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Updates & News
Final tally of 599 bills enacted in spring 2019 shows that almost 99% of them became law. Of the 599 bills sent to the Governor by the House and Senate after passage in spring 2019 by both houses, 591 bills were signed into law. Eight vetoes will be on the House and Senate calendars in November 2019 when the two chambers reconvene in veto session. Seven vetoes are “total” vetoes, which means that three-fifths majorities of both houses will be required to override the veto. Gov. Pritzker also issued one “amendatory” veto, which initiates a process by which the General Assembly may scrutinize the Governor’s changes and accept them by simple majority. In addition to veto actions, the General Assembly may take other legislative actions during the fall Veto Session.
September is National Child Passenger Safety Month. The first full back-to-school month has been designated as National Child Passenger Safety Month for drivers and families. Each year, agencies and organization around the country take this opportunity to help educate and promote child safety in vehicles. Education efforts are organized by the SafeKids consortium. Federal laws, which are enforced by local law enforcement, require children to be protected by child seats adapted to their age and size. SafeKids events help parents learn how to install and use car seats, including parents and families who are transitioning from one car seat to another. SafeKids Illinois affiliates include coalition affiliates in Chicago, the Metro-East, Peoria, Rockford, and many other regions.
Smoking in cars will soon be illegal with passengers under age 18. House Bill 2276, signed into law on Friday, August 23, will become effective January 1, 2020. The “don’t smoke in cars when children are present” law will supplement other Smoke Free Illinois Act laws and ordinances that forbid smoking in almost all enclosed public spaces, as well as outdoors within statutory distances of a public door or window or in almost any outdoor location on the campus of a college or university.
The new law applies to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, cannabis, and other devices in a vehicle that is stationary or in motion. The fine for violation of the smoking-in-motor-vehicles law will not exceed $100, plus court costs and fees, for a first offense. An escalating fine will be imposed for a second or subsequent offense.
New Enterprise Zones approved. In a move spurred by House Republican advocacy, the Illinois Enterprise Zone Board approved the creation of fourteen new Enterprise Zones throughout Illinois. The Enterprise Zone Act contains many provisions intended to encourage the creation of jobs and capital investment in designated Enterprise Zones, including tax breaks on goods and energy sold for job-creating use within the Zones.
The Enterprise Zone Act enumerates economically-challenged regions within Illinois that are ripe for redevelopment. Each Enterprise Zone is formed through a partnership between a jurisdictional local government and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Until 2019, the number of Illinois enterprise zones had been capped at 97. In a move pushed by House Republicans, the General Assembly amended the Act to work with DCEO to designate a significant number of new Zones.
The list of new zones was released by DCEO on Tuesday, August 27. A wide-ranging variety of localities were offered the stimulus designation, including Coles County in eastern Illinois; Jacksonville, Ill. west of Springfield; Western Hoffman Estates in Cook County; and Zion Benton in Chicago’s outer suburbs on the Wisconsin state line.
Gov. Pritzker requests federal disaster declaration in wake of historic spring floods. With the state’s disaster assessment concluded, Governor JB Pritzker has officially requested a federal disaster declaration be issued for Illinois due to the devastating floods that plagued our state since February 2019. In his request, Governor Pritzker requested Individual Assistance (IA) for 22 counties and Public Assistance (PA) for 32 counties. If approved, a federal disaster declaration would help local governments, residents and businesses affected by this historic flood recover from the disaster by allowing them to apply for grants and loans to assist with storm-related expenses and losses.
Counties included in the Public Assistance (PA) request: Adams; Alexander; Bureau; Calhoun; Carroll; Cass; Fulton; Greene; Hancock; Henderson; Henry; Jackson; Jersey; Knox; LaSalle; Lee; Madison; Mercer; Monroe; Morgan; Peoria; Pike; Randolph; Rock Island; Schuyler; Scott; St. Clair; Stephenson; Tazewell; Union; Whiteside; and Winnebago counties.
Counties included in the Individual Assistance (IA) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans request: Adams; Alexander; Calhoun; Carroll; Hancock; Henderson; Henry; Jackson; Jersey; Knox; Madison; Mercer; Monroe; Peoria; Pike; Randolph; Rock Island; Stephenson; Union; Whiteside; Winnebago; and Woodford counties.
To support this request for a federal disaster declaration, documentation was included from the recent joint damage assessment, conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and affected communities. This assessment illustrated the devastating effects of this flood event:
- More than $69 million in direct losses, including over $8.2 million in losses for individuals and $61 million in losses for units of state, county and local governments. This does not include the millions in other economic impacts, such as lost wages to individuals, lost revenue for businesses, and lost tax revenues for impacted governments.
- Over 1,000 miles of roadway and bridges were damaged or left inaccessible, affecting some of the most vulnerable populations. Many still are. This disruption forced residents to travel up to two hours to receive healthcare or basic necessities like groceries.
- More than 1,400 homes and 2.1 million people were impacted by this flood event. Of that, 42 homes were destroyed, 178 sustained major damage, 419 were listed as having minor damage and another 708 were impacted by rising floodwaters.
- An SBA Survey Team identified 76 businesses and non-profits with major impacts from this disaster and 217 with minor impacts, which directly impacts the amount of tax revenue available for affected communities to devote to recovery, making federal assistance all the more necessary.
Additional information about the state’s storm response efforts is available at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
Keicher bill signed into law to broaden the availability of mammogram screening. Legislation sponsored by State Representative Jeff Keicher to broaden the availability of mammogram screening for women across the State of Illinois was signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker on Monday in a ceremony at the Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Health & Wellness Center.
Specifically, Senate Bill 162 requires coverage for comprehensive ultrasound screenings if a mammogram demonstrates heterogeneous or dense breast tissue, or when medically necessary as determined by a licensed physician. The new law also requires coverage for diagnostic mammograms. The new law was an initiative of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
“My family, like so many others in our community, has been impacted by women battling breast cancer,” Representative Keicher said. “As a husband and father of a college age daughter, women’s health issues are a kitchen table issue in my house, just as I’m sure it is in homes across the State of Illinois. I would like to thank the breast cancer survivors and advocates whose support was pivotal in getting this new law passed. Together we will continue to make major strides to prevent breast cancer and ensure that women have access to the screenings and life-saving care they need.”
Rep. Tony McCombie voted YES on Senate Bill 162.
Governor signs Davidsmeyer’s prescription drug affordability law. Legislation co-sponsored by Assistant Republican Leader C.D. Davidsmeyer and signed last Friday by Governor Pritzker will give those who take pharmaceutical drugs relief at the cash register.
House Bill 465 (Public Act 101-0452) will give customers more options for cheaper drugs, prevent the denial of emergency medical treatment to expecting mothers, allow pharmacists to recommend less expensive drugs, create a state registration for Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) and hold those PBMs accountable.
“Almost everyone takes some sort of prescription drug to maintain their way of life. And many times patients, especially senior citizens, are forced to decide between basic necessities like food, housing and utilities or their monthly prescriptions. My legislation protects patients and gives them and their pharmacists more rights to treat disease,” said Davidsmeyer, chief co-sponsor of HB 465.
“Pharmacists will now be allowed to inform patients of cheaper drug options. Drug lists and the maximum allowable cost charged will be updated every seven days – giving consumers real-time pricing for their drugs. Patients will not be forced to pay a co-pay when the out-of-pocket price is less than the co-pay. Denial of emergency care will be much harder; especially when that denial is for pregnant women who are having contractions, but are sent home from the hospital.”
9/11 memorial events to be held throughout Illinois. The events will honor the lives of those lost on 9/11/01 and the firefighters, police officers, and other first responders who courageously served on that tragic day. A web-based list of events throughout Illinois can be found here.
Summary of August 2019 revenue numbers. The nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) has reported on Illinois revenue numbers for the month of August 2019.
As with previous months in calendar year 2019, the report for August 2019 (the second month of State Fiscal Year 2020) showed mixed results. Income tax revenues fell by $48 million on a year-over-year basis, with the historically fluctuating numbers for corporate income taxes making up $21 million of the overall shortfall. Cigarette tax revenues fell on a year-over-year basis by $17 million, with new cigarette purchases declining by one-half as smokers drew down inventories they had purchased before the tax increase of July 1.
On the other hand, sales tax numbers – an indication of consumer sentiment and ability to purchase big-ticket items such as motor vehicles – were healthy in August 2019. Sales tax cash flows rose $26 million over the comparable August numbers from 2018. Local governments, which get a share of the State sales tax and also often charge sales taxes of their own, also benefitted from this trend.
In their August 2019 report, COGFA staff speculated on the likely effects of the current U.S. Federal Reserve turn towards lower interest rates, with an analysis of the ability of this trend to spur new housing purchases, encourage refinancing transactions on existing properties, and create improved cash flow for Illinois households. Money that Illinoisans save on their mortgage payments may often be spent on other things, including the purchase of taxable goods and services and the payment of additional sales taxes. The COGFA report was released on Wednesday, September 4.
Crop progress report shows partial recovery from wet spring. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) weekly crop reports have shown the corn and bean fields of Illinois partly snapping back from the wet conditions of April through June 2019. Corn has gotten adequate sun and moisture in the second half of the crop year so far, and most of Illinois’ cornfields are moving though doughing and into denting. Most of the bean fields have moved through blooming and have set their pods. As of the first week of September 2009, however, almost nothing was mature and ready to harvest. Illinois corn conditions were 75% fair-to-good, with 19% poor or very poor. Illinois soybean conditions were 76% fair-to-good, with 17% poor or very poor. The USDA crop report was dated Sunday, September 1.
Vaping health crisis seen as research and reports continue. Many users are starting to consume nicotine through e-cigarette “vaping” devices that load fingertip-sized cartridges. The devices vaporize the drug with other chemicals, letting people inhale nicotine vapor without smoking cigarettes. Millions of Americans, including patients with existing lung diseases and breathing conditions, are exposing their respiratory systems to the chemicals associated with vaping behavior. Some companies sell flavored vaping cartridges that are attractive to young people, leading to a surge in youth vaping. The Illinois General Assembly enacted legislation this spring raising the minimum age to buy e-cigarettes (and conventional tobacco products) from 18 to 21.
Numerous reports are coming in from around the United States, including Illinois, of health concerns and even deaths associated with vaping and e-cigarettes. Vaping devices and vaping technology can also be used to consume cannabis and other respiratory drugs. As vaping behavior grows, Illinois lawmakers are discussing taking possible further steps to regulate the industry and discourage youth e-cigarette use. Michigan this week adopted administrative rules to ban the sale of flavored vaping cartridges in the Great Lakes State.
Federal audit finds Illinois’ Medicaid program spent $4.6 million on deceased persons. The finding was made as part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ (USDHHS) oversight of the Medicaid programs operated by all 50 states. Washington now has the right to demand repayment of the $3.2 million they had advanced to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) for this Medicaid misspending. USDHHS, which has access to federal Social Security records that include payouts of Social Security death benefits, has found similar problems in California, Ohio, and Texas.
As part of the public/private portion of the overall Medicaid program, Illinois contracts with designated service gatekeeping firms, called “Medicaid managed care organizations” (Medicaid MCOs), for portions of the overall Medicaid headcount. Illinois owes these firms a debt for each name they have on their lists; and, in return, the MCO firms are “gatekeepers” that deal with the hospitals, clinics, and other service providers that provide healthcare services to each patient. The $4.6 million is money from taxpayers that Springfield paid to these gatekeeping firms with respect to names on these lists that represented patients who were deceased. Illinois should have purged each of these names from these billing lists, but did not. Now State taxpayers are left holding the bag. The embarrassing finding was released on Tuesday, September 4.
New St. Louis Cardinals license plates. Illinois fans of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team are invited to show their support with an “STL” Illinois license plate. A supplemental fee is charged for the loyalty plates, with part of the fee covering the cost of production of the nonstandard plate and part going to the Professional Sports Teams Education Fund. This Fund was set up by the General Assembly to use moneys raised by professional sports plates for Illinois school aid. Other motor vehicle license plates that raise money for this Fund include “Professional Sports Series” plates that honor the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Cubs, and the Chicago White Sox.
The Secretary of State’s Vehicle Services Division has the Cardinal plates for sale online. As with other Illinois motor vehicle license plates, the Cardinals plates are designed for multi-year use, with owners invited to purchase annual renewal decals to maintain the registry of their vehicle in Illinois. The Cardinal plates were released on Tuesday, September 3.
The number of nonfarm jobs increased in all fourteen Illinois metropolitan areas in July, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Data also shows the unemployment rate decreased over-the-year in July in eleven Illinois metropolitan areas, increased in one and was unchanged in two.
Illinois businesses added jobs in all fourteen metro areas, with the largest percentage increases in: Carbondale-Marion (+2.3%, +1,300), Lake – Kenosha (+2.3%, +9,900), Danville (+2.2%, +600), and Rockford (+2.0%, +3,000). The Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights metro division was up (+1.3% or +47,700). The Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL region was unchanged over last year.
The industry sectors recording job growth in the majority of metro areas included Leisure and Hospitality (13 of 14), Mining and Construction (10 of 14), Government (9 of 14), Manufacturing (8 of 14), Professional and Business Services (8 of 14) and Education and Health Services (8 of 14).
Not seasonally adjusted data compares July 2019 with July 2018. The not seasonally adjusted Illinois rate was 4.2 percent in July 2019 and stood at 12.2 percent at its peak in this economic cycle in January 2010. Nationally, the not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.0 percent in July 2019 and 10.6 percent in January 2010 at its peak. The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and looking for work and is not tied to collecting unemployment insurance benefits.
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