December 10, 2021 Update

New Laws: Governor Pritzker signed HB1975 (Mussman/Bennet) which is designed to protect students from sexual abuse. The legislation expands the definition of grooming in the criminal code, increases resources and protections for sexual abuse survivors and their families, and requires school districts to develop a sexual misconduct code of conduct, review employment history, and increase training for educators. Read more here.
The Governor also signed legislation to empower local school councils. SB101 (Pacione-Zayas/Andrade) establishes local school councils (LSC) for public small schools, creates LSC seats for 7th and 8th grade students, restores LSC powers for schools on probation for more than five years, establishes binding elections for all student LSC seats, and enhances the transparency surrounding the vetting process for board-appointed staff members.  More information is here.
Healthcare Collaboratives: The public comment period for the latest round of state Healthcare Transformation Collaboratives funding is now open and ends at 5pm December 20th. Healthcare Transformation Collaboratives are designed to create partnerships and bring entities together to find innovative ways to bridge gaps in the healthcare delivery system and increase access to quality health care services in underserved communities throughout Illinois. 
Water Assistance Program: A new water billing assistance program, the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), will provide $42 million in shut-off avoidance assistance for residents unable to pay their water and sewer bills. New LIHWAP funds are being made available to low-income families who are facing disconnection, those who have already been shut off, or those currently facing arrearages of $250 or more. Read the Governor’s press release here.
COVID-19 Update: On Thursday, Illinois health officials reported 8,301 new cases of COVID-19 and 54 deaths. As of Wednesday night, 3,178 individuals were hospitalized in Illinois with the virus. Of those, 672 are in the ICU and 299 are on ventilators. The statewide 7-day case positivity rate is 4.3%.

State Representative Delia Ramirez announced she will seek the Democratic nomination to the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District. Ramirez was first elected to the Illinois House in 2018. Ramirez will face Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas in the Democratic primary. 
Catalina Lauf announced she is seeking the Republican nomination in the 11th Congressional District to challenge Democratic Congressman Bill Foster. Lauf was appointed to the Commerce Department by former President Donald Trump.
Assistant Senate Minority Leader Donald DeWitte has announced he will seek re-election to the 33rd Senate District. Senator DeWitte was initially appointed to the seat in September of 2018 and won election to the seat in November 2018.
Democrat Becky Levin is the first candidate to announce she will run to replace Majority Leader Greg Harris who is not seeking reelection. Levin is currently serving as the Executive Director of Public Policy for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. 

Representative Carroll filed legislation, HB4259, to require anyone who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and chooses not to be vaccinated to pay for health care expenses out-of-pocket if the person becomes hospitalized because of COVID-19 symptoms. HB 4259 heads to the House Rules Committee. Days after filing the legislation, Representative Carroll indicated that he does not intend to pursue the bill due to what he calls “the unintended divisive nature of the bill”.Representative Grant filed legislation to prevent health insurers from discriminating against unvaccinated individuals by charging different premiums, rates or making other contracting differentiations based on vaccinationstatus. HB4263 also prohibits insurers from refusing to insure or continuing to insure based on vaccination status. HB 4263 is assigned to the House Rules Committee. 
Redistricting: A federal three-judge panel heard oral arguments this week in the legislative redistricting case. Rebuttal briefs are due next week. The court has indicated a desire to rule on the case as quickly as possible to allow time for candidates to circulate petitions. Capitol News has more here.
The Illinois Supreme Court will implement the new judicial boundaries beginning January 1, 2022. The new boundaries were passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor earlier this year. The Court paused implementing the new boundaries to allow for a period of transition. The current judicial boundaries were implemented in 1964 and this will be the first change to those boundaries since they were created. Read the full order here.  Capitol News offers more here.
Coming up:
The Illinois General Assembly convenes the 2022 spring session on Tuesday, January 4th.
Note that the deadline to file a request for bill drafting is January 7th in the Senate and January 14th in the House.
The House Appropriations-Human Services, Human Services, Healthcare Availability and Accessibility and Mental Health Committees will hold a joint subject matter hearing on December 14th at 10:00 am in the Bilandic Building in Chicago to discuss nursing home reform.