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House Majority Leader Greg Harris to retire after his current term ends

Monday, Nov 29, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Subscribers were just sent an interview with Leader Harris…

Following 15 years of service as a state representative, Majority Leader Greg Harris announced he will not seek re-election to the Illinois House of Representatives.

“When I stepped into this office 15 years ago, I was committed to making change. I wanted to improve the lives of LGBTQ folks, support our immigrant community, increase the diversity of our caucus and fight for those who for so long have been ignored. As I look back at my time in Springfield, I can confidently say that I was fortunate to do that and more. Therefore, while I will finish the rest of my term and continue leading our caucus through the annual budget process, I will not be seeking re-election,” said Leader Harris.

Harris is leaving office with a litany of legislative achievements to his name. Harris was the chief sponsor of the law that delivered marriage equality throughout Illinois. Following this, Harris became the first LGBTQ person in Illinois history to be in legislative leadership. Additionally, despite Gov. Rauner’s heartless efforts, Harris successfully protected funding for critical human services programs. Early in his tenure, Harris successfully spearheaded legislation reducing economic disparities in mammograms and breast cancer treatment. He is also credited with numerous laws cutting red tape in Illinois’ health care system and lowering the costs of prescription drugs.

“As a proud member of the Democratic Caucus, I can say we stood together and worked toward change over the course of eight General Assemblies, four Governors, two recessions and a global pandemic. I am proud to have worked with dedicated colleagues, staff and activists. I am immensely proud to have served with Speaker Welch, our state’s first African-American Speaker. And finally, I’m most proud to have served my district and demonstrated that good government matters—that, with thoughtful policy, we can improve lives and make a more just society together,” said Leader Harris.

Other major bills Leader Harris has sponsored include:

    · Legislation providing that Transgender Illinoisans can correct their birth certificates;
    · Legislation preventing consumer reporting agencies from imposing a fee for credit freezes;
    · Legislation reforming anti-consumer practices in prescription drug pricing.

“I’m making this announcement now so people considering running for office have time to think and prepare. There is much more to accomplish and we have a young, diverse group of leaders who are ready to take the reins and lead. It’s time to give them the opportunity to do so,” said Leader Harris.

“I want to thank my colleagues—on both sides of the aisle—who have worked tirelessly alongside me. I have learned many lessons, created countless memories and cemented life-long friendships. This has been an honor of a lifetime, so thank you,” said Leader Harris.

* From House Speaker Chris Welch…

Greg Harris embodies public service, and throughout his fifteen year career he has been a passionate advocate for what’s fair and just. His command of a wide range of public policy issues, particularly Medicaid and our state budget, has been such a vital asset to the entire state. Greg led the way to deliver marriage equality, protected social service programs during the budget impasse and helped lower medical costs for everyday families. As a values-oriented leader and as the first openly gay majority leader, Greg has given a voice to so many who have continuously felt left out of state government. I am grateful for Leader Harris’s support as I’ve navigated my first year as Speaker. I look forward to his continued guidance throughout the 102nd General Assembly, but I will forever be blessed to call him a friend.

…Adding… Greg Hinz

Harris not only lasted through the politically rough final years of Madigan’s reign without tarnishing his reputation or being caught in continuing legal probes into the former speaker, he was held over as majority leader by Madigan’s successor Emanuel “Chris” Welch.

Harris’ forte has been budgets and fiscal matters. But as the highest-ranking openly gay person ever to have served in state government, he says his proudest accomplishment was serving as chief sponsor of the bill allowing same-sex marriage in the state, an action that came years before the U.S. Supreme Court mandated that nationally.

Harris also lists as top accomplishments helping break the budget impasse in which former Gov. Bruce Rauner tried to slash state spending on social programs, something Rauner said was needed but Democrats bitterly opposed.

I’m remembering it differently.

…Adding… DPI…

Democratic Party of Illinois Chair Rep. Robin Kelly released the following statement regarding the news that Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris will retire at the end of his current term:

“Greg Harris represents the very best of Illinois. His fearless advocacy and commitment to service on behalf of the people of his district and the entire state sets an example that the rest of us can only hope to follow. From healthcare to LGBTQ+ rights to the state budget, Leader Harris consistently demonstrated an unparalleled command of policy and the legislative process that will be deeply missed in Springfield. And he did it with humor and a warm demeanor that brought people together in common cause. Because of Greg Harris, our state is a better place for all its residents. Congratulations, Leader Harris, it was an honor to serve with you and I wish you well in the next chapter of your life!”

…Adding… Terry Cosgrove…

Greg Harris is a hero to many of us for a long list of reasons. Had I called central casting and asked for a legislator who embodies all the best qualities, I would have been sent Greg Harris. It has been my honor and privilege to learn from and work with him over the past 15 years. And now his retiring responsibly should come as no surprise.

       

20 Comments
  1. - High Socks - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 11:42 am:

    The House is losing one of the most decent and hardest working lawmakers I’ve ever encountered. Greg is a class act and a great person.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 11:55 am:

    I wrote this in 2012. It’s one of those things I can recall writing as if it were yesterday.

    === Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 2:08 pm

    Democratic state Representative - In athletics, in the Arts, Academics, winning awards is tough. Repeating that win is even harder.

    Greg Harris has been a “rising star” for sometime, but I think we are all wet about that. Greg Harris IS a star. Harris understands the Process, can convey that Process to his District Constituents, and to Groups that Greg is advocating, all the while working the “levers” to get the task at hand completed.

    Greg Harris is a work horse that has the temperature of the General Assembly clocked like few do. Harris can count noses. Harris knows where “noses” can be had, and works hard to build coalitions, not just voting blocks, to ensure whatever he is advocating has the necessary support to give the votes a valid foundation to withstand scrutiny.

    While some may disagree with Greg Harris, they all know it will be difficult to outwork him on an issue, and almost impossible to outmanuever him, as Harris has an exceptional grasp of the workings of the General Assembly and the complete understanding of the interworkings of the politics of Springfield.

    Freshman members coming in January would be very wise to talk to this “STAR” who passed “rising” a while back.

    Another year well done, Rep. Harris.===

    Nine years. Still true.

    Huge loss.


  3. - Just Me 2 - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 11:57 am:

    If every member of the GA approached their job like Leader Harris, the State of Illinois would be much better.


  4. - Shytown - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:02 pm:

    It’s a real loss on multiple levels, but especially during a moment in time where we need experienced leadership in the legislature who can both mentor the next generation about how to get things done and also actually help to get things done. He will certainly be missed.


  5. - Numbers matter - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:08 pm:

    A very decent man.


  6. - Blue Bayou - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:09 pm:

    My rep and a terrific, hard-working politician.

    We need more like Greg.


  7. - Regular democrat - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:14 pm:

    I remember when he was appointed after Larry Mckeon passed away. Gene Schulter wanted Tom Odonnell appointed but Pat Oconnor wanted Greg Harris. The right choice was made.


  8. - ToddAF - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:16 pm:

    One of the truly good people in Springfield. I remember him from his days as chief of staff to Ald. Mary Ann Smith before he ran for office himself. At the time, I never expected he’d rise to Illinois House Majority Leader. The legislature needs more hard-working lawmakers like him.


  9. - ZC - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:18 pm:

    This is a huge loss for the IL legislature. But if any Rep has earned a retirement from politics, it’s Representative Harris. Congrats on all your hard work.

    Bonus points that while I obviously can’t cross-compare I’m going to guess he has had one of the funniest Facebook presences of any member of the General Assembly.


  10. - Loop Lady - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:22 pm:

    Very sad to see him retire…one of the good guys and a trail blazer. God speed.


  11. - Andrea Durbin - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:28 pm:

    Leader Harris has been a staunch friend to human services over the years. He understands that we all benefit when people get the support and services they need to reach their full potential. I will always always be grateful for the support he gave to me personally and to my colleagues to help us persevere during the budget impasse. We will miss his deep knowledge and commitment.


  12. - low level - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:29 pm:

    Madigan made the right choice after Currie retired…

    Congrats to Greg. Job well done


  13. - Montrose - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:31 pm:

    A well deserved retirement, but a huge loss for the legislature.


  14. - Amalia - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:34 pm:

    is this a surprise? with Currie serving for so long and so well, it would have been nice to have some stability long term. Greg knows his stuff.


  15. - Give Me A Break - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 12:34 pm:

    This is another huge loss to the process of law and budget making. Greg knows his stuff. His ability to understand human services and how the budget impacts delivery of those services is unmatched.


  16. - NIU Grad - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 1:07 pm:

    “despite Gov. Rauner’s heartless efforts, Harris successfully protected funding for critical human services programs”

    One last ding against Rauner on the way out - Gotta love it!

    Quite the loss for the legislature.


  17. - JoanP - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 2:32 pm:

    A well-deserved retirement, but he will be greatly missed.


  18. - Steve Brown - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 2:46 pm:

    Had the opportunity to work with both Currie and Harris (oh and McPike too). All are very smart, quick studies and generally able to fashion solutions for the most complex issues. Illinois is a better place because of Harris’ efforts. Good luck in the years ahead.


  19. - Pizza Man - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 2:55 pm:

    Leader Harris is a contentious, fair, and respected member of the caucus and GA. I was not surprised when then-Speaker Madigan chose him once Rep. Barb Currie retired.

    It was a historic choice then and a well-deserved one as it was quite evident today.

    Best wishes, Leader Harris!


  20. - Panther Pride - Monday, Nov 29, 21 @ 3:17 pm:

    While I haven’t been involved in state politics for all that long, Leader Harris quickly became an inspiration of mine both as a political master and as a member of the LGBTQ community. It’s a big loss, but a well-earned retirement. Thank you, Leader Harris.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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