Special Session 2020
In this unusual time, the Illinois General Assembly met for an abbreviated session from May 20-24, which focused on COVID-19 related legislation. Although the session was brief, important and impactful legislation did pass both Houses and will go to Gov. Pritzker’s desk for signature. Summaries of key legislation follow.
The ILGA passed a $41 billion state budget that includes the need for funding of up to $5 billion from the federal government. The budget includes COVID-19 crisis relief that provides critical funding for testing, health care, rental assistance, unemployment benefits, resources for small business, and job training. There was level funding for college financial aid and domestic violence shelters as well as increased funding for homelessness prevention, DCFS, and senior care.
Voting (SB1863 Amendment No. 5)
In efforts to allow for a safer election during the COVID-19 pandemic, this bill will automatically send an application for a vote-by-mail ballot to any resident who has voted in the 2018 general election, the 2019 consolidated election or the 2020 primary election as well as anyone who registered to vote after the 2020 primary by July 31, 2020. Previous mail-in voters who don’t respond to initial invitations to sign up again would be sent reminders in September and October. Completed ballots would be returned via mail or in new “collection sites,” that would consist of boxes placed in locations at the discretion of local election officials. As for voting in person, the bill would allow local election authorities to implement curbside voting, in which voters can drive up, be handed a ballot and fill it out in their cars. The bill also declares Election Day, November 3, 2020, a state holiday.
SB1864 expands tele-health care and mental health care options and requires additional reporting from the state’s top health and insurance officers regarding efforts to reduce the cost of health insurance in the state. It includes making it easier for people to prove eligibility for the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the similar state program, All Kids. It also allows applicants to submit applications over the phone in lieu of a physical signature.
SB2541 creates a “hospital and health care transformation program” for communities with “significant health care disparities.” Hospitals across the state will receive at least $263 million in additional annual funding, with a total of $3.8 billion in payments to hospitals for the life of the program. The funding will be used to help provide health care services in under-resourced communities across Illinois.
SB471, the Healthy Workplace Act, provides that all workers in the state can access sick leave.
The Illinois General Assembly partnered with the Illinois State Board of Education to help schools accommodate remote learning and codify graduation requirements for this year. This bill also makes sure that student teachers can meet requirements remotely.
Workers Comp (HB2455)
The “labor omnibus bill”, for the purpose of death benefits, creates a “rebuttable presumption” that a first-responder or essential worker who contracts COVID-19 did so in the course of their employment. Employers, however, would have avenues to rebut the worker’s claim. The bill also ensures Illinois continues to qualify for federal relief by extending unemployment benefits, waiving a one-week unemployment insurance waiting period and expanding eligibility for unemployment to non-instructional education employees, such as lunch workers and teachers’ aides.
The General Assembly has announced a Veto Session later this year on the following dates: November 17th, 18th, and 19th and December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. We do not anticipate any additional special sessions in the short term. While the Veto Session dates could change as the COVID19 Pandemic develops, this presents an opportunity to have additional legislation passed. So we urge you to call, email or write your IL State Representative and your IL State Senator voice your support for the following bills and values. While COVID19 is understandably forefront of mind right now for our elected officials, your voice will be important to remind them that making Illinois a better state for all of us will require so much more than simply addressing COVID19.
HB3632, introduced by State Representative Joyce Mason, adds emotional abuse to the Domestic Violence Act of 1986.
HB3932, introduced by State Representative Kam Buckner, creates the Task Force on Missing and Murdered Chicago Women Act. This legislation supports and advocates for the safety and well being of women. With over 50 black women missing and murdered in Chicago, we must organize and take action.
HB4262, introduced by State Representative David Allen Welter, creates the Domestic Violence Task Force. This legislation creates initiatives to address and reduce domestic violence.
HB4455, introduced by State Representative Joyce Mason, amends the Domestic Violence Act of 1986 to allow for electronic filing.
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