103rd GENERAL ASSEMBY:
The Illinois General Assembly was in session Tuesday through Thursday of this week; Today’s session was cancelled. Today is the committee deadline for substantive bills in the second chamber. Deadline extensions are likely to be granted on a case-by-case basis. Three weeks remain in the spring session.
Beverage Recycling: The Senate Executive Committee held a subject matter hearing on SB 85 (Murphy) which creates a beverage deposit return program in Illinois. Proponents argue that a deposit return program, as compared to a curbside recycling program, will increase consumer recycling, lead to a higher quality of recycling, save energy, and create jobs. Opponents testified that there is a path forward to increase recycling, but this legislation is “not the answer.” Opponents characterize the bill as an “antiquated concept” noting more states have repealed beverage deposit programs than instituted them in the past 20 years. They also argue the program constitutes a grocery tax. An Amendment was filed which proponents allege removes “most” opposition. Opponents disagreed, maintaining their dissent to the new amendment as drafted.
Polystyrene Ban: The Senate Executive Committee held a subject matter hearing on HB 2376 (Gong-Gershowitz/Fine) which bans most polystyrene in food service in Illinois. Environmentalists testified in support of the legislation, arguing that even the process to recycle polystyrene is harmful to the environment. The IMA and the American Chemical Council testified in opposition of the legislation citing the negative impact on Illinois jobs, the unintended impact on the environment, and increased costs for consumers.
Highlights of Other Legislative Action:
The House concurred unanimously with Senate Amendment # 1 to HB 559 (Morgan/Glowiak Hilton) which creates the Health Care Workforce Reinforcement Act to codify and clean up the Governor’s COVID-19 Executive Orders regarding healthcare and the healthcare workforce. Governor Pritzker signed the bill into law on Thursday.
A new amendment was filed to SB1555 (Koehler) which establishes the Packaging and Paper Products Stewardship Act to create an extended producer responsibility for plastic and packaging. The amendment was assigned to the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee.
HB2954 (Gong-Gershowitz/Morrison) which creates the Civil Liability for Doxing Act passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 9-0 and is now before the full Senate.
HB2123 (Gong-Gershowitz/Edly-Allen) which creates the Digital Forgeries Act to allow victims of dissemination of nonconsensual sexual images to pursue civil damages and to have the images removed. HB 2153 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 9-0 and is now before the full Senate. The sponsors of this legislation traveled to Washington DC this week to advocate for how other states can address “deep fakes.”
HB2719 (Avelar/Peters) which, as amended, would help connect patients to financial assistance for hospital costs passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee 9-5 and is now pending before the full Senate.
SB1563 (Morrison/Gong-Gershowitz) requires the Illinois EPA to make certain information and resources regarding microplastics available on its website and to deliver a microplastics report to the Governor and General Assembly by October 2024. Passed the House Energy and Environment Committee unanimously and is now before the full House.
SB1559 (Murphy/Guzzardi) caps insulin at $35 per month and creates a discount program that allows participants to purchase insulin at a discounted, post-rebate price. Passed the House Healthcare Availability and Accessibility unanimously and is now before the full House.
SB1909 (Villanueva/Costa Howard) prohibits crisis pregnancy centers from interfering with access to abortion and emergency contraception. Passed the House Healthcare Availability and Accessibility Committee 5-3 and now heads to the House Floor. Governor Pritzker has promised to sign the legislation.
SB 2368 (Koehler/Johnson) creates the State Building and Residential Codes Act which will establish a statewide building code. Passed the House Executive Committee 12-0 and now heads to the House Floor.
HB 2231(Gong-Gershowitz/Martwick) extends the repeal of the Transportation Network Providers Act for five years — from September 1, 2023 to September 1, 2028. Further clarifies that rideshare drivers will remain independent contractors. As amended, the bill also subjects rideshare companies to the same type of lawsuits that can be filed against taxi companies and others. HB 2231 passed the Senate Executive Committee 8-3.
HB 2245 (Moylan/Hastings) establishes a vehicle theft hotline and allows a driver who has not subscribed to an automaker’s vehicle tracking service to still use that service during an investigation without paying fees. Senate Floor Amendment # 2 was approved by the Senate Special Committee on Criminal Law and Public Safety by a vote of 9-0. HB 2245 is pending on 3rd Reading in the Senate.
SB 2243 (Lightford/Mayfield) which requires the Illinois State Board of Education to work with education stakeholders to create a comprehensive literacy plan passed by a vote of 12-1 from the House Elementary and Secondary Education: School Curriculum and Policies Committee and now heads to the full House.
SB 1907 (Villanueva/Hernandez) creates the Public Higher Education Act which requires public universities and community colleges to provide at least one “wellness kiosk” which must include discounted emergency contraception. Passed the House Higher Education Committee 7-3 and now heads to the full House.
As lawmakers are finalizing the FY 24 budget, spending pressures continue to mount. Legislators were advised of an unexpected funding shortfall in the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults Program. In addition to cost overruns for the current fiscal year, program costs are expected to skyrocket to $994 million in FY24. The proposed FY24 budget seeks not only to fund the current population, but also to expand program coverage to 19-41-year-olds — at a projected annual cost of an additional $280 million. The HFS Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors and Adults revised cost estimate is here. Capitol News discusses it further here. When asked about the cost overruns Governor Pritzker said, “That’s an issue that’s going to have to be worked out by committees, by working groups. But what I know is that we are going to end up with a balanced budget, no matter what.”
Advocates lobbied legislators this week for an additional $15 million to cover about 27,000 children enrolled in after-school programs. The funding shortfall was identified after an internal error at the ISBE allowed all federal funds allocated towards the program to be spent prematurely. Advocates are asking for state funding to make up the shortfall.
Other budget requests are being made for a permanent $700 per child income tax credit, which is estimated to cost $700 million – $800 million. Also seeking boosts: Direct support professionals (those who care for persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities) are asking state lawmakers to approve a $4 raise for FY24. Rape crisis centers are asking for an additional $12 million in the FY24 budget. Hospitals are asking for Medicaid rate increases, and local governments want more assistance from the Local Government Distributive Fund. Republicans are asking to eliminate the estate tax. The new fiscal year begins July 1.
In a bit of good news, Comptroller Mendoza reports that the state has less than a billion dollars in pending Accounts Payable. It’s been 15 years since the number has been that low. As of Wednesday morning, the Accounts Payable stood at $478 million.
Comptroller Mendoza also announced another $350 million transfer into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. The fund now stands at $1.58 billion. The transfer is part of an $850 million supplemental appropriation approved in January.
Upcoming Hearings: With an approaching deadline for the Legislature to draw districts for an elected Chicago School Board, the House Executive Committee will hold a hearing on the topic on May 6 at 10 am in Chicago at the Currie High School Auditorium (at 4959 S. Archer Ave).
Other Legislative News: Representative Caulkins confirmed this week through his local news outlet that he will not seek reelection in 2024. When first elected, Caulkins pledged to serve only three terms in office.
2023 Key Dates:
April 28: Deadline – Substantive Bills Out of Committee in both chambers
May 11: Deadline – Third Reading Substantive House Bills in Senate
May 12: Deadline – Third Reading Substantive Senate Bills in House
May 19: Adjournment
Cannabis Lottery: The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced today it received 2,693 applications for the upcoming Social Equity Criteria Lottery (SECL). This lottery will distribute the next round of 55 conditional adult use cannabis dispensary licenses across the 17 Bureau of Labor Statistics Regions. The list of applicants participating in the SECL is here. Following the lottery, each applicant selected will have 45 calendar days to prove certain social equity eligibility criteria in order to receive a conditional license.
Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program: The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is offering $10 million in funding for the Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program and $6 million for the Energy Transition Barrier Reduction Program – both under the auspices of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. The programs have a three-fold purpose: to increase training opportunities in the trade; to expand the clean energy talent pipeline; and to boost diversity in the clean energy trade industries by providing resources to limit barriers to participation. The programs will be run through training partners which will be selected through a competitive Notice of Funding Opportunity process. Read more here.
Home Improvement Grants: The Illinois Housing Development Authority is offering $15.3 million through its Home Repair and Accessibility Program to assist low-income and very low-income homeowners with health, safety, accessibility, and energy efficiency repairs to their homes. HRAP will be administered locally through 36 local government and nonprofit organizations with experience operating and administering homeowner rehabilitation assistance programs. Eligible homeowners may receive up to $45,000 to cover necessary repairs through a five-year, forgivable loan. Read more here.
The Governor made the following appointments:
· Cris Cray will serve as a Member of the State Board of Elections.
· Tim Drea will continue to serve as a Member of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board.
· Jill Kastner will continue to serve as a Member of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board.
· Amylee Hogan Simonovich will serve as a Member of the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
· Mitchell Horwitz will continue to serve as a Member of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board.
· Mark Denzler will continue to serve as a Member of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board.
· Benjamin Salentine will serve as a member of the Commission on Equity and Inclusion.
Cook County State’s Attorney Not Seeking Reelection: Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx will not seek a third term in 2024, she announced Tuesday.
Illinois Gaming Board Takes Action: At their meeting this week, the Illinois Gaming Board approved plans for Penn Entertainment to relocate their casinos in Aurora and Joliet. Other Board action included adopting a new rule requiring responsible gambling signage at all video gaming locations statewide; granting more than 400 new gaming licenses and related approvals along with renewals of existing licenses; issuing a license to sportsbook operator Circa Sports; and adopting a rule clarifying video gaming annual fees. Read the complete list of action taken by the Board here.
Assault Weapons Ban: A second federal judge denied a motion to impose a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction on Illinois’ assault weapons ban. Read the full opinion here. Representative Morgan, who sponsored the underlying legislation, issued this statement following the ruling: “Today’s order is a victory for smart gun safety laws. The Protect Illinois Communities Act bans the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, targets interstate gun trafficking, and expands red-flag laws – actions we carefully crafted, knowing the gun lobby would sue to stop these public safety reforms. The NRA will continue its legal efforts to stop common-sense gun reform, and I, along with other advocates, will continue to fight to keep weapons of war off our streets to keep our communities safe.”
Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson Transition Team:
Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson announced his transition team including subcommittees. Read the full list here.