While much of the attention was on the amended SAFE-T Act, the Illinois General Assembly passed a host of bills during the veto session which concluded on Thursday.
Democrats came to Springfield riding high from the midterms, where they picked up additional seats in the House and maintained their majority in the Senate. With the will of voters seemingly behind them, Democrats were able to operate in a partisan manner to adopt changes to the SAFE-T Act but also gained bipartisan support for several other bills.
In total, 12 bills passed both chambers ranging from the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund to more local interests with the Springfield High-Speed Rail Corridor Improvement Project. The bills will be sent to Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk within the next 30 days who will then have 60 days to sign.
Pritzker, who was in Washington D.C. Thursday for a state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron, thanked the General Assembly for their work over the past two weeks.
“There’s still more work to do, so we’ll be hard at work getting big things done in the 103rd Illinois General Assembly,” he said in a statement.
Here are several of those bills and what they mean to Illinoisans.
Senate Bills 1698/2801: Unemployment fund bailout
Business organizations and a bipartisan group of lawmakers met earlier this week in the Governor’s Capitol office to indicate their support of paying down the remaining $1.3 billion in the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
Lawmakers were able to accomplish this through two bills — Senate Bill 1698 and Senate Bill 2801 — which passed along party lines on Thursday. SB 1698 provides more of the program’s nuts and bolts, whereas SB 2801 appropriated $1.8 billion to cover the debt and a $450 million loan to be paid back into the Rainy Day Fund over the next 10 years.
Comptroller Susana Mendoza said in a statement that the investment “will save the state $20 million in interest payments and will help the state’s Rainy Day Fund in the long term.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, the debt had ballooned to $4.5 billion where the state had been able to payback partially through American Rescue Plan Act funding.
“This is responsible budgeting that shows what can happen when business and labor leaders come together with legislators and state leaders to work out an agreed plan,” she said, also calling on passage of House Bill 4118 which would require annual payments into the Rainy Day Fund and the Pension Stabilization Fund.
House Bill 3823: Springfield rail improvement project
Amendments to House Bill 3823 passed in a House 99-9 vote on Thursday after passing unanimously in the Senate earlier this week.
State Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield introduced the amendment which calls on the director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services to authorize a property transfer to the city of Springfield for the rail corridor project.
With the governor’s signature, the city will receive a portion of the property where the Sangamo Complex sits at 1021 North Grand Avenue East. The state will be responsible for the demolition, per the legislation, while Springfield would reimburse those expenses within the next two years and be required to remove the remaining foundation and slab structures.
The $44.3 million project has been underway since the fall of 2019, requiring with it lane closures on Fifth and Sixth Streets. A multi-segment project, construction is expected to be completed by 2024.
House Bill 4218: Free products to inmates
Through House Bill 4218, menstrual products and underwear will be available free of charge to inmates and workers in the Department of Corrections.
The bill introduced by Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, had overwhelming support during its Senate Executive Committee hearing with more than 300 proponent witnesses compared to four opponents. It passed in the Senate on Thursday with unanimous support, following suit with a House vote in March.
House Bill 1293: Russian divestment
House Bill 1293, also known as the Russian Divestment Act, was another piece of legislation receiving bipartisan and unanimous support during the veto session.
The bill from Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, calls for the state’s five retirement systems to withdraw any existing investments into companies based out of Russia or Belarus in response to their invasion of Ukraine. Capitol News Illinois reported previously that the Illinois Teachers Retirement System had approximately $4.27 million invested in Russian assets or 0.007 percent of the fund’s total portfolio.
It passed in both chambers on Wednesday with a 50-0 vote in the Senate and 109-0 in the House.
Soon after New Year’s, lawmakers will return to Springfield for the lame duck session between Wednesday, Jan. 4 and Saturday, Jan. 7 and then back on Jan. 10.
Legislation regarding an assault weapons ban, unveiled by Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield on Thursday, is expected to be heard. House Bill 5855 would make it illegal to “manufacture, deliver, sell, or purchase” any assault weapon, per the legislation which lists weapons such as an assault rifle, pistol, semiautomatic rifle, and others as meeting that definition.
Morgan said in a tweet on Thursday that he had been meeting with community leaders and gun policy experts following the mass shooting in Highland Park on July 4.
“Thanks to their feedback and perspectives, I’m confident that this comprehensive approach gets at the root of the gun violence epidemic and will save lives,” Morgan tweeted.
Unlike bills heard during veto session, HB 5855 could pass with a simple majority in both chambers- where the Democrats hold super-majorities. The change comes with the new year. Previously, bills needed a three-fifths majority in the House and Senate for approval.
Contact Patrick Keck: email@example.com, twitter.com/@pkeckreporter.
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December 2, 2022 at 05:37PM