SPRINGFIELD — Two Illinois Senate committees will be co-chaired by Republicans in a move that harkens back decades to a time when Republicans and Democrats more often worked together to recognize shared goals and achieve them.

“I appreciate Leader Curran reaching out with this idea. At one point in our not-so-distant history this was a common practice in the Senate. I think we both hope that it will foster bipartisan cooperation on how we can best meet the needs of people all across our great state,” said Illinois Senate President Don Harmon.

Sen. Dale Fowler, a Republican from Harrisburg, will serve as co-chair on the Senate Higher Education Committee. Sen. Michael Halpin, a Rock Island Democrat is the committee chair, and Sen. Celina Villanueva, a Chicago Democrat, is the vice chair.

Sen. Sally Turner, a Republican from Beason, will serve as the co-chair on the Senate State Government Committee. Sen. Patrick Joyce, a Democrat from the Kankakee area, is the chair, and Sen. Willie Preston, a Democrat from Chicago, is the vice chair. 

“I am proud to share in announcing the appointment of Republican co-chairs to two vital Senate committees,” said Illinois Senate Republican Leader John Curran. “I appreciate President Harmon’s efforts in reaching out to discuss greater participation with the minority party. This is a real step toward a more bipartisan working relationship in the process of crafting and passing public policy. Having members from both parties at the helm of these committees will encourage greater collaboration and dialogue, and lead to better outcomes for the people of Illinois.”

Democrats hold a 40-19 majority in the Illinois Senate, which means Democrats also have majorities on all committees and Democratic Senators preside over those committees. The agreement between Curran and Harmon elevates Republicans on these two committees to co-chair roles. Bipartisan co-chairs is not a new idea. For instance, Democrat John Cullerton and Republican Kirk Dillard co-chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in the early 2000s.

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