102nd GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The Illinois Senate was in session Tuesday through Thursday of this week. The House was in session Tuesday through today. Lawmakers continue to discuss the FY 22 budget. This week Governor Pritzker announced he is now in favor of restoring $350 million to the evidence-based funding formula for elementary and secondary education following reports that Illinois’ revenues are far exceeding expectations and are considerably outperforming their pace from one year ago. On another note, Representative Greg Harris cautioned that the state is still facing a $1.4 billion shortfall. The new fiscal year begins July 1st.
Senator Laura Murphy filed Senate Floor Amendment # 1 to SB 1785 which creates the Ranked Choice Voting Article in the Election Code. The amendment creates a process to allow voters to rank candidates for an office in the order of preference. The amendment applies to candidates for the General Assembly and the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller, State Treasurer, Judge of the Supreme, Appellate, and Circuit Court, United States Representative, United States Senator, and President of the United States. SFA # 1 is pending in the Assignments Committee.
The Senate State Government Committee approved HB 117 (Guzzardi/Martwick) which expands the Secure Choice Savings Program Act to include employers with 5 or more employees. HB 117 heads to the full Senate for consideration.
The Senate Higher Education committee approved HB 226 (Greenwood/Belt) which creates the Higher Education Fair Admissions Act which prohibits Illinois public colleges and universities from requiring standardized test scores from applicants who are Illinois residents. HB 226 heads to the full Senate.
The Illinois Senate approvedSB 2103 (Martwick) which creates a system of automatic enrollment in deferred compensation systems for K – 12 teachers and state university employees. SB 2103 heads to the House.
The Senate Executive Committee approved legislation, SB 818 (Villivalam) that would overhaul sex education in Illinois. The bill would require age-appropriate sex comprehensive personal health and safety education and comprehensive sexual health education for K -12 students. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
The Senate Executive Committee passed HB 1063 (Ammons/Peters) which decriminalizes the transmission of HIV. HB 1063 is now before the full Senate.
The Senate approved SB 1747 (Bush) which creates the Energy Transition Zone Act. Under the bill, certain municipalities can be designated as Energy Transition Zones allowing green energy to apply for certain tax credits. SB 1747 heads to the House.
The Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee held a subject matter hearing on SB 1820 (Koehler) which establishes Energy Community Transition Payments which electric generators must pay to local taxing bodies as they begin decommissioning various kinds of energy plants. Senator Koehler suggested that the bill sets up a framework for negotiations between the parties involved. No vote was taken on the measure. SB 1820 remains in the Senate Assignments Committee.
COVID-19 Update: Encouraging progress in pandemic metrics is allowing Illinois to inch toward reopening. Aspects like hospitalization rates and ICU availability are trending downward sufficiently that Governor Pritzker announced that Illinois will move into the “Bridge Phase” on Friday, May 14th. The phase is the next step of the state’s “Restore Illinois” pandemic response plan. The Bridge Phase will allow for expanded capacity limits for businesses and gatherings before the state moves to a full reopening in Phase 5. Barring any significant reversals in key COVID-19 statewide indicators, Illinois could enter Phase 5 as soon as Friday, June 11th. More information on the Bridge Phase is here.
Meanwhile, July 4 is emerging as the likely date for a full reopening for Chicago, according to an announcement by Mayor Lightfoot. While masks could still be mandatory in certain situations, mayoral goals include easing up on businesses with respect to their allowed capacities and operations. One substantial sign of progress toward normalcy is the expected return in mid- July of the Chicago Auto Show. The nation’s largest and longest-running auto trade show will resume but operate under health and safety protocols such as mask wearing, health screenings, and capacity management. These approaches are expected to be enforced at all conventions the city will be hosting in the near-term.
Beginning in July, Rosemont will resume trade shows and other events at its Donald E. Stephens Convention and Conference Center. The city made the announcement recently and is slated to see some 30 trade shows and public events take place between July and the conclusion of the year.
As turnouts for dosages slow, State officials are turning to creative ways to encourage residents to get the COVID vaccine. In southern Illinois, for example, the Worldwide Shooting and Recreation Complex (WSRC) will host a new mobile vaccination site. As announced by the Governor this week, those presenting for a vaccination there will receive 100 free sporting targets. The City of Chicago is also offering a special concert series available only to individuals who are fully vaccinated. The Governor also announced that vaccine administration will be expanding to doctors’ offices and walk-ins will be accepted at state-supported sites
.On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,778 new cases of COVID-19, including 40 additional deaths. As of Wednesday night, 2,055 individuals in Illinois were in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 483 patients were in the ICU and 243 patients were on ventilators. The seven-day case positivity rate is down to 3.0%.
Executive Order:Executive Order 2021 – 09 reissues several executive orders, extending a majority of the provisions through May 29, 2021.
Sale of the Thompson Center: The State of Illinois has issued an RFP for the sale of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. Information on the RFP can be viewed here and here.
In April 2019, Governor Pritzker signed SB 886 (Public Act 100-1184) that outlines the process for the sale of the property. The bill provides for the sale of the JRTC by a competitive request for proposals process within two years. Because of COVID-19, the bill was amended to extend the timeline to April 5, 2022.
Gubernatorial Appointments: The Governor made the following appointments:
- G.A. Finch will continue to serve on the Civil Service Commission
- Tim Ryan will serve on the Finance Authority
- Edward Washington, II will serve on the Independent Tax Tribunal
- Lisa McLeod will serve as Executive Director of the Liquor Control Commission
- Jared Bohland will serve on the Prisoner Review Board
- Kenneth Tupy will serve on the Prisoner Review Board
- Willard Evans Jr. will continue to serve as Chair of the Toll Highway Authority
- Alice Gallagher will continue to serve on the Toll Highway Authority
- Karen McConnaughay will continue to serve on the Toll Highway Authority
- Scott Paddock will continue to serve on the Toll Highway Authority
- Gary Perinar will continue to serve on the Toll Highway Authority
ATTORNEY GENERAL HIGHLIGHTS: Data Breach: A data breach at the Office of the Attorney General a month ago has been confirmed to have been a ransomware attack. AG Kwame Raoul said an evaluation continues of the April 10th hack, including a review of the specific data that may have been compromised. Raoul noted that his office is working with federal law enforcement and outside technology experts as part of the investigation. The goal, he said, is “… to determine what information was exposed, how this happened, and what we can do to ensure that such a compromise does not happen again.” A new hotline has been established to provide information to residents concerned about the breach; it can be accessed at 1-833-688-1949 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.
ERA Efforts: On Monday, Raoul joined the Attorneys General of Nevada and Virginia in filing a notice of appeal to ensure that the federal government acknowledges the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th amendment to the US Constitution. The effort comes after a judge dismissed their lawsuit in March. The ERA guarantees equal rights for all Americans without regard to their sex. See news release here.
SECRETARY OF STATE HIGHLIGHTS:
Statue Recommendation: Secretary of State Jesse White has called for a new statue of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and for it to be placed in a prominent location on the Capitol grounds. White is contributing the first $5,000 to the fund in support of this undertaking. The Secretary of State indicated that he shares the sentiments of many who feel that the current statue of King (located at Second St. and Capitol Ave.) does not properly reflect the civil rights leader and should be replaced. The Illinois House has set up a Statue and Monument Review Task Force to evaluate the statues and monuments at the Capitol Complex; House Deputy Majority Leader Mary Flowers chairs the bipartisan effort.
Two-year Extension of REAL ID: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline until May 3, 2023 for implementing the federal REAL ID program. Under the new timeline, current Illinois driver’s licenses and ID cards will continue to be accepted at airports until then. DHS has said the extension was prompted by the ongoing pandemic and the impact it is having nationwide on driver’s license and ID card-issuing agencies.
NOVEMBER 2022 ELECTION UPDATE: Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who represents the 17th Congressional District, announced she is not seeking reelection in 2022. Bustos was first elected in 2012. Republican Esther Joy King, who challenged Bustos in the November 2020 election, announced she will be running again in 2022. Illinois is poised to lose one Congressional seat following the latest census. Republican Travis Breeden announced he is once again running for the 76th district seat against Lance Yednock. This race will be a rematch from 2020. Recently pardoned Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher filed paperwork to challenge Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie in the Republican primary.
The Illinois Senate will convene at 4pm on Monday, May 10th. The House will adjourn until Tuesday, May 11th at noon. Friday, May 14th is the deadline to pass substantive legislation out of committee in the opposite chamber. A little over three weeks remain in the spring session.
2021 Key Session Dates:
May 14 – Deadline: Substantive Bills out of Committee in opposite chamber/both chambers
May 28 – Deadline: Third Reading Substantive Bills/both chambers
May 31 – Adjournment