March 8, 2024 Updat


The Illinois General Assembly adjourned for the week; the Senate canceled session for today. Both chambers will return to Springfield on Tuesday, March 12. The House is scheduled for three session days while the Senate is scheduled for four session days. Friday, March 15 is the Senate Committee deadline.

A list of upcoming Senate committee hearings is here. A list of House committee hearings is here.  

Elected Chicago School Board: The Illinois General Assembly swiftly approved SB 15 (Harmon), as amended by SFA # 1, to create a process to transition to a fully elected Chicago School Board.  Both the Chicago Teacher’s Union and Mayor Brandon Johnson have indicated that this hybrid version is their preferred plan. President Harmon testified that while he would prefer an all-elected Chicago School Board in 2024, this version represents a “compromise” — one that will allow candidates to circulate petitions in a timely fashion for the November election.   Note SFA # 1 is identical to SB 3757 (Harmon) which was filed earlier this year. SB 15, which is further along in the legislative process, was chosen as the vehicle to expedite final passage this week.

The legislation creates 20 districts — including seven majority Black districts, six majority Latino districts, five majority White districts and two coalition districts — which will be “nested” into pairs. In 2024, voters will elect 10 members, with the mayor appointing a member for the other “nested” district. The Board Chair will be appointed in 2024, but then elected citywide in 2026. The legislation also establishes ethics requirements and conflict of interest provisions for members. In addition, the Board will have a Black Student Achievement Committee to focus on the disparity in academic performance among Black students.

A map of the districts is here. Read more here. SB 15 passed the Senate, as amended by a vote of 37-20 and the House by a vote of 75-31-3 and now heads to the Governor’s desk. 

Meanwhile, Representative Croke filed HB 5766 which imposes a moratorium on the closure of selective admission schools or change in admission criteria until February 1, 2027 – after the Chicago Public Schools Board is fully elected. HB 5766 is currently in the House Rules Committee.

Other Highlights from the Week

Representative Gabel filed HCA # 1 to HB 5395 which creates the Health Care Consumer Access and Protection Act (HCCAPA). The legislation is an initiative of the Governor, who used his State of the State Address to outline his mission to curb what he calls “predatory insurance practices.”  Specifically, the HCCAPA seeks to: ban step therapy entirely, ban prior authorization for in-patient mental health care, establish statewide standards on clinical criteria when performing utilization review; prohibit insurance companies from selling Short Term Limited Duration Plans; require insurers to publicly list all treatments that require prior authorization; and prevent insurance companies from unfairly increasing rates on consumers. HCA # 1 to HB 5395 is in the House Rules Committee, while HB 5395 is assigned to the House Human Services Committee. Companion legislation was filed as SCA # 1 to SB 3739 (Peters). SB 3739 is assigned to the Senate Insurance Committee and SCA # 1 is pending in the Senate Assignments Committee.

The House concurred with SFA # 1 and 2 to HB 779 (Smith/Sims) which represents negotiated  legislation to modernize the Pawnbroker Regulation Act. HB 779 now heads to the Governor’s desk.

By a vote of 19-7, the House Energy and Environment Committee approved HB 4627 (Moeller), an initiative of the Illinois Environmental Council. The bill would authorize the EPA to participate in a safe chemical clearinghouse and directs manufacturers of PFAS (or products or product components containing intentionally added PFAS) to register the product with the Illinois EPA. The bill also establishes civil penalties for violations by manufacturers. Proponents testified that they are working on an amendment to delay implementation by one year and to narrow the scope of the products. The sponsor said the legislation is “not ready yet” and pledged to bring an amendment back to committee for consideration. HB 4627 now heads to the full House.

Representative Spain filed HJRCA 19 which would change the Illinois constitution to allow voters to use a referendum to change ethics laws. The constitutional amendment is supported by former Democratic Governor Pat Quinn. HJRCA 19 is in the House Rules Committee.

The House Insurance Committee voted 11 – 2 to advance

HB 4112 (Croke), removing the insurance cap for in vitro fertilization. Currently, private insurance companies in Illinois can limit patients to four rounds of IVF treatment. Proponents argue the success rate grows when more cycles are performed. The measure now heads to the full House for consideration.

The House Financial Institutions and Licensing Committee approved, by a vote of 7-4, HB 5031 (Tarver) which allows refinancing of consumer legal funding. The measure now heads to the full House. Companion legislation – SB 3314 (Cunningham) – passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 6-3 and is now pending before the full Senate.  

The Senate Labor Committee approved, by a vote of 11-4, SB 3649 (Peters). The bill creates the Worker Freedom of Speech Act to prevent employers and their agents from discharging or taking adverse actions against employees who do not attend an employer-sponsored meeting meant to promote the employer’s opinions on political or religious matters. SB 3649 now heads to the full Senate.

2024 Key Dates and Session Deadlines:

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


iFAB Funding: The Illinois Fermentation and Agriculture Biomanufacturing (iFAB) Tech Hub will receive $680 million in funding from a combined cash match and strategic investments from public and private partners. iFAB was designated as one of 31 Economic Development Administration Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs nationally and recently applied for Phase 2 Implementation Grants. Governor Pritzker noted “This designation positions Central Illinois to become a global leader in biomanufacturing and precision fermentation over the next decade — bringing economic development and good-paying jobs along with it..” Read more here.

Dual Credit Program: The Illinois Community College Board will award $3 million in state grants to community colleges to expand access to its Dual Credit Program (which allows students the ability to earn college-level credits while still in high school). ICCB’s  new report found that high school students taking dual credit courses have substantially higher community college graduation rates and advancement rates than students not enrolled in such programs.

Restore, Reinvest and Renew Grant Opportunity: The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority released a notice of funding opportunity for Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) programming in historically underserved Illinois communities.  R3 provides 25% of Cannabis Regulation and Trust Act tax revenues in grants to communities impacted by economic disinvestment, violence, and the severe and multilayered harm caused by the war on drugs. Funded programs will offer promising or innovative practices within five priority areas: civil legal aid, economic development, re-entry from the criminal justice system, violence prevention, and youth development.   Application materials are available here. April 30, 2024 is the deadline. Read more here.

IDPH Updates Guidance for Respiratory Viruses: With a focus on protecting those at risk of serious illness, the Illinois Department of Public Health adopted updated guidance from the CDC on dealing with respiratory viruses. Read more here.

Energy Efficiency Assessment Program: Increasing the energy efficiency of single family and duplex properties is the goal of $500,000 in funding to public housing authorities, nonprofit organizations, and units of local governments (municipalities, counties, or townships). Grants from the Energy Efficiency Assessment Program will focus on properties serving residents receiving housing assistance and located in areas of environmental justice concern. A Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is here.   Read more here.

Local Food Purchase Assistance: Through two cooperative agreements with the USDA, $28.8 million in grant funding will be available to provide free locally produced food to vulnerable communities. The grants are being awarded to Illinois organizations in partnership with the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement, the State of Illinois will purchase food directly from socially disadvantaged farmers at fair market value. Food will then be distributed by providers — including food banks, farming collaboratives, and other non-profits — to communities in need at no cost. This includes schools, churches, and non-profit organizations. Read more here.

Community Solar Energy Sovereignty Grant Program: The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will offer $8.5 million in funding for the Community Solar Energy Sovereignty Grant Program.  The program supports community-based organizations and technical service providers in low-income and historically disadvantaged communities to plan, develop and execute community solar projects. Grantees will be selected through a competitive Notice of Funding Opportunity process. This grant program seeks to provide historically disadvantaged communities with upfront seed capital to overcome barriers to project development.

Recipients may use grant funding in a variety of ways, including early-stage project planning, project team organization, site identification, procurement and contracting, securing financing, customer outreach, site assessments, and more. Funds may also be used to develop ownership models that allocate benefits to communities and support the management and maintenance of community solar projects. Read more here.

Gubernatorial Appointments: Governor Pritzker appointed the following:

·        Lorenzo Savage will serve as a Member of the Energy Workforce Advisory Council.

·        Leslie Darling will continue to serve as Chair and Member of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.

·        Christian Mitchell will serve as a Member of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.


State of Illinois Economic Forecast: Moody’s prepared a State of Illinois Economic Forecast Report for the legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. The report notes that while Illinois’ employment has returned to pre-pandemic levels, growth has slowed more than other midwestern states. Job creation overall has slowed despite strengthening in healthcare, government and leisure/hospitality sectors. The unemployment rate grew to 4.7% in the fourth quarter. Illinois’ labor force remains depressed as compared to neighboring states whose labor force is approaching its pre-pandemic levels. The report notes that revenues have returned to normal and “risks lean to the downside”. Moody’s also says “Illinois is more vulnerable than other states to a negative shift in the national or global economy because of its lean financial reserves and heavy fixed-cost burdens.” Read the full report here.

Public University Funding: The Illinois Commission on Equitable Public University Funding submitted its report to the Illinois General Assembly. Established by Public Act 102-0570, the Commission was tasked with developing a structure that funds the state’s public universities in an equitable and stable manner. The new formula directs funds to the state’s public universities through an equity-centered adequacy target.  Among the criteria going into an institution’s funding: the particular makeup and needs of the student body; the characteristics and mission of the institution; and the resources available to it. Read more here and here.   

Illinois Chamber of Commerce Announces Staffing Changes: Clark Kaericher, Senior VP of Government Affairs for the Illinois Chamber, has accepted a position with a member company as of March 15. Effective immediately, Keith Wheeler will be Executive Director of Government Affairs and Technology Council, while Jordan Ryan will serve as the Director of Legislative Affairs.

Primary Election Update: A new analysis from Capitol News Illinois shows that the upcoming March 19 primary election is the “least competitive” in 20 years. Among the perspectives offered are those of John Shaw, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, who opines that “Illinois’ primary participation mirrors a national trend and is partially stoked by growing political polarization and state redistricting practices. The state process for drawing legislative districts is a partisan one by law, meaning many districts have been drawn in a way that favors one party over the other.” Read the full article here.

Labor Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship: Daniel Serota, a member of the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board and Chair of IWIB’s Apprenticeship Committee was appointed to the US Department of Labor Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship – which advises the Secretary of Labor about the national apprenticeship system. Daniel is the Vice President of Government and Public Affairs at Aon. He is co-founder of the Chicago Apprentice Network with Accenture and Zurich N.A., an employer-driven initiative to create apprenticeship opportunities.

COGFA Revenue Report: In its February Revenue Report, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability notes that February revenues deposited into the General Revenue Fund rose $362 million (a 11.7% jump). The largest gains came from income taxes, while the performance of all other state sources was mixed. Transfers In revenues were a combined $111 million higher. The largest gain in February came from Federal Sources, which were up $155 million for the month. Read the full report here.