As we hit the dog days of August, government at all levels continues to battle COVID-19 while supporting businesses and families. Nationally, negotiations over a relief package have stalled, and President Trump has issued an Executive Order extending jobless benefits in the meantime. On the state level, Governor Pritzker has issued a mandatory mask rule, and governments at every level are reckoning with budget deficits caused by the COVID lockdown. On the national election front, the big news is the announcement that Senator Kamala Harris will be Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate, and it appears that Illinois voters will not have a chance to vote for Kanye West (unless he becomes a write in), as he may not have enough valid signatures to make the Illinois ballot. On the state level, the fight over the graduated income tax is picking up, with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce recently coming out against the measure.
Here is what we are watching now:
New Coronavirus Aid
- President Trump acted on Saturday to extend unemployment benefits
- Gov. Pritzker has said that without more funding from Congress, Illinois will be forced to consider drastic spending cuts in the coming fiscal year
- The Illinois Housing Development Authority has begun accepting applications to hand out $150 million to Illinois renters who have had their incomes impacted by COVID-19. The program is funded with CARES Act federal funding
Gov. Pritzker Announces New Mask Rule
- On Friday, Gov. Pritzker along with the Illinois Department of Public Health announced a new mask rule, aimed at stemming the spread of the virus in Illinois
- The emergency rule will be implemented after a vote by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to suspend the rule failed on a vote of 6-5
- The rule mandates that businesses violating public health regulations could be hit with a $75-2500 fine for not enforcing mask regulations
Unrest in Chicago
- Months after initial waves of violence and unrest in Chicago, the city experienced another wave of looting in the Magnificent Mile shopping district early on August 10th
Wednesday, September 9, 10 a.m. — Chicago City Council
Biden picks Kamala Harris as VP nominee – Politico
Joe Biden has selected Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate, elevating a charismatic blue-state senator, former prosecutor, and onetime 2020 primary rival who has built a reputation as an unyielding antagonist of the Trump administration.
Trump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter – The Hill
President Trump on Saturday signed orders to extend unemployment benefits, suspend payroll taxes, and offer federal eviction and student loan relief, taking unilateral action that is on shaky legal ground amid stalled negotiations about a fifth round of coronavirus relief in Congress. The president announced the slew of executive actions from his private club in Bedminster, N.J., where he is spending the weekend after lawmakers on Capitol Hill were unable to reach an agreement with White House negotiators.
Pritzker warns of deep cuts to Illinois budget without federal economic aid – The Southern Illinoisan
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that Illinois faces the prospect of having to make deep spending cuts over the rest of the fiscal year if Congress does not pass an economic relief package that helps states make up for the massive loss in revenue they’ve seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I continue to do my part to make calls, to make sure that people understand that Republican-led states and Democratic-led states all have this challenge of revenues that fell off a cliff because of COVID-19,” Pritzker said during a news conference in Springfield.
Rent, mortgage help available for victims of pandemic – State Journal-Register
Illinois is now taking applications from people needing help to pay their rent because they’ve lost income from the coronavirus pandemic. The advice from Gov. JB Pritzker is to not waste any time if you need help because the $150 million allocated to the program isn’t not expected to be enough to help everyone who needs it.
Illinois is extending unemployment benefits by 20 weeks. Meanwhile, some gig workers are learning they’ve been overpaid. – Chicago Tribune
Illinois extended jobless benefits another 20 weeks as laid-off workers continued to struggle with the claims process, including some who say they have to return funds because they were overpaid. The Illinois Department of Employment Security, the state agency tasked with handling jobless claims, said the extension was available starting Thursday to people who have gone through 26 weeks of state benefits. Illinois is among 19 states providing 20 weeks of extended benefits, the agency said in a news release.
Pritzker's emergency mask mandate not overturned – WAND TV
The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) ruled Tuesday afternoon on Governor JB Pritzker's mask mandate on if businesses should receive fines for not complying. JCAR could have overturned the fines. They voted on a motion to oppose and suspend the emergency order, but it did not pass. The motion needed eight yes votes to suspend the mask mandate rules, however, six lawmakers voted yes to suspending the rules. Five lawmakers voted no.
Coronavirus ‘rages on’ in Illinois, prompting Pritzker to warn locals to take action — or the state ‘will be forced to step in’ – Chicago Sun-Times
Health officials on Wednesday announced another 1,759 people have tested positive for COVID-19 across Illinois, marking the third-highest daily caseload in two months and the 15th straight day the state has reported 1,000 or more cases. Over the last four weeks, Illinois has had 23 days with four-digit caseloads — following a full month without hitting that level.
How much longer can Pritzker sidestep the Madigan problem? – Crain’s Chicago Business
Little by little, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is being nudged in the direction of a possibly epic confrontation with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan—one the governor has been trying to avoid for years. Pritzker resisted the calls for Madigan to step down as House speaker and Democratic Party of Illinois chairman during the House's 2018 sexual harassment crisis. He's been similarly reluctant for the past year, amid the Commonwealth Edison fallout, and then for the past few weeks since ComEd's admission that it bribed lawmakers to get what it wanted out of Springfield.
As Mayor Lori Lightfoot calls for unity, political fallout from latest round of Chicago unrest and continuing violence could linger – Chicago Tribune
Store owners were still sweeping up glass from sidewalks along the Magnificent Mile Monday morning after a night of looting that turned the nation’s eyes to Chicago when Mayor Lori Lightfoot and police Superintendent David Brown went on the offensive. Not just against the hundreds of people who swept through downtown, ransacking stores and attacking police, but against the prosecutors and judges they said enabled such criminality by not taking a tougher stand against looting during the civil unrest that erupted after George Floyd’s death.
Chicago Public Schools to start school year with remote learning, Mayor Lightfoot, CPS announce – ABC 7
Chicago Public Schools will not reopen for in-person instruction this fall. CPS announced the decision Wednesday that they will begin the school year with fully-remote learning. But the goal is to get students back to class, at least part-time by November.
Head of troubled teachers’ pension system quits after being put on administrative leave – Chicago Sun-Times
Just days after he was put on administrative leave over unspecified “performance issues,” the executive director of the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System resigned from his $283,250-a-year position. The TRS Board of Trustees voted unanimously last Friday to place Richard Ingram on administrative leave “due to performance issues covered by his employment contract,” according to a brief statement the board issued Thursday.
Illinois Chamber of Commerce study forecasts job cuts to women and minorities, shrinking economy with graduated income tax. Advocates say not so fast. – Chicago Tribune
A study funded by the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce forecasts that if voters approve a new graduated income tax rate structure on Nov. 3, the state’s already pandemic-damaged economy will shrink, more people will leave the state, consumer costs will increase and jobs, particularly those held by women and minorities, will be lost.