102ND GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
The Illinois General Assembly adjourned for the week. The Illinois House was in session March 22 – 25, while the Senate was in session March 22 – 24. Friday, March 25 is the deadline to pass bills out of committee in the opposite chamber. Proceedings returned to a more “normal” state in the Illinois Senate as COVID protocols were eased and in-person committee hearings were required for the first time since the pandemic began two years ago. While on-line participation in committee hearings is no longer an option, tech experts are working on a plan to possibly offer hybrid committee participation in Senate hearings at some point in the future. A negative COVID PCR or SHIELD test and wristband are still required for any person entering into Senate committees, galleries, or offices. Those with wristbands are now able to access committee rooms, Senate elevators, and hallways adjacent to the Senate chamber. Masking is strongly encouraged, but not required.
FY 22 Supplemental Appropriation: Both chambers approved a Fiscal Year 2022 supplemental appropriation, SB 2803 (Holmes/Harris), which includes General Revenue Funds appropriations to fully fund College Illinois ($230 million), reduce the Group Insurance Trust Fund debt ($898 million) and make an extra pension payment beyond what is required by statute ($300 million). Leader Harris stated the extra cash infusion will reduce the state’s pension liability by more than $1 billion over the course of the next several years. These items were all included in Governor Pritzker’s budget request. SB 2803 also appropriates $2.7 billion in federal ARPA funds to address the $4.5 billion shortfall in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Leader Harris noted that while this bill does not fully address the totality of the shortfall, it does reduce the amount negotiators must address through the Agreed Bill Process. Leader Harris predicted the remaining $1.8 billion will be filled through a combination of premium and benefit “adjustments” and/or bonded borrowing. Negotiations to address the remaining shortfall, including the need for substantive legislation, continue through the Agreed Bill Process. Republicans in both chambers opposed the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund portion of the bill and argued that Illinois should use ARPA funds to address the entirety of the Trust Fund shortfall to avoid premium increases and/or benefit reductions. Legislative Democrats argued the need to use ARPA funds for other initiatives and reminded that action is needed by April 1st. The federal government requires states that plan to use ARPA funds for unemployment trust funds to act by April 1st or lose the option of reducing benefits until 2025. Bonding for this purpose is not new – Illinois last issued bonds for its trust fund in 2012. SB 2308 passed along partisan lines and was signed into law today. Capitol News offers more coverage here and here.
Other Legislative Action: The House Executive Committee unanimously approved HR 711 (Hoffman) which urges the review and divestment of all funds invested by any State or local unit of government, including but not limited to investments made by the State Board of Investments and any state or local retirement funds that are directly or indirectly related to Russia.. HR 711 is now pending before the full House. The Senate Executive Committee approved HB 1780 (Gong-Gershowitz/Fine) which, as amended, creates the Illinois Drug Takeback Act which establishes a statewide drug takeback program funded by pharmaceutical companies. The bill includes provisions for collection sites and consumer education and grandfathers in existing collection sites. The sponsor noted the bill is a result of negotiations between stakeholders and is designed to prevent drug abuse and protect the environment and drinking water. Generic manufacturers remain opposed as drafted. HB 1780 is now pending before the full Senate. HB 4089 (Nichols/Koehler) which requires schools to provide a plant-based school lunch option passed the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 10-3. HB 4089 is now pending before the full Senate. The Senate Executive Committee approved, by a vote of 14-2, HB 4430 (Cassidy/Simmons) which allows Illinois pharmacists to dispense, administer, order laboratory tests, and consult with individuals related to HIV prevention medication known as PREP and PEP. HB 4430 is now pending before the full Senate. The Senate Executive Committee approved HB 209 (Mussman/Jones) which creates the Latex Glove Ban Act. The bill prohibits the use of latex gloves in food service establishments and by EMS personnel beginning January 1, 2023 and by health care facility personnel on January 1, 2024. The legislation allows for certain exceptions in the event of a supply chain disruption which prevents access to latex gloves. HB 209 is now pending before the full Senate.
War in Ukraine: The House Executive Committee advanced two resolutions in response to the war in Ukraine. HR711 (Hoffman) urges the review and divestment of all funds invested by State and local governments that are directly or indirectly related to Russia. HJR72 (Ramirez) condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine, expresses support for President Biden’s sanctions, and calls on Illinois to leverage resources to support Ukrainian refugees. Both resolutions passed the Committee unanimously and are now pending before the full House.
The House Executive Committee did not consider House Floor Amendment # 1 to HB1293 (LaPointe) which prohibits the investment of State monies in certain investments or institutions tied to Russia or Belarus. HB 1293 is scheduled for a hearing before the House Executive Committee on March 30th.
COMING UP: Both chambers are scheduled to return to session on Monday, March 28. Both chambers are scheduled to be in session every day, including weekends, until the April 8 adjournment date. Friday, April 1 is the deadline to pass legislation out of the opposite chamber.
2022 Key Session Deadlines:
March 25: Deadline – Committee deadline for bills in opposite Chamber
April 1: Deadline – Third Reading deadline for bills in opposite Chamber
April 8: Adjournment
Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative: Dana Weiner, PhD will serve as the Director of the Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative which is tasked with evaluating and redesigning the delivery of behavioral health services for children and adolescents in the State of Illinois. Specifically, the Initiative will build a coordinated, inter-agency approach to ensure young people with significant behavioral health needs receive the community and residential services they need to thrive while providing parents, guardians, and family members with transparency and clarity in the process. The initiative will provide a transformation blueprint by the end of 2022. Six state agencies – HFS, DHS, DCFS, ISBE, DPH and DJJ – have put together an interagency working group to better support children in need of behavioral health services and their families, whether they access services in their community, at their school, or through a residential program. The Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative turns that collaboration into a formal, step-by-step review of existing systems in order to better support Illinois children and families. The Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative will examine:
- Needs of children requiring behavioral health services
- Allocation of resources to meet needs within existing programs
- Pathways for accessing needed services
- Eligibility requirements for levels of care
- Decision-making practices for allocation of resources
- Alignment of policies, rules, and regulations to support transparent, efficient, and effective service delivery
- Barriers to effective interagency coordination
- Infrastructure needs to support new pathways and existing programs
- Best practices from other comparable child-serving systems across the country
Illinois Overdose Action Plan: Governor Pritzker announced the 2022 State of Illinois Overdose Action Plan, a comprehensive, equity-centric outline for combating the opioid epidemic. The creation and implementation of the SOAP plan follows Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-02 utilizing a social equity framework and multi-agency collaborative model to change how Illinois deals with overdoses. This plan prioritizes outreach to and engagement with individuals who are at risk for both fatal and non-fatal overdose due to multiple drugs: synthetic opioids, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other substances.Effective April 1, David T. Jones will serve as the Chief Behavioral Health Officer. The CBHO will coordinate with relevant state agencies (including Department of Human Services, Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and the Department of Public Health) to develop recommendations for the ideal state infrastructure for behavioral health. Read more here.
Paratransit Grants: The Illinois Department of Transportation is accepting applications through May 1st for grants to provide public transportation providers with paratransit vehicles. Municipalities and local governments, as well as nonprofit agencies providing specialized transportation to seniors or individuals with disabilities, are encouraged to apply. More information is here.
Grants for Students in Behavioral Health: Bolstering the number of students preparing for entry-level positions as behavioral health workers – especially for mental health and substance abuse rehab – is the goal of grant funding announced this week by the Illinois Department of Human Services.
About $4 million has been earmarked for the Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) Success program, run through IDHS’s Division of Mental Health. Students enrolled in the program receive full funding to help with tuition, textbooks, childcare, and transportation. IDHS has awarded CRSS Program grants to 11 post-secondary institutions across Illinois.
Graduates of the program will serve in a broad array of settings. This will include inpatient and outpatient mental health/substance abuse services, mobile crisis teams, and recovery homes. The CRSS Success program was created by the 2019 Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act and is funded by adult-use cannabis tax revenue. More information is here.