Illinois Speaker of the House of Representatives at Proviso East


Emanuel Chris Welch, Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, recently spoke to Proviso students in the library. Welch is a Democrat from Hillside and a Proviso West graduate. (Submitted photo)

On January 19, 2023, the Illinois Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emanuel Chris Welch came to Proviso East High School. He was just re-elected January 12, 2023 for his second term in office. He is the first Black person to be elected as the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Welch was raised in Maywood and then moved to Bellwood after 8th grade. He is a graduate from Proviso West High School and graduated from Northwestern University. During his recent visit to Proviso East, Welch was interviewed by our Journalism team among other seniors and juniors of the school in an event organized by Civics teacher David Moss.

Welch is married and has two children: A little girl in third grade and a ten-year old boy. Since the House of Representatives meets in the state capitol of Springfield, he is away from home much of the year. When asked if this job affects him or his kids, he stated, “Yes, it does have a lot of effect because I am gone from January until May.” He also says that every time he sees them, they are a little bit taller.

When asked if the job is stressful, he replied, “Every day. I used to have hair. It really depends on the day but nothing I can’t manage.” With these stressors in mind, it’s no wonder that Welch has a hard job.

During Welch’s speech to students, he stated, “One of the ways I do my job is through communicating.” He enjoys connecting and talking to schools. “I have the opportunity to help people and that’s why I do my job.”

Another opportunity to help the community is fighting for Brown and Black people. He started a grant to help low-income families so they are able to afford college. He helped pass the Trust Act in Illinois for the immigrants coming here. Welch stated, “This is a welcoming state for immigrants.” He feels this will help them get stable here in Illinois, so they can feel appreciated here.

How did Welch get into politics? Why is he currently the Speaker of the Illinois House? Welch stated, “I didn’t plan to be a politician. Originally, I was on the (Proviso Township) school board for 12 years and through this job came lots of political things and so I eventually made my move up here.” Welch also said, “My other priorities in office include immigration, budgets for schools, seniors, and low-income people.”

Speaker Welch meets with Pirate News reporters Karyme Ortega and Angle Capo. (Submitted photo)

Mr. Welch has been a State Representative since January 2013 and Speaker of the Illinois House since 2021. Elections are every two years for members of the House and you might be wondering, “Why is he a house member and not a senator?” Welch stated, “Well, the House is where all the action is. It’s a little slow in the Senate.” With Welch’s background on the Proviso Township School Board, he was used to running for election as his competitors did not want him in office, and so running for a stronger political position comes naturally and with excitement.

What is the Speaker of the House up to? How is he different from other politicians outside of his background? Illinois is known to have its corrupt politicians and so our team asked him, “What is your team doing differently to combat this corruption, so we don’t fall into the same loop of corruption?”

Welch answered, “My predecessor has become known for these recent corruption charges.” Welch believes new ethics requirements should help. “On my second year of my first term, we passed a law that requires ethics checks on politicians that investigates politicians once a year.”

Welch personally believes that “a man must be ethical, religious, have good morals to help fight against this corruption.” Given this information by Welch, we know actions are being taken to hopefully prevent Illinois from falling into the hands of corruption.

The Speaker of the House is also helping to pass recent laws. “We helped pass the Safe-T Act which we are being sued for which was known around social media as the ‘Purge Law’ where lots of people believed we were releasing all criminals from jail…. Those were lies that Republicans had made up to ensure a Republican vote against this.” The Safe-T Act protects low-income people who can’t afford bond. People who are rich and commit crimes can pay to get out of jail while the poor remain in jail for petty crimes that can affect their lives forever.

Despite Welch’s belief in religion, he specifically stated, “We should not mix church and state. Our constitution is written so that it protects the beliefs of everyone.” When asked about Roe v. Wade, Welch stated, “I made some of the church ladies mad with the things I helped pass…, the decision and right to abortion should be made between a woman and her doctor, not the church.”

With this we want to thank Speaker of the House Welch for coming and talking to us at Proviso East.