Government Affairs Roundup
“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”

Chamber members:

The House and the Senate are on recess this week. Congress passed the roughly $1 trillion package, one of Mr. Biden’s top legislative priorities, late Friday evening with 13 Republicans voting in favor and six progressive Democrats opposing the measure. More on that below. However, the broader spending bill’s fate remains uncertain.

President Biden notched a big win with the House passage of the $1 trillion public-works bill Friday, but political obstacles loom for the White House as attention shifts to an even bigger spending bill and next year’s midterm elections. Economic headwinds pose another complication. Some Democrats saw last week’s elections, in which Republicans won three statewide races, as a warning shot. White House chief of staff Ron Klain said voters “wanted to see more action in Washington.”

To pass the roughly $2 trillion spending bill using reconciliation, Democrats must align it with a set of rules that dictates what kind of policies can be passed. Immigration measures could pose problems. The Congressional Budget Office’s cost analysis on the broad spending bill could take several weeks. The bill is expected to include $555 billion toward climate initiatives, among other measures.

Meanwhile, Congress is rapidly approaching a government funding deadline of Dec. 3. Lawmakers also must pass a defense-policy bill, which sets policy and expenditures for the Department of Defense. Business lobbyists are pushing to derail about $800 billion in new taxes that come with President Biden’s spending bill, but along with opposition from Democrats they are facing an added challenge: division within their own ranks.

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) seeks to pass the broad spending bill, she is navigating demands from centrists facing tough re-election races, progressives who see Democratic control of Washington as a time to be bold, and concerns from other members about how the bills would affect minority communities.

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Infrastructure Bill Passes House, Advances Spending Plan
House Democrats late Friday night clinched a long-sought victory on President Biden’s domestic agenda, passing a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill — while advancing an even larger social spending package — after months of stubborn infighting that’s bedeviled the party and helped deflate Biden’s public standing.

The back-to-back votes came after progressives caved on a key demand they’d maintained for months: their insistence that the climate and social spending package be passed on the same day as the more popular infrastructure proposal.

On Friday they shed that stipulation, threw their weight behind the public works bill — which had already passed the Senate — and helped send it along to Biden’s desk. They ultimately agreed to a procedural vote on the social spending bill, short of full passage.

The tally on the infrastructure bill was 228-206, with 13 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the measure, and six progressive Democrats bucking Biden and party leaders to register their opposition to a process that left the fate of the larger bill up in the air.

The House then adopted a procedural rule establishing floor debate parameters for the $1.75 trillion social spending package along party lines, 221-213. The infrastructure bill will give the federal government much more authority over how transportation money will be spent across the country. All told, about $120 billion of the $550 billion in new spending in the legislation would come in the form of competitive transportation grants.

Biden praised the House action on both measures, calling passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill “a monumental step forward” and emphasized that he looked forward to “signing both of these bills into law.” During a speech at the White House on Saturday morning, Biden said passage of the infrastructure bill was “long overdue” and he would sign it “soon.” He said he would wait at least until after the weekend to enact it, to allow key lawmakers who helped get it over the finish line to attend a signing ceremony.

“We did something that’s long overdue, that long has been talked about in Washington but never actually been done,” Biden said, casting the bill as a transformative measure that will reshape the U.S. transportation system and create jobs. The president also sought to project confidence on the path forward for the larger spending package. “Let me be clear: We will pass this in the House, and we will pass it in the Senate,” Biden said, insisting the bill will be “fully paid for” and “ease inflationary pressures.”

Getting the infrastructure bill passed in the House required a long day of tense negotiations on Friday, marathon meetings and general chaos that eroded only after the feuding factions — liberals and moderates — huddled in a late-night meeting to hash out a written agreement that broke the progressive blockade on the infrastructure bill.

Heading into the day, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic leaders had hoped to vote quickly not only on the infrastructure proposal, but also the Build Back Better Act. That plan hit a brick wall when a band of moderate Democrats raised concerns about deficit spending and balked at the idea of voting on the larger bill without a score from the CBO.

A morning meeting between Pelosi, White House officials and the moderate holdouts yielded no breakthrough. The Speaker then tried a different tactic — devised by Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) — calling a vote on the infrastructure bill and the rule for the social spending package and daring liberals to tank the roads-and-bridges bill.

The detente came after Biden himself called into an hours-long meeting of House progressives, desperately seeking a way to break the ugly, intraparty stalemate and urging rank-and-file lawmakers to deliver a win on the infrastructure bill Friday night. Biden was put on speakerphone so the dozens of progressives in the room could hear, sources said. One of the ideas discussed during the 15-minute call with Biden was the moderates’ statement, one that would also have Biden’s full-throated support. But the fate of the social spending package is still far from sealed.

Numerous provisions currently in the House bill are likely to be stripped out or amended once it reaches the Senate. It’s not yet clear if provisions establishing temporary work permits and protection from deportation for certain immigrants will pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, who determines whether the bill complies with arcane budget reconciliation rules that will enable Democrats to circumvent a GOP filibuster.

Before Friday’s fight over procedure and process, House Democratic leaders ironed out some final policy provisions late Thursday related to allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of certain prescription drugs and the state and local tax deduction.

The House measure would raise the cap on the state and local tax deduction from $10,000 to $80,000, and to have that limit be in place at that level through 2030. But some senators have instead called for leaving the cap at $10,000 while exempting taxpayers with incomes under a level between $400,000 and $550,000. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key centrist, has also expressed opposition to including paid family and medical leave in the social spending package.

Friday’s votes marked the most significant progress House Democrats have made in almost two months on the two bills, which they’ve been trying to advance since late September. Democratic leaders have repeatedly pushed for votes on the two measures, only to be forced to delay again and again due to stubborn internal divisions. But Democrats became desperate to make progress this week after election results in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday night delivered flashing red warning signs for prospects in next year’s midterm elections.

Illinois to get at least $17 billion from the Biden infrastructure bill
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill, once signed into law by President Joe Biden, will pour an astounding $17 billion into Illinois for projects with the prospects of billions more from competitive grants. “It’s easily the biggest infrastructure package in decades,” wrote Brookings Senior Fellow Adie Tomer.

“To put that new spending in perspective, it’s nearly enough to increase total federal infrastructure spending to the same average levels as during the New Deal. It’s safe to call this a generational investment,” concluded Tomer. Spending from the ‘‘Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’’ will impact all of Illinois, from Chicago to Cairo.

If all goes as planned, broadband internet access in a few years will be accessible everywhere in Illinois, just like electricity. There will be enough electric charging stations up and running to reduce or eliminate range anxiety, a major barrier to cleaner climate electric car sales. Water quality will be improved with the removal of lead pipes, a particular problem in Chicago and Cook County.

The federal infrastructure funding will piggyback on Rebuild Illinois state programs and other infrastructure plans enacted by the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Pritzker said in a tweet, “Thanks to this historic investment, we will be able to widen the scope of our historic Rebuild Illinois capital program.”

The White House has estimated that in Illinois, “there are 2,374 bridges and over 6,218 miles of highway in poor condition.” According to an analysis by the Illinois Democratic senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and the White House, the Illinois impact over five years is:

  • $1.7 billion to “improve drinking and wastewater infrastructure throughout Illinois,” building on legislative proposals Duckworth has been leading.
  • $9.8 billion for federal highway projects.
  • $1.4 billion for bridge replacement and repairs. Plus the state could get more if successful in competitive grants.
  • About $4 billion “to improve public transportation options across the state.”
  • At least $100 million for broadband coverage across the state. At present, there are about 228,000 Illinoisans who currently do not have broadband. About 2.9 million low-income Illinoisans would get an internet access benefit.
  • Approximately $616 million for airport improvements. Under a new Airport Terminal Improvement program, a $5 billion funding pool will be in place through Sept. 30, 2030, for the secretary of transportation to provide competitive grants for “projects that address the aging infrastructure of the nation’s airports.”
  • $149 million to fund the expansion of the electric charging network in Illinois. Plus, Illinois interests could compete for EV charging grants from a $2.5 billion pool.
  • $27 million to protect against wildfires
  • $22 million to protect against cyberattacks.

The infrastructure bill included a $1.7 billion competitive federal grant program pushed by Reps. Marie Newman, D-Ill., and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., — both on the House Transportation Committee — to upgrade transit stations accessibility for the disabled, aimed at bolstering the CTA’s improvements for people with disabilities.

Illinois Lawmakers eye quieter ’22 session
Last week, Illinois lawmakers completed a fall veto session that better resembled the frenetic final days of the spring legislative session in May.

With no actual vetoes to consider, lawmakers got busy legislating, enacting new congressional maps, clarifying language in the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act that will allow employers to enforce COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandates, repealing the Parental Notice of Abortion Act, permitting limited wagering on Illinois college sports teams and approving tax credits for the electric vehicle industry.

This flurry of late activity put a lid on a remarkably active year of legislating, which also included the passage of landmark climate/clean energy legislation, an ethics reform package, legislative redistricting and the state budget.

Don’t expect an encore in 2022.

State lawmakers are planning an abbreviated spring legislative session with a scheduled adjournment date of April 8, nearly eight weeks earlier than usual. In some ways, this is totally normal. The General Assembly tends to be more legislatively active during the first year of its two-year term. This year, that tendency was only heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which significantly reduced the amount of legislating during the 2020 spring session. But if year one is about policy, year two is about politics. This isn’t unique to Illinois. Legislative bodies everywhere tend to be less active the closer lawmakers are to facing voters.

In Illinois, there is typically a month-long hole in the legislative session every other March to accommodate the primary election. But there’s an added wrinkle this year — the state’s primary election has been moved from March 17 to June 28, a necessity due to delays in the delivery of 2020 U.S. Census Data needed for redistricting.

In mid-March, most substantive legislation is still working through the committee process. There’s rarely a hot-button floor vote that takes place that early. But next year, the spring session will be complete by the time lawmakers face primary voters at the end of June.

It’s hard not to imagine heightened political calculus being behind every move state lawmakers make next year, especially if faced with the prospect of a primary challenge. This could make necessary big-lift items such as the budget a more difficult process next year and lessen the appetite to consider other significant legislation.

Beyond the budget, there will likely be a bevy of trailer bills to address issues that inevitably come up when passing major laws, from recreational marijuana legalization to the clean energy package. Another consideration will be how to spend the more than $5.5 billion in remaining American Rescue Plan funds the state has yet to appropriate.

So, expect legislators to do what they have to do, and then quickly get out of Springfield and back into their districts to campaign.

Illinois Rental Payment Program to Reopen in Early December 2021
Due to a vendor needing additional time to ensure its application platform is functioning properly, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) announced today that it will reopen the Illinois Rental Payment Program on Monday, Dec. 6 instead of Monday, Nov. 8. While the date for the program reopening is now delayed, money from this round will still be distributed to approved Illinoisans before the end of the year as originally scheduled.

In the first round of ILRPP launched in May, IHDA reviewed all completed applications, approved more than 57,000 applications and paid out nearly $540 million on behalf of renters experiencing pandemic-related hardships. Since 2020, the state of Illinois has provided over $776 million in emergency rental assistance to help keep more than 103,100 Illinois seniors, families and others safely housed.

IHDA is continuously learning from previous application rounds and striving to improve the application process to ensure the funds can quickly get to landlords and tenants who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The application portal requires additional testing to ensure it can accommodate the tens of thousands of applicants that may apply for ILRPP assistance. Applications will now be accepted beginning Monday, Dec. 6 through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Jan 9 at

“While this delays the date we’ll begin accepting applications, IHDA is committed to meeting the original timeline of disbursing rental assistance money to tenants and landlords in December,” said IHDA Executive Director Kristin Faust. “We recognize this postponement may cause concern for tenants facing eviction, but there is help for renters available now.”

For renters who are in need of immediate assistance, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is currently accepting applications for rental assistance. Households looking for assistance should contact an IDHS Service Provider Agency to ask about rental assistance. Provider Agencies will help you determine if you are eligible and help you apply for rental assistance. A list of Provider Agencies, as well as organizations helping with utility bills, free legal aid, and additional services can be found at

Further aiming to reduce evictions in Illinois, a Court-Based Rental Assistance Program administered by IDHS is available to assist tenants outside of Cook County with active cases in eviction court. Tenants may apply for up to 12 months of past due rent and up to three months of future rent payments using their eviction court case number at

The December 2021 reopening of ILRPP will provide more than $250 million to renters and landlords in an effort to prevent evictions and keep families safe and secure while they regain their financial footing. The additional ILRPP funding is expected to assist more than 27,000 Illinois households. IHDA is currently working closely with its hired technology vendor partners to address unexpected issues and ensure the system is stable when the portal opens.

ILRPP provides direct funding to support Illinois tenants unable to pay their rent due to a COVID-19-related loss of income. Approved applicants will receive one-time grants of up to $25,000 paid directly to their landlords on their behalf. If the landlord chooses not to participate in the program, tenants may receive payments directly. In this application round, assistance will cover up to 18 months of emergency rental payments, including up to 15 months of missed payments and up to three months of future rent payments. Rent owed from June 2020 through April 2022 may be paid for with ILRPP funds. Priority will be given to households earning less than 50% of AMI and to households with one or more members who have been unemployed for at least 90 days.

Tenant eligibility requirements:

  • Household lives in Illinois and rents their home as their primary residence.
  • Household must have experienced a financial hardship directly or indirectly due to the pandemic.
  • Household income is below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), adjusted for household size.
  • Household must have an unpaid rent balance.
  • Proof of citizenship is not required. Rental assistance is not a “public charge” benefit.
  • Tenants residing in state- or federally subsidized housing are eligible to apply.

For additional information and updates, please visit

The ‘Great Refusal’ is leading Illinois residents to quit their jobs in record numbers
Illinoisans are quitting their jobs in record numbers in what many have deemed the “Great Resignation.” The 201,000 Illinois residents who left jobs in August set a new record for the state. The data recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also showed a record-setting 4.3 million resignations nationally, as Illinois’ record number of resignations ranked seventh among states for the month.

“This is unprecedented,” said University of Illinois labor law professor Michael LeRoy. “And it’s poorly understood.” Robert Bruno, who has published research about the topic over the last year, prefers to refer to what’s happening as the “Great Refusal.”

The University of Illinois labor relations professor said some of what is being reflected in the trend is a response to how people were treated by their employers at the start of the pandemic — whether they were quickly fired, laid off, furloughed or found themselves in situations where they were asked to do more work with an increased risk.

“You end up with this mass refusal,” explained Bruno, who has studied labor relations for more than 25 years. “It’s a great refusal to work under conditions that simply are not suitable to a middle-class life. You throw in the vulnerability that exists with the delta variant, and you’re getting a refusal — a kind of mass collective action. “It’s not organized. It’s not part of a group. It’s each individual just rationally saying, ‘I can do better.’”

Some people have stepped away from the workforce to care for their children and others in response to their respective employer’s vaccine and mask mandates. But, with never-before-seen numbers of resignations being recorded, many have jumped to their own conclusions. However, labor experts say the focus should be more on improving the quality of opportunities and listening to the many reasons why people have resigned over the last year.

“The pandemic forced people to get off of the hamster wheel,” said LeRoy, who has researched the workplace for more than three decades. “Once they stepped off that hamster wheel some people realized that they’re unfulfilled. Other people realized that they’re at a breaking point. And other people just realized that if they were ever going to make a change, this is the time for change.”

GOMB Releases Five-Year Forecast Showing Significant Improvement in Structural Deficit
The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) released the annual Economic and Fiscal Policy Report showing Illinois has made significant improvement in its structural deficit under Governor Pritzker’s leadership. As the state recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, this progress has been fueled by the Governor and the General Assembly passing and implementing balanced budgets, promoting economic development to create jobs and boost economic activity, and closing corporate tax loopholes.

GOMB is now projecting significantly smaller deficits than estimated previously in the general funds budget for fiscal years 2023 through 2027.  The forecasted fiscal year 2023 shortfall was reduced from $2.9 billion, as estimated in 2019, to $406 million, and the 2024 shortfall was reduced from $3.2 billion, as estimated in 2019, to a deficit of $820 million.

“With our partners in the General Assembly we’ve made tremendous progress in putting Illinois on the right fiscal path, supporting small businesses, and creating good jobs in every part of our state,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I am committed to building on this significant progress while tackling our remaining fiscal challenges. Together, we can build long term fiscal stability for Illinois while ensuring economic opportunity in all of our communities.”

The future years’ budget outlook also benefits from strong pension fund investment returns in fiscal year 2021, substantial early debt retirement in 2021 and interest cost savings from paying down the State’s unpaid bill backlog.

The Governor intends to pursue several actions to continue Illinois’ strong path forward, including directing funds to further reduce the state’s existing payables, reserving additional funds for fiscal emergencies or economic downturns, and continuing the management controls put in place at the beginning of the Pritzker Administration to continue to responsibly manage the limited resources of state government.

With the Governor’s recommended actions, the state’s unpaid bills have been significantly tamed, with the vast majority of bills now paid within 30 days. The outstanding invoices, most of which are less than 30 days old, are estimated to fall below $2.75 billion by the end of fiscal year 2022, down from the $9.2 billion of outstanding bills and cashflow borrowings prior to taking office.  This would be a nearly $6.5 billion – or 70 percent reduction – while replenishing the Budget Stabilization Fund that was drained during the previous administration.

Illinois’ significant improvement to its fiscal outlook was heralded last summer by the state’s credit rating agencies, with an upgrade to its general obligation bond credit rating granted by Moody’s Investor Services and S&P Global Ratings in June and July 2021.

GOMB is required to annually submit an Economic and Fiscal Policy Report to the General Assembly outlining the long-term economic and fiscal policy objectives of the state, along with the economic and fiscal policy intentions for the upcoming fiscal year and for the subsequent four fiscal years.

The reports are available to the public online and can be found here:

Gov. Pritzker Signs Law to Ensure COVID-19 Protections
At the request of the Attorney General, Governor JB Pritzker today signed SB 1169 into law, clarifying the legislative intent of the Health Care Right of Conscience Act so that it cannot be abused or misinterpreted to jeopardize workplace safety. This amendment will ensure the long tradition of vaccine requirements by employers can continue with regard to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Masks, vaccines, and testing requirements are life-saving measures that keep our workplaces and communities safe,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Keeping workplaces safe is a high priority, and I applaud the General Assembly for ensuring that the Health Care Right of Conscience Act is no longer wrongly used against institutions who are putting safety and science first.”

The Health Care Right of Conscience Act was originally enacted to allow medical professionals to refuse to receive or participate in healthcare services that are contrary to their personal beliefs, including religious or moral objections to specific services, such as abortion.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the law has been improperly invoked to evade employers’ requirements for testing, masking, and vaccines. The misuse of the law’s original intent has put customers, staff, and community members at risk by exposing employers to legal retaliation for enacting life-saving public health measures.

“With Governor Pritzker’s signature today, we continue our effort to keep the people of this state as safe as possible,” said House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D- Westchester). “Despite deliberate attempts to misinform the public, nothing about this law takes away anyone’s rights to claim religious or medical exemption, which are protected by federal law. While only a small minority of people are skirting COVID-19 requirements, our goal is to make sure workers in high-risk environments are doing what’s needed to fulfill their responsibility to public health and keep everyone alive and healthy.”

“I hope this provides clarity to the situation as we work to protect the public’s health and beat back this pandemic that has taken so much from us,” said Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).

This amendment preserves the legislative intent established by the Act’s 40 years of precedent, clarifying that it is not a violation of the Act to take workplaces measures intended to prevent the spread of deadly, communicable diseases like COVID-19.

The law explicitly reiterates federal protections of sincerely held religious objections.

SB 1169 is effective June 1, 2022.

Stay well,

Mike Paone
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
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