Rep. Chris Welch takes the oath of office on Wednesday after being elected the 70th speaker of the House. (Credit: Justin Fowler/The State Journal-Register)

Illinois lawmakers thrust the state into a new era Wednesday, passing a comprehensive agenda aimed at rooting out systemic racism and swearing in a new House speaker for the first time in decades.

Days after Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) scuttled his bid to seek a 19th term, the House elected Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside) to be the chamber’s 70th leader. Welch, who is the first Black House speaker in Illinois history, takes over for the longest serving leader of a legislative body in U.S. history.

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