101st GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
The Illinois General Assembly reconvened this week in person at the Capitol following a two-week spring break. The House was in session four days – Tuesday through Friday. The Senate was in session for three days – Tuesday through Thursday. Friday, April 16th is the deadline to pass substantive Senate Bills out of Senate committees.
The Illinois Senate created an Agreed Bill List for non-controversial Senate Bills. The process allows for the bills to be considered on one roll call. Senators must notify the Secretary of the Senate if there are any bills for which they wish to be recorded as a “no” or “present” vote. Action on the Agreed Bill List is expected towards the end of next week. The Agreed Bill List is here.
The Senate Education Committee approved SB 2296 (Gillespie) which prohibits a school district employee or independent contractor from secluding children to any locked or unlocked space as a discipline management practice. Senator Gillespie filed a floor amendment which requires ISBE to adopt rules governing the use of physical restraint and time out in public schools and other special ed non-public facilities. Requires ISBE to create a grant program and allows the use of prone restraint in certain special ed non-public facilities. The amendment is pending in the Senate Assignments Committee.
The House Executive Committee unanimously approved HB 642 (DeLuca) which statutorily enacts 10-year Legislative Leader term limits. Both the House and Senate Rules currently impose a 10-year term limit — though that requirement is not law. HB 642 heads to the full House for consideration.
The Illinois House approved legislation, HB 3709 (Croke), to expand access to infertility services and coverage to include same-sex couples, women over 35, single women, and women who cannot get pregnant naturally due to a medical issue. The bill now heads to the Senate.
The Illinois House approved HB 1063 (Ammons) which ends criminalization of HIV. The bill heads to the Senate. The Senate Executive Committee held a subject matter hearing on companion legislation, SB 655 (Peters).
The Illinois House approved HB 117 (Guzzardi), which expands the Secure Choice Savings Program to small businesses between 5 and 25 employees. Companion legislation, SB 208 (Martwick), passed the Senate State Government Committee.
Legislation to elect the Chicago School Board advanced this week. The Senate Executive Committee approved SB 2497 (Martwick), which now heads to the full Senate for consideration. Companion legislation, HB 2908 (Hernandez), passed the House by a vote of 71-39-3. HB 2908 now heads to the Senate. Senator Lightford filed Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s legislation to create a hybrid appointed/elected Chicago School Board as an amendment to SB 827. That amendment is pending in the Senate Assignments Committee.
Senator Martwick filed an omnibus pension amendment on SB 1056. The amendment is currently pending in the Senate Assignments Committee. A summary of the amendment can be found here.
The Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee held a subject matter hearing on SB 1100 (Hastings) — The Climate Union Jobs Act. The Committee plans to hold a subject matter hearing next week to discuss the Synapse Energy Economics report. The Pritzker administration commissioned the study to audit Exelon’s plants and their claims that some of their nuclear plants are losing money. The full report is here.
Legislative Salaries: Cook County Judge Allen Walker ruled late last week that two former Illinois state Senators – Michael Noland and James Clayborne, Jr – are entitled to receive portions of their legislative salaries that were withheld by the Illinois Comptroller following the passage of a law to freeze cost-of-living increases and implement furlough days. Walker ruled the former legislators “were entitled to a clear right to receive wrongfully withheld portions of salaries.” The Illinois Constitution protects legislators’ salaries from being diminished during a term of service. Comptroller Mendoza promised to appeal the decision.
COVID-19 Update: Like much of the nation, Illinois is once again experiencing a surge in COVID-19 with new cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and ventilator usage all on the rise. Illinois’ case positivity is 4.2%.
On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,581 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 40 additional deaths. As of Wednesday night, 2,043 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 468 patients were in the ICU and 190 patients were on ventilators.
The emergence and prevalence of COVID variants in central Illinois is concerning health officials. In the Peoria area, of 323 positive tests collected last month, 50 percent were the more contagious British B.117 variant. Even more alarming for health officials, 16 cases were the Brazilian P.1 variant — which is vaccine-resistant and more contagious.
In accordance with recommendations from the CDC and the FDA, the Illinois Department of Public Health will pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine out of an abundance of caution. The CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. In total, 6.8 million Americans have received the one-shot vaccine. Illinois was expecting 17,000 doses of the J&J vaccine this week and another 5,800 next week. The Department of Public Health is urging providers to use the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine for any existing appointments impacted by the pause. Beginning Tuesday, the state will allocate 50,000 first doses of Pfizer and Moderna to the city of Chicago over the next seven days.
Nearly 24% of Illinoisans are now fully vaccinated, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Vaccine eligibility expanded Monday to all persons over the age of 16. Illinois is averaging administering 129,317 doses of vaccine each day.
The IHSA announced updates from the Illinois Department of Public Health regarding masks for students competing in low-risk outdoor sports and activities. Under the update, students competing in low-risk outdoor sports and activities are no longer required to wear masks while competing. In-season IHSA sports and activities impacted by this update include bass fishing, baseball, softball, tennis, and track & field. Students must continue to wear masks in these sports and activities when they are not actively competing (e.g., athletes on the bench). More information here. An updated version of the IDPH All-Sports Policy here.
Also of note, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford tested positive for COVID-19 this week while in Springfield. She returned home and is participating remotely in committee hearings and session. A member of the Governor’s staff and a member of Speaker Welch’s staff also tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
Federal COVID Funds: Governor Pritzker along with Speaker Welch and President Harmon penned an op-ed this week outlining their collective priorities for spending the federal COVID funds. All three leaders agree, Illinois “needs to stay the course by managing our state and federal funds responsibly.” To that end, their first priority is to pay off the remaining $2.5 billion in COVID related short-term borrowing. They are also dedicated to “spurring job creation and economic growth through accelerating infrastructure plans for rebuilding Illinois, supporting small businesses, and making sure educational and health care institutions thrive.”
Medicaid Postpartum Expansion: Illinois is the first state in the nation to extend full Medicaid benefits from 60 days to 12 months postpartum, following the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services approval of Illinois’ 1115 waiver. Women with incomes up to 208% of the federal poverty level will have continuous Medicaid eligibility through 12 months postpartum. More information is here.
Gubernatorial Appointments: The Governor appointed the following:· Ian Linnabary will continue to serve on the State Board of Elections.· Catherine McCrory will serve on the State Board of Elections.· Rick Terven Sr. will serve on the State Board of Elections.· Cassandra Watson will continue to serve on the State Board of Elections.· Jenny Aguirre will serve as Assistant Director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.· Salvatore Tornatore will serve on the Housing Development Authority.· Alex Garza will serve on the Lottery Control Board
ATTORNEY GENERAL UPDATE:
The computer systems at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General were breached early Saturday morning. The Office is cooperating with investigators. No further information about the breach was released.
The Illinois General Assembly will return to session on Tuesday, April 20th at noon. The deadline to file a floor amendment to a Senate Bill in the Senate was today at noon. The deadline to file a floor amendment to a House Bill in the House is Tuesday, April 20th at 4pm.
Friday, April 23rd is the deadline to pass substantive bills out of their chamber of origin.