Welcome to June! Who would’ve thought a year ago that we would be days away from a “complete” economy reopening, 50+% of Illinois adults fully vaccinated, and covid numbers at the lowest?
Who also would’ve thought that we would be discussing a need for the Illinois general assembly to have to work overtime? The House and Senate met yesterday for the final scheduled day of Session which extended well into the early hours (3:00 AM) of June 1st. The one issue not yet resolved is an energy package. Speaker Welch said the House will return soon at the call of the chair to work on the matter. The Senate will return at 11 am (today) June 1st.
See below for updates on the budget, ethics reform, and elections. There will be plenty more to share over the next few days. Perfect timing for days of recap as Congress is out this week in DC, so not much below except for the official closing of the PPP and infrastructure talk.
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
After adjournment on Sunday evening a few key developments took place. The proposed budget was released overnight. Here are two links for those that want to get some reading in:
- HB 0900 (SFA 0001) Capital Appropriations amendment was filed. This bill would make the appropriations and reappropriations for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021. Effective immediately. Here is a link to the full text which comes in at 2378 pages.
- SB 2800 (HFA 0001), Budget was filed. This bill is the proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021, which includes both the state operating budget and capital appropriations/reappropriations. Here is a link to the full text which is 704 pages.
SB 2800, the Budget, ultimately passed the House on Monday by a vote of 72-44-1 and passed the Senate by a vote of 37-21-0, but after House leaders celebrated wrapping up the session, Senate President Don Harmon put a hold on the bill. Speculation is that the holdup is over an issue that popped up last minute with the Energy Bill negotiations.
The energy bill appeared to be close. After reaching a compromise about how much to give Exelon to operate nuclear plants, there’s now a disagreement on coal plants. Senate President Don Harmon and his top aide, Jacob Butcher, a former coal lobbyist, want to exempt the Prairie State Energy coal plant from decarbonization rules that are in the bill. So stay tuned.
It’s a $42.3 billion budget that increases funding for the evidence-based funding plan for K-12 public schools by $350 million. The budget spends $7.5 billion in state general revenues on Medicaid, plus another $7.4 billion for other human services; $1.9 billion for higher education; another $1.9 billion for public safety; and $1.4 billion for general services.
The state will also spend about $2.5 billion of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds Illinois expects to receive. The budget includes a portion of the $8.1 billion Illinois expects to get from the latest federal COVID-19 relief package, with aid to public grade and high schools, affordable-housing operators and college scholarships among the big winners. Other winners, according to summaries given to lawmakers, include $8 million for Navy Pier, $300 million for a back-to-business grant program and hundreds of millions parceled out to community groups and social-service agencies.
“Of that, $1.5 billion would go for things like economic recovery programs to help businesses hardest hit by the pandemic, public health, affordable housing and violence prevention programs like after-school activities, and summer youth employment. Another $1 billion of the ARPA funds would be directed into the ongoing Rebuild Illinois capital improvements program to accelerate some of the projects slated for construction,”
The state still has a continuing, structural budget deficit, and Pritzker was poised to get about two-thirds of the $932 million he wanted from closing corporate tax loopholes. Slated to go were two tax breaks authorized by federal legislation—capping the net corporate loss at $100,000 a year for the next three years and blocking accelerated depreciation, worth $314 million and $214 million a year, respectively—as well as a hike on overseas dividends, worth an estimated $107 million a year, and dropping plans to junk the state’s $30 million a year corporate franchise tax. But retailers kept the full fee they get for collecting state sales taxes.
“The so-called ‘loophole’ closures are nothing more than tax increases on employers that target, in particular, the manufacturing sector, which has lost 50,000 jobs in the last two years,” the Illinois Chamber of Commerce said in a statement. “Job creators will undoubtedly react negatively.”
In testimony to the House Executive Committee, Majority Leader Greg Harris said the top priority of the budget is to pay off debt—to state vendors, the Federal Reserve system and intra-fund borrowing—and spend available one-time federal funds on one-time needs. That means the state will not have to cut $152 million in revenue sharing with local governments, something Pritzker proposed, but local governments had vigorously opposed.
Business did win a stay of execution on another clause it opposed, which would require data center operators to reach a “labor peace” deal with a union on engineering, water management and other technical jobs that likely would have required companies to hire job candidates sent to them by a union. The senate sponsor of the bill, Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, agreed to hold the bill for further hearings this summer after Pritzker aides told key lawmakers the state could lose $1 billion in investment this year if the bill passed, something that has caught the eye of building trades unions whose members build the data centers.
SB 825, Elections passed the House by a vote of 72-46-0 and passed the Senate by a vote of 41-18-0. This bill does many things, including the following. Bill provides dates for the 2022 general primary election and dates to prepare for the 2022 general election. Repeals the provisions on January 1, 2023. Provides that a political committee selected to conduct an audit shall only be required to conduct the audit if it was required to file at least one quarterly report during the period to be covered by the audit and has a fund balance of $10,000 or more, an average closing fund balance of $10,000 or more on quarterly reports, or average total receipts of $10,000 or more on quarterly reports. Requires a political committee owing unpaid fines at the time of its random selection to conduct an audit. Provides that a unit of local government may not adopt an ordinance or resolution that requires a member of the General Assembly to resign his or her office in order to be eligible to seek elected office in the unit of local government and that any such ordinance or resolution is void. Provides that the Section apply to ordinances or resolutions adopted on or after November 8, 2016.
Next year’s primary elections will be pushed back by three months under a bill approved by the General Assembly Monday night, the last scheduled day of the legislative session. An amendment to Senate Bill 825 would, among other things: move the primary from the third Tuesday in March to June 28, 2022; make Election Day a state holiday for schools and universities; require high schools to allow on-site voter registration; change the dates for circulating candidate petitions. Another amendment to that bill updates the term “alderman” to “alderperson.”
Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, said the primary would be moved partly to allow election clerks more time to educate people on when the primary will be and because “the state has always had a really long window between the primary and the general,” which can negatively affect policymaking.
“Our proposal is to do this one time change just to see how it works and I think it will be beneficial to the state, and then it can maybe be something we keep moving forward,” West said in a House committee Monday afternoon.
Hours later, ahead of the vote sending the bill to the Senate, Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said the bill is about Democrats maintaining power. “This bill is a continuation of the Democrats’ redistricting plan, and we continue to see that the ways to maintain and sustain power know no boundaries in the state of Illinois,” Spain said. “We have watched for weeks while redistricting activities are taking place and we were told that time is of the essence, that we have to act now in the cover of darkness … because certain deadlines were bearing down upon us … the hypocrisy of these mixed messages is astounding.”
Despite the division, the bill passed in a partisan vote in that chamber 72 to 46. The Senate later gave its stamp of approval, 41-to-18, sending it to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The bill was filed Sunday night, passed the House 72-46 at about 6 p.m. Monday, then passed on a partisan 41-18 split in the Senate at about 10 p.m. It will need only a signature from the governor to become law.
Once signed, candidates could begin circulating nominating petitions for the general primary on Jan. 13, 2022. Independent candidates, or those in new political parties, could begin circulating their petitions April 13.
Voters could request a 2022 mail-in ballot between March 30 and June 23. The proposal
looks at a provision that would also create a permanent vote-by-mail list. Under current law, voters must apply for a vote-by-mail ballot for every election. While that process would continue, election officials would also offer an application for permanent vote-by-mail status. The application would allow voters choose to receive ballots for all partisan-locked elections, non-partisan-locked elections, or both.
The legislation would have voters who apply to be on the list remain on it until they request to be removed, change their registration or register to vote in another county. A witness representing the Kane County Clerk told the committee that county clerks receive death certificates and notice of address changes and would remove voters from the rolls in those instances as well.
The bill also tasks the Illinois State Board of Elections with looking into the possibility of electronic vote-by-mail for voters with disabilities. By the end of 2021, ISBE must submit legislation to the General Assembly creating a method for disabled voters to independently and privately mark a ballot using assistive technology.
Before submitting the legislation, ISBE must hold at least two public hearings on the subject.
County leaders would have until late November to develop and present redistricting plans for their municipalities and have until the end of the year to pass them, according to the bill. They’ll also be able to use data from the American Community Survey for those reapportionment plans, something Republicans have opposed. A delayed primary means the Cook County Democratic Party would move its pre-slating days from June to later in the fall, the party’s executive director said.
The bill would also allow sheriffs in counties with fewer than 3 million people — meaning all but Cook County — to open temporary branch polling places at county jails for detainees.
Asked why state lawmakers approved new legislative maps when the primary likely would be delayed, a spokeswoman for Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch cited a June 30 constitutional deadline for creating and approving the updated boundaries. The last time the state moved its primary date, in 2008, legislators chose to move it earlier — to February — to help Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator from Illinois, in his presidential bid.
The much-awaited ethics omnibus bill emerged Monday with bipartisan support. It bans lawmakers from lobbying government, expands revolving-door rules, prohibits fundraisers on days of the legislative session or the day before, beefs up statements of economic interest, and requires lobbyists to complete ethics and sexual harassment training. The bill wasn’t as strong as some Republicans, and maybe Democrats, would have liked but it passed 113 to 5. The five Republicans who rejected the bill are all members of the Eastern Bloc conservatives.
“This legislation takes the first steps in addressing some of the most egregious scandals in our state’s history,” Sen. Ann Gillespie said in a news conference Monday night. “While it won’t end corruption overnight, it closes many of the loopholes that have allowed bad actors to game the system for decades.”
The bill would increase transparency in financial disclosure forms, outlaw political fundraisers during legislative session, close a ‘consultant loophole’ that allows paid consultants to skirt lobbying disclosure laws, and pro-rate legislator pay to end an “exit bonus” where elected officials could get paid for an entire month for one day of work. A new rule would also require elected officials to publicly report the receipt of any gift worth more than $500.
However, the final deal would not greenlight statewide grand jury powers for the Attorney General, would not authorize states attorneys to pursue wiretaps on public officials, would not include an outright ban on legislators doubling as lobbyists in some instances, and would not allow statehouse watchdogs to have subpoena power to probe ethical complaints against elected officials — all ideas several reform-minded lawmakers had called for. However, the legislation empowers the inspector general to investigate allegations of corruption, but also bans elected officials from lobbying units of government in the service of businesses or organizations that lobby them in their official capacity statewide.
The revolving door ban or “cooling off period” that aims to prevent public officials from arranging lucrative lobbying jobs while they’re still in office was reduced to just six months. Other proposals suggested a one or two-year window after leaving the General Assembly or Executive branch.
Representative Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) called a six-month window a “weak excuse for a revolving door [ban],” since the legislature often concludes its work in May and resumes again in January. “This bill claims to have a six-month revolving door, but you and I both know you could resign a day early and lobby your colleagues a day later,” Bourne said during floor debate.
Gillespie acknowledged concessions were made in order to get the bill across the finish line. “The work isn’t done,” she said. “This isn’t the last bill we will do.”
State Sen. John Curran, R-Downers Grove, chair of the ethics committee, said the changes will hold elected officials to higher ethical standards. “Let’s face it, with the indictments brought forward in the last several years, the people of Illinois continue to lose faith and trust in their government,” Curran said. “We are well past the point where we can just point to those who have betrayed their oath of office and not move forward with ethical reforms.”
Paycheck Protection Program Officially Closes
The federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program closed to new applications Friday as funding was on track to be exhausted. That marked the end of a $961 billion emergency effort that helped millions of small businesses survive the pandemic but was dogged by fraud claims and criticism that it didn’t reach the neediest businesses. The program had been scheduled to end on May 31, but the Small Business Administration on Friday said in a notice to lenders that “due to the high volume of originations today, the portal will be closing for new originations” that evening.
Created by the $2 trillion Cares Act that became law in March 2020, the PPP offered coronavirus aid in the form of loans that could be forgiven provided recipients used the funds to retain workers and on other allowable expenses. The SBA as of May 23 had approved 11.6 million PPP loans totaling roughly $796 billion across the program’s first round, from April to August last year, and its second round, which began in January. Banks and other lenders issued the loans, which the SBA guaranteed.
After the program’s general funding was exhausted in early May, funds had remained only for certain community lenders to issue the loans. The SBA’s Friday notice said these lenders had submitted 125,000 origination requests in the preceding 24 hours. Even after the program’s close, the agency will have another month to process loan applications that were already submitted. The SBA also has thousands of pending forgiveness requests, and millions more will likely follow.
The program has transformed the SBA. Its main portfolio of loans was worth nearly $836 billion as of the fiscal year ended September 2020, compared with $143.5 billion the prior fiscal year, according to the agency’s annual financial report. “There’s no going back for the SBA,” said Bill Briggs, who until January was acting associate administrator in the SBA’s Office of Capital Access, which oversees the PPP. “There’s a tremendous opportunity to expand its mission and help more small businesses for the future,” he said.
In recent months, Congress has handed the agency even more responsibility, including new grant-relief programs for the restaurant and live-events industries and $100 million for a pilot program to provide outreach and support to underserved small businesses.
The PPP received broad bipartisan support in Congress, but its success has been difficult to quantify. The SBA didn’t answer an inquiry about how many jobs it estimates the PPP has saved or supported. By comparing payroll data at PPP-eligible firms to ineligible firms, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last July estimated the program had increased employment in the U.S. by about 2.3 million jobs through the first week of June 2020. At that time, the SBA reported that it had approved about 4.5 million loans totaling $511 billion.
A December study by Michael Faulkender, who was assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department during the Trump administration and worked closely with the SBA to administer the PPP, said the program saved 18.6 million jobs. Mr. Faulkender and co-authors based their estimate on an analysis of county-level unemployment-insurance claims.
The Independent Community Bankers of America estimates community banks, which it defines as those with $50 billion or less in assets, issued 4.7 million PPP loans totaling $429 billion. “PPP provided a bridge to help small businesses move forward,” said ICBA Chief Executive Rebeca Romero Rainey. “There will be any number of studies and analyses as we go forward, but that real value was the concept of the bridge.”
Congress is out this week, but President Biden is expected to continue working to try to strike a deal with Republicans on infrastructure. He’ll huddle once again with Sen. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-W.Va.).
White House aides are eyeing June 9 as a new soft deadline to figure out which path they’ll be taking on infrastructure. That day, a House committee will begin work on a surface transportation bill. There’s a belief in the White House that Biden could get a boost from a bipartisan deal: “In an April meeting with the centrist New Democrats congressional caucus, STEVE RICCHETTI , Biden’s counselor, told members that a bipartisan pact — or at least an effort at striking one — would be politically beneficial to the party, said a person in the meeting. … [C]ongressional sources say Ricchetti has been open to letting talks around infrastructure play out longer than he had scheduled.”
In a sign of revved-up Hill outreach, 154 members of Congress have visited the White House, including some multiple times. More than 100 have participated in Oval Office meetings with the President. President Biden remains nostalgic for his preferred “old-fashioned dealmaking approach” in an era of hyper-polarized politics.
Biden has also waxed about his yearslong quest to convince former Sen. ARLEN SPECTER of Pennsylvania, a longtime Republican, to switch to the Democratic Party, giving them a 60-vote majority to overcome a filibuster. He placed call after call to Specter, and caught up with him on train rides home, arguing the GOP that elected him moved right, while he was aligned with Democrats on health care, the economy and foreign policy.
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
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