Yesterday, the Illinois House of Representatives passed major, time-sensitive bills to protect underserved communities struggling through the pandemic and set Illinois on a path toward improved health equity. This was a significant day-of-action on the heels of the Democratic Caucus’s promise to swiftly respond to the multiple crises facing the state during the pandemic.
“Today was a phenomenal day for the Illinois House. When we adopted rules for remote legislating, we promised to get to work quickly and diligently—and that’s exactly what we did today. I thank all of my Reps. Lilly, Ramirez, and Stuart for getting these critical pieces of legislation across the finish line. This is just the beginning of our work to deliver for Illinois residents and I look forward to collaborating with our counterparts in the Senate,” said Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch.
The COVID-19 Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program Act (HB 2877), led by Rep. Delia Ramirez, offers a holistic approach to address the unprecedented economic instability for renters, homeowners, and landlords caused by the pandemic. Provisions of the bill include:
- codifying measures of the federally funded emergency rental assistance program that will roll out this year,
- temporarily halting foreclosure proceedings for homeowners and small landlords, alleviating pressure for them and their tenants,
- protecting tenants from the long-term consequences of eviction records, and
- prohibiting rental tenant screening companies from sharing sealed eviction court records.
Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said, “Illinois renters and homeowners have experienced a great deal of economic instability over the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Too many families are living in constant fear that they will lose their homes. To ease these worries, the Illinois House passed the Rental Assistance Program Act, which will temporarily halt foreclosure proceedings, protect tenants from the long-term effects of eviction records and enact provisions of the federal emergency rental assistance program. Rep. Ramirez has always been a champion for fair housing policies, and I appreciate all of her work on this bill. This pandemic has already taken too much from Illinoisans, we will not let it take the roof over your head as well.”
Meanwhile, the Illinois Health Care and Human Service Reform Act (HB 158), led by Rep. Camille Y. Lilly, will address disparities in medical care and other services in Black communities. As one of the pillars of the Black Caucus’s ‘Black Agenda’, it will:
- implement a hospital closure moratorium to address Illinois’ long-standing health inequities,
- create an Anti-Racism Commission that will identify and propose statewide policies to eliminate systemic racism and advance equitable solutions,
- require implicit bias training for medical professionals,
- create a Community Health Worker Certification to improve relations between medical professionals and the specific community they serve, and
- allow Medicaid reimbursement for doulas – non-medical professionals who reduce racial bias in health care by providing individually tailored and client-centered care and advocacy for pregnant and postpartum women.
“As if it was not clear enough already, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the major health disparities present in our state. At the beginning of the pandemic, Black people represented 70% of all COVID-19 deaths in Chicago, highlighting how systemic racism costs lives. HB158, which passed through the Illinois House today, will create an Anti-Racism Commission that will work to eliminate the system racism so prevalent in our health care system. It will halt the closure of hospitals across the state. And it will require implicit bias training for all medical professionals. Thank you to Rep. Camille Lilly and all of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus for your leadership on this bill. This is a major step in our effort to create a more equitable Illinois.”-Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch.
The House also passed HB 1871, led by Rep. Katie Stuart, to sustain curbside and mail-in voting. The bill calls for allocating federal funds from the Help America Vote Act to establish ballot drop boxes around the state. It expands curbside voting as well and reduces postage barriers for mail-in voting.
In a statement, Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said, “Voter suppression has become too prevalent in our national politics, but in Illinois, we believe in making it easier to vote—not harder. I am proud to announce that HB1871 passed the Illinois House today. Now, we can utilize federal funds to establish ballot drop boxes across the state and implement curbside voting, making voting even more accessible. I want to thank Rep. Stuart for all of her hard work on this bill. Everyone deserves the chance to make their voice heard, and today we solidified this sacred right.”
Committees are still working on bills covering a range of issues, including statewide economic development, social justice, education, appropriations, and other matters.
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March 19, 2021 at 08:56AM