Sen. Toi Hutchinson to step down, become “cannabis czar”
Thursday, Sep 26, 2019
* One of the worst-kept Statehouse secrets this week is that Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) is resigning to oversee implementation of the new cannabis legalization law. She informed Senate President Cullerton yesterday and her law firm today.
Hutchinson will oversee the activities of five state agencies: Agriculture, Public Health, Revenue, DCEO and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. She’ll also have sway over the Illinois State Police’s policies.
Gov. Pritzker had tried to recruit her into his administration earlier this year, but she declined. Sen. Hutchinson told me earlier this week that she had two big goals when she became a Senator: 1) Reform the state income tax code; and 2) Legalize weed. She helped do both this year and she said it was time to go.
Hutchinson has served in the Senate since January of 2009. She chairs the influential Revenue Committee. She’s also the Immediate Past President of the National Conference of State Legislatures. She became the NCSL’s President-Elect two years ago.
Sen. Hutchinson says she is unsure if she will back a replacement. She would’ve been up for reelection next year, so the petition circulation scrambling will begin soon, if it hasn’t already started. Half of her district is represented by a Republican (Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst), but the other half is heavily Democratic, giving this district a definite D bent. Gov. Pritzker won it by 11 points and President Trump lost it by 11. However, Gov. Rauner won it by just under 4 in 2014 and the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka won it by about a point. As it stands now, 2020 looks a whole lot more like 2018 than 2014, however.
I’ve known Toi since she ran then-Sen. Debbie Halvorson’s district office operation. Halvorson introduced us at an ABATE function and I thought right away that this young person was going places. And she surely has. Good luck in your new gig, Toi.
…Adding… Senate President John Cullerton…