103rd ILLINOIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
The Illinois General Assembly will resume the Spring Legislative Session on Tuesday, February 6. 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.
The Senate Assignments Committee met this week and assigned 58 Senate Bills and 8 resolutions to committees for consideration.
The House Mental Health and Addiction Committee will hold a joint subject matter hearing with the Senate Behavioral Mental Health Committee on February 23rd to discuss the behavioral health workforce shortage. Both hearings will begin at 10:00 am and will be held in the Bilandic Building in Chicago.
2024 Key Dates and Session Deadlines:
January 19 – February 9: LRB Blackout Period – No Amendment 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
Training Grants Available for Reproductive Health: The Illinois Department of Public Health is accepting applications until February 9 for $2 million in grants from qualified Illinois groups to provide training to improve access to safe, high-quality reproductive health care including abortions. The Abortion Provider Capacity Building Grant Program is open to local health departments and non-profit community agencies that have a track-record of providing reproductive health training and services.
The grant opportunity is being offered through IDPH’s Office of Women’s Health & Family Services. The application process is open to local health departments and community-based organizations with 501c3 non-profit status. Applications will be processed through IDPH’s Electronic Grants Administration and Management System (EGrAMS). Read more here.
Statewide Literacy Plan: The Illinois State Board of Education released a draft of the new Statewide Literacy Plan, as required by last Spring’ s legislation. Key components of the plan include effective evidence-based literacy instruction; educator professional learning, development, and support; effective literacy leadership; support and implementation considerations; and tools and resources. Read more here.
ISBE Approves FY 25 Budget Request: At this week’s meeting, the Illinois State Board of Education approved its Fiscal Year 2025 budget request, which includes a $653 million increase for PreK-12 public schools. The proposal includes a $350 million increase in Evidence-Based Funding ($300 million for direct funding for the qualifying districts and $50 million for property tax relief grants). Highlights of other components of the request: a $112 million increase for reimbursing school districts for transporting students with disabilities; a $75 million boost in early childhood education funding; and $35 million for supporting newcomers. Read more here.
Migrant Update: Governor Pritzker joined eight Governors in writing a letter to President Joe Biden and Congress on Monday asking that they “quickly negotiate” a border security deal that could fund states taking in asylum seekers. The Governors wrote “The sustained arrival of individuals seeking asylum and requiring shelter and assistance, due to lack of congressional action on infrastructure and policies, can only be addressed with federal organizational support and funding to meet the public safety and humanitarian needs of our local communities.”
Meanwhile Governor Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson appear to be at odds over who bears the responsibility for developing more housing for new arrivals. It was reported this week that Mayor Johnson plans to stop building new shelters. That announcement drew criticism from the Governor who said “I’m deeply concerned. We do not have enough shelter as it is in the city of Chicago.” According to the Governor’s office, the state, which has already directed $640 million toward the migrant issue, is prepared to build another shelter but says it needs the city to determine a location. Johnson claims his office has offered potential locations, including locations outside of the city. Read more here.
Electric Vehicle Charging: The Illinois Department of Transportation was awarded $7.1 million in federal funds to fix public electric vehicle chargers through the Federal Highway Administration’s Electric Vehicle Charger Reliability and Accessibility Program. The grant will repair, replace or upgrade an estimated 93 Level 2 ports and 34 Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) ports at various locations throughout the state. A complete list can be found here.
Nexamp Expansion: Nexamp, the nation’s largest community solar provider, selected Chicago as its second national headquarters. The expansion will create 50 new jobs as part of more than $2 billion in planned investments in the state through its existing projects and development pipeline. Read more here.
Gubernatorial Appointments: Governor Pritzker appointed the following:
· Joe Duffy will continue to serve as a Member of the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board.
· Lionel Craft will continue to serve as a Member of the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board.
· Jon Johnson will continue to serve as a Member of the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board.
· Doug Scott will continue to serve as Member and Chair of the Illinois Commerce Commission.
· Ken Olson will serve as a Member of the Illinois Health Benefits Exchange Advisory Committee.
· Paula Campbell will serve as a Member of the Illinois Health Benefits Exchange Advisory Committee.
· Julie Sampson will serve as a Member of the Illinois Health Benefits Exchange Advisory Committee.
· Sam Tornatore will continue to serve as a member of the Illinois Housing Development Authority.
· Fran Hurley will continue to serve as a Member of the Illinois Labor Relations Board.
· Julieta LaMalfa will continue to serve as a Member of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.
· James Brooks will serve as a Member of the Illinois State Medical Board.
· Darryl Arrington will continue to serve as a Member of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
Board of Higher Education Grants: The Illinois Board of Higher Education has awarded $400 million in grants through the Independent Colleges Capital Investment Grant Program to 45 institutions of higher education in Illinois in partnership with the Illinois Capital Development Board. The goal of the program is to provide financial assistance to private, not-for-profit colleges and universities in Illinois for the construction, repair and renovation of infrastructure on campuses to provide equitable learning experiences to students across the state. The full list of awardees is here.
Grocery Store Grants: The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced $3.5 million in available grant funding for local grocers through the Equipment Upgrades Program as part of the Illinois Grocery Initiative. These grants will provide funding for energy-efficient equipment upgrades for existing grocery stores, with priority given to those located in food insecure communities across the state. Grantees will be selected through a competitive Notice of Funding Opportunity process.
This program is designed to strengthen existing grocery stores and preserve access to fresh food in food insecure communities, in an effort to stop the formation of new food deserts. Eligible applicants must be independently owned grocers with fewer than 500 employees and operate no more than four grocery stores. Grocery stores located in food deserts as defined by the USDA map are prioritized for this initiative. Read more here.
Drinking and Wastewater Investment: The Illinois Environmental Protection allocated more than $66 million through water infrastructure loans to local governments and water districts for the first half of Fiscal Year 2024 (July – December 2023). The Illinois EPA State Revolving Fund Program provides low-interest loans which fund wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water projects. Read the list of recipients here.
Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Downstate Police and Fire Consolidation: The Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously to uphold the 2019 downstate police and firefighter pension fund consolidation law after certain members sued claiming their voting power was diluted. The ruling is here.
Commenting on the ruling, Governor Pritzker said, “The Illinois Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of this landmark, bi-partisan pension reform law today is confirmation that smart, thoughtful pension reform can be accomplished in Illinois. After 70 years of attempts, my partners in the General Assembly and I were able to accomplish meaningful reform during my first term in office. We ushered in a new era of responsible fiscal management, one aspect of which has been consolidating over 600 local pension systems to increase returns and lower fees, reducing the burden on taxpayers and keeping another campaign promise. Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for Illinois taxpayers, local governments and first responders.”
Illinois Supreme Court Ruling in Staffing Agencies Case: The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled last week that staffing agencies are not exempt from the state’s antitrust laws. The high court’s ruling comes 3 ½ years after Attorney General Kwame Raoul sued three staffing agencies for using their mutual client to coordinate no-poach agreements, which created a secondary agreement to pay temp staffers less than the market rate. Capitol News offers more here.
Chicago City Council Debating Ban on Natural Gas in New Construction: The Chicago City Council is debating an ordinance that would effectively ban the use of natural gas in new construction. Read the ordinance here. Read more here.