101st GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
The Joint Commission on Administrative Rules met in Springfield this week to extend various emergency rules before they expire. The meeting was closed to the public. Originally scheduled for release on March 31, 2020, the final report of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform has been delayed by the pandemic. The JCELR cancelled its final meeting before the target release date and acknowledged being hobbled by the coronavirus with respect to in-person meetings. A draft of the report is being composed by members working remotely. No word yet when a final report will be released. The General Assembly remains adjourned until further notice. Legislative leaders are determining the best and safest way to reconvene. The Capitol Complex remains closed to the public at this time. Crafting a FY2021 budget remains a high priority for the General Assembly. Governor Pritzker acknowledged that the final budget for next year will look dramatically different than the one he proposed in February given the circumstances of the global pandemic. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget continues to work on revised budget and revenue projections.
COVID-19 UPDATE: Illinois is reporting a total of 210 deaths due to the coronavirus – including 16 that were reported on April 2. As of today, the state reported a total of 8904 cases of COVID-19 across 61 of Illinois 102 counties. Stateville Correctional Center is coping with a COVID-19 outbreak, with the National Guard dispatching 30 of its service members to assist with medical care. The National Guard response includes setting up medical tents, performing triage, and rendering medical assistance to inmates whose condition does not warrant hospitalization. Meanwhile, a federal suit has been filed by civil rights attorneys to require the state to release certain prisoners, like the elderly and medically fragile. Governor Pritzker issued another Executive Order designed to increase healthcare capacity. Under this directive, health care facilities, certain health care professionals, and health care volunteers are required to render support to addressing the pandemic. This includes the cancellation by health care facilities of all elective surgeries and procedures; increasing the number of available beds; preserving Personal Protective Equipment; and implementing other preparation measures to treat COVID-19 patients. Temporary hospitals continue to be developed. Melrose Park’s Westlake Hospital is be reopened as a field hospital to care for those with less-severe cases of coronavirus. The facility will offer 230 beds. Former and out-of-state health care professionals are answering the call to assist with the pandemic in Illinois. To date, the state has received some 1,100 applications from these individuals. Expanding the capacity of services available during the pandemic for survivors of sexual assault or domestic abuse is the aim of a recently announced plan. The Illinois Department of Human Services said it will be providing $1.2 million to its statewide network of services. Among the specific measures: bolstering its Domestic Violence Helpline by incorporating a “one-stop access point” for shelter needs. The Illinois Gaming Board has extended its suspension of all video gaming at licensed establishments, as well as at all casino gambling operations until April 30th. The latest guidance by the Illinois State Board of Education for Illinois school districts can be accessed here. For the remainder of the school year, Indiana and Michigan have closed their K-12 schools. Governor Pritzker has said that it is too early to make that decision on Illinois’ schools. The HIV Resource Hub – a collaboration between the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the Center on Halsted – provides one-stop assistance to people with HIV and AIDS, who are on or considering use of PrEP, and others who are vulnerable to HIV. And as of earlier this week, the HIV Resource Hub is also offering emergency funding assistance to its clientele, who may be in financial crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals may qualify for up to $1,500 in assistance. The financial help is intended for use with housing costs, utility payments, (including cell phone/internet), and emergency food aid.
Statewide adult-use cannabis sales in March totaled $35,902,543.22. Dispensaries across the state sold 812,203 items over the 31-day period. Sales to Illinois residents totaled $27,096,931.23, while sales to out-of-state residents totaled $8,805,611.99. During the COVID-19 outbreak, dispensaries are permitted to sell medical cannabis outside of their limited access area on their property or on a public walkway or curb adjacent to the dispensary. Medical cannabis patients can utilize their designated caregiver to purchase medicine on their behalf. A complete list of the rules extended may be found here