Although they did not finish their work, lawmakers did make progress on some issues. The Senate approved Senate Bill 1589 that contains a number of provisions to address education issues that have come up because of the coronavirus, including waiving some requirements for educator license applicants and waiving a requirement that teacher candidates must student teach in the spring of 2020.
Both chambers approved a hospital assessment program that will secure and extra $450 million in Medicaid reimbursements for the state without using any state dollars. The $3.9 billion will enable the state to pay higher fees to physicians who treat Medicaid patients, something they have pressed for for years.
Lawmakers also approved a bill allowing counties to delay imposing penalties for late property tax payments and also to postpone property tax sales. Sangamon County has already announced it will delay imposing penalties. Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, said the law is needed because state’s attorneys have given conflicting advice on whether the action can be taken without a state law.
Both chambers also approved a plan for the state to borrow up to $5 billion from the Federal Reserve to cover the costs of some state expenses that could be in jeopardy because of falling tax revenues because of the coronavirus.
Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said the state may not borrow the entire amount depending on how much aid comes from Washington to compensate for economic damage caused by the virus.
Earlier Friday, a House committee voted to send a budget plan to the House floor that would keep spending essentially flat from the current budget year, and give Pritzker increased leeway to manage the budget as the state continues to grapple with the financial toll of the coronavirus pandemic.
That spending proposal was created with the knowledge that any future coronavirus-related aid from Washington “will come in long after we have left here,” House Democratic leader Greg Harris said during a House Executive Committee hearing on Friday. […]
Deputy GOP leader Tom Demmer of Dixon raised concern over “delegating very broad and emergency rule authority over hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.”
“I would encourage the body to really consider, is it appropriate to, with no other legislative guidance or intent or parameters, allow for emergency rule to control the appropriation of what will be a very, very significant sum of money in the upcoming year?” Demmer said.
They popped a new approp bill late last night addressing some of those concerns. Click here to read it. There’s also a revised BIMP. Click here for that.
* And it wouldn’t be a session without this…
And Democratic lawmakers are trying to revive a Chicago casino plan with a reworked tax structure. While amendments were still brewing, the House Executive Committee on Friday night approved the latest version. Chicago would still have the highest tax structure in the state.
But a committee on Friday evening got the effort started, and advanced a plan (Senate Bill 516) to the House floor where it may be heard on Saturday.
The bill would give operators of both the Chicago casino and all other casinos six years, rather than the two they have now, to pay an upfront fee (known as a reconciliation fee) that runs hundreds of millions of dollars.
Tax rates on gambling at the Chicago casino would also be reduced, though still at rates higher than other casinos.
The measure’s sponsor, state Rep. Bob Rita, indicated late Friday that more tweaks are expected.
* And there’s been a snag with new cannabis legislation. The bill approved by the Senate allowed for easier relocation by existing operators. The industry thought it had an agreement late last night, but this is from the governor’s office…
The Governor believes that social equity applicants deserve a chance to acquire their licenses, acquire their real estate, open, and be in operation before further advantage is provided to existing license holders. Any re-location by existing industry operators needs to take place at least one year after the awarding of the upcoming 75 dispensary licenses, the first to include social equity applicants. The Governor is supportive of the reasonable concerns of the Black Caucus and will be standing with them to ensure the most equitable cannabis law in the nation remains as such.
…Adding… The Senate just passed an amended version of the cannabis bill, but the legislation is still at odds with the governor.
* Workers’ comp omnibus passes both houses