First term Democrat Governor J.B. Pritzker announced he will seek reelection in November 2022. Pritzker’s announcement focused on his response to the pandemic, “We’ve been through a lot and I’ve been so proud to see Illinoisans come together during the toughest of times.” Pritzker said he’s “excited to fight for the state I love” alongside Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, “and there’s no limit to what we can do going forward.”
Criminal Justice Bills Signed: Governor Pritzker signed a package of criminal justice reform legislation. The package includes:·
SB2122 (Peters/Slaughter) which prohibits the use of deceptive tactics by all law enforcement when interrogating a minor. The bill takes effect January 1, 2022.
· SB64 (Peters/Ammons) which encourages the use of restorative justice practices by providing that participation in such practices and anything said or done during the practice is privileged and may not be used in any future proceeding unless the privilege is waived by the informed consent of the party or parties covered by the privilege. The bill takes effect immediately.
· SB2129 (Peters/Cassidy) which allows the State’s Attorney of a county in which a defendant was sentenced to petition for resentencing of the offender if the original sentence no longer advances the interests of justice. The bill takes effect January 1, 2022.
· HB3587 (Slaughter/Peters) creates the Resentencing Task Force Act to study ways to reduce Illinois’ prison population via resentencing motions. The bill takes effect immediately.
Read the Governor’s Press Release here.
Cannabis Trailer Bill Signed:Governor Pritzker signed HB 1443 (Ford/Lightford) which addresses issues and delays with the cannabis dispensary license for social equity applicants. The new law maintains the existing 75 social equity licenses and adds two lotteries (three lotteries total) of 55 licenses each for a total of 185 potential new licenses. The lotteries are scheduled to take place in July and August. Additionally, the law changes existing relocation provisions, allowing social equity applicants to be within 1,500 feet of existing dispensaries. The law also: expands the R3 board; creates the position of Cannabis Regulation and Oversight Officer; and establishes a Social Equity Justice Involved lottery for five medical licenses. Read the Governor’s full announcement here. The cannabis company Sozo has already filed a lawsuit challenging the new law.
Telehealth Bill Signed:The Governor signed HB3308 (Harris/Jones) which represents a negotiated compromise to extend telehealth beyond the Governor’s Executive Order. As amended, it requires health insurance coverage for telehealth services, e-visits, and virtual check-ins rendered by a health care professional (when clinically appropriate and medically necessary), similar to other covered benefits. The bill includes payment parity for telehealth at the same level as services offered in person. The health insurance provider is responsible for notifying health care professionals and facilities of any instructions for the billing of telehealth services, e-visits, and virtual check-ins. Requires the Department of Insurance and the Department of Public Health to issue a telehealth report to the General Assembly by December 31, 2026. The Governor’s press release is here.
Contraception Bill Signed:Governor Pritzker signed HB135 (Mussman/Bush) which expands access to contraception by allowing pharmacists to dispense contraception. The bill further requires insurance coverage for contraception administered by pharmacists under plans that currently cover physician prescribed birth control. HB 135 is effective January 1, 2022. Provisions effecting the Insurance Code are effective January 1, 2023. The Governor’s press release is here.
Wage Payment and Collection Act:Governor Pritzker signed HB118 (Guzzardi/Villa) which increases penalties on employers in Illinois that do not adhere to rules outlined in the Wage Payment and Collection Act. Under the bill, an employer found to have violated the Act is liable for not only the unpaid wages and final compensation, but also 5% of the damages of the underpayment per month, for each month during which wages or final compensation remain unpaid. Previously, employers owed 2% of the damages for underpayment. Read the Governor’s press release here.
Asian American History: Governor JB Pritzker signed HB376 (Gong-Gershowitz/Villivalam) which creates the Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act. The bill requires a unit of Asian American history be taught in public schools. More on the Governor’s announcement is here.
Governor Pritzker signed several other bills into law over the past week. See here for more information on the new laws.
Eviction Moratorium: The eviction moratorium is scheduled to end in August, with a gradual phaseout throughout the summer. On July 23, the Governor will issue an Executive Order that allows eviction filings against covered persons to begin on August 1. The current prohibition on enforcement of eviction orders entered against covered persons will remain in place until August 31. Enforcement of eviction orders entered against covered persons will be allowed after August 31. More on the Governor’s announcement is here.
COVID-19 Grants for Small Local Governments: Governor Pritzker announced that 1,250 small cities, towns and villages in Illinois that have not already received aid from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) can apply for their share of more than $742 million in federal funds. More information is here.
OSLAD and LWCF Grants:The Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced applications are being accepted for grants through the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant programs. The application period for both programs opened July 15, 2021 and applications must be submitted to the IDNR by 5:00 p.m. Sept. 1, 2021. The Notice of Funding Opportunity can be found here.
Illinois, like most of the country, is experiencing another increase in COVID-19 cases fueled primarily by more highly and contagious variants including the Gamma and Delta variants. New cases are up 51% compared to the previous week. The 7-day case positivity rate in Illinois is up to 3% and at its highest point since mid-May. Currently, 14 downstate counties are at a coronavirus warning level.
On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,993 new cases of COVID – 19 – the highest count of daily infections since May. An additional 6 deaths were reported overnight. Currently, 628 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 119 are in the ICU. Of those who have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, 159 were fully vaccinated – representing 2.3% of COVID deaths since January 1st.
At this time, the Pritzker administration has no plans to implement additional mitigations to slow the spread of the virus. The Governor noted that the vaccine is effective and readily available. The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that 55.7% of the state’s vaccine-eligible population of residents 12 and older are now fully vaccinated, with 71.2% of that population having received at least one dose.
The Illinois Department of Public adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Kindergarten (K)-12 Schools.
Major elements of the updated guidance include:
· Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.
· CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.
· Screening, testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
· Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (masking, distancing, testing) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated.
Schools and communities should monitor community transmission of COVID-19, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and outbreaks to guide decisions about on the level of layered prevention strategies being implemented.New guidance issued by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board encourages Illinois colleges and universities to require vaccination to protect their campus and local communities as they bring students back for a full campus experience. Read the new guidance here.
The University of Illinois announced this week that faculty and staff who will be working in-person on campus this fall must be vaccinated. The University of Illinois Health System similarly is requiring all of its employees to receive the vaccine.
102nd General Assembly:
Republican leaders Senator Dan McConchie and Representative Jim Durkin and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund are challenging the constitutionality of the map of the newly drawn legislative districts. Democrats have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The lawsuits focus on whether American Community Survey data, rather than full census data, is a permissible source for drawing legislative district lines. Capitol News has more here.
Carol Pope, the Legislative Inspector General, resigned her position last week. Pope, a former federal prosecutor, noted her frustration in a letter saying “This last legislative session demonstrated that true ethics reform is not a priority. The LIG has no real power to effect change or shine a light on ethics violations, the position is essentially a paper tiger”. Pope will stay in the position until a replacement is found or December 15, 2021.
The House Health Care Availability & Accessibility Committee will hold a hearing on August 9th at 10:30 am in the Bilandic Building in Chicago to discuss a COVID-19 vaccination update and the delta variant. The House Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies Committee will hold a hearing on August 12th at 10:00 am in Virtual Room 2 to discuss evidence-based efforts to reduce suspensions and expulsions.