* Hannah Meisel…
As lawmakers return to Springfield Wednesday … GOP leaders are calling for hearings on Pritzker’s executive power after conservative House members have filed lawsuits against the governor and his stay-at-home orders.
From yesterday’s news media briefing…
Do you think there should be legislation passed this week during session to further clarify your powers under the stay at home order extension or also your reopening plan?…
I think that we’re on a good path, we’ve got a Restore Illinois plan, and that puts us on a good path to reopen it. And so I think existing legislation has been good enough.
So I’m not seeking anything from the legislature. And to be honest with you, there’s so little time that the legislature is likely to be in session here, I think it’s going to have to be focused on the very basics like a budget.
Legislation concerned with renewable energy and ethics reform appear to be on ice this spring, according to lawmakers’ list of priorities obtained by Playbook. And a measure meant to tweak a 2019 bill authorizing a Chicago casino seems to share the same fate.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot remains optimistic. “Advancing the Chicago casino is still a top priority for the administration, and we continue to work diligently to ensure that legislation becomes a reality as quickly as possible,” a spokeswoman told Playbook Monday night in an email. “While the mayor does not have plans to travel to Springfield, we look forward to working with state lawmakers next week on not only the gaming bill but also additional revenue measures to bring resources to the city.”
The casino legislation isn’t mentioned among priorities for the legislative session happening this week. Neither is the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would raise Illinois’ renewable energy target to 100 percent by 2050, or ethics legislation. High-profile legislation promoting data privacy, a cash bail ban, property tax reform and an independent redistricting commission also seem to be off the table for now.
“Legislating is now going to take creativity and resilience and the ability to put aside your own fears and anxieties and focus on the bigger picture,” Rep. Ann Williams, who has championed the Clean Energy Jobs bill, told Playbook.
Williams’ legislation had gained momentum in January and February, but it doesn’t fit the criteria for legislation during this abbreviated session.
It’s pretty simple: Along with the budget, lawmakers will focus on Covid-19 response issues such funding for remote learning days for students, speedy trial requirements in an emergency, telehealth access, a sales tax deferral program, delaying interest accrual on property taxes, delaying implementation of the hotel panic button legislation, and a measure supporting frontline health care and essential workers.
Lawmakers will also spend some time deciding the ballot language of the graduated income tax amendment voters will weigh in November. Democrats see it as the most important contest in the General Election while Republicans are trying to withdraw the measure outright.
Some folks in the Senate were pushing a Chicago casino, but with just three days to get stuff done, it looks like a goner to most eyes.
With more than two months to catch up on, but only three days to meet, lawmakers will hope to pass essential bills while minimizing the risk of spreading the novel virus.
The Senate will meet at the Capitol and the House will meet at the Bank of Springfield Center. Public and media access will be significantly limited while everyone must wear face coverings and keep a six-foot distance from others.
Lawmakers and staff are asked to self-isolate for seven days after adjournment, meaning May 30 would be the earliest they could reconvene.
The spring legislative session ends May 31. Convening after that deadline would need another special session proclamation and any legislation passed requires a three-fifths majority vote.
For state Rep Darren Bailey, the decision to not wear a face covering when the General Assembly returns to Springfield this week is about making a point to “Chicago legislators.” […]
“These Chicago legislators are making more of a deal of wearing a mask in Springfield than they are about, you know, getting this $7.2 billion deficit that we’re staring at with our budget,” he said.
Bailey sits on two appropriations committees, but has never so much as co-sponsored an approp bill. And he won’t even be allowed inside the building without a mask. So, yeah, I totally believe he wants to get down to legislative business. Totally.
Rep. Chris Miller, R-Oakland, also mentioned as a possible bare-face, said he’s now thinking this form of protest won’t be such a good idea.
Although Miller said mask wearing “is kind of a running joke” in his district, he worries that any sort of display of that sentiment “will become the story of the day, and not the real issues that we need to be speaking to,” which he then went into at great length. About masks he added, “This isn’t the hill I want to die on.”
Rep. Miller (no relation) is right. If you grandstand like Bailey, you’re locked out of the process. And, setting aside the safety issue for a moment, it’s also disrespectful to suburban Republican colleagues up for reelection this year because it’ll help brand the GOP as anti-mask zealots.
* From the House…
In cooperation with the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association, a limited press pool will be established for each special session day. Public safety and observation of public health guidance will be guiding principles for these special session days.
The pool will consist of 5 reporters Seats will be assigned in southwest section of the mezzanine at the Bank of Springfield Center. Every person entering the BOS Center will be required to have their temperature taken, wear a mask or face covering, and observe social distancing
Pool members will be asked to provide pool notes to a centralized location for distribution to media interested in these sessions. We will work to establish a mutually agreeable distribution point
* Senate instructions to reporters…
Only legislators, staff and media on a building access list will be allowed through the north doors. Your Secretary of State media credential badge is required for entry.
Please enter through the north doors. EMS personnel will be on the exterior north patio to take your temperature prior to building entry. Pursuant to guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health, those individuals exhibiting a temperature of 100F degrees or greater and/or other COVID-19 related symptoms will be turned away.
As I told subscribers today, Blue Room Stream is going back to subscriber-only streaming access. So, if you don’t want to trust the General Assembly’s sometimes clunky system during what will probably be a period of high usage, you’d better click here and pay the bill.
* Illinois Legislature to Meet for First Time in Months