GOVERNOR’S HIGHLIGHTS:Illinois Department of Public Health: Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike is stepping down after serving in the role for three years. Her last day will be March 14th. Assistant Director, Amaal Tokars, will serve as Acting Director until a replacement is named. A nationwide search is planned.
Pensions: Governor Pritzker asked the state’s five pension systems to consider divesting from Russian companies. In making the request, the Governor wrote “With the continued invasion by Russia of the sovereign nation of Ukraine, the State of Illinois stands with the people of Ukraine and nations around the world supporting peace in the country. As such, I am writing to request that your respective boards take all steps within your existing authority to explore the potential of divesting state pension assets from Russian-based companies and Russian assets and the feasibility of doing so.”
Transportation Grants: The Illinois Department of Transportation is offering $10 million in grants for projects and activities that help advance the state’s long-range transportation and planning goals. The deadline to apply is March 30.Awards will be chosen based on the ability to study or implement a goal, strategy or objective of IDOT’s Long-Range Transportation Plan or one of the agency’s multimodal plans, such as the transit, rail, bike, freight and highway safety plans. Eligible activities include planning studies, data collection and analysis, research and program development, performance management, and outreach efforts.Applicants can include local and state agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, regional planning commissions and nonprofit entities with public sponsors. To receive the grants, successful applicants must agree to provide a funding match of 20%. Proposals that benefit disadvantaged or economically distressed communities will be given priority consideration and are eligible for full funding. Applications are available here.
COVID-19 Update: Governor Pritzker lifted Illinois’ mask requirements in most indoor settings including schools and daycares on Monday with Executive Order 2022-06. School districts and private businesses can continue to require masks at their discretion. COVID metrics, including cases, hospitalizations and ICU usage are now at or below July 2021 levels. On Thursday, health officials reported 1,169 new cases of COVID-19 and 38 deaths. As of Wednesday night, 881 individuals were hospitalized in Illinois with COVID-19. Of those, 162 are in the ICUE and 82 are on ventilators. The state’s case positivity rate stands at 1.7%. With respect to litigation surrounding the Governor’s COVID-19 mitigations for schools, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling vacating the Temporary Restraining Order. The decision is here. Governor Pritzker subsequently lifted the state’s masking mandate for schools in accordance with CDC guidance.
ELECTION UPDATE Petition Filing begins Monday, March 7 and runs through Monday, March 14. Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Collins is joining the crowded field of 17 Democrats vying to replace Congressman Bobby Rush in the 1st Congressional District. Collins has served in the State Senate since 2003. Elmhurst attorney Jennifer Ladisch-Douglass filed paperwork to run as a Democrat in the 45th House District.
102nd GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
The Illinois House was in session March 1 – 4. Today is the deadline to pass substantive House Bills out of the House; watch for some deadline extensions. The Senate was not in session this week. There are five weeks until the scheduled adjournment date of April 8.
Speaker Welch revised the House COVID-19 mitigations this week. The House’s public galleries – which had been completely closed – are now open at 50% capacity. Pursuant to House Rules, face coverings are still required inside the House chamber. The Senate is reviewing its COVID mitigations and changes are possible when the Senate returns to session next week. The Secretary of State oversees the Capitol Complex and is recommending, but not requiring, masks be worn when inside the Capitol.
Legislative Action: The Illinois House spent the week considering legislation for final action. Session days were long as members worked at the committee and floor level in anticipation of today’s final action deadline.
The Illinois House approved, by a vote of 63-35-2, HB 5107 (Davis), which allows for unionization of CPS principals. The measure now heads to the Senate. The Illinois House approved, by a vote of 79-25-4, HB 4729 (Willis) which requires the Department of Public Health (subject to appropriation) to conduct a multi-year safe gun storage campaign. HB 4729 heads to the Senate.
The Illinois House approved HB 1167 (Yang Rohr) authorizing COVID paid time off for school, public university and community college employees. The provisions apply only to employees who are fully vaccinated and are retroactive to the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. Governor Pritzker vetoed earlier legislation on this issue – HB 2778 (Yang Rohr/Belt) – and pledged to work on a compromise proposal . The revised legislation was negotiated with the teachers’ unions, the Governor’s office and other stakeholders. HB 1167 passed the House by a vote of 70-28-6 and now heads to the Senate. Capitol News Illinois has more on the legislation.
HB 4139 (Scherer), which creates a tuition reimbursement program for teachers, passed the House by a vote of 70-42. Critics of the bill argue that the program is not means tested which would allow tuition reimbursement for those able to pay tuition. HB 4139 now heads to the Senate.
The House approved HB 4343 (Harris) which makes it easier for seniors and those who are blind and disabled to maintain eligibility and access to long-term care. The bill also requires HFS to waive estate recovery where recovery would not be cost-effective (estates under $25,000), would create an undue hardship, or for any other just reason. The bill heads to the Senate.
The Illinois House passed HB 4316 (Mussman). The measure is a negotiated trailer bill to Faith’s Law, which was designed to protect students from sexual abuse (including grooming) by school employees. When the original bill creating Faith’s Law passed last year, the sponsor acknowledged the need to pass follow-up legislation to address several outstanding issues. HB 4316 will now be taken up by the Senate.
The House approved HB 4784 (Davis) which requires the Illinois Housing Development Authority to establish and administer the Rehab Program to help reclaim vacant and abandoned properties in communities of concentrated poverty. HB 4784 heads to the Senate. The House approved HB 4850 (Guzzardi) which makes changes to the Gender Violence Act. Most notably, it establishes employer liability when employees commit gender violence. The sponsor indicated that the bill is intended to clarify when an employer might be liable. Critics argued the bill makes it harder for employers, particularly if they hire individuals with criminal histories. The bill heads to the Senate.
Legislation creating the Latex Glove Ban Act, HB 209 (Mussman), passed the House by a vote of 100-5 and now heads to the Senate.
Legislation to create the Electric Vehicle Charging Act, HB 3125 (Gabel), passed the House by a vote of 100-5-0. The Act applies to new single-family homes and newly constructed or renovated multi-unit residential buildings that have parking spaces and are constructed or renovated after the effective date of the Act. HB 3125 now heads to the Senate.
The Illinois House approved HB 4116 (Morgan) which creates the Justice in the Workplace Act to provide protections for employees who use medical or recreational cannabis. As amended, the bill exempts safety sensitive positions and employers at risk of losing federal funding. HB 4116 heads to the Senate.
Legislation to require schools to offer a plant based lunch option, HB 4089 (Nichols), was amended this week to address concerns. The bill passed the House 96-7-0.
The House approved HB3738 (Ness) which creates the End Youth Solitary Confinement Act. The bill passed by a vote 63-40-0 and head to the Senate.
COMING UP: The Illinois House is scheduled to be in session five days next week, March 7-11. The Illinois Senate is scheduled to be in session three days next week, March 8-10. Five weeks of session remain.
2022 Key Session Deadlines:March 4: Deadline – Third Reading Substantive House BillsMarch 25: Deadline – Committee deadline for bills in opposite ChamberApril 1: Deadline – Third Reading deadline for bills in opposite ChamberApril 8: Adjournment
As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.