January 22, 2021 Update

GOVERNOR’S HIGHLIGHTS: Covid-19 Update: On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,979 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 123 additional deaths. Overnight Wednesday, labs reported 99,036 test results. As of Wednesday night, 3,281 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 662 patients were in the ICU and 358 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. The preliminary seven-day statewide case positivity is down to 5.4%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity is 6.5%.
The Illinois Department of Public Health will utilize new metrics to determine when a region moves forward or backward in mitigation restrictions. The shift, based on a new surge staffing program, allows more regions to ease restrictions.  
Core to the new effort are capacity issues in hospitals, an approach IDPH is undertaking with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Specifically, the program will leverage the state’s contracting power with multiple staffing vendors to create a staffing pool far greater than any single hospital could achieve. This would mean that hospitals with available rooms – but insufficient staff – can partner with the state to secure needed staff. Hospitals tapping this option will enter into contracts with the state. 
The new approach prescribes the metrics for moving from a higher to a lower tier. View the new metrics here. The new criteria allowed Illinois regions to ease mitigation restrictions, with some regions returning to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan. See the status of each region’s mitigation efforts here.
Vaccine Update: As of Wednesday, 901,025 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago. In addition, approximately 524,050 doses have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities, bringing the total Illinois doses to 1,425,075. IDPH is currently reporting a total of 572,389 vaccines administered, including 90,752 for long-term care facilities. The 7-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 22,585 doses.  
Executive OrdersExecutive Order 2021-03 defines the metrics for any of the 11 regions to move to less or more restrictive mitigation measures. Also delineates the principal public health restrictions and mitigations for Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, and Phase 4. Exemptions to all Tiers and Phases include free exercise of religion, emergency functions, and governmental functions.
Executive Order 2021-02 eases mitigation restrictions on Region 2 (Northern Illinois), Region 3 (North-Central Illinois), and Region 5 (Southern Illinois) effective January 15, 2021.
High School Sports: The Illinois High School Association voted to allow winter sports to resume, with the exception of boys’ and girls’ basketball. More information on the IHSA return to play ishere.
Illinois Housing Development Authority Grants: The Illinois Housing Development Authority announced $8 million in funding is available to help spur community redevelopment through the elimination of blighted and abandoned residential properties. Municipalities, counties and land banks may apply for grants through the fifth funding round of the state’s Abandoned Residential Property Municipality Relief Program (APP), an ongoing program that assists local government agencies with the maintenance and demolition of abandoned residential properties in their communities. The application will remain open until Feb. 16, 2021 at 3 p.m. CST and is available online  here.
Board of Higher Education FY22 Budget Request: The Illinois Board of Higher Education approved its Fiscal Year 2022 budget request last week. IBHE is requesting $2.141 billion in fiscal year 2022, and intends continued support of closing equity gaps seen in underserved communities, students of color, and other underrepresented students. The funding request equals a 4.5% ($92 million) increase for general funds (excluding the State University Retirement System). 
The focus on equity includes:·     $50 million increase for MAP (Monetary Award Program)·     $5.3 million increase (2%) for community colleges·     $23.2 million increase (2%) for public universities·    $1 million to roll-out Common App (simplified college applications)·     level funding for merit-based scholarship AIM HIGH·    $10 million for funding stability for College Illinois!This request will be reviewed by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. Complete details of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget will be available when the Governor presents his budget to a joint session of the General Assembly on February 17th. 
ATTORNEY GENERAL HIGHLIGHTS:Attorney General Kwame Raoul on Jan. 19 joined a coalition of states and municipalities in filing a lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency. The suit challenges the EPA’s rule attempting to block future regulation of industries (like the gas and oil industries) responsible for more than half the greenhouse gas emissions from new stationary sources. More info here. Raoul also joined a multi-state coalition to challenge the federal government’s final rule on major sources of toxic pollutants. These sources — like petroleum refineries and chemical plants — are exempt from air pollution regulations when emissions are kept below 10 tons annually. The rule that is being challenged also permits currently regulated sources to increase emissions up to a threshold without being subject to monitoring and reporting requirements. Additional details here.On Jan. 19, Raoul also joined a multistate coalition challenging the US EPA’s final Clean Air cost-benefit rule. Concerns are that the rule will undercount the harmful effects of carbon emission that lead to climate change. Learn more here. In the AG’s other pollution-related action, a multistate coalition filed suit on the US EPA’s decision to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes at a level that would essentially yield no reductions in emissions, compared to “business as usual.” More information is here.AG Raoul also joined a coalition of 18 Attorneys General in urging the US Supreme Court to uphold a portion of the Voting Rights Act that prohibits policies and practices that interfere with citizens’ right to vote based on their race. Learn more here.
STATE TREASURER HIGHLIGHTS:Funding for small nonprofits that provide food, housing assistance, and workforce and economic development is available through a special program at the Illinois Treasurer’s office. The Charitable Trust Stabilization Program will grant up to $25,000 to 10 nonprofits with budgets of $1 million or less. Applications are due by March 31; a second cycle runs for July 1 – Sept. 30, 2021. Information here
102nd GENERAL ASSEMBLY:  Newly elected House Speaker Emmanuel “Chris” Welch named his leadership team for the 102nd General Assembly as follows:·      Greg Harris, Majority Leader·      Jehan Gordon-Booth, Deputy Majority Leader / Speaker Pro-Tempore·      Mary E. Flowers, Deputy Majority Leader and Dean of the Caucus·      Jaime M. Andrade, Jr., Robyn Gabel, Elizabeth Hernandez, Jay Hoffman, Natalie Manley, Marcus Evans and Delia Ramierz, Assistant Majority Leaders·      Carol Ammons, Democratic Conference Chair·      Will Guzzardi, Progressive Caucus Whip·      Kam Buckner, Black Caucus Whip·      Theresa Mah, Asian Caucus Whip·      Larry Walsh, Jr., Downstate Caucus Whip·      Deb Conroy, Women’s Caucus Whip·      Aaron Ortiz, Latinx Caucus Whip
Senate President Don Harmon announced his leadership team as follows:·      Kimberly Lightford, Majority Leader·      Bill Cunningham, President Pro Tempore·      Emil Jones III, Laura M. Murphy, Deputy Majority Leaders·      Jacqueline Y. Collins, Linda Holmes, David Koehler, Antonio Munoz, Assistant Majority Leaders·      Mattie Hunter, Majority Caucus Chair·      Omar Aquino, Napoleon Harris III, Michael F. Hastings, Julie A. Morrison, Majority Caucus Whips
President Harmon also named Committee Chairs for the102nd General Assembly:
·      Agriculture, Patrick Joyce·      Appropriations, Elgie Sims Jr.·      Assignments, Kimberly A. Lightford·      Behavioral and Mental Health, Laura Fine·      Commerce, Suzy Glowiak Hilton·      Criminal Law, John Connor·      Education, Christopher Belt·      Energy and Public Utilities, Michael E. Hastings·      Environment and Conservation, Melinda Bush·      Ethics, Ann Gillespie·      Executive Appointments, Laura Murphy·      Executive, Cristina Castro·      Financial Institutions, Laura Ellman·      Health, Julie Morrison·      Healthcare Access and Availability, Patricia Van Pelt·      Higher Education, Scott M. Bennett·      Human Rights, Celina Villanueva·      Insurance, Napoleon Harris, III·      Judiciary, Rachelle Crowe·      Labor, Linda Holmes·      Licensed Activities, Emil Jones, III·      Local Government, Steve Stadelman·      Pensions, Robert F. Martwick·      Public Safety, Robert Peters·      Redistricting, Omar Aquino·      Revenue, Heather A. Steans·      State Government, Steven M. Landek·      Tourism and Hospitality, Sara Feigenholtz·      Transportation, Ram Villivalam·      Veterans Affairs, Thomas Cullerton
State Senator Heather Steans announced her resignation, effective January 31st. Steans has served in the Illinois Senate for the past 12 years. Steans was recently tapped to Chair the Senate Revenue Committee for the 102nd General Assembly. Her resignation is likely to have some type of effect on the chairmanships listed above. State Representative Kelly Cassidy expressed an interest in replacing Steans in the Senate.
COMING UP:The Senate canceled session for next week. In a joint letter to the members, Senate President Harmon and Minority Leader McConchie noted that they hope to have proper procedures in place for the safe return to session by February 9th. In the meantime, the Senate will begin conducting remote committee hearings once legislation is filed and assigned to committee.Note the deadline to request drafting of substantive House Bills is Friday, January 29th and the deadline to request drafting of substantive Senate Bills is Friday, February 5th.