. But who does this protect? How is this friendly to business? It is the worst side of socialism and I hope the Democrats turn away from this path.


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