102nd GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The Illinois General Assembly was in session all week considering legislation for final passage ahead of Monday’s scheduled adjournment deadline. The General Assembly continues to remain in session today and will be working throughout the holiday weekend. Both chambers continue to utilize agreed bill processes to advance, in bulk, non-controversial legislation. Pursuant to the Illinois Constitution, any legislation passed after May 31st that contains an immediate effective date must pass with a three-fifths vote (36 votes in the Senate/71 votes in the House). Please note that bill status below is as of today at 9am. The end of session is a fluid process and things can change quickly.
Clean Energy: Negotiations continue on clean energy legislation. This week, 48 Democratic Senators and Representatives sent a letter to their respective leaders, stressing that the final legislation must key in on climate, communities, and consumers. “[A] bill which is simply a handout for utilities and does not prioritize climate and equity’’ will be denied the group’s support, they indicated in the letter. The four dozen lawmakers identified a number of requirements that the clean energy bill must meet. Among them are the elimination in the electric sector of carbon emissions by a date certain and prioritization of closures in environmental justice communities. Other must-haves include broad equity opportunities, from workforce diversity to contractor equity to just transition.
Elected Chicago School Board: The Senate Executive Committee approved HB 2908 (Ramirez/Martwick) which would create a 21-member elected school board for Chicago Public Schools. The sponsor continues to work with Leader Lightford and stakeholders to negotiate a compromise. President Harmon expressed his confidence that a compromise will be reached by the end of session. Meanwhile, the latest idea reportedly floated by Senate President Harmon suggests a transition to a 21-member board that would be elected in 2027. In the transition time, a hybrid board would be created, with 10 members elected in 2023 and 11 members, including the Chair, appointed by the mayor of Chicago. Elections would occur at the same time as mayoral and aldermanic elections. This proposal has not been filed at this time.
Redistricting: The Legislature conducted a series of four hearings this week to discuss a map of the newly proposed legislative districts. The hearings were contentious with Republican legislators frustrated with the lack of transparency and repeatedly asking the same questions — particularly regarding the data sets used. Advocates also expressed frustration with the process, the lack of information, and the map itself. Capitol News has more on the first and second hearing. On Thursday night, Democrats released new legislative maps. View the revised Senate map here. View the revised House map here. Legislative Democrats say that they took into account public input from the hearings and made changes accordingly. The adjustments included putting the southern part of North Lawndale back into its current legislative district; changing district boundaries to keep more of the Orthodox Jewish community united; and altering boundaries so that fewer Republican incumbents are grouped into the same districts. Legislation is now positioned in both chambers for final passage of redistricting maps. Both the House and the Senate filed resolutions enumerating redistricting principles, the hearing process, and summaries of Legislative Districts with respect to the 2021 General Assembly Redistricting Plan: SR 326 (Harmon) and HR 359 (Hernandez) In addition, legislation was filed to enact the new maps. House Floor Amendment # 1 to HB 1980 (Hernandez) creates the General Assembly Redistricting Act of 2021. House Floor Amendment # 1 to SB 2661 (Harmon/Hernandez) creates the Cook County Board of Review Redistricting Act of 2021. Senator Harmon filed Senate Floor Amendment # 1 to SB 2777 which also creates the General Assembly Redistricting Act of 2021. The Senate version will likely be the version that advances because after passage in the Senate, the bill will be positioned for a quick concurrence in the House. The House version will require three readings in the Senate which is possible, but would take more time. Hours before the first hearing,
Democrats unveiled newly drawn boundaries for the Illinois Supreme Court and Appellate Court Districts. View the new map here. The Supreme Court districts were filed as SB 642 (HFA 2). According to legislative Democrats, Supreme Court boundaries must be redrawn to reflect population shifts. The last time Supreme Court boundaries were successfully redrawn was in 1963. Republican majorities attempted to redraw the boundaries in 1997, but that effort was ultimately ruled unconstitutional. According to the Democrats, the proposed map was drafted using population information from the American Community Survey’s 5-year estimate for 2019 and other unspecified data sets. Illinois has five Supreme Court Districts. Three Justices are elected from the First District and one is elected from each of the remaining four districts. Legislative Democrats also released a new map of Cook County Board of Review districts. View the map here. Congressional maps have not been released to the public at this time. There is a distinct possibility that the Illinois General Assembly may pass legislation to move the March primary until the summer of 2022 due to COVID-delayed data from the US Census. Census block data, which many consider the best information for drawing the new maps, is not expected to be available until September 30th. But under current law, candidates in Illinois start circulating nominating petitions in September. In addition, there is a near certainty of legal challenges to the new maps. A summer 2022 primary would not only ensure the courts have time to address any legal aspects, but also allow candidates sufficient time to circulate petitions. Note that this move would require a statutory change and at this time nothing has been filed.
Passed Both Houses: The following legislation passed both houses this week:
- The House approved SJRCA 11 (Villivalam/Evans) which proposes to amend the Illinois constitution to guarantee workers’ rights to unionize and collectively bargain. The amendment now awaits voter consideration on the November 2022 ballot.
- The Illinois Senate approved HB 226 (Greenwood/Belt) which requires all public colleges and universities to create a test-optional admissions policy for all Illinois students. HB 226 now heads to the Governor’s desk.
- The Illinois Senate approved HB 1063 (Ammons/Peters) to end the criminalization of HIV transmission. HB 1063 now heads to the Governor’s desk.
- The Senate approved legislation, HB 12 (Costa Howard/Villivalam), which offers public school, public university, and public community college employees family and medical leave on the same terms and conditions as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act with a lower eligibility threshold. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.
- The Illinois Senate approved HB 449 (Willis/Castro), which creates the Housing is Recovery Pilot Program to provide bridge rental subsidies (subject to appropriation), for individuals at high risk of unnecessary institutionalization and those at high risk of overdose for purposes of stabilizing their mental illness or substance abuse disorder. HB 449 heads to the Governor’s desk.
- The Illinois House approved SB 967 (Castro/Greenwood) which addresses maternal mortality and inequities within the Illinois healthcare system. The bill requires the Illinois Department of Public Health to update policies and requirements for hospitals delivering babies. The bill also requires the Illinois Department of Human Services to update its maternal health programs for high-risk pregnant and postpartum women. SB 967 heads to the Governor’s desk.
- Legislation to create the Prior Authorization Reform Act, HB 711 (Harris/Holmes), passed the Senate and heads to the Governor’s desk.
- The Senate approved HB 117 (Guzzardi/Martwick) which expands the Secure Choice program to all employers with 5 or more employees. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.
- The Senate 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 now heads to the Governor’s desk.
Pending: Several bills continue to work their way through the legislative process:
- Shell budget bills were positioned this week. The Senate passed SB 2800 (Harmon/Welch) over to the House and the House passed HB 900 (Welch/Harmon) over to the Senate. The bills are awaiting final budget amendments which are expected to be filed in the final days of session.
- The Senate 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. As amended, HB 219 would give the State Board of Education until the 2022-2023 school year to phase out those practices. HB 219 heads back to the House for consideration.
- The House Executive Committee approved SB 672 (Hunter/Burke). 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. The amendment strips the language of the underlying bill which requires third party delivery service platforms — such as Doordash — to have an agreement with the restaurant in order to offer delivery services for that restaurant. That underlying language was reintroduced as a new bill this week — SB 2904 (Bush). SB 672 is now pending before the full House.
- HB 1443 (Ford/Lightford), which addresses issues and delays with the cannabis dispensary license for social equity applicants, moved quickly through the General Assembly this week. The bill maintains the existing 75 social equity licenses and adds two lotteries (three lotteries total) of 55 licenses each. Additionally, the bill changes the relocation provisions of existing law and allows social equity applicants to locate within 1,500 feet of existing dispensaries. The bill also expands the R3 board and creates the position of Cannabis Regulation and Oversight Officer. Also created is a Social Equity Justice Involved lottery for five medical licenses. HB 1443 passed the House and the Senate Executive Committee and is now pending before the full Senate.
- A compromise was reached on extending telehealth provisions beyond the Governor’s Executive Order. HB 3308 (Jones/Harris), as amended, 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 and in the same manner as any other benefits covered under the policy. 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 necessary to facilitate billing for 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. HB 3308, as amended, passed the Senate Insurance Committee and is now pending before the full Senate.
- The Illinois Senate approved SB 815 (Lightford/Ammons) which creates the Commission on Equitable Public University Funding Act. The bill 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 815 heads to the House for consideration.
- The Illinois House approved SB 104 (Feigenholtz/Zalewski) designed to assist the hospitality industry during the pandemic. The bill extends the cocktails-to-go bill passed in 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. SB 104 heads to the Senate for concurrence.
- After lengthy debate, the Senate Executive Committee approved HB 2789 (Mussman/Belt) which creates a statewide process for handling public health emergencies in schools. HB 2789 is now pending before the full Senate.
- Senator Hunter filed an amendment to HB 2621 (Harper/Hunter) to create 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. The amendment is pending in the Senate Executive Committee.
- HB 806 (Mah/Jones), as amended, represents an omnibus licensing and regulatory bill. HB 806 is pending before the full Senate. The amendment is pending in the Senate Assignments Committee.
- An amendment was filed to HB 2878 (Guzzardi/Pacione-Zayas) that 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. Floor amendment # 3 passed the Senate Higher Education Committee and is pending before the full Senate.
The Illinois General Assembly will remain in session throughout the Memorial Day weekend. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn the spring legislative session on Monday, May 31st.
2021 Key Session Dates:
May 28 – Deadline: Third Reading Substantive Bills/both chambers
May 31 – Adjournment
GOVERNOR’S HIGHLIGHTS:COVID-19 Update: New COVID-19 cases continue to trend downward. Illinois’ new case positivity rate stands at 1.9 % which is the lowest case positivity rate since the beginning of the pandemic. Roughly 49% of Illinois adults are fully vaccinated and over 66% of Illinois adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 891 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 42 additional deaths. This is the third day this week that the state reported less than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday night, 1,316 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 339 patients were in the ICU and 186 patients were on ventilators.
Public health officials announced plans to use an important tool for possible early detection of the virus (and its variants) that cause COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in human waste essentially from the onset of infection – even though symptoms may not be expressed for three to five days. The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Discovery Partners Institute announced an effort is underway to create a statewide system to evaluate wastewater on a county-by-county basis. The monitoring system is being built for next year, with $5.5 million in funding from IDPH for construction and support.