May 23, 21 Update

102nd GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The Illinois Senate was in session all week while the House met Tuesday through Friday. Friday, May 21st was the deadline to pass substantive House Bills out of Senate committees. Expect deadline extensions on a case-by-case basis for House Bills still pending in Senate committees. A little over one week remains in the spring legislative session. Several high-profile issues remain unresolved at this time. Legislators continue to work on crafting the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Negotiations on clean energy legislation and ethics reforms continue. And Democrats continue to work on redrawing legislative districts – maps were released late Friday. Long session days are expected this week. When the General Assembly resumes session on Monday, both chambers are scheduled to be in session daily through the Memorial Day weekend. 

The Illinois Senate approved SJRCA11 (Villivalam) by a vote of 49-7 which proposes to amend the Illinois constitution to guarantee workers’ rights to unionize and collectively bargain. SJRCA 11 now heads to the House for consideration. The House Executive Committee approved an identical resolution, HJRCA 34 (Evans) which is now pending before the full House. 

The House Executive Committee approved HB 1443 (Ford), which makes various changes to laws on the adult use and compassionate use of cannabis. The bill addresses issues and delays with the cannabis dispensary license for social equity applicants. The bill maintains the existing 75 social equity licenses and adds two lotteries (three lotteries total) of 55 licenses each. Additionally, House Floor Amendment 4, which passed unanimously out of the Executive Committee this week makes changes to the relocation provisions of existing law and expands the R3 board. HB 1443 is pending before the full House. 

The Senate Executive Committee approved legislation to replace lead service lines, HB 3739 (Robinson/Bush). The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.   

The “shot and a beer” proposal was amended onto SB 104 (Feigenholtz/Zalewski) in the House. Under the amendment, bars and restaurants are allowed to give away one alcoholic beverage to individuals presenting proof of COVID vaccination. The Liquor Control Commission will promulgate rules to govern the provision. SB 104 now heads to the full House for consideration. 

The House Executive Committee approved SB 581 (Connor/Halpin) which is the Comptroller’s administrative bill. Key changes in the legislation include allowing the Comptroller and the Governor to extend lapse period spending by 30 days on a case-by-case basis. The bill also requires specified information under the Vendor Payment Program to be disclosed on August 1, rather than July 1st for the previous fiscal year. The sponsor agreed to file a floor amendment to remove the lapse period spending provisions of the legislation following concerns raised by the committee. SB 581 is now pending before the full House. 

The House Executive Committee approved an amendment to SB 2338 (Harris/Buckner) which creates the Student-Athlete Endorsement Rights Act. SB 2338 now heads to the full House for consideration.

The Senate Education Committee approved 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. The State Board of Education adopted rules in 2020 that were intended to phase out the use of seclusion and prone restraints by July 2021. HB 219 would give the State Board of Education until the 2023-2024 school year to phase out those practices. The sponsor promised to bring an amendment back to the committee that would shorten the phase out to one year. HB 219 is now pending before the full Senate.

The Senate Executive Committee approved HB 3496 (Davis/Villanueva) which will allow Chicago school principals and other supervisors to unionize. HB 3496 is now pending before the full Senate.  

The Illinois Senate approved SB 818 (Villivalam/Lilly) to change sex education standards in schools to be inclusive, medically accurate, and developmentally appropriate. SB 818 heads to the House for consideration.   

The Senate Insurance Committee approved HB 3709 (Croke/Fine) which updates the state’s existing infertility insurance law to include LGBTQ and single parents. The sponsor acknowledged the legislation does not apply to State Employees Health Insurance, Medicaid or ERISA health plans. HB 3709 heads to the full Senate for consideration. 

The Senate Insurance Committee held a subject matter hearing to discuss telehealth legislation: HB 3498 (Conroy/Hunter) and HB 3308 (Jones/Harris). Negotiations are ongoing with stakeholders. Negotiations continue on an ethics reform package. Speaker Welch reiterated again this week his desire to pass a reform package before the Legislature adjourns the spring session.

Senate Floor Amendment 1 to SB 4 (Gillespie) passed unanimously out of committee a month ago but has not yet been adopted by the full Senate. Many of the amendment’s provisions were debated, but not approved, during the January lame duck session. The amendment makes several changes to ethics laws including: streamlining statements of economic interest, prohibiting members of the General Assembly from lobbying other entities of government, allowing the Legislative Inspector General to open an investigation without approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission, prorating the salaries of members of the General Assembly and making the provisions of the Lobbyist Registration Act applicable to municipalities and counties.  

Senate Republicans introduced their own ethics package this week. Senate Floor Amendment 1 to SB 1350 (Curran) includes additional ethics reforms such as giving local state’s attorneys and the attorney general’s office more authority to investigate and prosecute cases of public corruption and giving the legislative inspector general independent authority to investigate corruption cases and issue subpoenas. Senate Floor Amendment 1 is pending before the Senate Ethics Committee. 

Senator Hunter filed an amendment to SB 1838 to make 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. The amendment remains in the Assignments Committee.   

Budget Update:Governor Pritzker, Senate President Harmon, House Speaker Welch and Comptroller Mendoza announced a plan to pay off, during the next fiscal year, $2 billion in emergency borrowing. The loan was originally scheduled to be repaid in three installments by December 2023. Under the deal reached this week, the Comptroller will utilize the state’s unexpected revenue overperformance and effective cash management to retire the debt in its entirety within the next budget year. Up to $100 million in interest costs will be saved.
According to a Thursday budget update offered by Leader Greg Harris, the Appropriation Committees have been employing a two-fold approach to the $1.3 billion gap in the FY22 state budget. Having first identified areas to impose cuts, the Committees have been focusing this week on filling the gap with revenue sources from the Governor’s budget — including closing “corporate tax loopholes” — to find areas of consensus. Leader Harris said that the exercise demonstrated that the state must identify new revenue to avoid severe cuts across the board.
Uncertainty remains over the extent to which states can use federal stimulus dollars. For example, Wednesday night lawmakers learned of additional restrictions on the stimulus monies with regard to spending on K-12 and higher education – that federal guideline directs that such funding can be used only to supplement state funding, not supplant it. The new fiscal year starts July 1st. 

GOVERNOR’S HIGHLIGHTS:New Laws: Governor Prtizker signed HB 2877 (Ramirez/Aquino), creating the COVID-19 Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program Act to distribute rental assistance to Illinois residents and provide for sealing of eviction records until August 1, 2022.  COVID-19 Update: Governor Prtizker revised Illinois’ mask policy to align with the new CDC guidance. Under the latest Executive Order, fully vaccinated individuals can stop wearing a mask and practicing social distancing in most indoor and outdoor settings. Masks are still required for everyone in healthcare settings, in congregate settings, in schools, daycares, and on transit. Read the full Executive Order here. The City of Chicago also adopted the CDC guidelines but continues to “advise” individuals to continue wearing masks.  Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that the City will host Lollapalooza July 29th through August 1st. The outdoor music festival will run at full capacity. The Illinois State Board of Education approved a resolution this week requiring Illinois schools to return to in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year. The University of Chicago joined Loyola, DePaul, Concordia and Northwestern in requiring students to have the COVID-19 vaccine for the Fall semester.  Amtrak will resume full service in Illinois in the coming weeks. The Chicago-Milwaukee partnership with Wisconsin will resume next week. The three state sponsored routes connecting Chicago and Quincy, Chicago and Carbondale, and Chicago and St. Louis, will run at full capacity by mid-July. Beginning this week, passengers can reserve tickets for travel starting the week of July 19th. On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,542 new cases of COVID-19, including 42 additional deaths. As of Wednesday night, 1,488 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 404 patients were in the ICU and 226 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. The preliminary seven-day statewide case positivity is now down to 2.2%.  In Illinois, 64% of adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 47% of adults are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   Housing: Illinois residents with economic hardships due to the pandemic can now apply for the second round of rental assistance. The Illinois Rental Payment Program – with a total of $1.1 billion in funding – is being implemented through multiple rounds of monies to renters and landlords, with the goal of preventing evictions. Shoring up the effort is an additional $400 million in rental assistance from larger municipalities. Another area being addressed: mortgage assistance. The state is establishing a $400 million program to help this sector. More information here. Meanwhile, a phase-out on the ban on evictions is getting underway. On May 17, Governor Pritzker announced a three-month easing of barred pandemic-related evictions before the ban lapses completely in August. More details are expected soon.  Multi-Year Transportation Plan: The FY2022-2027 Proposed Highway Improvement Program has been released by the Illinois Department of Transportation, with funding levels at $20.7 billion. The massive effort is slated to address reconstruction of 2,700 miles of roads and some 8 million square feet of bridges. The upcoming year is expected to see expenditures of $3.32 billion, with projects being selected based on such criteria as pavement conditions, traffic volumes, and safety history. The five-year plan addresses a number of facets; among them – and their corresponding funding – are: highway preservation and reconstruction ($5.79 billion); bridge improvements ($4.82 billion); strategic expansion ($2.59 billion); system support, including engineering and land acquisition ($1.43 billion); and safety and system upgrades ($1.21 billion). Gubernatorial Appointments: 

The Governor made the following appointments:

  • Saul Morse will serve on the Capital Development Board
  • Garien Gatewood will serve on the Criminal Justice Information Authority
  • Kevin Huber will continue to serve as the Chair of the Student Assistance Commission

Corrine Wood: Former Lt. Governor Corrine Wood passed away this week after a long battle with cancer. Wood served as a Republican State Representative before being elected as the state’s first female Lt. Governor. She served in that position from 1999-2003.  

COMING UP: The Illinois General Assembly will reconvene on Monday, May 24th at 4pm. May 28th is the deadline to pass substantive bills out of the second chamber.