102nd GENERAL ASSEMBLY: After working through the holiday weekend, the Illinois General Assembly adjourned the 2021 spring legislative session. The Illinois House adjourned early Tuesday morning to the call of the Speaker. The Senate adjourned Tuesday evening to the call of the Senate President. While much was accomplished this session, there has still been no agreement on a clean energy package and legislation designed to address the FOID card process. A scaled back gaming bill stalled in the Senate. The General Assembly is expected to return at some point to address clean energy legislation and Congressional maps. For the first time in 36 years, the Illinois House was led by a new House Speaker. Speaker Emmanuel “Chris” Welch was elected in January by fellow House Democrats to lead the chamber after long-time Speaker Michael Madigan failed to garner enough support for reelection to the chamber’s top spot. Senate President Don Harmon — who was elected to his post in January of 2020 — led the chamber through its first full session since the pandemic began. After meeting for only 18 session days in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic, the Illinois legislature returned to a full session schedule in 2021. Safety remained a priority for both chambers, prompting changes to the operating rules to allow for remote legislating. While the changes to remote operating posed technological and other challenges for both legislators and the public, the changes did allow the General Assembly to continue working during the pandemic. Legislators met in remote committee hearings for the month of March and returned to in-person floor action beginning in April. Even when legislators returned to Springfield, public access to the Capitol remained limited and committee hearings remained remote or a hybrid blend of remote and in-person. The General Assembly approved several high profile measures in the final week of session. See below for further detail.
Fiscal Year 2022 Budget: The Illinois General Assembly approved $42.3 billion in General Revenue Funds spending for the Fiscal Year 2022 operating budget — SB 2800 (Harmon/Welch). One year into the COVID-19 pandemic that devastated the economy, budget makers unexpectedly found Illinois’ fiscal condition to be better than was predicted a few months ago, thanks in part to $8.1 billion in federal stimulus funds (to be spent over the next four years) and an uptick in state revenues this spring. This influx of cash gave lawmakers the ability to restore $350 million in proposed cuts for elementary and secondary education and to pay off nearly $3 billion debt service (interfund borrowing and a federal loan) which lawmakers say will save the state $100 million in the long run. In addition to utilizing increased state revenues and federal ARAP (American Recovery Plan Act) funds, the budget also generates revenue through capping the corporate net operating loss deduction for three years at $100,000/year ($314 million); rolling back the accelerated depreciation deduction ($214 million); rolling back the foreign source dividend deduction ($107 million); and freezing the phase out of the corporate franchise tax ($10 million) . This year, budget makers targeted the one-time ARPA funds to pay for one-time expenses which Leader Greg Harris indicates relieves $1 billion in GRF pressure for Fiscal Years 23 and 24. The budget allocates $1.5 billion of ARPA funds for items such as economic recovery programs to help businesses hardest hit by the pandemic, public health, affordable housing and violence prevention programs like after-school activities, and summer youth employment. Another $1 billion in ARPA funds is directed into the ongoing Rebuild Illinois capital improvements program to accelerate some of the projects slated for construction. GRF allocations include approximately:
- $9.2 billion for K – 12 (including fully funding the evidenced based formula)
- $1.9 billion for Higher Education
- $1.9 Billion for Public Safety
- $7.4 Billion for Human Services
- $1.4 billion for General Services
SB 2800 also contains the FY22 capital budget and reappropriation authorization for the Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan. SB 2017 (Harmon/Harris) represents the statutory language necessary to implement the FY 22 budget. Additional budget detail is here.
Redistricting: Before adjourning for the spring, the Illinois General Assembly approved, along partisan lines, changes to district boundaries for the Illinois General Assembly, the Illinois Supreme Court, and the Cook County Board of Review. The process typically relies on US Census block-level data, but pandemic related delays mean that information will not be made available to states until September. The Illinois Constitution dictates that the General Assembly is to approve new legislative boundaries by June 30. If that deadline is missed, the redistricting process falls to a bipartisan commission. And should the commission fail to reach a consensus, a lottery is held to select a tie-breaking member. Legislative Democrats (who currently hold super majorities in both chambers) were incentivized to approve maps prior to the May 31 adjournment deadline and avoid risking a lottery where there is a 50-50 chance Republicans could gain control of the map-making process. As noted above, US Census block level data is unavailable at this time, so Democrats relied heavily on the American Community Survey Data and other voter data to draw new districts. Republicans and many advocates protested the use of the ACS data and asked the Democrats to wait on official Census data to draw the new boundaries. While adjustments were made to legislative districts in the revised maps, several legislators, primarily Republicans, remain grouped into the same district:
- Senators Cullerton (D) and Glowiak Hilton (D) in Senate District 23
- Senators Plummer (R) and Bailey (R) in Senate District 55
- Representatives Conroy (D) and Mazzochi (R) in House District 46
- Representatives Grant (R) and Lewis (R) in House District 47
- Representatives Wheeler (R) and Ugaste (R) in House District 50
- Representatives Bos (R) and Morrison (R) in House District 51
- Representatives McCombie (R) and Chesney (R) in House District 90
- Representatives Frese (R) and Davidsmeyer (R) in House District 99
- Representatives Caulkins (R) and Halbrook (R) in House District 107
- Representatives Bourne (R) and Murphy (R) in House District 108
Capitol News has a recap of the debate in both chambers here. More on the Supreme Court map debate here. The General Assembly is required to redraw Illinois’ Congressional boundaries too, but those new district maps have not yet been publicly released. SB 2661 (Harmon/Hernandez) creates the Cook County Board of Review Redistricting Act of 2021. HB 2777 (Hernandez/Harmon) creates the General Assembly Redistricting Act of 2021. SB 642 (Harmon/Tarver) creates new district boundaries for the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts (the Circuit Court boundaries remain the same). All of the bills are now on the Governor’s desk. The Illinois Senate approved SR 326 (Harmon) and the Illinois House approved HR 359 (Hernandez) enumerating redistricting principles, the hearing process, and summaries of Legislative Districts with respect to the 2021. The General Assembly also approved legislation, SB 2406 (Belt/Hoffman), which reorganizes judicial circuits and subcircuits. SB 2406 heads to the Governor desk.
Clean Energy: Despite months of negotiations, negotiators were unable to reach an agreement on clean energy legislation. The General Assembly is expected to reconvene if and when a compromise is reached. Upon adjournment, Speaker Welch indicated his desire to resolve the issue “sooner rather than later.”
Elected Chicago School Board: The General Assembly also adjourned without approving a measure to elect, rather than appoint, the Chicago School Board. On Tuesday, the Illinois Senate approved a negotiated compromise to provide for a transition to a fully elected 21 member Chicago School Board by the year 2026. HB 2908 (Ramirez/Martwick), passed the Senate and returns to the Illinois House for concurrence.
Ethics:SB 539 (Gillespie/Burke) constitutes an omnibus ethics bill — many of the provisions of which were debated in January ‘s lame duck session but not ultimately passed. The waning hours of the current session saw SB 539 amended to change various ethics laws to affect: streamlining statements of economic interest; prohibiting GA members from lobbying other entities of government; banning legislative and executive fundraisers anywhere on session days and the day before a session day; prorating the salaries of GA members who leave office mid term; and requiring lobbyists at the county, municipal or township level to register with the Secretary of State and submit expenditure disclosures (akin to lobbyists at the state level). The bill broadens the definition of lobbying to include soliciting another to make communications and also imposes a six-month revolving door on members of the legislative and executive branches. Requires lobbyists to disclose consultants and complete ethics and sexual harassment training. The bill prohibits the Legislative Ethics Commission from proposing or enforcing rules mandating that the Legislative Inspector General must receive prior approval from the Commission before initiating an investigation. Allows Chicago to continue with its own lobbying ordinances. SB 539 heads to the Governor’s desk.
Gaming: A scaled back gaming bill passed the House, but was not called in the Senate. SB 521 (Munoz/Rita) makes several substantive and technical changes to gaming laws. Some of the changes include:
- Provisions for labor peace agreements for new casinos.
- With respect to video gaming terminals (VGTs), requires a new fee and licenses for sales agents.
- Allows VFWs to operate video gaming in opt-out communities with the exception of Chicago and unincorporated Cook.
- Prohibits communities from imposing a “push tax” on video gaming — a grandfather provision allows existing push taxes to remain.
- Allows the “Chicago Sky” WNBA team to be eligible for one of seven sports betting facility licenses.
- Contains a casino dual licensure fix for occupational licenses.
- Allows in-person betting on Illinois collegiate sports teams. The provision will sunset in two years.
- Makes several horse racing breeding related changes and allows the Racing Board to grant a racino license in southern Cook County in accordance with the bill’s provisions.
- Creates a single renewal date for all casino video and sports wagering licenses and allows multi-year licenses across all gaming disciplines.
- Extends sports wagering supplier license from annual to four year term and makes other licensing related changes.
- Changes taxation of the Casino Queen to its modified AGR, with stipulations.
Medicaid: A negotiated Medicaid omnibus bill passed during the final days of session. As amended, SB 2294 (Gillespie/Harris) represents the efforts of the Medicaid Working Group. The legislation makes numerous changes to the state’s Medicaid program including creating the Illinois Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Act. HFS is required to develop a Comprehensive Statewide Behavioral Health Strategy by July 1, 2022. HFS is also required to establish a Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly program. The bill also continues Medicaid coverage for up to 12 months after the COVID-19 public health emergency expires and expands Medicaid coverage for children under the age of 19 who are in households at or below 313% FPL. The bill also provides Medicaid coverage for chiropractic services, tobacco cessation, immunosuppressant and kidney transplant medication for non-citizens as well as reimbursement for immunizations, counseling services and long-acting injectable medications for behavioral health services in a hospital setting. In order to address access issues, increase Medicaid reimbursement for dental and immunization services. SB 2294 heads to the Governor’s desk.
Cannabis:HB 1443 (Ford/Lightford), which addresses issues and delays with the cannabis dispensary license for social equity applicants, passed both chambers. The bill 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. Additionally, the bill changes existing relocation provisions, allowing social equity applicants to be within 1,500 feet of existing dispensaries. The bill 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. A cannabis trailer bill, SB 166 (Bennett/Harper) addresses procurement concerns with the Commission on Equity and Inclusion. SB 166 passed both houses.
Omnibus Election Legislation: The Illinois General Assembly approved an omnibus election bill, SB 825 (Harmon/West), which makes several election-related changes including moving the 2022 primary election from March to June 28th. This change accommodates the delay in drawing a new Congressional map until after Census data is released in September. Key provisions of the bill include:
- Setting petition circulation to begin January 13
- Establishing the petition filing period to be March 7 – 14
- Directing that vote by mail ballots be available beginning March 30, with early voting to begin May 19
- Making curbside voting permanent
- Allowing voters to be put on a list of individuals who wish to permanently vote by mail
- Changing the process to fill a legislative vacancy including provisions to make the process more open to the public
- Allowing county sheriffs to set up ballot booths at county jails
- Creating a pilot program to allow election authorities to establish at least one location for anyone in the county or municipality to vote on election day
- Establishing a process to allow the appointment of transgender persons to the Democratic State Central Committee
- Permitting elected officials to use campaign funds for vehicle-related expenditures, provided they are for primarily campaign of governmental duties
- Preventing units of local government from adopting measures that require General Assembly members to resign their offices in order to be eligible to win an office in the unit of local government
Fix the FOID Act: The General Assembly adjourned without passing changes to the FOID card. Negotiated language to fix the FOID was amended onto HB 562 (Hoffman, Koehler). HB 562 is an initiative of the Illinois State Police and is designed to modernize the FOID card process and make reforms to address the backlog in FOID and concealed card processing and addresses perceived “loopholes” regarding the transfer of firearms. The bill does not include mandatory fingerprinting, but individuals who submit to voluntary fingerprinting will have the ability to get a non-expiring FOID card. HB 562 passed the Senate, but was not called for a concurrence vote in the House. The House narrowly passed HB 1091 (Hirschauer) which represents the gun control advocates language. This bill, among other provisions, includes mandatory fingerprinting for FOID card applicants and renewals. A motion to reconsider the vote was filed on this bill thus preventing it from advancing to the Senate. The following measures passed and will be sent to the Governor’s desk:
- SB 818 (Villivalam/Lilly) narrowly passed the House by a vote of 60-48. The bill changes sex education standards in schools to be inclusive, medically accurate, and developmentally appropriate. As amended, the bill does not require schools to teach sex education.
- HB 3712 (Jones/Harris) creates the Car-Sharing Program Act.
- HB 3739 (Robinson/Bush), as amended, creates the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act. The bill establishes timelines and requirements for the replacement of lead service lines in Illinois. Creates the Lead Service Line Replacement Advisory Board. Creates a low-income water assistance program to help fund financial assistance and water projects that include lead pipe replacement.
- SB 2338 (Harris/Buckner) which creates the Student-Athlete Endorsement Rights Act to allow financial compensation for student-athletes. Student athletes are not allowed to endorse items such as alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, sports betting, etc.
- HB 219 (Carroll/Gillespie) which requires the Illinois State Board of Education to adopt rules to phase out the use of time outs, isolated time outs, and physical restraint in all public schools and nonpublic special education facilities by the 2022-2023 school year.
- SB 672 (Hunter/Burke) represents an agreed negotiated bill between labor and business. As amended, the bill makes changes to the Illinois Freedom to Work Act and covenants not to compete and not to solicit. The amendment prohibits covenants not to compete for employees with earnings over $75,000/year (increasing in steps up to year 2037). In addition, it prohibits covenants not to solicit employees making $45,000/year (increasing in steps until 2037). The amendment also nullifies covenants not to compete for employees terminated, furloughed, or laid off as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.· And finally, the amendment strips the language of the underlying bill which requires third party delivery service platforms — such as Doordash — to have agreements with restaurants for which delivery service is being provided. That underlying language was reintroduced as a new bill this week — SB 2904 (Bush).
- HB 3308 (Jones/Harris) 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.
- SB 815 (Lightford/Ammons) creates the Commission on Equitable Public University Funding to recommend specific data-driven criteria and approaches to the General Assembly to adequately, equitably, and stably fund public universities.
- SB 104 (Feigenholtz/Zalewski) extends the cocktails-to-go bill passed last May; allows the use of credit cards when retailers purchase from distributors; changes timing of sales tax payments for restaurants; and permits the delivery of wine. As amended, the bill also includes “shot and a beer” language which allows bars to offer a free alcoholic beverage to individuals who show proof of receiving the COVID vaccine.
- HB 2621 (Guzzardi /Hunter) represents the Affordable Housing Omnibus bill. The negotiated bill creates the COVID-19 Affordable Housing Grant Program Act. The legislation provides that the Illinois Housing Development Authority shall establish an affordable housing grant program to encourage the construction and rehabilitation of affordable multifamily rental housing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- HB 806 (Mah/Jones), as amended, represents an omnibus regulatory sunset bill — extending the sunsets of various acts.
- SB 58 (Munoz/Evans) removes the $10,000 cap on trade in value of vehicles for sales tax purposes and reduces the annual trailer plate fees from $118 to $36.
- HB 2878 (Stuart /Pacione-Zayas) represents a negotiated agreement creating the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Act. Requires the Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board to create and establish the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity. Provides that the purpose of the Consortium is to serve the needs of the incumbent early childhood workforce and the employers of early childhood educators and to advance racial equity by streamlining, coordinating, and improving the accessibility to degree completion pathways at institutions of higher education.
- SB 508 (Hastings/Zalewski) represents an omnibus property tax legislation. The bill includes an agreement on Cook County scavenger sales, includes an expansion of the single bidder rule, contains agreed language for the Southwest Home Equity Association and an agreement with the school boards on the extension law. SB 508 heads to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 3743 (Walsh/Hastings) represents the 2021 telecom package. The bill includes a sunset extension for small cell. The bill also includes language to reconstitute the small cell act if it expires on June 1st and the Governor signs the bill after that date. Extends the sunset of the Telecommunications and Cable and Video competition Acts for 5 years. The sunset extension of 911 is extended for 2 years with agreed technical changes. Included in the bill is a limited expansion of prevailing wage, applicable to private third-party private work.
In other news, House Speaker Welch made an end of session leadership change. Representative Carol Ammons was replaced by Representative LaToya Greenwood in the position as House Democratic Caucus Chair.
GOVERNOR’S HIGHLIGHTS:New Laws: Governor Pritzker signed SB 72 (Harmon/Hoffman) which allows for prejudgment interest, rather than post judgement interest, in civil proceedings. The bill exempts state and local government, lowers the interest rate from 9 to 6 percent, and moves the start date to when the suit is actually filed. The new law takes effect July 1, 2021.
Executive Order:Executive Order 2021-11 reissues many of the COVID Executive Orders through June 26, 2021.