Speaker Welch First-Term Highlights
Illinois elected a new Speaker of the House for the first time in almost 40 years after former House Speaker Michael Madigan was ousted from his leadership and later resigned at the beginning of the 102nd General Assembly. Madigan, the longest serving state or federal leader of a legislative body in U.S. history, was replaced by Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Illinois’ first black House Speaker. Welch was elected to the position by a vote of 77 to 44 on a partisan roll call. He faced opposition from several rivals and it took three caucus votes over two days before Welch was finally elevated to the position of Speaker. Despite promises to reform the culture of Illinois politics, Republicans opposed Welch’s speakership because of his close ties to former Speaker Madigan.
Upon taking over the role of Speaker, Welch appeared ready to turn the page on the Madigan years. He expressed support for term limits on House and Senate leadership positions. HB 642, a bill that would have done just that, passed the House nearly unanimously, but stalled in the Senate. Speaker Welch also made an attempt to openly reach across the aisle. On the day he took the gavel, Welch said, “we meet the challenge of the moment by being united, not divided.” His other priorities at the start of this session included controlling COVID-19 and reigning in the state’s budget woes. After his first session, Speaker Welch earned the reputation of being more open and transparent about his agenda than his predecessor.
FY 2022 Budget, FY 2021 Supplemental, and Capital Projects
Senate Bill 2800 (Harmon/Welch) is the fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget, FY 2021 supplemental appropriations, and capital projects bill. It provides $42.3B to the General Revenue Fund (GRF). The GRF budget includes $1.9B for public safety; $1.4B for general services; $7.4B for human services; $7.5B for Medicaid; $1.9B for higher education; and $9.2B for K-12 public schools, including a $350M increase to the Evidence Based Funding Formula from FY 2021 and $534M to the Early Childhood Education Block Grant.
Additionally, the budget appropriates $2.5B of the $8.1B total American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds that Illinois will receive. This allows sufficient time for leaders to strategize on how to best spend the remaining funds before they expire. $1.5B of the appropriated ARP funds will be used for economic recovery programs. Businesses will be eligible for $300M in Back to Business Grants from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). $25M of the Back to Business Grants are reserved for businesses that submitted a valid application under a previous funding round of the program but did not receive an award. Another $50M of the Back to Business Grants are reserved for businesses looking to reactivate vacant spaces in high-traffic areas, such as downtowns.
The other $1B in ARP funds appropriated in this budget will go towards the ongoing Rebuild Illinois capital plan.
SB 2800 pays down $3.2B in debt, and as a result saves taxpayers $100M in interest costs. The budget passed both houses of the General Assembly and awaits the governor’s signature.
On June 15, Gov. Pritzker issued an amendatory veto to SB 2800, which previously passed both houses of the General Assembly and was sent to the Governor. It corrects a drafting error that left off effective dates on a number of provisions in the budget. Without this amendatory veto many of the appropriated funds in the budget could not be used until June 2022 at the earliest. Republicans criticized the need to use procedural rules to correct errors in the budget. They insisted that the problem is the result of a lack of transparency and could have been avoided if Democratic leaders in the General Assembly released their budget to the public sooner. Gov. Pritzker’s amendatory veto was accepted by both houses of the General Assembly.
Senate Bill 2017 (Harmon/Harris) creates the budget implementation (BIMP) bill for the FY 2022 budget. It includes provisions to end four corporate tax incentives, providing an additional $655M in revenue to the state and $42M to local governments. Gov. Pritzker’s initial budget released in February proposed closing nine corporate loopholes for an additional $1B in revenue. However, opposition from business and General Assembly members from both parties decreased this to only the four incentives listed below.
$314M – Cap Corporate NOL Deductions at $100K per Year for the Next Three Years
When a company suffers a net operating loss (NOL) in a given year, it can carry forward the NOL to future years and deduct it from otherwise taxable income. Capping the amount of NOL deductions a $100K will impact the wealthiest businesses, and will add $314M in corporate income tax revenues, as well as $21M in local tax revenue.
$107M – Align Domestic and Foreign-Source Dividend Deduction
Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), corporations are allowed to deduct foreign-source dividends at 100% and global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) at 50%. Aligning the tax treatment of dividends from foreign sources and GILTI with the treatment of domestic dividends will primarily impact large, multi-national corporations with foreign subsidiaries or substantial ownership interests in foreign corporations. This alignment will produce $107M in corporate income tax revenues for the state and $7M for local governments.
$214M – Roll Back the 100% Accelerated Depreciation Deduction from the Trump Administration’s TCJA
The TCJA allows businesses to take a 100% depreciation deduction in the year of purchase for various qualifying assets. By applying the standard depreciation schedule, the state will generate $214M in business income tax revenues and $14M for local governments.
$20M – Freeze the Phase Out of the Corporate Franchise Tax
Public Act 101-9 was enacted in 2019 and began the gradual phase out of the Corporate Franchise Tax, scheduled to be fully repealed in 2024. The budget freezes the phase out of the repeal by eliminating the first $1,000 in Corporate Franchise Tax currently in place. This change will eliminate the tax burden for the smallest businesses while allowing the state to gain approximately $20M in revenue.
Additionally, the BIMP includes salary increases for Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) employees. The IWCC Commissioner annual salary will be 70% of a Circuit Court Judge in the First Judicial District. The Chairman of IWCC will receive 5% more per year than other Commissioners. The Secretary and each Arbitrator will receive 5% less per year than the salary of Commissioners.
SB 2017 passed both houses of the General Assembly and is awaiting action from the governor.
2020 U.S. Census data will not be available until August at the earliest. Despite this, the General Assembly followed through on its obligation to pass new legislative maps every 10 years. After holding redistricting hearings throughout the session, Senate and House Democrats released the first draft of their proposed legislative maps on Friday, May 21. Republicans criticized the maps as a partisan attempt to advance Democratic supermajorities in both chambers by combining multiple sitting Republicans into the same districts. Additionally, two Democrats Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) and Suzy Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs) will be located in the same district. Sen. Cullerton was indicted in 2019 on embezzlement charges and is facing a February 2022 trial date. Republicans particularly criticized Democrats decision to use population estimates from the American Community Survey, rather than waiting for 2020 Census data to be available.
HB 2777 (Hernandez/Harmon) (now Public Act 102-10) is the General Assembly Redistricting Act of 2021. HR 359 (Hernandez) and SR 326 (Harmon) are the corresponding House and Senate Redistricting Resolutions establishing procedure and principles for redistricting.
SB 642 (Harmon/Tarver) (now Public Act 102-11) is the Illinois Supreme Court Redistricting. In an attempt to maintain their majority, Democrats passed new Supreme Court districts for the first time since 1964. In the 2020 General Election, Justice Thomas Kilbride of the 3rd Supreme Court district became the first justice ever to lose retention. The current 3rd district contains everything from Will County to the Mississippi River, and Justice Kilbride received 56.5% of the vote, failing to meet the 60% threshold necessary to remain in office. Kilbride was unpopular for his ties to former House Speaker Michael Madigan, but changing demographics and politics in the region also contributed to his defeat. Under the current map, a Republican would likely win the 3rd district, rated a 55% to 45% Republican advantage. However, the new map narrows that to a 51% to 49% Republican advantage and makes the 2nd district a tossup. Given that Cook County has three solid-Democrat Supreme Court seats, Democrats only need to win one other district to keep their majority going forward. On June 7, the Supreme Court issued an order to attorneys to continue operating under the old districts, citing delays in management and operations. This order has no expiration date and will have to be undone by a future court order. Since this is the first time Illinois will have new Supreme Court districts in half a century, the adjustment period could be challenging.
SB 2661 (Harmon/Hernandez) (now Public Act 102-12) is the Cook County Board of Review Redistricting.
Redistricting bills passed both chambers of the General Assembly. Despite Republicans calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to follow through on his campaign promise to veto any partisan map, Gov. Pritzker signed them on June 4. However, Gov. Pritzker noted that the maps may need to be adjusted after 2020 Census data is released later in the year. Democrats emphasized how the new maps do a great job highlighting Illinois’ diversity, but Republicans continue to insist that maps should be drawn with Census data. Republican General Assembly leadership filed litigation against the new maps before on June 9. Additionally, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund filed litigation on June 11 similarly citing concerns over the use of ACS data.
Senate Bill 539 (Gillespie/Burke) received bipartisan support in the Illinois House and Senate and takes steps to address Illinois’ infamous history of corruption. This bill is intended to close loopholes that have allowed bad actors to work the system for decades. Following former House Speaker Michael Madigan and his involvement in the ongoing Commonwealth Edison bribery scandal, Democratic and Republican lawmakers called for significant ethics reform to be passed this session. While Republicans believe the bill is not as strong as they would have hoped for, many of them still voted for it as a step in the right direction. Republicans particularly criticized the bill’s six-month revolving-door ban for former legislators to lobby the General Assembly. Their proposals advocated for a one year ban. SB 539 passed out of the House by a vote of 113-5-0 and passed the Senate unanimously.
While the bill passed, it has been criticized by members of both parties and numerous outside stakeholders for not being strong enough to make a difference. The bill notably excludes the City of Chicago because Chicago’s own ethics rules are significantly stronger than what this bill requires of General Assembly members.
The following provisions are included in the Ethics Omnibus:
- Prohibits legislators from lobbying for six months after they leave office, or until the remainder of the two-year legislative term during which they leave, whichever comes first.
- Gives the Legislative Inspector General the power to initiate investigations of lawmakers without first receiving approval from the bipartisan Legislative Ethics Commission.
- Creates a new state registration status for “consultants.” This is similar to lobbyist registration, but lobbyists are required to disclose more information about themselves on public documents filed with the state.
- Prorates legislator pay for General Assembly members who retire in the middle of the month or the middle of session.
- Prohibits political fundraisers anywhere in the State of Illinois, virtual or in person, on a legislative session day or the day before session.
- Prohibits sitting legislators or executive branch constitutional officers from engaging in compensated lobbying of the governing body of a municipality, county, or township, or an official thereof, on behalf of any lobbyist or lobbying entity that is registered to lobby the General Assembly or the executive branch. Notably, it does not prohibits a legislator from lobbying without compensation.
In the aftermath of the 2020 election, many Republican-led states passed controversial election bills to both bolster security and cope with delays to 2020 U.S. Census data. Illinois on the other hand, passed an Election Omnibus, SB 825, which expands voting rights makes a variety of changes listed below. The bill passed both chambers of the General Assembly and awaits further action from the governor.
2022 Primary Election Changes
- Nominating Petitions for State Offices: January 12, 2022
- Nominating Petitions for Congressional and Judicial Candidates: March 7, 2022
- Early Voting for Primary Opens: May 19, 2022
- Primary Election Day: June 28, 2022
Despite already passing new maps for the General Assembly and Illinois Supreme Court without 2020 U.S. Census data, Illinois Democrats decided to push the 2022 primary election back. This move will allow for U.S. Congressional redistricting to occur after Census data is available. The bill also allows county boards to delay their reapportionments until December 31, 2021, several months after Census data is scheduled to be released at the end of September. Republicans highlighted these provisions of the bill as examples of the Democrats’ hypocrisy, and willingness to delay the redistricting process only when it benefits them. They argue that the Democrats did not need to pass General Assembly and Supreme Court redistricting maps given that the 2022 primary is already being delayed to allow for the release of Census data. Changes to the primary election only impact the 2022 election, and expire immediately after it takes place.
Additionally, the November 8, 2022 general election will be a state holiday. It will also be considered a legal school holiday and any schools closing for the holiday will available to serve as polling places for the 2022 general election. This change expires after the 2022 general election.
Permanent Vote-By-Mail List
The bill allows election authorities to create and maintain a permanent vote-by-mail list. Under current law, voters must apply for a vote-by-mail ballot each election. The bill also tasks the Illinois State Board of Elections with looking into the possibility of an electronic vote-by-mail system for voters with disabilities.
Political Committee Reform
The bill makes several changes to political committees, including exempting those with less than $10,000 from being selected by state officials for a random audit. Additionally, it allows lawmakers and candidates for office to use campaign funds to care for a child or a dependent family member, as well as for gas and vehicle expenses.
County Jail Polling Locations
The bill extends the ability of election authorities to create temporary polling places at county jails. Currently, Cook County is the only county in Illinois that is required to make a temporary polling place at the county jail, allowing residents of the county who are in custody but have not been convicted of an offense to vote. However, this provision merely gives county sheriffs the option to extend voting rights to those held in custody at a county jail but who have not been convicted, it does not require that they do so.
Local Office Holders in the General Assembly
The bill also includes a rollback on municipal election restrictions regarding General Assembly members and candidates. The bill would remove the ability of local governments to prevent members of the Illinois General Assembly from also holding local office. This provision means that no local government could adopt an ordinance, referendum, or resolution to prohibit a General Assembly member from holding local office or requiring them to resign from their legislative seat in order to run for local office. These new provisions would only apply to ordinances, referenda, or resolutions that were adopted on or after November 8, 2016.
The bill boosts cybersecurity defenses after high profile breaches involving the Illinois State Board of Elections and Attorney General’s Office. It requires election authorities to perform organizational risk assessments every two years and monthly vulnerability scans. Finally, election authorities must use endpoint detection and response security tools on all computers utilized by election employees within one year of the effect date of the bill.
ACS Data for County Board Reapportionment
In a move opposed by Republicans, the bill allows counties to use American Community Survey (ACS) data from the U.S. Census Bureau for their 2021 county board reapportionment processes. Republicans were strongly opposed to the use of ACS data in the General Assembly redistricting process and questioned why the bill allows the use of ACS data when it also pushes back the county board reapportionment deadline until after Census data will be available.
Regulatory Sunset Omnibus
House Bill 806 (Mah/Jones, III) extends the sunset date on various acts. It was passed by both houses and awaits action from the governor. Below is a list of the extended acts and their new sunset dates.
January 1, 2022
- The Collateral Recovery Act.
- The Crematory Regulation Act.
- The Illinois Health Information Exchange and Technology Act.
- The Water Well and Pump Installation Contractor's License Act.
January 1, 2027
- The Clinical Psychologist Licensing Act.
- The Illinois Optometric Practice Act of 1987.
- The Boiler and Pressure Vessel Repairer Regulation Act.
- The Marriage and Family Therapy Licensing Act.
- The Boxing and Full-contact Martial Arts Act.
- The Cemetery Oversight Act.
- The Community Association Manager Licensing and Disciplinary Act.
- The Home Inspector License Act.
- The Massage Licensing Act.
- The Medical Practice Act of 1987.
- The Petroleum Equipment Contractors Licensing Act.
- The Radiation Protection Act of 1990.
- The Real Estate Appraiser Licensing Act of 2002.
- The Registered Interior Designers Act.
January 1, 2032
- The Detection of Deception Examiners Act.
House Bill 3743 (Walsh/Hastings) is the Telecom Omnibus bill. This bill extends three critical communication laws that bolster Illinois broadband networks and video services. It extends the Emergency Telephone Systems Act with upgraded 911 services, including training procedures and minimum emergency education standards. The Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act is extended to December 31, 2024. It also expands prevailing wage for certain jobs contracted by a public utility. This bill is critical for greater 5G expansion and innovation in the state. HB 3743 passed both houses and was signed into law by Gov. Pritzker as Public Act 102-9.
House Bill 1738 makes corrections to the Telecommunications Omnibus that passed both houses of the General Assembly and was signed into law. Sen. Michael Hastings, who introduced the amendment to HB 1738 on June 15, said that it does not make any changes to the underlying Act. It only fixes drafting errors regarding the reenactment of the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act. HB 1738 passed both houses of the General Assembly.
Affordable Housing Omnibus
House Bill 2621 (Guzzardi/Hunter) creates monetary incentives including the COVID-19 Affordable Housing Grant Program to provide funding to support affordable housing in areas disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The program would supplement affordable housing developments which qualify for federal tax credits to be made available through federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan (ARP). This bill only provides affordable housing grants while ARP funds last, but members of the General Assembly from both parties expressed support for a permeant version of the program to supplement the creation affordable housing after ARP funds run out. However, a long-term program was not passed this session because the question remains: where will funding come from after ARP funds are gone?
This bill also extends the Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit until December 31, 2026. This credit offers incentives to developers who donate money or real estate to affordable housing developments. HB 2621 passed both houses unanimously and is awaiting action by the governor.
Property Tax Omnibus
House Bill 508 (Hastings/Zalewski) is the Property Tax Omnibus, which makes various changes to the Property Tax Code, regarding the Property Tax Appeal Board, tax sales, and scavenger sales. HB 508 passed both houses of the General Assembly and is awaiting action from the governor. The bill includes the following provisions:
Property Tax Appeal Board
- An aggregate extension base of the home equity assurance program that levied at least $1M in property taxes in 2019 or 2020 under the Home Equity Assurance Act. This is the amount that the program’s aggregate extension base for levy year 2021 would have been if the program levied a property tax in 2021. This provision is repealed on January 1, 2025.
- Beginning in levy year 2021, property taxes will increase by a prior year adjustment whenever an assessment decrease occurs. This is because of the issuance of a certificate of error, a court order, or a final administrative decision by the Property Tax Appeal Board results in a refund from the taxing district of a portion of the property tax revenue distributed to the taxing district.
- As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic any Cook County application for judgement and order of sale for the 2018 annual tax sale that would normally be held in 2020, must be filed no later than October 1, 2021, even if the governor’s COVID-19 public health emergency is not over.
- When a tax sale is delayed because of COVID-19, no subsequent annual tax sale may begin earlier than 180 days after the last day of prior delayed tax sale, and no scavenger sale may begin earlier than 90 days after the last day of the prior delayed tax sale.
- For any annual tax sale conducted after the effective date of the bill, each county collector in a county with 275,000 or more inhabitants must adopt a single bidder rule sufficient to prohibit a tax purchaser from registering for more than one related bidding entity at the tax sale. Any country with less than 275,000 people may, but is not required to, allow the county collector to adopt a single bidder rule.
- Allows for a gap of more than two consecutive years without a scavenger sale, if a tax sale has been delayed as a result of a statewide COVID-19 public health emergency.
- For electric automated scavenger sales, the successful bidder will pay the minimum bid amount by the close of the business day on which the bid was placed. That amount must be paid online via automated clearing house (ACH) debit or by the electronic payment method required by the county scavenger sales.
- Beginning in calendar year 2021, a county collector may use any electronic automated means to conduct a scavenger sale.
SB 2294 (Gillespie/Harris) is Illinois Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Act. It makes various changes to have Illinois follow the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Model that 40 other states already use. This bill is the result efforts from the bipartisan Medicaid Working Group to expand mental health coverage. SB 2294 passed both houses and is awaiting action from the governor. It includes the following provisions:
- Directs the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) to collaborate with customers and other stakeholders to develop a Comprehensive Statewide Behavioral Health Strategy to submit to the General Assembly no later than July 1, 2022 in order to access additional federal funding.
- Requires every patient experiencing an opioid-related overdose or withdrawal to be admitted to impatient status when medically necessary. Directs DHFS to reimburse hospital providers accordingly.
- Recognizes veteran support specialists as mental health professionals under Medicaid rules.
- Transitions Illinois’ Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to be entirely a Medicaid expansion program, instead of the current combination of Medicaid expansion and separate CHIP program. This also expands Medicaid coverage for children under 19 to 313% of the federal poverty level (FPL), from 133% of the FPL.
- Provides Medicaid coverage for:
- Clinical professional counselors and marriage and family therapists.
- Long-acting injectable medication for mental health or substance use disorders.
- Chiropractic services.
- Tobacco cessation counseling.
- Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly Services (PACE).
- Covers post-kidney transplant immunosuppressive drugs and other related services for non-citizens who are ineligible for comprehensive medical benefits and meet financial requirements.
- Increases reimbursement rates for pediatric vaccinations.
- Issues a temporary per diem increase for Supportive Living Facilities to take advantage of enhanced federal match under the ARP.
- Raises reimbursement rates for wheelchair repairs.
- Establishes a pilot program to research and identify appropriate residential settings for psychiatric lockout youth.
- Develops a waiver program for young adults with developmental disabilities.
- Increases Medicaid rates for adult and youth dental services.
Black Caucus Trailer Bill
House Bill 3443 (Slaughter/Sims) is a trailer bill to the SAFE-T Act, a major criminal justice reform initiative backed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus that was signed into law by Gov. Pritzker in February. Unlike the original SAFE-T Act, this trailer legislation has the support of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois State Police because it amends some controversial portions of the original Act that were opposed by law enforcement.
The bill states that, with a supervisor’s approval, an officer may file for access to another officer’s body camera footage, a provision that the SAFE-T Act prohibited. It also changes deadly force provisions such that an officer must believe deadly force is the only way to stop a suspect from greatly injuring another person before using deadly force. Finally, a provision on law enforcement misconduct is also changed to be more lenient, stating that in order to be prosecuted, the officer must have knowingly and intentionally have misrepresented or withheld knowledge of the facts of a case with the intent to obstruct the prosecution or defense of an individual.
Rep. Curtis Tarver was the only Democrat to vote against the bill. He opposed how the bill’s sponsors did not negotiate with the Black Caucus before introducing legislation to the entire General Assembly. A brief parliamentary hold at the end of session was lifted, and HB 3443 passed both houses and is awaiting action from the governor.
Senate Bill 521 (Munoz/Rita) makes various changes related to gaming in Illinois. It follows Rep. Robert Rita’s vision of passing a slim gaming package every year, rather than a big one every few years. The bill permits in-person wagering on Illinois college teams at Illinois casinos, racetracks, or off-track-betting sites, but not on mobile devices. The in-state college betting provision would expire after two years, allowing for a trial period before making it a permanent feature. However, the bill prevents wagering on individual college athletes, only allowing team and score-based wagers, which are seen as putting less pressure on student athletes.
The bill also makes changes to the horse racing industry by allowing stallions owned by non-Illinois breeders to bring their horses to Illinois to breed with Illinois mares.
Additionally, the legislation prohibits municipalities from levying push taxes on video gaming terminals or bets placed on the machines. Exceptions are made to the push tax prohibition for Oak Lawn and Waukegan, municipalities that levied such a tax on video gambling prior to June 1. These municipalities may continue to levy a push tax, but they may not increase the tax rate or expand the tax beyond video gaming terminals. The bill, as first filed, included a provision requiring labor peace agreements for new casino licensees. However, a late amendment removed this provision due to strong opposition from the gaming industry.
SB 521 passed the Senate at the end of April prior to being amended into the Gaming Omnibus. It passed the House on June 1, but the Senate did not take a concurrence vote. Ultimately, the bill did not get a vote in the Senate because Rep. Rita failed communicate with the Senate gaming lead, Sen. Bill Cunningham, about the provisions and intent of the bill prior to introducing it at the end of session.
Passing comprehensive energy legislation this session was a top priority for Gov. Pritzker and legislative leaders. General Assembly members introduced and debated numerous comprehensive energy packages throughout the session. These include the Clean Energy Jobs Act, Path to 100, Climate Union Jobs Act, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s own Consumers and Climate First Act.
Subsidizing Exelon-owned nuclear plants is an essential part of all energy packages. Exelon announced, and a Synapse Energy Economics audit commissioned by Gov. Pritzker’s Office confirmed, that the Byron and Dresden Nuclear Generating Stations would require a subsidy to remain operational. Nuclear plants are both a source of carbon-free energy and quality union jobs in Illinois. On May 31, Gov. Pritzker announced that he had reached a $694M subsidy agreement with Exelon to keep the plants open going forward. At this point, it appeared that the General Assembly would pass a comprehensive energy package before leaving Springfield for the summer.
In the final hours of session, a new roadblock emerged. The proposal includes a 2035 closing date for all coal plants and a 2045 closing date for all natural gas plants. Even the Prairie State coal plant, which opened in 2012, would have to close by 2035. Prairie State is the largest carbon emitter in the State of Illinois and the ninth-largest emitter in the country. Opposition to closing the Prairie Sate largely emerged from unions, who would lose jobs, and municipal utilities, who own the plant and would be forced to continue repaying debt even if it closes. With this continued opposition, session wrapped-up on June 1 without reaching an energy deal.
On June 15, Senate President Don Harmon reconvened the Senate to pass an energy bill and other cleanup measures. It was largely assumed that by reconvening the session, a deal had been reached by all stakeholders. However, this was not the case. Two key Democratic constituencies, unions and environmentalists, remained at odds over the proposed closing dates for coal and natural gas plants. Gov. Pritzker announced a compromise allowing coal plants to remain open until 2045 if they install carbon sequestration technology for 90% of plant emissions. Environmentalists still disagreed, advocating for the closure of all fossil fuel plants with no exceptions. Additionally, unions representing natural gas plants emerged in opposition to the proposed 2045 closing date. President Harmon considered the idea of passing a “skinny” package which would only include the agreed upon provisions, but this faced strong opposition from House Democrats and Gov. Pritzker. House Speaker Chris Welch said his chamber would not even consider a skinny package, and Gov. Pritzker threatened to veto any package that is not a “real climate bill,” so the Senate adjourned again without passing an energy bill.
Unions and environmentalists remain far from an agreement, but President Harmon is confident that a deal can still be reached this summer. Stakeholders will continue to meet throughout the summer and hopefully reach a deal before the end of August. While Exelon has not announced an official closing date for their nuclear plants, Gov. Pritzker and legislative leaders would have to reach a verbal agreement with Exelon to keep the plants open until they pass an energy package. Comprehensive energy legislation remains a top priority for Gov. Pritzker and House and Senate Democrats.
Other Important Bills
House Bill 616 (Costa Howard) creates the Family and Medical Leave Act providing that employees are entitled to 12 weeks of leave during a calendar year which may be used for absence due to personal illness, illness in the employee’s family, or the birth or adoption of a child. It requires the employer to pay the cost of health insurance applicable to the employee during the period of leave, and that the employee be returned to his or her position or an equivalent position upon return. HB 616 was assigned House Labor & Commerce Wage Policy & Study Subcommittee before being re-referred to Rules, where it remains.
Senate Bill 4 (Gillespie) amends the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act by adding a series of ethics provisions, including new financial disclosures and lobbyist requirements. It prohibits sitting legislators, executive branch officials, and other elected or appointed officials from engaging in lobbying of the General Assembly, executive branch, county governments, or municipal governments. Additionally, it adds a six-month revolving door provision for members of the General Assembly and executive branch. Finally, it makes the Legislative Inspector General a full time employee of the State of Illinois. SB 4 passed out of the Senate Ethics Committee on April 21, but was later re-referred to Assignments, where it remains. Sen. Gillespie also sponsored the Ethics Omnibus (SB 539) which passed both chambers at the end of session, and contains similar language to this bill.
Senate Bill 550 (Crowe/DeLuca) prohibits legislative pay increases for General Assembly members for cost of living adjustments in FY 2022, which begins July 1, 2021. Such legislative pay increases were previously authorized by SRJ 192 from the 86th General Assembly. SB 550 passed the House as an Italian Heritage Month bill. It passed the Senate at the very end of session, after being amended into its current form. The bill awaits a concurrence vote in the House. Many Republicans, and some Democrats, hoped this would be included as a provision in the Ethics Omnibus (SB 539), but it was not. Republicans remain skeptical that even if the bill passes both houses, it will not be signed into law by the governor.
Senate Bill 731 (Cullerton) creates the Do Not Track Act which is modeled after WC3 guidance. It prohibits tracking of users who send out a do-not-track-signal. It provides exceptions for anonymous data, if the user gives consent, or if the tracking is necessary to provide a user service. SB 731 was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Privacy Subcommittee and later re-referred to Assignments at the end of April, where it remains.
Senate Bill 1350 (Curran) is the Republicans proposed ethics package which amends the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act by creating more rigorous financial and political activity disclosures for lobbyists. It prohibits sitting members of the General Assembly or their family members from lobbying the General Assembly. It creates a one year revolving door prohibition on legislators lobbying for compensation. Additionally, it allows the Legislative Inspector General to take on investigations without the approval of the Legislative Ethics Commission. SB 1350 was referred to the Senate Ethics Committee, but later re-referred to Assignments, where it remains.
Senate Bill 1370 (Bryant) creates the Vaccine Credential Act, which prevents a unit of local government or the state requiring anyone to have a vaccine credential or show a vaccine credential before being allowed to enter a public event or venue. SB 1370 was referred to the Senate Executive Committee, but the bill was later re-referred to Assignments, where it remains.