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Abortion rights demonstrators at the Daley Plaza in Chicago on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Capapas)

Mark Capapas

The Rundown: Illinois poised to strengthen abortion rights

Good afternoon! NPR says being late to work is not a bad thing, which is going to spark a lot of interesting conversations with my boss. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Illinois lawmakers passed a bill offering more protections for patients seeking abortions and gender-affirming care

It’s been a busy week for Democrats in the state legislature.

After giving final approval to an assault weapons ban, lawmakers passed a bill last night that would provide safeguards for Illinois abortion providers and patients who face legal challenges from states where abortions are illegal.

Under the bill, Illinois abortion providers would be prohibited from responding to out-of-state subpoenas seeking information about patients.

The bill also requires health insurers to cover abortion-inducing medication, HIV-prevention drugs like PrEP, and gender-affirming hormone treatments.

“We are protecting patients, providers and families here,” said state Sen. Celina Villanueva, a Democrat from Chicago who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “Illinois is a refuge for people, and I will spend every last breath in my body ensuring that those protections exist for anybody that is coming here seeking [to]…live their lives open and freely and honestly.”

Gov. JB Pritzker has vowed to sign the bill into law. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, Politico looks at how the end of Roe v. Wade has transformed border towns in blue states. [Politico]

2. There is no evidence a cyberattack was responsible for a computer outage that grounded all flights in the U.S., the White House says

President Joe Biden said today he is directing the Department of Transportation to investigate why a crucial government computer system failed, resulting in thousands of flights being delayed or canceled.

The system is called Notice to Air Missions System, or NOTAM. It’s used by the Federal Aviation Administration to send real-time safety alerts to pilots.

The NOTAM system broke down last night, causing more than 1,000 flight cancellations and more than 6,000 delayed flights by Wednesday morning.

“I’ve been flying 53 years. I’ve never heard the system go down like this,” said John Cox, a former airline pilot and aviation safety expert. “So something unusual happened.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Chicago police are turning away people who are trying to register as sex offenders

The Chicago Police Department is repeatedly turning away people convicted of sex crimes, gun charges and other offenses who are required to be included in a criminal conviction registry, reports my colleague Shannon Heffernan.

The problem stems from staffing shortages in the office that handles the registry. And the news comes amid a debate over reducing the Police Department’s budget and using those funds for programs aimed at the root causes of crime, like housing and mental health.

“The stakes are high,” Heffernon reports. “People on the registry risk arrest and incarceration, causing destabilized families and communities. And Chicago is wrestling with big concerns over public safety and how to use its limited resources to fight violence.” [WBEZ]

4. A top City Council member renews his call to fire a Chicago police officer with ties to the Proud Boys

Pressure is mounting on Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown to fire an officer with alleged ties to the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group whose members were among those who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Ald. Chris Taliaferro, a former police sergeant who heads the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, this week said he will not stop calling for the officer’s removal.

“We have fired officers in the past with less transgressions in their associations,” he said.

Taliaferro and two other members of the City Council are calling for Brown to attend a public hearing on the investigation into the officer, Robert Bakker.

Brown last year said investigators could find no evidence Bakker was associated with the Proud Boys or any other hate group. The head of the department’s internal affairs office said the probe “would have looked totally different” had the FBI labeled the Proud Boys as a hate group. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. A Lightfoot ally is rethinking his support because the mayor didn’t call him after he accidentally shot his foot

Ald. Derrick Curtis, who has described himself as Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s “No. 1 cheerleader,” says he is having second thoughts because the mayor didn’t call him after he accidentally shot his foot last fall, reports my colleague Fran Spielman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

“If we were in a relationship, she should have contacted me. I deserved some type of call or conversation just to see how I was doing. Just checking in on me. That’s what friends do,” Curtis said.

Curtis is one of roughly a half-dozen Black council members who are supporting Lightfoot’s reelection bid.

But Curtis said if Lightfoot’s “coldness” toward him continues, he may sit out the crucial Feb. 28 election that will determine which two candidates move forward in a likely runoff.

“She’s not polling well at all,” he said. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • NFL player Damar Hamlin was discharged from a Buffalo hospital and will continue his recovery at home. [NPR]
  • Rep. George Santos of New York faces calls to resign from Republican leaders on Long Island. [CNN]
  • Chicago museums are offering free days to Illinois residents this winter. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Three lion cubs were born at the Lincoln Park Zoo. [Chicago Tribune]

Oh, and one more thing …

The nation’s top consumer watchdog is considering a ban on gas stoves, according to an official with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

That’s because gas stoves are a big source of air pollution and have been linked to childhood asthma and other respiratory problems.

Some cities, such as New York and San Francisco, have already banned natural gas stoves.

Across the country, only 35% of households use these stoves, reports CNN, which adds that number increases to 70% in states like California and New Jersey.

The White House today said President Biden does not support banning gas stoves. [CNN]

Tell me something good ...

With Chicago’s elections coming up, I’d like to know: If you were running for any office, what would be your campaign song?

Dave Kraft writes:

“No doubt — ‘I’'s the End of the World as We Know it.’ And — I feel fine.”

And Ray Furlong writes:

“If I were running for office, my campaign song would be the very upbeat number ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’ by The Smiths.”

Feel free to email me, and your response might be shared in the newsletter this week.

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