TOI End of the Year Report 2020
Weekly upon legislative activity during the legislative session, TOI issues a legislative report on the status of legislation we are tracking. This is an updated report based upon our latest status. Please verify any legislation you are interested by checking the Illinois General Assembly website at www.ilga.gov
UPDATE: Legislature Passes Congressional Maps in Last Hours of Session by Allison Richard
The General Assembly late Thursday used the last hours of its veto session to pass multiple key pieces of legislation, including redistricted congressional maps that will influence state elections for decades to come.
During veto session, the Legislature also passed several other major bills including SB1169 (Harmon), adding COVID-19 exceptions to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act; HB1769 (Vella), expanding incentives for electric vehicle and battery production in the state; HB2778 (Yang-Rohr), ensuring school workers are paid for COVID-19 safety days; HB3136 (Rita), allowing limited gambling on college athletics; HB3401 (Gabel), licensing the profession of midwives; and SB536 (Harmon), an election omnibus making vote-by-mail permanent.
House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Westchester) praised the work of both chambers in a statement.
"I want to congratulate everyone who had a hand in this incredibly successful and historical veto session. We were able to ensure our state has effective tools to fight this pandemic. We repealed the final anti-abortion law on the books in Illinois. We provided incentives for electric vehicle manufacturers to ensure Illinois remains at the forefront of a clean energy future. And, we approved a historic map that offers a new coalition district for minority representation. This is the type of work the people of our state deserve. I want to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as the numerous advocacy groups and grassroots organizations who helped us achieve these momentous victories,” Welch said.
Early Friday morning, the House voted 71-43 to concur with Senate Amendment 1 to HB1291 (Hernandez, E.), agreeing with the fourth round of changes to congressional maps. In addition to creating a new opportunity district for Latino representation, the map pairs U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL3) with U.S. Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-IL4), in addition to pairing Republican incumbents. Democrats are expected to take up to 14 of the reduced 17 seats in the state.
In the House, all but two Democrats voted for the congressional plan. Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) did not vote, and Rep. Angelica Guerro-Cuellar (D-Chicago) voted against the bill.
The Illinois House Latino Caucus issued the following statement:
“After a long, public process led by one of our own, Leader Lisa Hernandez, the Illinois House Latino Caucus applauds the historic congressional map passed by both chambers tonight. A product of notable collaboration, we are pleased this map will include a second district of significant Latino representation. This would be the first time in Illinois' history that the Latino community can influence two congressional districts. If signed into law, this map will only add to Illinois’ reputation as being a model for the nation when it comes to minority representation.”
Republicans on the floor continued to decry the process, calling the maps a political gerrymander.
“One thing that’s become clear throughout the legislative process, is that Governor Pritzker and his allies have no interest in doing what is best for the people of Illinois. Governor Pritzker already broke his clear promise to voters when he signed two state legislative maps into law. Now as we’ve moved into the Congressional map process, Pritzker is not only going along with the gerrymandering process, he has been confirmed to be an active participant, through secret, closed-door meetings and backroom deals. The product of this broken process will take away choices from voters, further entrench politicians with extreme viewpoints, and disenfranchise people from one end of the state to the other,” Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) said in statement.
Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) defended the maps on the Senate floor, saying he was proud of the work put into them, especially with the creation of a new potential Latino district.
The Senate also voted 31-24 to concur with House amendments to SB1169 (Harmon), adding a COVID-19 exception to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act. Under the amended law, individuals can no longer legally use moral or religious arguments to not comply with employers’ COVID-19 vaccine or regular testing requirements.
Tens of thousands of witness slips were submitted in opposition to the change in both the House and Senate, including some from local governments around the state.
“This is one place in the world, a priceless place, where so many people are trying to get to, where you are allowed not only to hold your own beliefs but where you are able to exercise them under protection from your own government. The beauty of representative government is that we can elect people who share support or will defend these beliefs. Based upon the tens of thousands of people who went to the seemingly extraordinary effort to fill out witness slips at the last minute, … we all have constituents who believe this legislation is wrong, and are very concerned,” Republican Leader Dan McConchie (D-Lake Zurich) said on the floor.
President Harmon said that decisions in the body are not made upon the number of witness slips submitted. He said that the state and federal law enshrine the right to hold belief, but not without subsequent complications.
“No one is attempting to interfere with people’s deeply held religious beliefs. … What this amendment says is that your right to exercise your religious belief is not always without consequences, and this act is not a defense in certain circumstances. I can apply for life insurance, but if the life insurance company says you need to submit to a physical before we issue it, I can’t say, ‘No, the right of conscience says you have to issue that policy without an exam.’ … There is a defense, but people are looking in the wrong place,” Harmon said.
Gov. Pritzker praised the bill’s passage in a statement.
“We have effective tools to fight this pandemic — namely, vaccines, masks and testing — and all of our communities are safer when we use the public health and workplace safety protocols we know to work,” the governor said. “I want to thank Speaker Welch, Leader Robyn Gabel, and Senate President Harmon for being such fierce champions of this legislation. I also want to thank the members of the House and Senate Democratic caucuses who joined together to affirm that the Health Care Right of Conscience Act was never meant to put vulnerable people in harm’s way. This legislation clarifies existing law’s intent without infringing on federal protections. Ultimately, this means we can keep kids in school, businesses open, neighbors safe, and continue on the path to bring this pandemic to an end.”
Pritzker and the Illinois Manufacturers Association also praised the passage of new incentives for electric vehicles in the “REV Act,” which proponents including Illinois-based electric truck manufacturer Rivian also celebrated.
“With the passage of the REV Act, Illinois is making clear that it intends to be a leading state in the burgeoning electric vehicle manufacturing industry. As a leader in clean energy and as a global transportation hub, Illinois is an ideal home for this important climate-friendly industry,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I appreciate the hard work and sponsorship of Senator Steve Stadelman and Representative Dave Vella, who shepherded this bill through with broad support from our lawmakers. With our climate action plan in one hand and the electric vehicle REV Act in the other, I will aggressively work to recruit and support businesses that will create thousands of good jobs in communities across our state.”
The House and Senate are scheduled to return for sessions Jan. 4, 2022 through April 8, 2022.
2021 End of Session Report
Legislative Report of May 24, 2021:
Download the May 24, 2021 Report Here