103rd ILLINOIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
The Illinois General Assembly kicked off the Spring 2024 Legislative Session this week. Both chambers were in session Tuesday and Wednesday but cancelled Thursday’s scheduled session. Today is the deadline to request a substantive bill be drafted for consideration during the 2024 Spring Session. Friday, February 9 is the deadline to file substantive legislation in both chambers. Note that in order to focus on drafting new legislation, the Legislative Reference Bureau will not draft amendments between now and February 9.
Endra Curry will begin on January 22 as the new Research and Appropriations Director for the House Democratic Caucus. Curry, who was hired following a national search, comes from South Carolina where she served as the nonpartisan Director of Financial Policy since 2020. Before that she was the Senior Budget Analyst for the Senate Finance Committee.
The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is working in conjunction with members of the General Assembly to form the new bipartisan, bicameral Illinois Manufacturing Caucus. The caucus is co-chaired by state Representatives Amy Elik and Justin Slaughter, and Senators Sue Rezin and Patrick Joyce.
Speaker Welch formed a “New Arrivals” working group to address the state government’s policy response and budgetary approach to handling the influx of migrants into Illinois. Representative Gong-Gershowitz — who has 20 years’ experience as an immigration attorney — will chair the new effort. Other members are House Majority Leader Robyn Gabel; Speaker Pro Tempore Jehan Gordon-Booth; Assistant Majority Leader Kam Buckner and Representatives Dagmara “Dee” Avelar; Eva-Dina Delgado; Terra Costa Howard; Hoan Huynh and Dave Vella.
The behavioral health workforce shortage will be the topic of two upcoming hearings. On January 25 – and then again on February 23 – the House Mental Health and Addiction Committee will meet in tandem with the Senate Behavioral Mental Health Committee to address the subject. Both hearings will begin at 10 a.m. in the Bilandic Building in Chicago.
Representative LaPointe filed HB 4475 which creates the Strengthening Mental Health and Substance Use Parity Act. Upon becoming law, it would require coverage for all out-of-network medically necessary mental health and substance use benefits and services (inpatient and outpatient) as if they were in-network for purposes of cost sharing for the insured.
Representative Syed filed HB 4472 which creates the Health Care Availability and Access Board Act. By establishing a special board, protection from the high costs of prescription drugs would be extended to
State residents, State and local governments, commercial health plans, health care providers, pharmacies licensed in the State, and other stakeholders within the health care system. Read more here.
Senator Halpin filed SB 2793 which amends the Paid Leave for All Workers Act. Provides that the definition of “employee” does not include a worker who is not provided with a regular work schedule by an employer and is directly contracted with the employer to work on an as-needed basis for the express purpose of covering the shifts of full-time employees who are taking leave for vacations, illness, or for any other unforeseen reason.
Senator Ventura filed SB 2784 which creates the Cargo Transportation Fee Act. The fund will be used for road projects in areas with heightened levels of traffic because of transportation of tangible personal property in counties that contain (in whole or in part) an intermodal facility located on more than 3,500 acres. Illinois State Police will use 5% of the proceeds to enforce weight systems located within 20 miles of the intermodal facility.
2024 Key Dates and Session Deadlines:
January 19: House and Senate LRB Request Deadline
January 19 – February 9: LRB Blackout Period – No Requests Will Be Accepted
February 9: Senate and House Bill Filing Deadline and LRB Amendment Requests Begin
February 21: Governor’s Budget and State of the State Address
March 15: Senate Committee Deadline for Senate Bills
March 19: Primary Election
April 5: House Committee Deadline for House Bills
April 12: Senate Third Reading Deadline
April 19: House Third Reading Deadline
May 3: Committee Deadline for Bills in the Opposite Chamber
May 17: House and Senate Third Reading Deadline for Bills in the Opposite Chamber
May 24: Adjournment
May 25 – 31: Contingent Session Days
Migrant Update: The Illinois Department of Human Services announced $17 million in additional funding for municipalities outside of Chicago to support migrants being bussed to Illinois from Texas. The State is continuing to support the City of Chicago with direct funding as well as funding to support the overall asylum seeker response and is launching this latest round of funding to increase capacity outside of the City.
A partnership with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus distributed $11 million. Funds must be used to welcome and support migrants and cannot be used to transport them elsewhere. Another $4 million will help create 13 Illinois Welcoming Centers for management services for migrants seeking shelter, employment and other resources. Immigrant Family Resources Program providers will receive another $2 million to help new arrivals with interpretation and translation services, information about public benefits, and advocacy.
The funds will come from the previously announced $160 million in additional State investment to support the asylum seeker response.
Lead Service Line Replacement Grants Awarded: Some 92 community water supplies will be funded under the latest round of the Lead Service Line Inventory Grant Program of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The money – which ranges from $20,000 – $50,000 in grants to help create a complete lead service line inventory – is toward fulfillment of the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act (LSLRN Act). In all in 2023, funding has gone to 260 Illinois systems. Read more here.
Outdoor Recreation Grants Awarded: Expanding access to outdoor recreation is the goal of nearly $2.4 million in grants awarded to eight Illinois communities. The money, which originates with the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund, is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and can provide up to 50% of a project’s costs. When combined with local matching funds, the outdoor grants will support more than $5.4 million in local park lands across Illinois. Read more here.
Food Supply Chain Grants Available: About $6.4 million will be dedicated to strengthening Illinois’ food supply chain under a competitive grant program announced by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Done in cooperation with the US Department of Agriculture, the Resilient Food Systems infrastructure program will consider applications beginning January 22, 2024 from nonprofits, local government entities, universities, schools and hospitals. Deadline is March 15, 2024; apply at Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program (illinois.gov). Read more here.
Wieland Invests in East Alton Facility: Wieland will be modernizing its East Alton facility to the tune of $500 million, enabling the company to bolster production of critical copper and copper alloy components used in electric vehicles, EV charging infrastructure and renewable energy production. The investment will help retain 800 jobs across Illinois and represents a total incentive package from the State of about $231 million (including REV and other incentives). Wieland’s tax benefits through REV will total $172 million over 30 years; see the agreement here.
A variety of other benefits comprise the rest of the incentive package, including capital funding for such East Alton infrastructure as the construction of a new electricity substation, flexible funds for workforce support, and additional tax incentives. Read more here.
Sickle Cell Disease Grants Available: A total of $750,000 in grants for sickle cell disease-related programs has been rolled out by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Up to eight organizations – with each one being awarded between $30,000 and $500,000 – will be funded under the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Sickle Cell Disease grants. Awardees will zero in on five goals: comprehensive sickle cell treatment, pain management therapies, infusion centers, mental health resources, and counseling opportunities for people with sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait.
Monies from the program can also support developing or enhancing current educational/outreach efforts. The overall mission is to give accurate and timely info to people with sickling disorder as well as their families and other concerned parties (such as clinical providers, health care professionals, local public health, service providers, educators and the community). More info here.
Early Childhood Update: Nearly 6,000 new preschool seats have been added by the Illinois State Board of Elections to “preschool deserts” – those portions of the state without sufficient publicly funded preschool seats to serve 80% of low-income 3- and 4-year-olds. The undertaking is part of the Governor’s Smart Start initiative. The goal had originally been to add 5,000 new seats; by introducing 5,886 seats, the ISBE exceeded that target by 18%. View the list of Preschool for All grantees, Preschool for All – Expansion grantees, and Prevention Initiative grantees.
Assault Weapons Ban: By a vote of 6-5, the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules objected Tuesday to the Illinois State Police rules to implement the Illinois assault weapons ban (also known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act). An Objection requires an agency response within 90 days and precludes the agency from adopting the rulemaking until JCAR has received the response. If the agency fails to respond within 90 days, the rulemaking dies and cannot be adopted. Notices of Objection are published in the Register. Read more here.
Pretrial Release Appeals Task Force: The Illinois Supreme Court created the Pretrial Release Appeals Task Force to thoroughly review pretrial release appeals and their impact on caseloads in each of the five Appellate Court districts.
The Task Force will consult with any interested stakeholders, among them the Office of
the Attorney General, the Office of the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor, the Office of the State
Appellate Defender, the offices of the five Appellate Court clerks; and the Illinois Appellate Lawyers
Association. The Task Force will hold its first meeting within the next 14 days and will issue a report of
its findings and recommendations to the Supreme Court within the next 45 days.
Chairing the Task Force is Fourth District Appellate Justice Eugene Doherty. Other members are First District Appellate Justice David Ellis, Second District Appellate Justice Margaret Mullen, Third District Appellate Justice Lance Petersen, and Fifth District Appellate Justice Mark Boie.
Attorney General Urges Rescheduling of Cannabis: Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 12 state attorneys general, urged the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to reschedule cannabis to Schedule III under the federal Controlled Substances Act in the interest of public health and safety.
In their letter to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, the coalition of attorneys general explain that rescheduling cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III will allow the state-regulated cannabis industry to continue to set the standard for legal products. These businesses would be able to take ordinary tax deductions to expand their investments and focus on public health and safety in collaboration with law enforcement efforts. Another consequence of the policy change: increased research on the physical and mental impacts of cannabis use, particularly among youth.
Joining Raoul in submitting the letter are the attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Rhode Island. Read more here.