Government Affairs Roundup
“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”
A reminder about a town hall meeting that Congresswoman Lauren Underwood will be hosting tonight at the Joliet Public Library in downtown Joliet. The town halls will be an opportunity to hear an update on the Congresswoman’s work in Congress for our community, share concerns, and ask questions. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to expedite your check-in process when you arrive. RSVP HERE: https://tinyurl.com/augtownhalls2023
Will County Town Hall (with Spanish Bilingual Interpretation)
Wednesday, August 9 at 5:30 p.m.
Kendall County Town Hall
Monday, August 14 at 6:00 p.m.
RSVP for more information: https://tinyurl.com/augtownhalls2023
*Government Affairs Roundup brought to you by CITGO & Silver Cross Hospital*
Governor Pritzker Signs Legislation Establishing Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Pilot Program
Governor JB Pritzker signed House Bill 780 to establish and administer a Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Pilot Program in Will County beginning January 1, 2024, through January 1, 2027. The Illinois Department on Aging worked in close coordination with Leader Natalie Manley to establish this legislation that amends the Illinois Act on Aging. It will require an intake coordinator for Will County to be responsible for connecting grandparents raising grandchildren to relevant resources and services provided by state agencies.
“As Governor, I’ve made it my mission to help make Illinois the best state in the nation to raise a family,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “And that means supporting parents, guardians or grandparents — and our youngest Illinoisans. Through this pilot program in Will County, we will connect grandparents raising grandchildren to relevant resources and services provided by state agencies, while creating a public awareness campaign to keep all Illinois grandparents in the know.”
In Illinois, nearly 264,000 children under the age of 18 are living in a home where a relative is the head of the household, and more than 70,000 grandparents across the state are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren.
The pilot program advances the reach and impact of the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program that works to locate, assist and promote awareness of older caregivers who are currently raising their family’s children.
The pilot includes raising awareness about the following programs:
• The Extended Family Support Program administered by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS)
• The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program administered by the Illinois Departments on Aging (IDoA)
• The Child Only Grants assistance component of TANF program administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS)
• The Children Health Insurance Program administered by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS)
The legislation also includes:
• The creation of a public awareness campaign on services and resources offered by each agency.
• A requirement for the IDoA to submit an annual report to the General Assembly on the number of families who received referral, specific services received, and other related information from the intake coordinator during the prior calendar year. The first report will be due by January 1, 2025, and continue through the termination of the pilot program.
“Raising a child can be difficult for anyone, and with the many unique issues facing older adults, it can be overwhelming to deal with the hardships that come with raising children,” said State Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet). “There are many resources that the state provides grandparents to help alleviate some of the burden that they are facing, and the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Pilot Program will ensure that seniors are connected to these resources and can take full advantage of them.”
“Grandparents often take on the role of raising their grandchildren,” said State Sen. Meg Loughran Cappel (D-Shorewood). “We’re streamlining the process so they have a direct, local contact to connect with about the resources available. This is a way to address the needs of caretakers while also helping our youth succeed on a path towards a bright future.”
“Raising a child can be hard, especially if you are a senior citizen,” said Romeoville Mayor John Noak. “I’m very happy to see it will now be easier than ever for these parenting seniors to get the assistance they need. When it comes to raising a child, every bit helps.”
“This new law will make it so much easier for grandparents raising grandchildren to access the services and resources they need, without spending hours browsing government websites,” said IDoA Director Paula Basta. “Caregivers will be able to talk with a real person who’s an expert at navigating state agencies, meaning families get connected with resources quickly and efficiently. This pilot program will have multigenerational benefits, and the Department on Aging is excited to help it get off the ground in Will County.”
“This program will be a vital lifeline, connecting dedicated grandparents with essential resources they need to provide a loving and stable home for their grandchildren,” said Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant. “I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Governor Pritzker and Leader Manley for signing this bill and establishing Will County as the pilot for this much-needed program.”
Governor Pritzker Signs Bill Establishing Full Day Kindergarten
Today, Governor JB Pritzker signed HB2396, requiring each school board to establish a kindergarten program with full day attendance, beginning with the 2027-2028 school year. Under this bill, every district must also establish a half-day program that is developmentally appropriate and provides opportunities for play-based learning.
“Full day kindergarten is an essential step towards getting young Illinoisans off to the best possible start in their education, which has long-lasting positive effects on reading, math, and social skills,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “From Smart Start to school funding to early childhood, we’re investing heavily in our state’s youngest residents because we know that every investment we make now is paid back multiple times over by engaged and educated citizens.”
According to the National Education Association, children in full-day classes show greater reading and mathematics achievements than those in half day classes. Research also indicates that children’s early reading skills are enhanced with the additional instruction time provided by full day kindergarten programs. Alongside academic gains, full day kindergarten offers several social and emotional benefits to students.
Districts that currently do not offer a full-day program can apply for a waiver to extend the implementation date up to two years past the 2027-2028 school years if they meet certain criteria.
HB2396 also establishes the Full Day Kindergarten Task Force, which will conduct a statewide audit to inform the planning and implementation of full day kindergarten programs. Members will be appointed by October 1, 2023, and will be issuing an interim report on November 15, 2024, and a final report no later than January 31, 2025.
The task force will study the current state of full-day kindergarten in Illinois, including district capacity to provide for full day kindergarten in the districts that do not currently offer full day and associated capital costs that may be needed for building expansion.
Secure Choice Expansion Update
Per State law, employers with 5 or more Illinois employees that have been in business for at least 2 years and that don’t offer a tax-qualified retirement plan are required to register for and facilitate Illinois Secure Choice or adopt their own qualified plan.
Through Illinois Secure Choice, Illinois workers can save for retirement through Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) funded by payroll deductions. The program is facilitated by the State of Illinois and administered by a professional financial services firm. Employers do not pay any fees, make contributions, or have any fiduciary responsibility – they simply facilitate employee payroll deductions and keep their employee rosters current.
The registration/exemption deadline for businesses that had an average of 5-15 Illinois employees in 2022 is November 1, 2023. Businesses in this enrollment group will receive correspondence directly from Illinois Secure Choice via mailed letters, and in some cases, emails as well, starting this summer. Correspondence will outline next steps.
In the meantime, business owners can learn more about the program and access resources by:
• Visiting the program website ilsecurechoice.com;
• Watching a recorded Employer Overview; or
• Attending a live employer overview webinar.
Illinois is among the states pushing for U.S. census corrections to boost funding
California, Texas and New York City were joined by a dozen and a half other stragglers, including Illinois and New Orleans, which made down-to-the-deadline appeals over the numbers that help determine political power and the annual distribution of $2.8 trillion in federal funding.
In total, nearly 200 requests for corrections were filed by local, state and tribal governments through two programs started by the U.S. Census Bureau to give governments opportunities to have their population totals reviewed and corrected if need be.
If successful, any corrections will be applied only to future population estimates used for the rest of the decade in determining federal funding. They can’t be used to change how many congressional seats each state was allotted during the apportionment process, nor for the data used for redrawing political districts. That’s too bad for some cities and states — not to mention the two major political parties fighting over every foot of territory in a closely divided nation.
Illinois, the sixth most populous U.S. state with 12.5 million residents, was one of six states that had undercounts of its population, according to the Census Bureau. In his correction request, Gov. JB Pritzker didn’t specify how many people he believes were missed but cited the bureau’s estimate of almost 2% of the population. Among the omissions were residents in nursing homes, dorms, homeless shelters, residential treatment facilities and jails, Pritzker said in one of two letters submitted to the Census Bureau.
“Because of an inaccurate census count, the state of Illinois received inadequate federal funding for Medicare, affordable housing, homeland security and a number of other essential programs,” said Alex Gough, a spokesperson for the governor’s office.
Illinois residents getting more biometric privacy settlement cash
Illinois residents can sign up to receive payments as part of an upcoming settlement between the state and Instagram. The $68.5 million preliminary approval is the result of a class-action lawsuit in which Illinois alleged that Meta platforms violated the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act. Instagram allegedly collected and stored biometric information — personal identifiers like fingerprints and facial recognition — without the proper requirements.
Illinois residents who used the social media platform anytime between Aug. 10, 2015, and the objection deadline of Aug. 16, 2023, are eligible to receive a payment. The deadline to file a claim is Sept. 27.
The settlement is the latest in Illinois biometric settlements that have resulted in payments to state residents: Last year, Facebook settled a lawsuit for $650 million and Google settled for $100 million. Google payments between $95-$96 started going out to Illinois residents earlier this month, while Facebook payments were sent out in February and varied in amounts.
The final approval hearing for the Instagram settlement will take place Oct. 11 at 10 a.m. The payment amount that an eligible resident could receive was not disclosed.
Two recent court decisions in the high-profile White Castle and BNSF Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) matters have created additional uncertainty about damages in BIPA matters. The impact of these decisions will likely lead to increased settlement amounts and even more lawsuits initiated.
Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court denied White Castle’s petition for rehearing in the infamous Cothron case. You’ll recall that Cothron upheld damages on a per-scan basis, leading to potential of absurd liability amounts in cases of no actual harm (into the billions of dollars). This decision is now final, barring an unexpected intervention from the United States Supreme Court.
New Illinois laws regulating temporary and freelance workers
Legislation significantly increasing regulations on Illinois businesses who use temporary workers, including mandating pay rates, is now law. Business groups say the law will have negative consequences.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed the Temp Worker Fairness and Safety Act into law. The measure restricts the practice of so-called “permatemping,” where workers are kept in temporary assignments for long periods of time. The act, which goes into effect immediately, requires temporary workers assigned to work for more than 90 days to be paid the same as a full-time employee.
The Chicago Workers Collective and other worker advocates strongly pushed for the legislation. Andrew Herrara, spokesman for the Chicago Workers Collaborative, said those workers will get an immediate raise. “There will be hundreds of thousands of workers that this will apply to who will be making $4 more per hour, which you can imagine is a major quality of life difference,” said Herrera.
The law also ensures that all temp workers have the right to refuse a strikebreaking assignment without being retaliated against and increases funding for enforcement through increased fees and increased fines for employers who violate the act.
Opponents argued it is likely the 90-day requirement will discourage third-party clients from working with particular temporary laborers on a long-term basis. Brad Tietz, vice president of Government Relations and Strategy with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said there are a lot of concerns regarding the new law.
“Because the negotiation process was flawed on this, it has led to a bill that we believe is going to cause a lot of companies that have relied on staffing firms, they’re no longer going to use these staffing agencies,” Tietz remarked.
Other groups opposed to the legislation included the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Trucking Association. New Jersey is the only other state with a similar law.
A separate law Illinois business groups opposed that Pritzker also signed Friday, House Bill 1122, creates the Freelance Worker Protection Act. The governor’s office said the law, which goes into effect July 1, 2024, aims to “protect freelance workers from intimidation, harassment, and discrimination from hiring parties, requires timely compensation and requires employers to provide freelance workers with written contracts.”
Swing and a Miss: SEC Proposals are a Strikeout for Investors…
The SEC is proposing changes to the rules for open-end mutual funds, a popular investment choice in retirement plans. The proposed changes include mandatory “swing pricing” and a “hard close” on transactions. Here is what these mean in simpler terms:
- Swing pricing: Adjusts the price of mutual fund shares when there are large flows of money into or out of the fund for purposes, as the SEC contends, of minimizing dilution of existing investors.
- Hard close: Mandates funds must receive trades by no later than 4pm ET, meaning investors must request trades much earlier in the day, for example, by noon ET.
An in-depth analysis from the new U.S. Chamber study spotlights the breadth and magnitude of the impact the SEC’s proposals could have on investors, showing:
- Lower returns for retirement savers.
- Transaction delays.
- Uneven playing field.
- Unforeseen costs and red tape.
Bipartisan opposition is rising against the SEC’s swing pricing and hard close proposals. Earlier this month, the SEC dropped the swing pricing component for new rules governing money market accounts. However, a looming threat remains for the millions of Americans who depend on open market funds for investing in their retirement security.
The SEC’s swing pricing and hard close proposals will hurt retirement savers and create an uneven playing field for investors. If the SEC wants to protect investors it would be better served by withdrawing these changes to retirement funds.
Executive Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry