September 12, 2017 Update

The Illinois General Assembly is not in Session this week.  The Veto Session schedule has been released and the dates for both chambers are October 24, 25 and 26th and November 7, 8, and 9th.   Both chambers remain adjourned until the call of the presiding officers.
Last Thursday, Governor Rauner announced he will borrow $6 billion in bonds to pay down a portion of the state’s bill backlog which currently totals $15 billion.  A significant portion of the bill backlog is subject to late-payment interest penalties at rates of up to 12 percent annually.  The Governor was granted the borrowing authority as part of the FY 2018 budget package. The bonds must be issued before Dec. 31, 2017, and must be used to pay for expenses vouchered from general funds or state employees’ group health insurance costs that were incurred before July 1, 2017.  The Governor argues that the Fiscal Year 2018 budget did not account for the increase in debt service costs to cover the bill backlog bond issuance.  As a result, the Governor’s office is in the process of identifying several hundred million dollars in possible spending reductions to address this “budgetary shortfall”. Legislative Democrats dispute the Governor’s claims and say that the budget approved in July includes $350 million for this purpose.
Last Wednesday, Governor Rauner issued an Executive Order creating a task force to fight the opioid crisis in Illinois. Executive Order 17-05 creates the Governor’s Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force which will be co-chaired by Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. The task force will look at strategies to prevent the expansion of the opioid crisis, treat and promote the recovery of individuals with opioid-use disorder, and reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths. The Task Force will look at how to increase the number of providers that use the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program; reduce high-risk opioid prescribing; make information and resources more accessible to the public; strengthen data collection, analysis, and sharing; reduce the number of overdose deaths of individuals recently released from an institutional facility; and increase naloxone availability and training.  Members of the Task Force will include officials from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, Illinois State Police, and from Illinois Departments of: Financial and Professional Regulation, Human Services, Public Health, Juvenile Justice, Insurance, Corrections, and Healthcare and Family Services.
Democratic State Representative Brandon Phelps resigned his seat effective September 1st.    Natalie Phelps Finnie has been appointed to fill out the remainder of the term.  Phelps Finnie is a nurse practitioner and a cousin of Brandon Phelps.  She is also the daughter of former State Representative and Congressman David Phelps.
Republican State Representative. Brian Stewart announced his candidacy to replace retiring State Senator Tim Bivins.