Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (12/9)

December 9, 2022

PUBLIC HEALTH 

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy urges COVID boosters during Chicago visit as cases rise again, by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: CDC Masking Recommendations, Virus Levels, by NBC 5 Chicago.

ILLINOIS

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs plan to eliminate debt in unemployment fund

On Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the historic Unemployment Insurance (UI) Agreement, a measure that officials say will eliminate a $1.8 billion pandemic-induced debt in the UI Trust Fund: $1.36 billion in remaining UI loan debt from the pandemic and $450 million into the unemployment trust fund as an interest-free loan from the state to the Unemployment Trust Fund.

The agreement, negotiated by representatives from business, labor, bipartisan members of the General Assembly, and the state, will “save taxpayers an estimated $20 million in interest costs that would be due next September and preserves hundreds of millions of dollars in future federal tax credits for Illinois employers, without decreasing benefits for employees.”

In addition, as the loan is repaid by business taxes over the next decade, the funds will be deposited directly into the state’s Rainy-Day Fund, rather than being spent.

“With this measure, we continue our work of rebuilding Illinois’ fiscal house and laying the foundation for a stronger future,” said House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Chicago).

AROUND THE STATE

Gov. J.B. Pritzker aims to get assault weapon ban proposal ‘done in the first half of the year’: “Pritzker, in his first public comments on the measure since it was filed last week, said he wants the legislation to be passed by the state House and Senate and placed on his desk to be signed into law before the Fourth of July 2023,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Illinois hasn’t delivered jobs, job-training promised under clean energy law: “Fifteen months after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, the state hasn’t begun its promised workforce development programs aimed at helping minority contractors and workers,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

State of Illinois to Receive More than $350 Million in Federal Funding to Support Small Businesses: “The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced Wednesday that Illinois will receive up to $354.6 million to administer four programs as part of the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The expanded program offering through SSBCI will enable Illinois to support small businesses across the state – helping them attract more capital investment and expand or launch business operations, while supporting key sectors,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

Lawmakers, advocates push for legislators to do more to fight fentanyl epidemic: “A group of lawmakers and advocates led by Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) and Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, a north suburban overdose prevention advocate, met in Springfield Thursday to call for more action from the General Assembly to address the growing prevalence of fentanyl. Fentanyl is a controlled substance that is deadly in small amounts and is often unknowingly mixed into other drugs,” by The Daily Line.

Illinois comes in 16th in annual ranking of states’ energy efficiency, behind California, Massachusetts and Minnesota: “Illinois came in No. 16 in an annual energy efficiency ranking, behind national leaders such as California and Massachusetts, as well as the Midwest’s top performers, Minnesota and Michigan. Illinois got credit for its ambitious climate bill, passed in 2021, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the nonprofit research organization that publishes the report containing the ranking,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Illinois Department of Human Services Announces $5 Million in Additional Funding to Expand Emergency Shelter Capacity: “As the colder months approach, the demand for shelter is growing and many shelter providers are already approaching maximum capacity. The increased demand could create difficulties for shelters, putting some of the most vulnerable Illinois residents at risk. To address this concern, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) announced Thursday an additional $5 million is being invested to support the expansion of access to emergency shelters during the winter months,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

A look at new Illinois laws going into effect in 2023: “Although much attention has been given to implementation of the SAFE-T Act, which eliminates cash bail in Illinois on January 1st, 2023, there are a number of other laws residents will have to obey going into effect,” WGN 9 News.

CHICAGO

Ballot placements set for Feb. 28 election 

On Tuesday, the Chicago Board of Elections held a lottery to determine ballot position for the six mayoral candidates who filed their nominating petitions at 9 a.m. on Nov. 21, the first day of the weeklong filing period.

Community activist Ja’Mal Green won the top spot and will be listed first on the Feb. 28 ballot for the Chicago mayoral race – so long as he can survive a challenge to the petition signatures he turned in last month.

Green’s name on the top of the mayoral ballot will be followed by Ald. Sophia King (4), state Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago), businessman Willie Wilson, Cook County Comm. Brandon Johnson (D-1), and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas. The middle of the ballot will include Mayor Lori Lightfoot, police officer Frederick Collins, Johnny Logalbo, and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6). Finally, U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Illinois) will be listed in the last place on the ballot, as he was the only candidate to submit his petitions in the last hour on the final day of filing.

MORE FROM CITY HALL

Chicago Ald. Leslie Hairston says she turned down Mayor Lightfoot’s request to serve as ethics chair: ‘I am not a product of the machine’: “Retiring Chicago Ald. Leslie Hairston revealed Tuesday night that she rejected Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s request to serve as chair of the still rudderless ethics committee, in another sign that a streak of independence is brewing within City Council,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Mayor candidate Willie Wilson says he doesn’t ‘condone bribes’ after challenger Ja’Mal Green says volunteer was offered money to withdraw objection: “The claims of dirty politics grew after an Instagram account posted three video clips that purported to include the voice of former state Sen. Rickey “Hollywood” Hendon, an aide to wealthy businessman Willie Wilson’s mayoral campaign, offering money to a staffer for candidate Ja’Mal Green if Green’s campaign dropped its legal efforts challenging the validity of Wilson’s petitions,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Aldermen to hold hearing Friday on ‘innovative options’ for treating PTSD among police officers, city employees: “Aldermen are set on Friday to hold a hearing on resources available to police officers and city employees who are dealing with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41) proposed the hearing (R2022-1119) in October, and the proposed resolution listed 39 aldermen as cosponsors,” by The Daily Line.

Chicago attracting a healthy amount of investment, but all neighborhoods aren’t equal: “Chicago attracted a lot of investment over the past decade, but how well its economy serves residents depends a lot on where they live. Between 2010 and 2020, neighborhoods where most residents are Black received a fraction of the overall investment recorded in mostly white neighborhoods, according to a new study from the Urban Institute,” by The Chicago Tribune.

City surpassed goal of planting 15K trees this year but the hard work lies ahead, conservation groups say: “Chicago’s Chief Sustainability Officer Angela Tovar outlined the goals of the  program as planting trees where they’re needed most, increasing residents’ stewardship of the trees and expanding community engagement. The city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation and Department of Transportation are  mainly responsible for carrying out the initiative. Tovar said the city identified 13 community areas throughout Chicago where the tree coverage is lower than the rest of the city,” by The Daily Line.

Ald. Matt Martin Will Run Unopposed For Second Term Representing North Side’s 47th Ward: “Martin has advocated for police reform, affordable housing and safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists during his freshman term,” by Block Club Chicago.

FEDERAL 

Cozen Currents: How Corporations Need to Navigate a Divided Congress

  • The environment, social, and governance (ESG) movement is growing, but corporations are getting squeezed in the political battles between activists on both sides of this issue.
  • The politics of appropriations have shifted in recent years, with both parties more comfortable spending federal dollars. The next Congress will see changes in personnel and power dynamics though that will make negotiations more contentious, particularly given high inflation.
  • President Biden has tried to tone down the rhetoric between the US and China since his recent in-person meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but his new tone is inconsistent with his actions, not to mention that a divided Congress may make it increasingly challenging for him.

Read the full Cozen Currents article here.

Beltway Briefing: Looking towards 2023

On Thursday night, the White House hosted the first state dinner of Biden’s presidency in honor of France, a key American ally.  Joining President Biden and French President Macron were more than 350 guests, including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, whose quest to secure the 218 votes he needs to be elected Speaker of the House in January looms over lame-duck legislative debates.

Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, and Towner French share their thoughts on the first post-Covid state dinner. They also break down end-of-the-year partisan maneuvering over key government appropriations bills, including the National Defense Authorization Act and the shutdown deadline-facing 2023 Omnibus spending package, before current funding expires on December 16.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.

IN OTHER FEDERAL NEWS

Bill protecting same-sex, interracial unions clears Congress: “The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, a monumental step in a decades long battle for nationwide recognition that reflects a stark turnaround in societal,” by AP News.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaves the Democratic Party to register as an independent: “Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an unapologetic moderate who has alienated progressives with her stance on the filibuster and other issues, is leaving the Democratic Party to register as an independent,” by NPR Illinois.

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