102nd GENERAL ASSEMBLY: After a very busy couple of weeks, both the House and Senate bill introduction deadlines have passed. Due to restrictions, the Legislative Reference Bureau was mainly completing its work remotely. They are to be congratulated for all of their hard work. There were over 2700 Senate bills and 4000 House bills introduced.Former House Speaker Michael Madigan has resigned his position as State Representative and Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Madigan initially announced he would resign his legislative position at the end of the month, but then abruptly resigned last Thursday. He resigned as Democratic Party Chair on Monday. Madigan served over 50 years in the state legislature and was elected chair of the Democratic Party in 1998.
On Sunday, Edward Guerra Kodatt was selected to replace Madigan as State Representative. As a local Democratic committeeman, Madigan held the weighted vote to select his successor. Kodatt, who is only 26 years old, served as an aide to Chicago Alderman Marty Quinn. Kodatt then abruptly resigned three days later after information surfaced about his involvement in unspecified “inappropriate conduct.” Local Committeemen met again this week and selected Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar to replace Madigan. Guerrero-Cuellar received the second most votes to Kodatt in the original selection process.
Governor Pritzker signed HB 3653, the criminal justice bill that passed in the lame duck session. The bill was an initiative of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. The Senate sponsor noted the need for trailer legislation in the current session. Capitol News Illinois highlights opposition to the bill. Read the Governor’s press releasehere.
Covid-19 Update: The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 1,884 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 32 additional deaths. As of Wednesday night, 1,463 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 334 patients were in the ICU and 168 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. The preliminary 7-day case positivity rate is 2.5%. and the test positivity rate is 2.7%.
Vaccine Update: More Illinoisans are allowed access to the COVID vaccine under expanded eligibility guidelines that took effect Thursday, February 25th. Individuals under the age of 65 who have certain qualifying health conditions are now eligible for the vaccine. Governor Prtizker said this week that he believes Illinois will be vaccinating 100,000 individuals per day by mid-March thanks to additional vaccine allocations from the federal government. Drug maker Johnson & Johnson is also expected to gain emergency use authorization for its one-shot vaccine today which will further expand vaccine capacity in the coming weeks. A total 2,693,345 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago. Another 445,200 doses total have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities. The 7-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 66,274 doses. On Wednesday, 130,021 doses were administered in Illinois, marking the highest reported amount of vaccines administered to date.
Food Benefits Expansion: Beginning in March, approximately one million Illinois children will receive an additional $110 million in federally funded food benefits each month. The assistance will serve roughly 200,000 more children this school year. Families do not need to apply for this round of Pandemic-Electronic Transfer (P-EBT) benefits. In the coming weeks, families will receive one P-EBT card per eligible child, and the cards can be used to purchase food items at EBT-authorized retailers, which include most major grocery stores in Illinois. More information is here.
Disparity Study: The Illinois Department of Central Management Services’ Business Enterprise Program (BEP) commissioned a new disparity study, led by Colette Holt & Associates, that will examine the availability and utilization of businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, and people living with disabilities on State of Illinois contracts. This study is one of the latest efforts by the State to promote the economic inclusion of historically disadvantaged businesses in accordance with state law. More information is here.
Assistance for Small Municipalities: The Illinois Finance Authority is developing a $15 million low-interest loan program to help small municipalities that have been financially impacted by record high natural gas prices due to extreme weather conditions. The IFA loan program will allow the municipalities to spread payments across a more manageable timeframe without placing an overwhelming burden on their residents or businesses. Final details were expected Thursday, February 25th. More information is here.
Gubernatorial Appointments: Governor JB Pritzker named Sylvia Garcia to serve as Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Garcia replaces Erin Guthrie, who is stepping down later this month to pursue an opportunity in the private sector.
Youth Career Pathways: Governor Pritzker announced new investments to the Youth Career Pathways program that will expand training for Illinois youth who face barriers to education, training, and employment. Through a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) released by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Illinois will expand access to training and support services for youth ages 16-24 and who are most at-risk for falling behind on career preparation. The NOFO is seeking proposals from school districts, community colleges, community-based organizations and other partners equipped to provide workforce development training that will help vulnerable youth gain access to skills training and work-based learning that will prepare them for job entry. Applications for the NOFO are due on April 1, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. To apply for the NOFO, please visitDCEO’s website.
NOVEMBER 2022 ELECTION:
Republican State Senator Darrin Bailey announced he will seek the Republican nomination for Governor. Last week former Republican State Senator Paul Schimpf announced he was also running for Governor. More candidates are expected to emerge in the coming weeks. The winner of the Republican primary will face first-term Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker in November 2022.
ATTORNEY GENERAL HIGHLIGHTS:
Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined 17 other Democratic attorneys general, calling on President Biden to use executive action to forgive outstanding student loans. The effort calls for the cancellation of up to $50,000 in federal loans per student. The coalition of AGs cites the continuing pandemic and economic uncertainty as compounding the struggles of student borrowers. The request is in (federal) Senate Resolution 46 and House Resolution 100. More information on the coalition’s call for cancellation of federal student loan debt here.
The Illinois General Assembly will be meeting remotely next week to consider legislation at the committee level. The House committee schedule is here. The Senate committee schedule is here.