Current Status of the General Assembly: The General Assembly has not met since March 5. As the Covid-19 pandemic increased its intensity, the legislature began cancelling regularly scheduled session weeks. Upon cancellation, both Speaker Madigan and Senate President Harmon announced any return to session by the legislature would be a week-to-week decision based on the best available facts to ensure everyone’s safety.
There was a lot discussion about returning at some point in April to vote on essential legislation – the budget, hospital assessment, legislation necessary to handle the immediate healthcare and long-term economic crises caused by the pandemic, etc. The four leaders and Gov. Pritzker began discussing and compiling lists of what they deemed essential legislation. There has also been discussion of possibly returning to session during the summer to tackle non-essential legislation.
Very soon after the legislature cancelled its first week, Gov. Pritzker used his powers via his previous disaster declaration to issue a stay at home order. That order was set to expire on April 7, but has now been extended through April 30 following the reissuing of the original disaster declaration.
This ended any thought of an April return by the General Assembly. The leaders are now preparing for a May window to address essential legislation after we have hopefully seen the apex of the virus spread and a discernible slowdown in infections. There is still some discussion of a non-essential legislation period into the summer months.
At this point, both chambers have divided members into working groups based on broad subject matter they plan to address when back in session. Those groupings include the following:
House – Access to Healthcare, Budget and Pensions, Capital Infrastructure & Funding, Child Welfare, Corrections and Justice, Economic Recovery, Elementary & Secondary Education, Energy, Ethics, Government Administration, Healthcare & Human Services, Higher Education, Labor & Unemployment Insurance, Local Government, Medicaid and Hospital Assessment, and Public Health
Senate - Budget, Cannabis, Capital, Constitutional Amendments, Criminal Justice, Economic Revitalization, Education, Energy, Ethics, Executive Orders & Government Continuity, Gaming, Healthcare Affordability, Licensure, Local Government, Pensions, Regulatory Relief, and Unemployment Insurance
We do not know how the groups will convene, which members are assigned to which groups in every chamber, or how they will access information from stakeholders or be open to input.
All changes to law at this point are coming via emergency executive order from Gov. Pritzker and emergency rulemaking powers from his agencies. Please see below for more on this.
Current Status of ILTA’s “Market Reform” Legislation: We waited all winter and into the spring to see the revised version of this bill. Finally, ILTA produced its most recent version just days before the General Assembly suspended operations. What would have been filed as Amendment 1 to SB 3193 has not become official since the legislature has not been back to formally proceed. However, this will be our starting ground if or when this is taken up again in the future.
ILTA asked all stakeholders to meet on March 19, but that session day was cancelled. The negotiations are now on hold.
One important note is the bill will be led by a new sponsor, Sen. Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) as new Senate President Harmon has relinquished all of his previous legislative issues to concentrate more on leading his caucus.
There should be no expectation or fear this legislation be deemed essential at this point.
Current Status of Actions taken by Gov. Pritzker under his Emergency Powers: The most important action taken has been the Stay at Home Order issued and reissued through April 30.
Of most important note was the designation of real estate, appraisal and title services as essential professional services allowed to continue during the Stay at Home Order. Also, the separate order that allowed for remote witnessing and counterparty signing.
Please see all of the timeline of Covid-19 actions taken and emergency executive orders issued to date by Gov. Pritzker in other news posts on this site.
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