Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs

Happy Tuesday, Illinois. I made it to the Loop yesterday and it seemed almost like the before times, except I actually found a parking spot.


Gov. J.B. Pritzkerhasnt taken the coronavirus vaccine and doesnt plan to until more residents from within his category have received their shots.

The governor is eligible to get a shot because he fits into the 1B Plus category, which includes a broader group of professions and those with specific health-complicating conditions.

I really have felt all along that I didnt want to jump the line. I want to make sure that people who are in need in the eligible categories can get vaccinated, Pritzker told Playbook in an interview in his office in the Thompson Building.

When the time comes, he said, Ill roll up my sleeve because people may get confidence from seeing that.

The governor spent the day Monday meeting one-on-one with reporters to talk about the one-year anniversary since Covid enveloped Illinois.

Pritzker said two moments stand out as the most difficult.

The first was March 19, the day before he issued a statewide stay-at-home order. Pritzker had just received an extensive report from scientists at the University of Illinois and Argonne national lab that spelled out what the death toll would be without mitigation over a four-month period. The numbers were so startling, said Pritzker, that he knew right then he had to shut the state down.

The next challenge came soon after. It was the second or third day in a row that we were imposing mitigations and I felt like I was on my own. No other governor had done this. The president of the United States wasnt helping. So we followed the science, Pritzker said, expressing the frustration he felt at the time.

Pritzker said he made a conscious effort to make decisions based on what would keep the most people safe and healthy. He said he had to act quickly and decisively even when others werent ready to do that.

That approach to focusing on lives saved made decision-making easier, whether it was issuing a mask mandate or closing restaurants, he said.

I feel better today than the entire year,Pritzker told WTTWs Amanda Vinicky

in a video interview.

He certainly continues to face pushback for many of his decisions. Pritzker blames that on former President Donald Trump politicizing the efforts to curb the spread of the virus. He also said hes not bothered by political opponents who criticize his decision-making.

Speaking of opponents: Pritzker isnt ready to say when he will announce his bid for re-election. He said he and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton need to get through this pandemic before they talk about 2022.


At least 22 governors haven’t gotten their Covid-19 vaccine:As Americans scramble to find vaccines, the state leaders are taking wildly different approaches in how they protect themselves creating tension between getting a shot early to show skeptics it’s safe, and appearing like they’re jumping the line ahead of their constituents, by Business Insiders Tina Sfondeles and Sawyer Click.


LOOK WHOs FUNDRAISING:A list of political events around the state from virtual Bingo to a chicken fry to golf shows House Republicans are going all out to fundraise at a time Democrats appear to be taking a break. House Dems have for years relied on former Speaker Michael Madigan to do the heavy lifting for campaign funds. They never had to think much about fundraisers. Thats of course changed. House Speaker Chris Welch doesnt have any events listed for the next few months yet. And Illinois Democratic Party Chair Robin Kelly is just getting her feet wet. In the meantime, Republicans, both from the House and Senate, are dominating the fundraising scene. It reflects a concerted effort to turn the tide on a party thats struggled financially in Illinois.

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]

A message from the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs:

PBMs work with Illinois employers and the Medicaid program to keep health care more affordable for millions of Illinoisans and are poised to save consumers and the State $39 billion over the next 10 years. Today, as Illinois faces a global pandemic and multibillion budget shortfall, now is the time for legislators to strengthen, not limit, the PBM tools that employers, consumers and the State rely on to manage costs and ensure access to medicines. Learn more.


No official public events.


No official public events.

Where’s Toni

Presiding over the 10 a.m. Cook County Forest Preserves District meeting.

At noon shell take part in a vaccine distribution town hall



The Illinois Department of Public Health

on Monday reported 12 additional deaths and 782 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease. Thats a total of 20,955 fatalities and 1,210,113 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from March 8-14 is 2.2 percent. Chicagos positivity rate

is at 2.9 percent.


Pritzker set to loosen rules gradually before full reopening but masks will remain:Illinois is in the fourth phase of the governors original reopening plan, with limits on crowds and indoor dining. The next phase has long promised a return to normal, when all sectors of the economy reopen and conventions, festivals, and large events can take place, by Tribunes Jenny Whidden and Dan Petrella.

Cook County launches My Shot campaign to address vaccine hesitancy:In addition to residents stories, the campaign includes vaccine FAQs, including how the vaccine was created and how to schedule an appointment, as well as resources from local, state and federal health agencies and tool kits with graphics and posts for community groups to share, by WTTWs Kristen Thometz.

… VAX FACTS: 45% of African Americans, 35% of Latinos in Cook County have doubts about vaccine,reports Tribunes Laura Rodriguez Presa.

Restaurant owners want city to expedite vaccines for their employees:Phase 1B of the states vaccine rollout does not include restaurant workers, but Phase 1C estimated to began in the city on March 29 could open the process to them, by Sun-Times Isabelle Sarraf.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION, SUBSCRIBE TO THE RECAST: Power dynamics are shifting in Washington, and more people are demanding a seat at the table, insisting that all politics is personal and not all policy is equitable. The Recast is a new twice-weekly newsletter that breaks down how race and identity are recasting politics, policy and power in America. Get fresh insights, scoops and dispatches on this crucial intersection from across the country, and hear from new voices that challenge business as usual. Dont miss out on this new newsletter, SUBSCRIBE NOW. Thank you to our sponsor, Intel.


Lightfoots anti-industrial pollution plan advances over criticism it doesnt go far enough, heads to full City Council:It requires certain types of industrial businesses to meet stricter regulatory standards and a community review in order to operate near parts of the city zoned for residential uses. The mayor has dealt with high-profile polluting situations since she took office, reports Tribunes John Byrne.

Off-duty CPD officer shot on South Side; 2nd officer shot in two days:Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot vowed to find the shooters. We will spare no expense to bring those responsible to justice. Thats what the family expect and thats what they deserve, Lightfoot said. Sun-Times David Struett and Madeline Kenney report.

City tax credit program mostly produces affordable housing in poor, Black areas:The Chicago Department of Housing (DOH) released Monday a racial equity impact assessment on how it awards those millions of tax dollars. This type of assessment is a public examination of how racial groups are affected by policies or decisions. And the citys self critique means changing this program is a huge policy win for advocates of inclusive affordable housing, reports WBEZs Natalie Moore.

Some South Side residents 40 and older can get Covid-19 vaccine Tuesday in Pullman:About 1,000 Pfizer shots will be administered at the Pullman Community Center to residents; appointments are required to be made via email, by Sun-Times Isabelle Sarraf.

Developer and Penny Pritzker-backed venture promote women in life sciences:They are connecting entrepreneurs to local money and advice, often by involving the incubators 1871 and Matter, or the economic promoters at World Business Chicago. They can be reached through the Prysm

and P33

websites, reports Sun-Times David Roeder.

When Wieners Circle reopens, the infamous hot dog stand will add a bar: A stunning development for a Chicago icon, writes Eaters Ashok Selvam.


New legal clinic concentrates on cases of women languishing in the system for crimes against alleged abusers: Since getting funding last year the Women and Survivors Project has represented 30 clients in 15 clemency petitions, 14 administrative advocacy cases, four resentencing cases, one post-conviction case, and one appeal. So far, five women have been released. Collectively that has added up to about 30 years of incarceration saved, attorney Rachel White-Domain said, by Tribunes Annie Sweeney.


West Chicago woman charged with threatening to kill two DuPage judges:According to court records, Tressa M. Langhans, 39, threatened to kill Judge Anne Therieau Hayes and Judge Maureen Dunsing in videos she posted on social media Friday and Saturday, by Daily Heralds Susan Sarkauskas.

Beanie Babies Ty Warner sues after fractured personal relationship leads to eight-figure claim:Warners lawyers want a judge to rule that Warner has no implied or oral obligation to woman despite purported promise that, if she took care of him, he would always take care of her, by Sun-Times Jon Seidel.

Appeals court tells two lawyers to pay Lisle’s legal tab for ‘meritless’ Naperville annexation referendum drive: The ruling favored the village of Lisle in a Will County action brought by Chicago lawyers Frank Avila and Andrew Finko, reports the Cook County Records Dan Churney.

Former owners of Great Lakes Peterbilt receive immunity, set to testify in bribery retrial of former Portage mayor:Former Mayor James Snyder has already been convicted of taking a $13,000 bribe in exchange for contracts to sell five garbage trucks to the city. A jury acquitted him for a third count that alleged he took a $12,000 bribe to get a company on Portages tow list. In 2019, a judge granted a new trial on the soliciting bribes charge, reports Post-Tribunes Alexandra Kukulka.

Owner of Pepes Mexican Restaurant franches pleads guilty to underreporting $2.5M in corporate taxes:Juan C. Hurtado, 45, of Joliet, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement in a tax return. The conviction is punishable by up to three years in federal prison, according to the Justice Department.

Serial stowaway explains how she repeatedly got past airport security:It’s all about being unobtrusive, Marilyn Hartman tells CBS/2s Brad Edwards.


Rivers Casino expansion gets go-ahead from Des Plaines City Council:The next step for the project — set to bring more gambling machines, a poker room, an events center and a new restaurant to the facility at 3000 S. River Road — is consent from the Illinois Gaming Board, reports Daily Heralds Russell Lissau.


Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin is lead donor of a $30 million program that will put free high-speed internet into 100,000 Miami-Dade households. Connectivity is a lifeline to opportunity it improves outcomes and gives students and their families critical resources they need to succeed, Griffin said in a statement. He led a similar effort in Chicago last year

. The Citadel CEO was born in Boca Raton and has a home in Miami Beach. Hes pledged $5 million along with commitments from the city of Miami, the Childrens Trust, and others, reports the Miami Herald


Sally Yates, the former deputy U.S. Attorney General, is among the spring fellows at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, which was founded by David Axelrod. Also in the spring class: former Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, activist and former Hong Kong Legislative Council Member Nathan Law, former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and Environmental Defense Funds climate justice liaison Heather McTeer Toney.


State Treasurer announces $1B in investment revenue since taking office in 2015:During that time as the head finance expert in the state he has earned more than $1 billion for state investments. To put it in visual terms, Frerichs said $1 billion is the equivalent of funding 330 miles of new highways in the state. Frerichs is the first treasurer for the State of Illinois to reach the $1 billion threshold since Judy Barr Topinka in 1999, by HOIABCs Kyle Beachy.

The rise of women in state legislatures: A state-by-state map:In 2021, more women than ever over 2,200 are serving in state legislatures, with increasing control over the levers of power and change. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports that 90 women now serve in leadership positions in these bodies, another record, according to Governing magazine.

FanDuel opens second Illinois retail sSportsbook at Fairmount Park:Baseball Hall-of-Famer Ozzie Smith made the ceremonial first bet at the newly rebranded FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing in the southwest portion of Illinois near St. Louis, by SportsHandles Chris Altruda.


Lots of weed bills, but social equity remains a big issue:Plans to create 150 new marijuana stores, allow cannabis tours and make it a crime to get a pet sick from pot are among proposals Illinois lawmakers are expected to consider this spring… Even after proposed changes to promote minority ownership, sponsors say the industry will remain fundamentally slanted in favor of existing wealthy white owners, despite stated intentions to make up for disproportionate effects of the war on drugs, report Tribunes Jenny Whidden and Robert McCoppin.

Did state agency violate law when it permitted Aurora cannabis growing site? Supreme Court to decide:Lawyers for the state and Curative Health told the state high court that judges should leave the agencys decision undisturbed, because the rival marijuana grower, Medponics, merely offered an alternative interpretation of a state law that otherwise blocks growing centers from being located within a half mile of residential neighborhoods, by Cook County Records Jonathan Bilyk.

Cannabis tax revenue jumps 58% nationwide:Illinois ranks behind California among states providing the most significant cannabis tax revenue nationwide, according to research by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy.


Advocates, lawmakers look to restore regulatory oversight of gas utility surcharges:Advocates and lawmakers have reintroduced legislation that would end a special gas utility surcharge that allows companies to raise customer bills in order to pay for infrastructure development with limited regulatory oversight, by Capitol News Grace Barbic.

Pritzker-appointed commission to call for early childhood education funding overhaul:Deputy Gov. Jesse Ruiz said the states system of funding early childhood development programs is fragmented across too many agencies, that services are unevenly and inequitably distributed around the state and that early childhood educators are paid far too little for many to make a living, by Capitol News Peter Hancock.

Bill would double estate tax to help disabled:Progressives want to provide $279 monthly payments by raising to 9.95 percent the Illinois inheritance tax, which applies to estates worth $4 million or more, by Crains Greg Hinz.

Bill calls for allowing sex offenders to live closer to schools: Rep. Justin Slaughter filed House Bill 3913, which would allow a registered sex offender to live within 250 feet of a public school. Current Illinois law requires a sex offender to live at least 500 feet from a public school, by WLDS Radios Benjamin Cox.

HAPPENING THURSDAY – PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW WITH CONGRESSMAN LEE ZELDIN: The GOP has not won a statewide election in New York in nearly two decades. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), an ally of former President Donald Trump, is one of several Republicans considering a challenge against embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Join Playbook co-authors Tara Palmeri and Ryan Lizza for a conversation with Rep. Zeldin to discuss a potential gubernatorial run and how he is working with Democrats in Congress. REGISTER HERE.


Democratic Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) has endorsed 22 local candidates for public office via her political action committee, theFarm Team PAC

. Underwood previously announced her support for16 additional candidates

for local office.

Democratic Congressman Jesús Chuy García (IL-04) is endorsing Norma Hernandez for Triton College Board of Trustees.


Junaid Ahmed, who runs a technology consulting firm in Oak Brook, is challenging Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi in the 2022 primary. For now, thats the 8th Congressional District, but that could change once the remap is complete. Ahmed says he was inspired to get into politics after hearing former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders discuss universal health insurance and college for all. Having traveled the world Ahmed has visited 60 countries and meeting people who had the benefits of universal insurance, Ahmed told Playbook he got excited about the possibility of those programs being created in the United States. Ahmed, who holds an MBA from University of Chicagos Booth School of Business, has his work cut out for him in challenging Krishnamoorthi one of the top political fundraisers in Congress with $8 million in the bank. Ahmed acknowledges his team cant compete in the money race, but we hope to out-organize him.


Biden under pressure to tap fewer political ambassadors than Trump, Obama,by POLITICOs Anita Kumar and Natal Toosi

EXCLUSIVE: Confidential memos reveal how Washington enabled Googles rise,by POLITICOs antitrust expert Leah Nylen

An unlikely Trump turncoat shows the GOP way to resist his influence,by POLITICOs Melanie Zanona


MARK FLESSNER, the former city attorney for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, has been named partner of business law firm Schoenberg Finkel Beederman Bell Glazer LLC. Mark is known for his strongskills in the courtroom, and his equally strong abilities to keep clients out of court, Adam Glazer, the firms managing partner, said in a statement. His talents and business acumen will be a positive addition to our entire firm. Flessner left City Hall in December after the city Law Department, which he headed as corporation counsel, tried to block CBS/2 from airing body camera footage of a wrongful police raid on the home of Anjanette Young.

Jacqueline Gomez has been named executive director of the Hispanic American Construction Association (HACIA). Gomez most recently worked as director of Supplier of Workforce Diversity for the Obama Foundation, where she launched a construction workforce initiative for the Obama Presidential Center. Before that, Gomez was director of Cook Countys Office of Contract Compliance. Earlier in her career, Gomez was a program director at HACIA.


MONDAYs ANSWER: You could say we had a stream of correct answers for Mondays question. Congrats to journalist Andy Shaw, The Development Consortium CEO Janet Mathis, political operative Angel Alicea, and digital strategist Justin Kulovsek for being first to correctly answering that the Kaskaskia River is the longest river entirely within the state of Illinois.

TODAYs QUESTION: Who was the Chicago alderman who became angry at a City Council meeting because he thought a fellow Council member threatening to hold his feet to the fire actually planned to burn his feet? Email to [email protected]


A message from the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs:

Employers in Illinois provide prescription drug coverage for nearly 6.7 million Illinoisans. In order to help keep care more affordable, employers work with pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), who deploy a variety of tools to reduce prescription drug costs and help improve health outcomes. PBMs also work with the Illinois Medicaid program in the same way to help control costs. In fact, PBMs are poised to save consumers and the State $39 billion over the next ten years. Today, as Illinois faces a global pandemic and a multibillion budget shortfall, now is the time for legislators to strengthen, not limit, the tools that employers, consumers and the State rely on to manage costs and ensure consumers can access the medicines they need. Learn more.


State Sen. Linda Holmes, former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, and Digital Products VP Riccardo Reati.