Happy Memorial Day weekend! Hopefully, you can all enjoy a little rest and relaxation. Our elected officials in Springfield will likely be working through the weekend though. Below are updates on the remap, cocktails to go, ethics, and school oversight. Also, we can’t go into the long weekend with an infrastructure talk update and the President officially released his budget proposal.
This update will be back in your inbox on Tuesday. Stay updated with any breaking news on the state budget and other issues through our Facebook and Twitter pages over the next three days.
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Remap Plan Moving Fast in Springfield
After a week of curious public relations, Illinois Democrats finally got a little smarter last night, rolling out slightly revised proposed new maps for Illinois House and Senate districts. But the changes, which started moving through the House today and will make it to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk by the time you’re back at work next week, effectively only tweak around the margins of maps that leave Democrats solidly in control of the General Assembly.
The changes came in two forms:
First, in response to pleas from Orthodox Jewish leaders, the Dems agreed to revisions in districts on the Far North and Northwest sides and nearby suburbs to keep that community more together. The revised map also puts Lawndale back together as a whole in one West Side district, instead of splitting it.
Second, the Dems partially undid some downstate nastiness in which they lumped together into one district as many as four GOP incumbent reps. Sources confirm at least eight of those were undone, with the lawmakers involved now having a whole district each to themselves. But more than a dozen Republican will still have to fight it out amongst themselves in other districts, instead of saving the money to battle Democrats.
“It was a ploy to get us to go along, and we didn’t bite,” says one ranking Republican. “They tried the exact same thing 10 years ago. It’s the same playbook.”
Which may explain why House GOP Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, called the revised map “dishonest”—that, and the fact that it’s likely to leave Democrats with roughly the same supermajorities they now enjoy in both the House and Senate. Still, it looks like the Democrats listened, at least a bit.
Democratic state Rep. Lisa Hernandez, who chairs the House Redistricting Committee, defended the maps. “The changes we made not only reflect testimony provided the last couple of days from members of the public, but also include revisions to address concerns raised by Republicans,” she said in a statement.
Maps of the state Supreme Court and the Cook County Board of Review were also released. Interestingly, newly elected Commissioner Tammy Wendt’s district would pick up more of Chicago, which may hurt her in the next election since she received most of her support last year from the suburbs.
The Tribune’s Rick Pearson notes that an official analysis of the changes could be available today, when the maps are scheduled to face public hearings with the plan to vote on them before the General Assembly’s adjournment on Monday.
Democrats used U.S. Census Bureau estimates from the American Community Survey to come up with the legislative maps, which Republicans and some community groups have hammered on, contending the estimates are less reliable and could undercount ethnic and racial communities.
Not included in the latest map dump are new boundaries for congressional seats.
Bill Legalizing ‘Cocktails to Go’ Set to Expire Without Action
The Illinois General Assembly is considering whether to extend a bill (SB 104) that allows bars and restaurants to serve cocktails to go, and many business owners are hoping that the measure, which proved to be a lifeline amid the COVID pandemic, will be renewed. The bill passed in June 2020, and was created to help struggling bars and restaurants, forced to close during the pandemic, bring in extra revenue.
Attorney Sean O’Leary worked closely with the group and hopes to see the bill become permanent in the future. “We’re asking citizens out there to go contact your state representatives and senators and make sure this is a priority,” said O’Leary, the President of the O’Leary Law and Policy Group. “Restaurants are coming out of economic hibernation. Just because people can go back to the restaurants, doesn’t mean restaurants aren’t hurting. We need to give them every tool we can to prosper not only during a difficult time but what’s going to be a difficult recovery,” said O’Leary.
Without action at the state level, restaurants and bars may be forced to pivot their business models once again. Under the law, cocktails must be sealed, labeled and out of reach in vehicles. A valid liquor license is required to sell the beverages and patrons have to be 21 years old to purchase.
Currently, the Illinois House is debating the bill. If passed, it would then go to the Senate before heading to the governor’s desk for his signature. The bill, set to expire June 2, would be extended through the end of 2023 if the measure is approved by the legislature.
Illinois Democrats’ omnibus package, Senate Bill 4, is most likely to become law with a Democratic supermajority in the General Assembly. Republicans have their own omnibus proposal filed in Senate Bill 1350, but its future is sketchy.
SB 4 has provisions with small moves in the right direction. It establishes more detailed financial disclosure requirements for Illinois lawmakers and prohibits lawmakers from lobbying other governmental entities. However, it also lacks crucial reforms that Illinois needs to implement if it is to move past its culture of corruption.
Significant omissions include failing to adequately empower the Office of the Legislative Inspector General to investigate lawmakers and neglecting to impose any meaningful restrictions on the revolving door that lets General Assembly members go from lawmaker one day to lobbying their former peers the next.
What is in Senate Bill 4? SB 4 does a couple of things right. It includes an expanded list of questions on the statements of economic interest that lawmakers must file disclosing information about their financial connections. With lawmakers on the honor system when it comes to conflicts of interests, these statements are how the public might discern when politicians have a conflict with any particular piece of legislation. Even so, those statements are woefully inadequate, and are often derisively referred to as “none” sheets for that common answer to the form’s questions.
Currently, the statements of economic interest leave big holes in what a lawmaker must disclose. For example, they only need to disclose the identity of income sources when they serve as an “officer, director, associate, partner, or proprietor, or served in any advisory capacity” and in other cases only the “nature of” services rendered for income and the “nature of” the entity to which the filer rendered them. A filer’s capital assets only need to be disclosed if he or she realized capital gains in the past year, and an ownership interest only needs to be identified if the company does business in the State of Illinois. The interests of family members other than spouses are not currently considered in the statements.
SB 4 expands and simplifies the requirements for lawmakers to disclose each source of income above $1,200, each asset worth more than $5,000 and creditors holding debt above $5,000. This includes assets jointly held and debts jointly owed with the lawmaker’s spouse or minor children. The new statements would also require lawmakers to reveal if their spouse was the employee, contractor, or officeholder of a unit of government within the preceding year, as well as revealing their economic relations or familial relationships with lobbyists. It does not further require lawmakers to disclose the interests of their close family members beyond that, however. Those thresholds would be indexed for inflation.
The bill also prohibits lawmakers, executive branch constitutional officers and elected officials of units of local governments from being employed as lobbyists while holding office, but only if the lobbying firm is registered to lobby the General Assembly or the executive branch of Illinois. This loophole is mirrored in the prohibitions of local government officials from lobbying other units of government. Furthermore, it prohibits local governments in Illinois from establishing their own lobbying regulations inconsistent with SB 4. These provisions in SB 4 would allow members a loophole that would be closed by the GOP-sponsored SB 1350, which bars members of the General Assembly from lobbying for compensation in the state of Illinois, period.
The need for this provision should be clear: there is an obvious conflict of interest in having lawmakers lobby units of local government or executive agencies that could affect that lawmaker’s votes in the General Assembly. To a lesser extent, the same applies to local government officials and executive agency officials lobbying the General Assembly. SB 4 needs to be amended to close the loopholes that allow lawmakers to lobby other units of government.
SB 4 also places restrictions on certain appointed officials and nominees from serving as the officer of a political candidate or campaign committee, and it prohibits virtual fundraising from Sangamon County the day before, during, and the day after the General Assembly is in session.
What is missing? There are glaring omissions in SB 4, and some of the language could mislead by giving the appearance of serious reforms. For example, the bill imposes a “cooling off” period for lawmakers and executive branch officers leaving office to become lobbyists. But the cooling off period is set to within six months or the remainder of the officer’s or lawmaker’s term. The language does not specify that the cooling off period must be the longer of the two, which means a member could conceivably still leave the General Assembly at the end of their term and become a registered lobbyist the next day. By contrast, most states with revolving door laws require a cooling off period of one or two years. The GOP-sponsored bill SB 1350 includes a cooling off period of one year, a period in line with the rest of the country.
Another way SB 4 falls short in its current form is the lack of independence given to the Legislative Inspector General. Currently, the inspector general cannot open investigations, issue subpoenas, or, in most cases, publish a summary report of findings of wrongdoing by a public official without the approval of a commission made up of the lawmakers the inspector is tasked with holding accountable. And with four Democrats and four Republicans on the Legislative Ethics Commission, the commission can block an investigation on a party-line vote. Any omnibus bill should free the inspector general to conduct investigations into complaints and publish any findings of wrongdoing without seeking permission to do so. SB 4 makes the inspector general a full-time paid position, but ignores the pressing need for the office’s independence.
By contrast, the GOP-sponsored ethics bill gives the inspector general needed authority to open investigations and issue subpoenas. It does not give the inspector authority to publish findings of wrongdoing, but it does go farther in reforming the Legislative Ethics Commission. SB 1350 would establish a requirement that members of the ethics commission may not be state employees or officials, holders of partisan elected or political party office, officers or employees of a political committee or campaign, or members of the General Assembly, freeing the commission from the influence of the lawmakers it is supposed to be monitoring. Regardless of the composition of the commission, though, any omnibus bill should at the least give the Office of the Legislative Inspector General the independence it needs to conduct investigations and publish its findings.
The GOP-sponsored competitor to SB4 also prohibits lobbyists from serving as the officer or candidate of a candidate’s political committee and expands the authority of the statewide grand jury to investigate public corruption crimes. These are reforms worth considering but not included in SB 4.
SB 4 does some things right, but if Illinois is to shake off its culture of corruption, ethics legislation needs to include a meaningful revolving door law and to empower the legislative inspector general to conduct probes free of control by those being held accountable.
Bill Giving Expanded Power to State Over Schools Advances
House Bill 2789, legislation that would give the state more authority over private and public schools, passed out of committee on May 27. State senators could vote on this amendment as soon as today, and afterward House lawmakers would have to vote to pass the bill by May 31. If HB 2789 passes the Senate and the House, it moves to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
HB 2789 could threaten in-person instruction at public and private schools while the COVID-19 emergency order – or any other emergency order – persists.
The bill could also encourage a flurry of complaints against schools for perceived infractions of health rules, provides for drastic penalties against schools and teachers, and expands state officials’ involvement in the operations of private schools. The potential for government overreach had generated over 16,000 opponents and only 70 supporters ahead of a Senate hearing May 27.
Senate Amendment 1 to Illinois House Bill 2789 was filed May 20 and would require all Illinois public and nonpublic schools to comply with health regulations established by the Illinois Department of Public Health, allow multiple complaints to be filed for alleged violations, and permit the Illinois State Board of Education to impose severe penalties for noncompliance. The provisions in this new legislation would apply only when an emergency declaration by the governor is in effect, as has been the case for over a year in Illinois.
Here’s what Senate Amendment 1 would do:
- Requires all nonpublic and public schools and school districts to comply with any health rules issued by IDPH when a disaster has been declared by the governor pursuant to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act.
- Prohibits school boards from passing any resolutions opposing requirements established by the IDPH.
- Complaints can be filed with multiple agencies and institutions
- Establishes multiple paths for people to file complaints against nonpublic and public schools. Complaints against a nonpublic school can be filed against the school itself as well as with the regional superintendent of schools. An appeal of a finding issued by a regional superintendent can also be filed with the ISBE.
- Complaints against a public school district can be filed with the school district itself, with the regional superintendent of schools, or directly with ISBE in the case of Chicago Public Schools. Complaints can also be filed with ISBE on appeal after review by the regional superintendent.
- Imposes duty to investigate complaints
- Imposes duties on all nonpublic schools to investigate complaints of noncompliance with public health requirements.
- Requires the regional superintendent of schools to investigate complaints of noncompliance at nonpublic schools and public school districts.
- ISBE must investigate complaints of noncompliance when there is an appeal of a regional superintendent’s decision, or when a complaint is filed directly with ISBE.
- Provides for severe penalties when noncompliance is found
- ISBE may require nonpublic schools and public school districts to operate fully remotely if the health requirements established by IDPH are not followed.
- Requires ISBE to adopt rules to revoke recognition or registration of a nonpublic school and recognition of a public school district for noncompliance.
- Gives ISBE authority to sanction any educator or individual licensed under the School Code who implements any practice that contravenes any public health requirement established by IDPH in an emergency or disaster.
10 Things to Know About Biden’s Budget for Fiscal 2022
President Biden delivered his budget speech today as expected. The President is asking a polarized and nearly evenly divided Congress to spend big on infrastructure, education, health care, climate change and more. His proposed tax increases on corporations and upper-income households would pay for much of his spending, but trillion-dollar-plus annual deficits would persist through the next decade. The ambitious budget blueprint sets the stage for a contentious battle over appropriations and tax policy that won’t be resolved for months — or longer.
Here are the top 10 things to know about Biden’s fiscal 2022 budget request:
1. Spending would zoom
Total federal spending would rise steadily through the decade, from $6 trillion in fiscal 2022 to $8.2 trillion in fiscal 2031. Much of the increase is already baked into current law to pay for the rising costs of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. But trillions more dollars would go to pay for Biden’s infrastructure, education and childcare initiatives.
2. Economic growth would be tepid
Despite the spending surge, economic growth rates would remain modest through the decade. Gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, would grow by 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of next year, compared with the same period this year. Growth would then fluctuate between 1.8 percent and 2 percent each year through 2031, according to White House projections.
3. The budget would not balance
The deficit would be $1.8 trillion in fiscal 2022, down from the $3 trillion-plus deficits of the preceding two years as spending surged from the COVID-19 pandemic. The government would continue to run annual deficits of at least $1.3 trillion through the rest of the decade, although they would be mostly declining as a share of the economy, from 7.8 percent next year to 4.7 percent in fiscal 2031.
4. Debt would break records
Debt held by the public, already rivaling the size of the total U.S. economy, would amount to nearly 110 percent of gross domestic product this year, shattering the World War II-era record of 106 percent in fiscal 1946. And the debt ratio would continue to creep upward through the decade, reaching 117 percent in fiscal 2031.
5. Interest payments would be low
The administration is banking on low interest rates to make debt payments manageable. Adjusted for inflation, net interest payments on the debt averaged about 2 percent in the 1990s, the budget says, and 1 percent over the past four decades. But that figure would top out at 0.8 percent in fiscal 2023 before shrinking over time, ending up at an average of 0.2 percent over the next decade.
6. Middle-income tax cuts assumed to expire
Although Biden has pledged not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year, his budget assumes that the Republican-backed tax cuts of 2017 would be allowed to expire at the end of 2025. Those tax cuts affected income tax rates, the standard deduction, the child tax credit and more. While there is still time to revisit the issue, extending those tax cuts could cost more than $2 trillion over a decade, according to previous estimates.
7. Revenue would increase
Biden’s tax policies would bolster federal revenue by about $3.6 trillion over the decade. Most of that increase, almost $2.3 trillion, comes from higher corporate taxes, the budget shows. Biden has called for increasing the corporate income tax rate from about 21 percent to 28 percent, raking in more collections from overseas profits, eliminating fossil fuel preferences and more.
8. No ‘parity’ for defense spending
In a move that has already angered Republicans, Biden would increase nondefense spending while holding defense spending essentially flat. In numbers slightly revised from an outline released last month, nondefense spending would increase by 16.5 percent in the coming fiscal year, compared with this year’s enacted level. Defense spending would get a nominal increase of 1.6 percent, which Republicans say amounts to a cut after adjusting for inflation.
9. The abortion fight is on
Breaking with years of precedent, the budget omits from its health care spending request language prohibiting federal funding for abortion except in limited cases. The so-called Hyde amendment has been a staple of spending bills in an effort to ensure bipartisan support for them. But Democrats this year have signaled they want to scrap the Hyde language and allow for federal funding — a move that could imperil spending bills in the evenly divided Senate.
10. Bipartisan talks needed on spending bills
Like most White House budgets, Biden’s request will need a rewrite to win congressional support, at least for discretionary spending that will be implemented through the dozen fiscal 2022 appropriations bills. Top Republicans — including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Senate Budget Committee’s ranking member — have already declared Biden’s request dead on arrival. But it nonetheless will serve as a blueprint for Democrats as they write spending bills. The resulting partisan standoff is likely to delay appropriations and force passage of a continuing resolution in September to avoid a partial government shutdown.
Can’t Start the Weekend Without an Infrastructure Talk Update
We’ve all been skeptical that a bipartisan deal would happen. Thursday night didn’t boost any confidence. But there are three dynamics that keep pushing the infrastructure talks forward:
1) Sens. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) and KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.) remain deeply invested in the talks. In public comments all week, Manchin was bullish on a deal and he was highly complementary of Sen. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO’S (R-W.Va.) proposal put forward Thursday. Sinema has been working closely with Sen. ROB PORTMAN (R-Ohio) on backup options if the Capito deal falls apart and Manchin is part of that group, too. While many of their Democratic colleagues want to end these talks and move to reconciliation, Manchin and Sinema don’t. And there’s no moving to reconciliation without their votes.
2) Senate Republicans see an advantage in keeping these talks moving forward. Some Republicans, like the 10 working on this bipartisan deal, are genuinely interested in producing substantive legislation the way they were able to do last year on Covid relief. Others — like Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL, who nudged the talks forward Thursday by saying the GOP might raise the ante on spending even more — like the idea of keeping moderate Democrats away from reconciliation and slowing down the overall Biden-Pelosi-Schumer legislative process. The longer these small-ball talks go on, the less time President JOE BIDEN has to push through what is a very ambitious agenda.
3) Biden himself is still invested in the talks. He called Capito after she released her proposal Thursday and invited her and other Republicans to the White House next week for another discussion.
Looked at one way, this seems like a fruitless exercise for the White House since the two sides are still miles apart. Then again, with every round of offer and counteroffer, they have been inching closer to each other. If the White House wants a bipartisan deal, it’s possible to see the contours of one:
Biden could take Capito’s $257 billion of spending, which is unobjectionable to him other than its size, and they could pay for it with a combination of public-private partnerships and deficit spending — two pay-fors that both sides find amenable. Then Biden could move on to the rest of his agenda, much of it via reconciliation. (Perhaps Biden would agree to indexing the gas tax to inflation, as the Portman-Sinema group wants to do, or Republicans would budge on a modest hike in the corporate tax rate, but those pay-fors seem less likely.)
There are really only two reasons to do such a deal: 1) It would be politically advantageous for Biden to notch a bipartisan victory and, more important, 2) it would unlock Manchin’s and Sinema’s votes for the bigger parts of Biden’s agenda.
Most progressives are hoping that there is a clean exit to these talks in which the GOP is seen as negotiating in bad faith and even Manchin and Sinema give up on them. In that scenario, the 50 Senate Democrats would lock arms to pass Biden’s $4 trillion spending plan.
But as long as the GOP remains at the table — slowly bidding things up and, in turn, receiving encouragement from Manchin and Oval Office invitations from Biden — this could go on for a while.
Program Notices & Reminders – Expanded Information
Join the US Chamber on June 2, 2021 at 2:00 pm, as they’re hosting the Workforce: A Call to Action Summit to rally nationwide support for urgent federal and state-level priorities. This special event will bring together leaders from government and industry to discuss how we can close the people-jobs gap, unleash economic opportunity, and fuel America’s long-term competitiveness.
Will County Announces Round 3 of CARES Act Funding
Will County is pleased to announce Round 3 of the CARES Act Small Business Grant Program for Will County businesses adversely impacted by the recent pandemic. All small businesses physically located in Will County able to demonstrate COVID-19 impact are encouraged to apply for these grants of up to $10,000. The following criteria must be met to determine eligibility:
• Have not received a previous Will County Small Business Grant
• Annual revenues under $5 Million in 2020
• Less than 50 full time employees in 2020
• In operation since February 15, 2020, or earlier
• Have proof of COVID-19 impact
• In good standing with the IRS, State of Illinois, and Will County
• Not currently in bankruptcy
For more information and to apply visit: www.willcountyillinois.com/COVIDbizgrant
All required documents must be included and uploaded with each application. This is a requirement to expedite the review of eligibility and determine approval for the grant monies. Priority will be given to businesses located in the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Disproportionately Impacted Area (DIA). DIA zip codes in Will County include: 60432, 60435, 60436, 60466, and 60471.
CDC Mask Guidance
The CDC still recommends that unvaccinated people continue to take preventive measures, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. In their latest guidance, the CDC now reports that indoor and outdoor activities pose minimal risk to fully vaccinated people and that fully vaccinated people have a reduced risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to unvaccinated people.
Fully vaccinated people can:
• Resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance
• Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
• Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
• Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
• Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
• Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible
For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
• Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
• Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations
Governor Pritzker Mask Changes:
Small Business Administration Restaurant Revitalization Fund
The deadline for this program was Monday, May 24th.
For more information, visit sba.gov/restaurants. Efforts are ongoing to push for replenishing of the funds for this program.
As the SBA builds and prepares to roll out the program, this dedicated SBA website is the best source for up-to-date information for eligible restaurants interested in the RRF.
Small Business Administration Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program
The SBA has completed rigorous testing and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal reopened on Saturday, April 24 at 12:30pm ET. Updated guidance documents have been posted below. Applicants may continue to register for an application portal account.
- FAQ regarding Shuttered Venue Operators Grant
- SVOG preliminary application checklist
- Cross-program eligibility on SBA COVID-19 relief options
- SVOG-specific version of IRS Form 4506-T
- SVOG applicant user guide
Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program
As of May 6, 2021, funding for the Paycheck Protection Program has been exhausted. The SBA will continue funding outstanding approved PPP applications, but new qualifying applications will only be funded through Community Financial Institution, financial lenders who serve underserved communities
Finally, join us in June for our re-scheduled luncheon with Police Chief Dawn Malec and Fire Chief Greg Blaskey on Wednesday, June 16 at Harrah’s Joliet Casino & Hotel. You may make reservations here: http://jolietchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/2021-member-lunch-june-16-meet-greet-with-joliet-police-fire-chiefs-6060
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry