A pair of big announcements today on both the State and Federal levels will consume our daily update. The Governor’s announcement was certainly more surprising than the one out of Washington D.C.
Governor Pritzker Signals a Return to Springfield
Today the Governor made the announcement that he is ready to have legislators reconvene in the state capitol “so we can begin to put our financial and economic house back in order.” In addition, Pritzker made two announcements regarding programs designated to boost infrastructure and hospitals.
In addition, the Governor mentioned the need to help out small business, renters and local government. Unfortunately, there was little detail as to when this would occur and how much exactly is in line. A lot of it sounds like it will depend on how much aid Illinois will received if and when a new federal bill is negotiated.
He did state though that the General Assembly needs to get back to work in Springfield soon so that they can help families, business, and cities. No exact date or timetable was offered, although he did mention that it would probably be best by the end of May.
A couple of items that were singled out include mortgage and rent assistance and tax credits for businesses that were left out of federal aid programs. The two programs that were announced cover a plan get infrastructure projects that have been stalled going with $25 million dedictated especially in underserved areas and opportunity zones. The other is a $75 program to stabilize hospitals that have been hit hard by the pandemic and slowed down by a halt on elective surgeries.
Finally, he addressed the topic of counties that are fighting against his stay at home order. Pritzker threatened to cut off aid if they proceed further with plans to challenge.
Opposition to the Stay at Home
The attorney representing two Republican lawmakers in separate cases challenging the Governor’s emergency powers has a hair salon owner and a restaurateur with two establishments as new clients. His argument is that Pritzker has neither constitutional nor statutory power to implement consecutive 30-day COVID-19 state-of-emergency orders. The cases allege the Illinois Department of Public Health and local health departments have the authority to enforce stay-at-home and business closure orders, not the Governor.
Speaking of, Madison County presented a plan to their health board which is made up of county board members that refers to the county as a constitutional republic seeking to balance the goals of public health, constitutional rights, improving the local economy and helping businesses and churches reopen in a safe and responsible way.
The resolution passed this evening and is intended to lift the general stay at home directive in the county while requiring any businesses, churches or other entities that want to reopen to send a notice to the County Health Board along with a plan detailing how it will reopen in a safe and responsible way, with phasing.
News on Property Tax
Cook County officials plan to have an announcement tomorrow on what they’re prepared to do to help COVID-19-stressed property owners deal with their property taxes.
Latest on CARES 2
We have been reviewing the numerous proposals and amounts of aid that was anticipated to be announced in the next round of legislation. Today, a $3 trillion package was announced by Democrats and will try to be pushed out as soon as possible with hopes of a potential vote in the House as early as this Friday.
Following previous discussions, the Senate Republicans continue to push liability protections as a deal maker. Employer protection has been labeled as absolutely essential to any legislation moving forward with the thought that unfounded lawsuits will only slow down reopening efforts.
The 1,815-page bill (PDF is attached for those that want read over) covers everything that we’ve been looking at over the last week. That includes state and local government assistance, food assistance, plans to move to a vote by mail system in November, hazard pay for essential workers, and a final plan for another stimulus payment. It also includes measures to help homeowners and renters struggling to pay their mortgages or rent due to lost income.
After a number of proposals were reviewed for stimulus payments, the final decision was to reflect the original round of checks. Payments of up to $1,200 per individual, or up to $6,000 per household. As with the previous round of payments, individuals making up to $75,000 and married couples making $150,000 would be eligible for the maximum amount. One change that did occur is all dependents are now eligible for payment rather than only those under 17.
In the CARES Act an additional $600 a week in unemployment insurance payments was instituted. Those benefits are set to expire however at the end of July. The new bill would extend that extra $600 until the end of January.
The legislation also offers multiple ways for Americans to get health insurance if they lose their jobs or weren’t enrolled before the pandemic began. Employees who lose their jobs or get furloughed are currently also eligible for continued coverage through their employer’s health insurance plan under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), but it tends to be very expensive without the employer contributions. A provision in the bill would provide full premium subsidies through January to allow workers to maintain their employer-sponsored coverage.
This bill would allow employers of essential workers like medical personnel, first responders and grocery store clerks to apply for grants so that those workers can receive special hazard pay amounting to an extra $13 per hour.
The bill also includes $915 billion for state, local, and tribal governments. A much sought after item since the passing of the last plan.
The legislation provides $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contract tracing and other measures to monitor the spread of COVID-19, as well as $100 billion in grants for hospitals and medical providers to reimburse health care related expenses.
The bill also provides $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service to help make up for lost revenue due to the pandemic.
The bill would also establish a backup plan for the November elections if it’s still unsafe for voters to cast their ballots in person. It would permanently ensure that all voters can access no-excuse absentee voting by mail and that they would have at least 15 consecutive days to cast their votes early, starting with this year’s federal election.
The House is also expected to vote Friday on rules changes to allow lawmakers to vote remotely and conduct committee work virtually. House Democrats are planning to vote on permitting proxy voting, which would allow absent lawmakers to authorize colleagues physically present in the Capitol to cast votes on their behalf.
Finally, a proposal that would provide direct federal grants to businesses to help with paying rent and fully maintaining workers’ salaries up to $100,000 did not make it into the bill.
As we all know, many EIDL loan applicants have been in a pending status as the SBA had to cease processing loans due to the exhaustion of funds, before passage of recent legislation. We have recently learned that the SBA is again actively processing loan applications.
The disaster loan portal will be the most efficient way for applicants to track and be informed of progress. The SBA will also send email messages on occasion with general updates. As applications move through the processing system, applicants will receive direct notice of any change in their status.
Webinar Invite from the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives
|The Illinois Retail Merchants Association, in conjunction with the Council of State Retail Associations (CSRA), is hosting a complimentary webinar on Wednesday, May 13 at 11 am CST that will refocus your retail plan to not only survive COVID-19, but help you succeed!
The webinar will focus on positive messaging that can be incorporated into your current communication plans, and will cover how store operations must change, how to market yourself — including the do’s and don’ts of Facebook live — and how to get in the right mindset to not just survive, but to thrive as stores re-open.
Finally, we look forward to our next Virtual Conference tomorrow as we look into what is going on with our two local hospitals. Also, we will be announcing another Virtual Conference on this Friday with State Representative Mark Batinick to review the most recent announcement covering the state reopening. You can sign up for tomorrow’s session at http://jolietchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/2020-webinar-may-13-covid-19-report-from-inside-our-local-hospitals-5900
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry