Illinois Insights Special Edition: Spring 2023 Legislative Session Report (5/31)
May 31, 2023
May 31, 2023
The spring 2023 legislative session marked a return to normalcy in the first full session since the COVID-19 pandemic, with Illinois lawmakers passing a bevy of bills to improve the state’s finances, spur business and economic development, adequately address pension underfunding, support healthcare costs for migrants, and invest in the state’s youth.
Despite blowing past their self-imposed May 19 end date, lawmakers were still able to adjourn ahead of a May 31 deadline after which a three-fifths majority vote would be required to pass bills with an immediate effective date.
The Illinois General Assembly adjourned in the early morning hours on Saturday, May 27, after the House passed the budget.
Just after 2:30 a.m. Saturday, May 27, the Illinois House voted 73-38 along party lines to pass a $50.6 billion Fiscal Year 2024 budget, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker touted as his “fifth balanced budget,” vowing to sign it. The 3,400-page budget takes effect July 1 and largely preserves the budget Pritzker proposed in February.
Deceptive Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers Act
Senate Bill 1909 prohibits the use of deceptive practices by anti-abortion pregnancy centers to interfere with an individual seeking to gain entry or access to the provider of an abortion or emergency contraceptives. Upon the measure becoming law, so-called crisis respite centers can be sued under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act if they engage in “unfair methods of competition” or “deceptive acts or practices,” including the “use or employment of any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, or misrepresentation.”
The General Assembly passed House Bill 579 and House Bill 2296 to continue the state’s efforts to strengthen healthcare affordability in the state and reinforce consumer protections regarding unfair health insurance practices.
House Bill 579 creates a state-based health insurance marketplace and allows the state to expand healthcare access to ensure all Illinoisans have adequate health insurance, while also protecting Illinois from future federal policies that could disrupt enrollment.
House Bill 2296 is a consumer protection legislation that advances healthcare affordability for Illinoisans by instituting a rate review process to protect citizens from unfair insurance rate hikes and practices. It grants the Illinois Department of Insurance the power to review insurance rate changes and the authority to deny rate hikes that lack adequate justification.
Medicaid omnibus bill
Senate Bill 1298, the Medicaid omnibus bill, amends various healthcare acts reimbursement rates for numerous Medicaid-covered healthcare expenses. The bill includes the following provisions:
The Firearm Industry Responsibility Act
The Firearm Industry Responsibility Act (HB 218) allows lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers that advertise or sell firearms to individuals below the legal age of 18 or to illegal “paramilitary or private militia.”
The measure also puts gun manufacturers under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, allowing lawsuits to be filed by individuals and the Illinois Attorney General’s office.
Drones as First Responders Act
Prompted by the tragic Fourth of July mass shooting in Highland Park last summer, House Bill 3902 allows for increased drone use by Illinois law enforcement.
The measure allows law enforcement officers and police departments to use surveillance drones when monitoring special events such as parades and festivals. The measure permits drone usage to aid in search and rescue operations, and is sanctioned to use facial recognition technology only when necessary to prevent “imminent harm to life.” Drones can only be operated by law enforcement and requires public notification when in use.
Gender Violence Act
Illinois lawmakers passed a measure that amends the Gender Violence Act to increase employer accountability and protect against gender-related violence in the workplace.
House Bill 1363 provides that an employer can be held liable for gender-related violence committed in the workplace if the employers failed to supervise, train, or monitor the employee who engaged in the violence or fail to take remedial measures in responses to complaints. HB 1363 establishes a four-year statute of limitation for bringing a claim of gender-related violence against an employer, except that if the person entitled to bring the action was a minor at the time the cause of action accrued, then the action must be commenced within 4 years after the person reaches the age of 18.
Transportation Benefit Program
The Transportation Benefits Program Act (HB 2068) requires all “covered employers” to provide a commuter benefit that allows employees to use pre-tax dollars to purchase a public transit pass, via payroll deduction, such that the costs for such purchases may be excluded from the employee’s taxable wages and compensation up to the maximum level permitted by federal tax law. HB 2068 applies to entities with 50 or more full-time employees that are geographically near a transit area.
It also requires the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) make publicly available a searchable map of addresses that are located within one mile of fixed-route transit service. The benefit must become available no later than the first regular pay period after 120 days of employment. HB 2068 becomes effective January 1, 2024.
Salary transparency/Equal Pay Act
State legislators passed HB 3129 along party lines that requires an employer with 15 or more employees to list the pay scale and description of benefits for jobs that will be physically performed, at least in part, in Illinois. The measure applies to job functions performed outside of Illinois, but the employee reports to a supervisor, office, or other work site in Illinois.
The measure also requires an employer to provide the pay scale and benefits to a third party if the employer outsources the posting for announcement or publishing purposes.
On March 13, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill (SB 208) mandating paid time off to be used for any reason starting in 2024.
The bill provides employees with up to 40 hours of paid leave per year without designation of reason, guaranteeing paid leave for previously uncovered reasoning such as sick leave, child mental health issues, appointments, vacation, and others, requiring paid leave to accrue at a rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked and barring employers from requiring employees to find their replacement.
The legislation applies to every employee working for an Illinois employer, excluding independent contractors and employees covered by collective bargaining agreements in the construction and parcel delivery industries.
Employee organ donation
HB 3516 amends the Employee Blood Donation Leave Act to allow employees to take up to five days of earned leave in any year-long period to serve as an organ donor. The earned leave would apply to employees working for any employer with 51 or more employees.
HB 2086 amends the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act regarding the use of personal to-go containers at restaurant and retail establishments. The measure allows the use of consumer-owned containers to be filled or refilled with ready-to-eat or dry bulk foods by a food establishment subject to legal requirements, such as the cleanliness and sanitation of said containers.
Energy omnibus bill
Amendment 4 of House Bill 3445 grants electric utility company Ameren monopoly rights for the construction of regional transmission lines in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) territory, which covers central and southern Illinois.
Illinois’ clean energy goals and initiatives require the construction of billions of dollars’ worth of new transmission lines, and the “Right of First Refusal” provision would grant Ameren control over the costs of the projects, eliminating the bidding process and potentially increasing prices and costs for Illinois taxpayers. Research has shown that competitively bid upon projects cost 40 percent less than those that are not competitively bid.
Many lawmakers, environmental groups, and the business community have spoken out against the provision, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker has threatened to veto the bill. The bill did not receive veto proof majority in the House.
Packaging & paper stewardship
SB 1555 creates the Statewide Recycling Needs Assessment Act and accompanying Advisory Council to provide advice and recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the newly created Act. The bill requires the EPA to appoint members to the advisory council by Jan 1, 2024 and provides that persons with data or information required to complete the statewide needs assessment to provide the EPA with the relevant data or information in a timely fashion.
South suburban airport
Both chambers passed a measure (HB 2531) requiring the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to solicit design proposals from developers for the long-proposed South Suburban Airport in the Village of Peotone. The legislation instructs the department to commence the prequalification process within six months of the bill’s effective date. The airport, which has been considered for decades, will be designated “for air travel and domestic and global freight cargo.”
Following recent convictions in the “ComEd Four” trial and charges against several elected officials in connection with red-light camera company SafeSpeed, state lawmakers unanimously approved a sweeping ethics measure that places new restrictions on the red-light and speed camera industry’s involvement in state and local elections and government.
House Bill 3903 prohibits companies that provide equipment or services for automated traffic law enforcement such as red-light cameras, automated speed enforcement, or automated railroad crossings from donating to state and local candidates for public office.
The political campaign contribution ban applies to officers, large investors, and high-level employees at the companies, their immediate families and political action committees created by the companies. The bill also prevents state and local government officials from accepting jobs or contracts with those companies while in office, or for at least two years after leaving office.
The bill grants the Illinois Department of Transportation authority to review and either approve or revoke permits for automated traffic enforcement systems under certain circumstances.
All-gender, multi-occupancy restrooms
A bill (HB 1286) that amends the Equitable Restrooms Act to allow any multiple-occupancy restroom to be identified as an all-gender bathroom passed both chambers of the Illinois legislature on May 19.
The bill also requires that all-gender bathrooms include specified signage, floor to ceiling stall dividers, and no urinals along with requiring that certain newly constructed or previously existing restrooms be designated as gender-neutral.
Book ban prevention
Both chambers approved and sent to the governor legislation aimed at limiting libraries’ capacity to ban books and incentivizing them to implement policies to prevent the removal of texts from their collections.
The measure (HB2789), initiated by Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, allows the state to deny grant funding to libraries if they ban books for partisan reasons or if they fail to adopt policies prohibiting the practice of banning books.
CPS elected school board map
State lawmakers voted to pass an amendment to SB 2123 that extends the original July 1, 2023 deadline to adopt a new school board map for Chicago Public Schools to April 1, 2024.
Under current law, the new map will shift the board from a seven-person panel appointed by the mayor to a 21-member elected board by 2026. The transition will happen over the course of two election cycles, with 10 district members elected in November 2024 and the rest elected in 2026, along with a presidential 21st seat chosen by a citywide vote.
The Illinois General Assembly has posted its schedule for the veto session. The House and Senate will return to Springfield Oct. 24 -26 and Nov. 7-9.
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