Insight on Illinois, June 4, 2020
While all eyes are rightly on the protests following George Floyd’s senseless death, the Illinois Legislature recently concluded its COVID-19-shortened “special session” in which only the budget and a few time-sensitive issues were considered and passed. Mayor Lightfoot’s State of the City Address this week promised reforms that would help the city heal racial injustice and police misconduct. Among other things, we are watching closely the implementation of the budget, the rollout of the newly-passed Chicago casino legislation, Chicago’s healing and reform, and of course, COVID-19 recovery issues around the state.
Here is a snapshot of what’s happening now:
Highlights of May Legislative Session
- The Illinois General Assembly passed SB 264, the FY 2021 budget on Sunday, May 24. The budget and its related implementation legislation are awaiting the Governor’s signature.
- School districts will not receive a planned $350 million increase in state funding
- No money was included in the budget for legislator cost of living increases
- The Legislature passed SB 2099, which allows Illinois to borrow up to $5 billion from the Federal Reserve to cover revenue shortfalls for the upcoming fiscal year
- Vote by Mail Legislation, which would authorize the automatic delivery of vote by mail applications to newly registered voters and anyone who voted in 2018-2020 statewide elections, was passed by both Houses. The Governor has announced his intention to sign the legislation into law.
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot scored a legislative win by pushing through a gaming bill that would lower the tax burden on a potential Chicago casino, as well as delay the deadline for casino applicants to pay license fees.
Illinois Partially Reopens
- The State of Illinois moved to Phase 3 of the reopening plan on April 29th
- Gov. Pritzker is allowing non-essential businesses to open with capacity limits, outdoor dining, fitness classes, salon services, and non-essential gatherings of up to 10 people
- Religious gatherings will not be subject to the 10-person maximum
- Phase 3 Chicago opening will occur as planned for June 3rd, despite concerns over Coronavirus spread at massive protests
Protests in Chicago
- Thousands of protesters in Chicago turned out over the weekend in solidarity with Minneapolis protests over the death of George Floyd
- Governor Pritzker has declared a State of Emergency in the Chicago area and deployed the National Guard to provide support for the Chicago Police Department, which was struggling to control widespread looting associated with the protests
- President Preckwinkle makes her first veto vote, saying “No” to a plan to provide first responders addresses of COVID-19 positive patients.
News of the Week
The Illinois General Assembly passed a maintenance-level $40 billion state budget Saturday night and early Sunday that would rely heavily on federal funding to close a gaping pandemic-driven deficit. The spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1 is headed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk.
Chicago casino, budget get green light, in waning hours of special session – Chicago Sun-Times
Lawmakers … approved a Chicago casino, a feat decades in the making, as the Illinois General Assembly … approve[d] a $41 billion “maintenance” budget plan that’s largely reliant on borrowing and hope that the federal government will further help Illinois with COVID-19 relief.
After months of behind-the-scenes lobbying, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot scored a major victory in Springfield during the legislature’s pandemic-driven special session by convincing enough suburban and Downstate lawmakers to support her plan to overhaul the taxes for a long-discussed city casino. In addition to a couple of perks for downstate gambling interests, the legislation’s passage benefited from an increased urgency for funds to support a statewide capital construction plan, which relies on gambling revenue.
House puts final stamp on graduated tax language – State Journal-Register
The language of the graduated income tax ballot measure is finalized after the House joined the Senate in approving it Friday [May 22]. It will read: “The proposed amendment grants the State authority to impose higher income tax rates on higher income levels, which is how the federal government and a majority of other states do it. The amendment would remove the portion of the Revenue Article of the Illinois Constitution that is sometimes referred to as the “flat tax,” that requires all taxes on income to be at the same rate. The amendment does not itself change tax rates. It gives the State the ability to impose higher tax rates on those with higher income levels and lower income tax rates on those with middle or lower income levels. You are asked to decide whether the proposed amendment should become a part of the Illinois Constitution.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker released guidelines Sunday for retailers, manufacturers, barbershops, salons, health and fitness centers, and other businesses that will be allowed to reopen in the coming days as the state enters the next phase of its “Restore Illinois” plan. In announcing the guidelines for the third of the state’s five-phase plan, Pritzker said his administration had consulted with over 200 people representing small businesses, major companies, local park districts, hospitals, elected officials, and labor leaders, among others.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday announced industry-specific rules for the reopening of restaurants, child care facilities, and some industries as part of phase three of Chicago’s reemergence from the coronavirus stay-at-home order.
Mayor Lightfoot joined CPD and CDPH on Tuesday morning to provide an update to the city after numerous days of protest, following the death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Along with the update, the Mayor announced the city will move to Phase Three of Chicago's reopening framework on Wednesday, as previously planned.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her top public health official warned that protesters and others who gathered in groups over the weekend may have exposed themselves to COVID-19 and should take precautions to avoid infecting others — but an expert said hundreds or even thousands of people could now be exposed to the virus after the weekend activities. Lightfoot and Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said in a news conference Monday that the weekend’s protests over the death of George Floyd that drew thousands to Chicago’s streets may have exposed many to the virus.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday declared Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Will and four downstate counties disaster areas to allow him to mobilize Illinois National Guard troops and other state resources needed for areas wracked by looting and vandalism that recalled the tumultuous days of the 1960s.
This week was supposed to mark a milestone for a city looking forward to reopening after nearly three months of being sidelined by COVID-19. Chicago’s economic engine was expected to restart, with outdoor dining permitted at restaurants, hair salons reopening, and nonessential stores welcoming in customers Wednesday for the first time since mid-March. Other workplaces, like offices, also were given guidelines to reopen. Combined, the moves were expected to chip away at the city’s unemployment rate, which had climbed to 18.9% in April.
Just days after rare defiance from the Cook County Board, Toni Preckwinkle on Tuesday issued her first veto in ten years as board president, nixing a resolution that would provide the addresses of COVID-19 positive patients to first responders in suburban Cook County. The Hyde Park Democrat said she never expected the resolution to pass and decided over the weekend to veto it. Its impact on the county’s black and brown communities — as well as warnings from public health officials — drove her decision.
Tea & Tidbits: Benefits Strategies for Small Employers
June’s discussion will center around benefit strategies for start-ups or employers who are small and aren’t sure if they can offer benefits at all.
Religious Accommodations: What Every Employer Needs To Know
This webinar will discuss the practical and legal issues relating to religious accommodations. This includes determining whether an employee has a sincerely held religious belief, what information you can request in connection with a request for a religious accommodation, and whether a request for an accommodation is reasonable.
Window on Washington - June 14, 2021, Vol. 5, Issue 24
Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital