Special Session 2020
In this unusual time, the Illinois General Assembly met for an abbreviated session from May 20-24, which focused on COVID-19 related legislation. Although the session was brief, important and impactful legislation did pass both Houses and will go to Gov. Pritzker’s desk for signature. Summaries of key legislation follow.
The ILGA passed a $41 billion state budget that includes the need for funding of up to $5 billion from the federal government. The budget includes COVID-19 crisis relief that provides critical funding for testing, health care, rental assistance, unemployment benefits, resources for small business, and job training. There was level funding for college financial aid and domestic violence shelters as well as increased funding for homelessness prevention, DCFS, and senior care.
Voting (SB1863 Amendment No. 5)
In efforts to allow for a safer election during the COVID-19 pandemic, this bill will automatically send an application for a vote-by-mail ballot to any resident who has voted in the 2018 general election, the 2019 consolidated election or the 2020 primary election as well as anyone who registered to vote after the 2020 primary by July 31, 2020. Previous mail-in voters who don’t respond to initial invitations to sign up again would be sent reminders in September and October. Completed ballots would be returned via mail or in new “collection sites,” that would consist of boxes placed in locations at the discretion of local election officials. As for voting in person, the bill would allow local election authorities to implement curbside voting, in which voters can drive up, be handed a ballot and fill it out in their cars. The bill also declares Election Day, November 3, 2020, a state holiday.
SB1864 expands tele-health care and mental health care options and requires additional reporting from the state's top health and insurance officers regarding efforts to reduce the cost of health insurance in the state.
It includes making it easier for people to prove eligibility for the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the similar state program, All Kids. It also allows applicants to submit applications over the phone in lieu of a physical signature.
SB2541 creates a “hospital and health care transformation program” for communities with “significant health care disparities.” Hospitals across the state will receive at least $263 million in additional annual funding, with a total of $3.8 billion in payments to hospitals for the life of the program. The funding will be used to help provide health care services in under-resourced communities across Illinois.
SB0471, the Healthy Workplace Act, provides that all workers in the state can access sick leave.
The Illinois General Assembly partnered with the Illinois State Board of Education to help schools accommodate remote learning and codify graduation requirements for this year. This bill also makes sure that student teachers can meet requirements remotely.
Workers Comp (HB2455)
The “labor omnibus bill”, for the purpose of death benefits, creates a “rebuttable presumption” that a first-responder or essential worker who contracts COVID-19 did so in the course of their employment. Employers, however, would have avenues to rebut the worker’s claim. The bill also ensures Illinois continues to qualify for federal relief by extending unemployment benefits, waiving a one-week unemployment insurance waiting period and expanding eligibility for unemployment to non-instructional education employees, such as lunch workers and teachers’ aides.
Spring Session 2019
When we work together, things happen! She Voters from across the state banded together to make Illinois one of the most progressive states in the nation, creating a state that values women, diversity, voting rights, and education.
Over the past several weeks, She Votes Illinois called you to take action. You rallied in the streets. You filled out witness slips and signed petitions. You called, emailed and tweeted your Representatives, Senators, the Governor, and City Council. We called upon you to testify at hearings, to attend our events, and protest silently as Handmaids.
The Illinois General Assembly adjourned its spring session Sunday and here are the results. These are the bills YOU championed, that have passed both chambers of the ILGA, and are onto Governor Pritzker to sign into law.
The Reproductive Health Act (HB2495/SB25 House Floor Amendment No.1)
This bill establishes the fundamental right to reproductive health and modernizes Illinois’ reproductive rights laws by repealing outdated and unconstitutional prohibitions on reproductive healthcare and enacting a new Illinois Reproductive Health Act that regulates abortion like any other form of health care. Contrary to rumors, the law will primarily codify what is already being followed as law. But it also provides additional certainty that what we understand to be the law remains the law. As states across the country are passing laws in order to challenge Roe v. Wade with the Supreme Court, this law will help ensure that Illinois remains a pro-choice state where reproductive healthcare is safe and accessible.
Sexual Harassment Omnibus Package (SB75 House Floor Amendment No. 1)
This bill is the result of incorporating several individual proposals into one comprehensive and cohesive package including the creation of the Workplace Transparency Act, the Sexual Harassment Victim Representation Act, the Hotel & Casino Employee Safety Act; and amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and the Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act. This bill is about changing behaviors. It's about creating employer accountability. And it's about institutionalizing protections in the workplace for all women that will ultimately create safe, healthy and respectful work environments for all.
Adult Cannabis Legalization (HB1438 Senate Floor Amendment No. 2/SB7)
This bill was crafted by four moms in the Illinois General Assembly who, when writing this bill, had three things in mind: public safety, social justice, and revenue for the state. When signed into law, this bill will make it legal to purchase and possess marijuana in the state if you are 21 or over. It marks an historic moment in an expanding national movement by making Illinois the 11th state to legalize cannabis and the first state in which a legislature approved commercial sales.
Civics Education Act (HB2265)
This bill will require every public elementary school to include in its 6th, 7th, or 8th grade curriculum at least one semester of civics education. Having our youth participate in civics education will allow them to have more confidence in their ability to make informed political decisions, increase their knowledge about history, develop their ethical awareness and empathy, and recognize the importance of voting.
Consent Education (HB3550)
This bill will add a comprehensive definition of consent to the sex education curriculum in secondary schools. Schools will have to include several points in their teachings on consent, such as explaining that people cannot consent if they are intoxicated or asleep, and that 'consent' to one particular sexual activity does not constitute consent to other types of sexual activities. The bill goes on to specify what should not be mistaken for consent, such as what someone is wearing. Providing consent education to our youth will promote safe and healthy relationships and will aid in the efforts to prevent sexual assault.
LGBT Curriculum (HB246)
This bill will include the contributions of LGBTQ people in the history curriculum in public schools. Throughout our history, individuals have not been acknowledged or remain hidden due to their gender and sexual identity. Such inclusion will be a way to teach students that no matter their sexual or gender identity, they are valuable members of society.
No Salary History Bill (HB834/SB731)
This bill will strengthen the existing Illinois Equal Pay Act by making it illegal for an employer to ask about prior salaries or wages of applicants, which is a common hiring practice that contributes to the gender wage gap by perpetuating income inequalities, particularly against women and people of color.
Diverse Corporate Boards (HB3394)
This corporate board diversity bill mandates that publicly traded companies in Illinois report on their websites the demographics of their board and executive ranks as well as plans for promoting diversity in the workplace. The bill also requires an annual report card on Illinois companies’ diversity to be published by the University of Illinois. Investing in companies that support gender and racial equity is not only the right thing to do, but it makes the most financial sense. Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective industry and sector medians.
Voting in Jails (SB2090)
People in jail who are awaiting trial are eligible to vote. This bill will require county jails and election authorities to ensure people who have not been convicted and are awaiting trial can cast their ballot during elections; it also requires IDOC to provide eligible citizens released from their custody a voter registration application and detailed information about their voting rights. This bill works to combat voter suppression, educate our residents, and increase voter turnout.
SOS Docs - Gender Designations (HB3534)
This bill allows individuals to identify as “non-binary” on their driver’s license as well as other local government forms and documents. When an ID does not match the gender identity or expression of the individual, that person can be potentially exposed to dangerous or uncomfortable situations. It is important to modernize policies and have legislation that values inclusion.
Current Policy Work
The General Assembly has announced a Veto Session later this year on the following dates: November 17th, 18th, and 19th and December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. We do not anticipate any additional special sessions in the short term. While the Veto Session dates could change as the COVID19 Pandemic develops, this presents an opportunity to have additional legislation passed. So we urge you to call, email or write your IL State Representative and your IL State Senator to voice your support for the following bills.
Be sure to follow us on social media to keep up with the latest news and initiatives.
“One of the biggest ways we can protect and support women, femmes, and gender non-conforming people in the state is through improvements and changes to state and local policy. She Votes Illinois is committed to working to help pass such policy. But our outreach and education isn't always free, so your donations can help make sure that we can do our work in helping our state become more supportive for all.”
- Robin Dusek, Officer at Large