* I told you late Friday afternoon that the governor had signed a bunch of bills. Press releases started arriving immediately and have continued until today. So in reverse order received, here they are…
The State of Illinois will be prohibited from financially supporting standardized tests for young students under a new law spearheaded by state Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, and state Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas, D-Chicago.
“Formal testing procedures do not effectively measure what our youngest students under the age of 8 can or cannot do,” LaPointe said. “Instead, these tests inappropriately change classroom focus and can be a cause of inequity in our education system. This new law will help redirect classroom attention toward more proven learning strategies.”
LaPointe and Pacione-Zayas’ Senate Bill 3986 creates the “Too Young to Test Act.” Under the measure, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is specifically prohibited from developing, purchasing or requiring a school district to administer, develop or purchase a standardized assessment for students in grade levels prekindergarten through second grade, unless for diagnostic or screening purposes. The proposal came in response to consideration from ISBE to begin testing younger grades in math and reading, despite education advocates, including the Illinois Families for Public Schools, noting that young children develop rapidly in fits and starts, making standardized tests unreliable.
“I appreciate Senator Pacione-Zayas’ leadership on this topic, and I’m thankful for the hard work parents, teachers and advocates put toward reaching this moment,” LaPointe said. “We must continue to focus on learning strategies that are evidence-based, and ensure that all students – regardless of background – receive the attention and investment they deserve to succeed.”
Thanks to a new law sponsored by State Senator Karina Villa, older LGBTQ adults across Illinois will have expanded advocacy at the state level to address disparities in treatment, care and overall well-being.
“No one should experience discrimination when it comes to the care and resources available to them, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “For far too long, though, that hasn’t been the case. This law helps to make right generations of disparity.”
Previously Senate Bill 3490, the new law creates the Commission on LGBTQ Aging, adds LGBTQ representation to the Council on Aging, requires the Department of Aging to designate an LGBTQ Older Adult Advocate, and creates an LGBTQ Older Adult Curriculum & Training Program for Department of Aging.
LGBTQ people of all ages have historically faced unique challenges rooted in discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, including a lack of legal and social recognition and reduced access to inclusive services and affirming care.
This is especially significant for those living with HIV. According to the CDC, nearly half of people in the United States living with diagnosed HIV are 50 and older, meaning that access to specialized care is necessary for many older adults.
“The LGBTQ community has historically overcome incredible adversity, and this law creates equity and prevents discrimination when it comes to necessary care,” Villa said. “They deserve the same access to support and resources everyone else has, and I’m proud to help ensure they do.”
The legislation goes into immediate effect.
Illinoisans will now have an added incentive to purchase vehicles manufactured in-state thanks to a new law sponsored by State Senator Dave Koehler.
“We have a highly skilled manufacturing workforce that produces reliable, high-quality vehicles right here in Illinois,” said Koehler (D-Peoria). “By offering a rebate on the purchase of vehicles manufactured in-state, we put money back in the pockets of our consumers and spur our local economies.”
Illinoisans purchasing cars and passenger trucks manufactured in-state will have the opportunity to apply for a $25 rebate on the title under Senate Bill 3609. Consumers would have one year from the month the vehicle was manufactured to apply for the rebate.
“When we encourage the purchase of goods manufactured here in Illinois, we support good-paying jobs across our state and keep our local economies healthy,” said State Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea), House sponsor of the bill. “I am proud to support our manufacturers through this legislation.”
The legislation will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.
To better advocate for the interests of children with incarcerated parents in Illinois, State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) is leading a measure to create the Commission on Children of Incarcerated Parents.
“Today in Illinois, nearly 200,000 children – or one in every 20 – have had a parent in jail or prison. We need to improve the system so that the bond between a parent and their child is honored and strengthened despite the incarceration.”
The Commission, housed within the Department of Human Services, will be tasked with implementing and coordinating the recommendations of the Task Force on Children of Incarcerated Parents within state agencies. The task force, created in 2020 will propose the changes, and the Commission will work with agencies on how to properly implement the changes.
Children whose parents are incarcerated can experience multiple negative effects such as greater mental health symptoms, difficulty with school, housing instability, and overall trauma.
“I am so glad we passed this legislation and look forward to working with House sponsor Rep. Delia Ramirez, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, and the other advocates and stakeholders who worked hard on this effort to implement the commission, said Simmons. We will see this work through so children of incarcerated parents can maintain the most important relationship they have and have their overall needs met across the entire system.”
House Bill 5525 was signed into law on Friday and takes effect on January 1st, 2023.
Thanks to a new law introduced by State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview), necessary funding for the Housing Authority of Cook County will be more accessible to invest in essential housing programs for the community.
“Funding affordable housing in Cook County is vital for many low-income families,” Fine said. “This law will help level the playing field so more land used to build affordable housing can be acquired sooner—allowing more Cook County residents to participate in these essential programs.”
Before this legislation, the Housing Authority of Cook County struggled to compete with for-profit developers when attempting to purchase property, while also having to wait for grant funding to pay for their investments. The trust fund will ensure vital developments, such as conventional public housing programs and rental assistance for families, seniors, and people with disabilities, are able to be completed sooner because the housing authority has direct access to funding.
“Housing costs are some of the biggest concerns facing people in our communities,” Fine said. “This law will ensure more people have access to affordable housing options.”
House Bill 5018 was signed into law May 13, 2022. It goes into effect immediately.
To offer support to mothers who are survivors of sexual abuse during childbirth, State Senator Rachelle Aud Crowe passed a law to allow parents to remove the physician’s name from a copy of the child’s birth certificate.
“When giving birth, women trust their physician to offer support, guidance and encouragement on one of the happiest, most memorable days of her life,” said Crowe (D-Glen Carbon). “Unfortunately, there are several cases where mothers endure sexual assault and abuse in the process, and this law works to remove the disgraced physician’s name from a copy of the child’s birth certificate.”
In Illinois, the short form birth certificate does not include the physician’s name. Under Crowe’s proposal, a parent or adult-age child can request a long form birth certificate with the physician’s name removed. The redacted certified copy of the birth certificate does not replace the original certificate.
“Mothers who endure sexual abuse during childbirth are oftentimes hesitant to speak out, yet they endure longstanding, emotional trauma,” Crowe said. “To offer a small sense of relief, this law empowers survivors to receive a certificate free from shame and allow an opportunity to recover, process and heal.”
The law, filed under Senate Bill 3163, is effective Jan. 1, 2023.
To protect communities across Illinois from the deadly impact of lead, State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) passed a law signed on Friday to strengthen lead mitigation procedures.
“Almost every community across the state is affected by lead in the water supply,” said Simmons. “This law provides an effective and expeditious solution to a decades-long problem that systemically affects low-income communities and communities of color.”
House Bill 4369 will require the Illinois Department of Public Health to follow up on lead mitigation notices by carrying out inspections to ensure the work has been completed. The past law merely permitted an inspection, while this measure will require and enforce lead mitigation efforts.
Lead is a heavy metal and suspected carcinogen that was frequently used in paint, plumbing materials, and many other items before the 1980s. Today, it is mostly found in aging water pipes, contaminated soil, and peeling paint on windows, baseboards, trim, and doors. No amount of lead exposure is considered safe for children or adults.
“Removing lead from all homes and facilities is long overdue and is a critical step toward prioritizing the overall health and safety of people across the state,” Simmons said.
House Bill 4369 was signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker on Friday and takes effect on January 1st, 2023.
Private insurance will now cover specialized care for children living with serious illnesses while allowing the child to seek additional treatments, thanks to a measure sponsored by State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) that was recently signed into law.
“In Illinois, seriously ill children deserve consistency in high quality, child-centered care regardless of where they live and whether they have public or private health insurance,” Fine said. “This law will allow for more families to access this critical care without having to worry whether or not their insurance will cover the treatments.”
Under Fine’s law, patients with private insurance will now be covered for pediatric palliative care. Palliative care is a specialized medical care for people living with serious illnesses focused on providing relief from symptoms and improving quality of life with the medical condition. Some forms of this care include expert management of physical and emotional symptoms, as well as patient and family counseling.
Many patients who have access to this type of treatment see less emergency room visits, shorter hospital stays, and experience an improved wellbeing for themselves and their families. Despite these benefits, only 1% of the 2,800 children in Illinois living with chronic illness currently have access to this treatment.
Sen. Fine is a longtime advocate of increasing accessibility of pediatric palliative care. In 2021, while working with advocates like the Greater Illinois Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition, she sponsored a measure requiring Medicaid to cover pediatric palliative care.
“For children living with serious illness, palliative care is vital in keeping children out of the hospital and decreasing family stress. This results in improved quality of life for the patient and his or her entire family,” Fine said. “This law is crucial to ensure seriously ill children in Illinois and their families have the care and support that they deserve.”
Senate Bill 3819 was signed into law May 13, 2022. It goes into effect January 1, 2023.
State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) championed an initiative to bring additional training requirements on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias for emergency medical service providers that became law Friday.
“Attending to patients with dementia requires heightened analysis of the current state of the individual and careful consideration for appropriate care,” Villanueva said. “An impaired ability to recall information, make decisions and think critically is common among the many types of dementias, making it imperative that our medical services personnel are well-equipped to approach and handle these situations.”
This spring session with the help of the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter, Senator Villanueva introduced House Bill 4388, which sets training guidelines for emergency medical services personnel to help them better serve patients with dementia. The new law requires training on the assessment, diagnosis and care of dementia after each renewal of one’s EMS license. This training will also include dementia-effective communication strategies for the betterment of interactions between EMS personnel and people with dementia.
“For our medical services workers, responding to emergency situations doesn’t always mean performing life-saving measures and transporting injured people to proper medical facilities,” Villanueva said. “Sometimes their service takes the form of caregiving to remove the dangers a person’s condition poses to them in the moment, which takes quality training on the evaluation of a variety of diseases and conditions.”
The law takes effect immediately.
Thanks to a new law championed by State Senator Karina Villa, Illinois visitors and out-of-state students will soon be able to continue to receive their established therapeutic services via telehealth from an out-of-state certified social worker.
“We have already taken great strides toward mental health accessibility here in Illinois,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “This is another important step to ensure these vital resources are available to everyone in our state, resident or otherwise.”
House Bill 4797 will allow non-residents and visitors to Illinois, such as university students, to continue to receive the care they need from their trusted and established therapists. Under previous law, clinicians were required to be licensed in the state where their client is physically located at the time of care, not the state where they reside.
“Finding a therapist is not a one-size-fits-all situation, and it’s important that those in need are able to continue their established relationships with trusted mental health professionals,” said Villa.
The legislation was signed on Friday and goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.
Motorcyclists across the state have a new incentive to purchase electric motorcycles and keep Illinois on track toward a cleaner, more sustainable future thanks to a new law by State Senator Dave Koehler.
“Making electric vehicles accessible and affordable for all Illinoisans is a great way to promote sustainability,” said Koehler (D-Peoria), who recently received a “Senator of the Year” award from ABATE Illinois. “By offering the same incentives for electric motorcycles that we do for other types of electric vehicles, we’re improving Illinois’ relationship with greener energy and supporting multiple modes of transportation.”
Senate Bill 2940 expands the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act of 2021 to make highway-legal electric motorcycles eligible for a $1,500 electric vehicle rebate. This is an expansion of the rebate in the original legislation that incentivized the purchase of new and used electric vehicles in Illinois but excluded electric motorcycles. ABATE (A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education), the state’s largest motorcycle advocacy group, played a large role in drafting the legislation.
“As we work to transition to more sustainable options across the board, we have to ensure everyone is included in the conversation,” said State Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea), House sponsor of the bill. “By offering the same incentive to motorcyclists that we have to Illinoisans who choose other modes of transportation, we are ensuring not only accessibility and affordability, but sustainability for everyone.”
The legislation is effective immediately.
Dedicated license plates will soon be available to more members of Gold Star Families in Illinois thanks to a new law by State Senator Laura Ellman signed on Friday.
“When brave men and women put their lives on the line to defend our country, their families make great sacrifices as well—Gold Star Families sacrificing the most of all,” said Ellman (D-Naperville). “I was proud to partner with dedicated legislators and advocates from across the state to pass this law ensuring all members of Gold Star Families receive the recognition and thanks they so rightfully deserve.”
House Bill 5078 expands the current eligibility list for Gold Star Family license plates to include stepchildren, adopted children and half-siblings of veterans who lost their lives serving in a branch of the United States Armed Forces, and waives the registration fee for children in Gold Star Families.
“There’s no way we can ever repay our debt to the families of Gold Star service members,” said State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora). “But it’s important that we do what we can to show our respect and remember their sacrifice. This legislation will properly align our state law with language used by the Department of Defense, and ensure appropriate individuals receive the recognition they deserve. All of our Gold Star families are in my thoughts – we can never forget them.”
The legislation goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.
Access to low cost prescription drugs will be protected thanks to a measure led by State Senator Mattie Hunter that was signed into law Friday.
While the average adult spends $177 out of pocket on prescription drug annually, affordability is a bigger issue for those who are older, taking four or more prescription medicines, have chronic conditions or are low-income.
“People should not have to spend hundreds of dollars in order to receive their prescription,” said Hunter (D-Chicago). “People living with diseases and disorders need access to medication, and we have to make it affordable for them.”
The new law protects access to low cost “340B” prescription drugs for uninsured and low-income patients by prohibiting pharmacy benefit managers and third party payers from using certain contractual provisions in contracts they enter into with safety-net healthcare providers.
The federal 340B Drug Pricing Program allows entities to stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.
“Health care is a right, and that includes access to prescription drugs,” Hunter said. “The Drug Pricing Program was created to lower medication costs for those that need it, and this measure reinforces that.”
Similar measures have been adopted in 16 other states.
Due to an expanding aging population and an increase in chronic illness, health care costs in America have risen dramatically over the years, with costs projected to reach $6.2 trillion by 2028. Illinois spends more on prescription drugs than majority of the nation, spending of a total of $18.64 billion in 2019.
House Bill 4595 is effective July 1, 2022.
Widows of Chicago firefighters and police are one step closer to receiving additional support after a measure advanced by State Senator Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) was signed into law.
“Despite the false narrative of an overgenerous pension system, widows of Chicago first responders have been living with great financial hardship for decades,” Martwick said. “This adjustment is essential if we are going to support the widows of our Chicago firefighters and police officers who put themselves in the line of duty to keep all of us safe. I’m pleased that we are taking this small step to support the families who sacrifice so much for all of us.”
The new law will change the Chicago police and Chicago firefighter articles of the Illinois Pension Code to increase the minimum annuity for widows to no less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. It is currently set at 125%. In 2022, the Federal Poverty line is set at a mere $13,590 for a single person. This measure will ensure that if a Chicago firefighter or police officer dies in the line of duty, the widow’s annuity could not fall below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level for that family.
Earlier this year, seven Chicago firefighters were injured in a house fire in the Roseland neighborhood caused by a “flashover” when crews were battling the flames. Incidents like these underscore the dangers that first responders encounter on the job and the concern that their loved ones have when they leave the house every day to go to work.
“The loss of a loved one who sacrificed so much to serve their community is unimaginable and their family shouldn’t have to struggle financially as a result,” Martwick said. “This reform aims to tackle the disparity that comes with this tragedy and provide basic dignity to the families who have lost a loved one.”
Senate Bill 4053 was signed into law on Friday and takes effect immediately.