2021 Session

Dan Reitz | IOGA Lobbyist

Bridge Session Review: In early January, the Illinois General Assembly returned to Springfield for the first time in over 7 months. The Legislature used these final days to close out the end of the 101st General Assembly and address several unresolved issues before the start of the 102nd General Assembly. Listed below are a few items of that may affect our members. 

The biggest legislative item was a series of bills, developed through the Summer and Fall by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) to address many of the social injustice and equity issues which predominated much of 2020. The ILBC worked around 4 pillars – Criminal Justice Reform, Education Reform, Economic Opportunity Reform, and Healthcare Reform. 

HB 3360 passed both Houses- it will allow for the recovery of prejudgment interest in personal injury cases. 

Leadership shift in the Illinois House-Despite all the legislative activity that was occurring during the lame duck session, the biggest shake-up was the decision by long-time House Speaker Michael Madigan to remove his name from consideration for the office. Although Madigan had the overwhelming support of majority the caucus, 19 caucus members refused to support him which made it impossible for him to get the 60 votes needed to be elected Speaker. Once he withdrew his name from consideration, Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Westchester), emerged as the caucus’ preferred candidate. Representative Welch was elected to the post of Speaker, making him the first Black to hold that position. Speaker Welch accepted the position and immediately called on both parties to work for common ground and most importantly respect each other. 

Speaker Welch announced his leadership team this week, it includes: Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) – Majority Leader; Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) – Deputy Majority Leader / Speaker Pro-Tempore; Rep. Mary E. Flowers (D-Chicago) – Deputy Majority Leader and Dean of the Caucus; Rep. Jaime M. Andrade, Jr. (D-Chicago) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Romeoville) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Marcus C. Evans, Jr. (D-Chicago) – Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) – Assistant Majority Leader; and Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) – Democratic Conference Chair

In addition to the leadership appointments, Speaker Welch announced the creation of 6 Whips, they are as follows: Will Guzzardi (Progressive Caucus Whip); Kam Buckner (Black Caucus Whip); Theresa Mah (Asian Caucus Whip); Larry Walsh Jr. (Downstate Caucus Whip); Deb Conroy (Women’s Caucus Whip); and Aaron Ortiz (Latino Caucus Whip)

Senate Leadership-Don Harmon will continue to serve as the Senate President and Dan McConchie is the new of Minority Leader, filling the vacancy left when Bill Brady announced he was stepping down. Along with Senator Brady, Senators Heather Steans and Andy Manar have also retired since the new session started. 

Legislative Session: The legislative session is off to a slow start due to the change in leadership in the House and the uncertainty with scheduling session days at the Capitol in the middle of the pandemic. The past two sessions for the House have been held at the Bank of Springfield Center to provide enough space for 118 legislators and staff. It is cost prohibitive to keep meeting there. The House is formulating a plan to meet at the Capitol.

The Senate is scheduled to meet on March 2. The House adopted their Rules on February 10. The major changes in the Rules for the House included term limits for legislative leaders and a rule that allows for remote meetings. Both chambers have cancelled all other session days in February. The Senate has already adopted their Rules that allow them to hold remote committee hearings. The scheduled end of session is May 30.

Bill Introduction: The slow start to the new session has impacted bill introductions as well. There have been very few in the House or the Senate at the time of this report. None to date affect our industry directly. 

Committee Chairmen: Committee chair appointments were just released. Most are still in their old chairmanships. Sonya Harper remains chair of Agriculture and Conservation, Larry Walsh is still chair of Public Utilities, Marcus Evans remains chair of Labor and Commerce and Ann Williams is still chair of Environment and Energy. Bob Rita is the new chair of the Executive committee. 

2020 Illinois General Assembly Election Results

Dan Reitz | IOGA Lobbyist

Below you will find a review of the November 3rd election results for the Illinois General Assembly.


In the Illinois Senate, 22 of the 59 seats were on the ballot, 11 were contested, and only two were competitive.  House Representative and Senate Democratic candidate Karina Villa picked up the 25th district seat vacated by Republican Senator Jim Oberweis, who at the time of writing, successfully ran for Congress. The Senate Democrats now hold a 41-18 super majority.  Senator David Koehler successfully defeated his challenger, and Senator Robert Martwick (D) was in the lead in an unexpectedly heated race.  Open and key competitive races are listed below.

Key Senate Races and Open Seats:   

10th Senate District:  In a surprisingly competitive race, Senator Robert Martwick (D, Chicago) is holding onto a narrow lead over challenger Anthony Beckman (R, Harwood Heights).  Final votes will be counted by November 17th.

11th Senate District:  Senator Celina Villanueva (D, Chicago) defeated a challenge from Democracy in America candidate Mari Brown.  Villanueva replaced former State Senator Martin Sandoval.

25th Senate District – Open Seat:  In this highly competitive race, at the time of this writing State Representative Karina Villa (D, West Chicago) is narrowly leading Jeanette Ward (R, West Chicago) to replace Republican State Senator Jim Oberweis who ran for Congress.

31st Senate District:  Senator Melinda Bush (D, Grayslake) is expected to defeat a challenge from Christopher Kasperski (R, Lindenhurst).  The Lake County election authority was having difficulty at the time of writing.

34th Senate District:  Senator Steve Stadelman (D, Caledonia) defeated challenger Paul Hofmann (R, Roscoe).

37th Senate District:  Republican Win Stoller ran unopposed to replace retiring Senator Chuck Weaver.

40th Senate District:  Senator Patrick Joyce (D, Essex) defeated a challenge from Eric Wallace (R, Flossmoor).  Joyce emerged victorious in a crowded primary field after he was appointed to replace Senator Toi Hutchinson who was appointed to lead the Pritzker Administration’s oversight of adult cannabis.

43rd Senate District – Open Seat:  Representative John Connor (D, Lockport) defeated Ben Bierly (R, Elwood) to replace Senator Pat McGuire who did not seek reelection.

46th Senate District:  Senator Dave Koehler (D, Peoria) defeated a strong challenge from Mary Burress (R, Pekin).

49th Senate District – Open Seat:  Meg Cappel (D, Shorewood) defeated Thomas McCullagh (R, Shorewood) to replace Democratic Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant who did not seek reelection.

52nd Senate District:  State Senator Scott Bennett (D, Champaign) defeated a challenge from Alexander Ruggieri (R, Savoy).

55th Senate District – Open Seat:  State Representative Darren Bailey (R, Xenia) defeated a challenge from Cynthia Given (D, Olney) to replace Republican Senator Dale Righter who did not seek reelection.

58th Senate District – Open Seat:  Representative Terri Bryant (R, Murphysboro) ran unopposed to replace Republican Senator Paul Schmipf who did not seek reelection.



In the Illinois House, all 118 seats were on the ballot, with 64 of those being contested. Due to mail-in ballots not being counted at the time of writing, the results below could change.  House Republican members Grant Wehrli and Allen Skillicorn lost their re-election bids, while Representatives Cabello, Batinick, Grant, Mazzochi, Morrison, and Stephens fought off challengers to win re-election.  House Democrats Bristow, Edly-Allen, Pappas, and Reitz all lost their bids to return to Springfield.


Key House Races and Open Seats: 

17th Representative District:  Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D, Glenview) easily defeated a challenge from Yesoe Yoon (R, Skokie) and Green Party Candidate Christopher Kruger.

18th Representative District:  Representative Robyn Gabel (D, Evanston) defeated a challenge from Independent candidate Sean Matlis.

19th Representative District:  Representative Lindsey LaPointe (D, Chicago) defeated a challenge from Jeff Muehlfelder (R, Chicago) and Libertarian candidate Joseph Schreiner.

20th Representative District:   In this highly targeted race, appointed Representative Brad Stephens (R, Rosemont) is leading over his opponent Michelle Darbro, (D, Chicago) at the time of this writing.  Stephens was appointed to replace Representative Michael McAullife who resigned.

35th Representative District:  Representative Fran Hurley (D, Chicago) defeated a challenge from Herbert Hebein (R, Chicago).

37th Representative District – Open Seat:  Tim Ozinga (R, Mokena) defeated Michelle Fadeley (D, Joliet) to replace Republican Representative Margo McDermed who did not seek reelection.

38th Representative District:  Representative Debbie Meyers-Martin (D, Olympia Fields) defeated a challenge from Max Solomon (R, Hazel Crest).

41st Representative District:  In this highly competitive race, Janet Yang Rohr (D, Naperville) defeated Representative Grant Wehrli (R, Naperville).

42nd Representative District:  In this competitive race, Representative Amy Grant (R, Wheaton) defeated challenger Ken Mejia-Beal (D, Lisle) with all precincts reporting.

45th Representative District:  Seth Lewis (R, Bartlett) defeated Representative Diane Pappas (D, Itasca).  This race was a rematch from 2018.

47th Representative District:  In this highly competitive race, Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R, Elmhurst) defeated a challenge from Jennifer Zordani (D, Clarendon Hills).

48th Representative District:  First-term Representative Terra Costa Howard (D, Glen Ellyn) defeated a challenge from former Representative Peter Breen, (R, Lombard).  Breen lost to Costa Howard in 2018

49th Representative District – Open Seat:  Maura Hirschauer (D, Batavia) defeated Laura Curtis (R, North Aurora) to replace Democratic Representative Karina Villa.

50th Representative District:  Representative Keith Wheeler (R, Oswego) defeated a challenge from Kate Monteleone (D, St. Charles).

51st Representative District:  Chris Bos (R, Lake Zurich) will flip this seat back to the Republicans by defeating one term Representative Mary Edly-Allen (D, Libertyville).

52nd Representative District – Open Seat:  Martin McLaughlin (R, Barrington Hills) defeated a challenge from Marci Suelzer (D, Island Lake) and Green Party candidate Alia Sarfraz to replace Republican Representative David McSweeney who did not seek reelection.

54th Representative District:  Representative Tom Morrison (R, Palatine) defeated a challenge from Maggie Trevor (D, Rolling Meadows).  This race was a rematch from 2018.

55th Representative District:  Representative Marty Moylan (D, Des Plaines) defeated a challenge from Libertarian Glenn Olofson.

56th Representative District:  Representative Michelle Mussman  (D, Schaumburg) defeated a challenge from Scott Kegarise (R, Schaumburg).

62nd Representative District:  In this race, Representative Sam Yingling (D, Grayslake) barely fended off a challenge from Jim Walsh (R, Round Lake Beach)

63rd Representative District: Representative Steven Reick (R, Woodstock) defeated a challenge from Brian Sager (D, Woodstock).

64th Representative District:  Representative Tom Weber (R, Lake Villa) defeated a challenge from Leslie Armstrong-McLeod (D, Fox Lake).

65th Representative District:  With all precincts reporting, Representative Dan Ugaste (R, Geneva) defeated a challenge from Martha Paschke (D, Geneva).

66th Representative District:  With all precincts reporting, Suzanne Ness (D, Crystal Lake) defeated Representative Allen Skillicorn (R, East Dundee) Madigan spent a lot of money here to barely win against a Representative that didn’t want the job.

67th Representative District:  Representative Maurice West II (D, Rockford) defeated a challenge from Kathie Jo Hansen (R, Rockford)

68th Representative District:  Representative John Cabello (R, Machesney Park) defeated challenger Dave Vella (D, Rockford).

70th Representative District:  Representative Jeff Keicher (R, Sycamore) defeated a challenge from Paul Stoddard (D, DeKalb).

71st Representative District:  Representative Tony McCombie (R, Savanna) defeated a challenge from Joan Padilla (D, Sterling).

72nd Representative District:  Representative Michael Halpin (D, Rock Island) defeated a challenge from Glen Evans Sr. (R, Rock Island).

74th Representative District:  Representative Dan Swanson (R, Alpha) defeated a challenge from Christopher Demink (D, Sherrard)

76th Representative District:  In this race, Representative Lance Yednock (D, Ottawa) fended off a challenge from Travis Breeden (R, Utica). Yednock barely held on to defeat an almost completely unfunded candidate

77th Representative District:  Representative Kathleen Willis (D, Addison) defeated a challenge from Anthony Airdo (R, Melrose Park).

78th Representative District: Representative Camille Lilly (D, Chicago) defeated a challenge from Libertarian Joshua Flynn.

79th Representative District – Open Seat:  Jackie Haas (R, Bourbonnais) defeated Charlene Eads (D, Bradley) to replace Republican Representative Lindsay Parkhurst who did not seek reelection.

80th Representative District:  Representative Anthony DeLuca (D, Chicago Heights) defeated a challenge from Clayton Cleveland (R, Mokena).

81st Representative District:  First-term Anti-Madigan Representative Anne Stava-Murray (D, Naperville) held on to a narrow lead to defeat Laura Hois (R, Downers Grove)

82nd Representative District:  House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R, Western Springs) defeated a challenge from Kassem Moukahal (D, Orland Park).

83rd Representative District:  Representative Barbara Hernadez (D, Aurora) defeated a challenge from Donald Walter (R, Aurora).

85th Representative District – Open Seat:  Dee Avelar (D, Bolingbrook) defeated Ron Doweidt (R, Bolingbrook) and Green Party candidate Anna Schiefelbein to replace Democrat Representative John Connor.

87th Representative District:  Representative Tim Butler (R, Springfield) defeated a challenge from Green Party candidate Gello Sides.

88th Representative District:  Representative Keith Sommer (R, Mackinaw) defeated Karla Bailey-Smith (D, Bloomington) and Libertarian Kenneth Allison.

89th Representative District:  Representative Andrew Chesney (R, Freeport) defeated a challenge from Independent John Cook.

90th Representative District:  Representative Tom Demmer (R, Dixon) defeated a challenge from Seth Wiggins (D, Dixon).

91st Representative District – Open Seat:  Mark Luft (R, Pekin) defeated Josh Grys (D, Pekin) to replace Republican Representative Mike Unes who is not seeking reelection.

92nd Representative District:  Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth (D, Peoria) defeated a challenge from Libertarian Chad Grimm.

93rd Representative District:  Representative Norine Hammond (R, Macomb) defeated a challenge from Scott Stoll (D, Rushville).

94th Representative District:  Representative Randy Frese (R, Paloma) defeated a challenge from Angel Smith (D, Quincy).

95th Representative District:  Representative Avery Bourne (R, Morrisonville) defeated a challenge from Chase Wilhelm (D, Coffeen).

96th Representative District:  Representative Sue Scherer (D, Decatur) defeated a challenge from Charles McGorray (R, Decatur) and Green Party candidate John Keating.

97th Representative District:  Representative Mark Batinick (R,Plainfield) defeated a challenge from Harry Benton (D, Plainfield).

100th Representative District:  Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer (R, Jacksonville) defeated a challenge from Brandon Adams (Jacksonville) and Pro-Gun/Pro-Life Party candidate Ralph Sides.

102nd Representative District:  Representative Brad Halbrook (R, Shelbyville) defeated a challenge from Mitchell Esslinger (D, Strasburg).

103rd Representative District:  Representative Carol Ammons (D, Urbana) defeated a challenge from Libertarian candidate Brad Bielert.

104th Representative District:  Representative Mike Marron (R, Fithian) defeated a challenge from Cynthia Cunningham (D, Saint Joseph).

105th Representative District:  Representative Dan Brady (R, Bloomington) defeated a challenge from Chemberly Cummings (D, Normal).

107th Representative District:  Representative Blaine Wilhour (R, Beecher City) defeated a challenge from David Seiler (D, Effingham).

108th Representative District:  Representative Charlie Meier (R, Okawville) defeated a challenge from Kacie Weicherding (D, Hoyleton).

109th Representative District – Open Seat:  Adam Niemerg (R, Dieterich) defeated John Spencer (D, Louisville) to replace Republican Representative Darren Bailey who ran for State Senate.

110th Representative District:  Representative Chris Miller (R, Oakland) defeated a challenge from Independent candidate Kody Czerwonka.

111th Representative District:  Amy Elik (R, Alton) defeated Representative Monica Bristow (D, Alton).

112th Representative District:  Representative Katie Stuart (D, Edwardsville) defeated a challenge from Lisa Ciampoli (R, Collinsville).

113th Representative District:  Representative Jay Hoffman (D, Swansea) defeated a challenge from Libertarian Mark Elmore and Constitution Party candidate Ryan Musick.

114th Representative District:  Representative LaToya Greenwood (D, East St. Louis) defeated a challenge from Dave Barnes (R, Belleville).

115th Representative District – Open Seat:  Paul Jacobs (R, Pomona) defeated Green Party candidate Randy Auxier and Libertarian Party candidate Ian Peak to replace Republican Representative Terri Bryant who ran for the State Senate.

116th Representative District:  David Friess (R, Red Bud) defeated Representative Nathan Reitz (D, Steeleville).

Election Wrap-up 2020

Dan Reitz | IOGA Lobbyist

The Fall Veto Session is currently scheduled for November 17-19 and December 1-3, but given the pandemic, lawmakers will most likely only meet for a few days for one week rather than gather in Springfield over two separate weeks. With the rising number of COVID cases in Illinois, it is also possible that the General Assembly could forego the fall session and meet in January prior to the new legislature’s inauguration for a short “lame duck” session. If the General Assembly does convene, the top agenda items will focus on legislation prepared by the Legislative Black Caucus dealing with criminal justice, healthcare disparities, education, and economic opportunities.

Committee Hearings

The Senate has announced a series of committee hearings, all virtual, leading up to the fall session. The hearings align with the Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda for the upcoming fall and spring sessions.

    • November 6 – Healthcare: Diversity in Health Care Workforce and Culturally Competent Health Care
    • November 6 – Economic Development: Equity in Food Access, Agriculture, Cannabis, and Technology
    • November 9 – Healthcare: Policy Recommendations on Health Disparities, Access to Health Care, Behavioral Health, and Diversity in Health Care/Culturally Competent Health Care
    • November 10 – Criminal Justice Reform: Police Licensure
    • November 10 – Economic Development: Diversity in Procurement, BEP and DBE Policies and Labor Unions

The House Special Investigative Committee canceled its meeting this week. Chairman Chris Welch noted that the committee is waiting for documents from ComEd.

Caucus Leaders

Soon after Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady announced he would not seek reelection for the caucus leadership position, the Senate Republicans voted for a new leader, choosing Senator Dan McConchie of Lake Zurich. McConchie pledged to work for balanced budgets, smaller and smarter government, lower taxes, economic reforms, and a world-class education system. Senator Sue Rezin was named Deputy Leader. Brady’s announcement hints that he could consider a statewide run, possibly governor, in 2022. Senator Brady will continue serving in the Senate.

Representative Stephanie Kifowit of Aurora previously announced she would challenge House Speaker Michael Madigan for his leadership position. Representative Maurice West joined a few other Representatives in announcing that he would not be voting for Madigan as Speaker. Given the perception of several Democrat losses tied to Madigan’s ethics questions, the Speaker could face a challenge to his leadership in January. Madigan needs 60 votes of the likely 72 Democratic Representatives to remain Speaker.  I would expect Madigan to garner the 60 votes to remain Speaker.

US Senator Dick Durbin publicly blamed the ethics controversies surrounding House Speaker Mike Madigan for the Democrat losses this week, which included Kilbride’s failed Supreme Court retention, Betsy Londrigan’s defeat to Congressman Rodney Davis, the graduated tax amendment, and several House and Senate races in Illinois. Durbin said Democrats “paid a heavy price for the speaker’s chairmanship of the Democratic party” and that “his presence as chairman of our party is not helping.” Many pundits assumed that Madigan would win as many as 8 to 10 seats and gain the largest majority in recent history. Instead, House Republicans are in contention to have won 4 seats over versus the Democrats’ 2.

Governor Pritzker, when asked by the media if he agreed with Senator Durbin that the Democrat party needs new leadership, replied, “yes.” US Senator Tammy Duckworth has publicly said Madigan should no longer be House Speaker. Madigan responded by saying he looks forward to “continuing our fight for working families as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.”

On the House Republican side, Representative Tony McCombie of Savanna reached out to colleagues for support as House Republican Leader, challenging Leader Jim Durkin, saying that the caucus wants change. Durkin says he has already secured the majority of votes. McCombie had been leader of the House Republican Organization for campaigns.

The Senate increased its Democratic majority by one, 41 D/18 R.

The House Republicans currently have a net gain of two seats, 72 D/46 R.

Both Democrat caucuses still have a supermajority.

Campaign Update:

Continuing with its 32-year streak in voting Democratic in presidential elections, Illinois supported Joe Biden for President of the United States over Donald Trump by a margin of 55%-45%.  Illinois voters also re-elected Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Durbin to a sixth term over token Republican opposition.  However, other than these two statewide races, Republicans consolidated their hold over rural, downstate Illinois and recouped some of their losses in 2018.  Republicans will pick up a Congressional seat (challenger Oberweiss is leading incumbent Underwood. Illinois House Republicans will pick up 2 seats. The current make-up of the Illinois House is 74D-44R. Illinois Senate Democrats will extend their super majority to 41-18, with the pick-up of the Oberweiss seat by Representative Villa (D).  In Illinois’ only Supreme Court race, Republican David Overstreet defeated democrat Judy Cates to replace retiring 5th District Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier (R).  The 3rd District voted not to retain Democratic Justice Thomas Kilbride.  The statewide ballot initiative to amend the Illinois Constitution to allow for a graduated income tax failed by a vote of 45% of those voting on the question in favor to 55% opposed, setting the stage for a Lame Duck Session income tax increase.  It appears that the ballot initiative could also have had a negative effect on state Democratic legislative races.  None of Illinois’ statewide offices, all held by Democrats, were up for election this year.

Votes are still being counted in a few races. Mail-in ballots postmarked by November 3 can be counted until November 17.


13th District– Incumbent Republican Congressman Rodney Davis easily defeated Betsy Londrigan in one of the most hotly contested races in the nation.

14th District-Republican Jim Oberweis may succeed in a very close race against incumbent Lauren Underwood (D), possibly picking up a Congressional seat for the GOP.

Graduated Income Tax

Governor Pritzker blasted the opponents of the graduated income tax proposal following its 45-55% failure, saying they “lied about what would happen if it passed” and left “working people holding the bag,” blaming Republicans for “swearing their allegiance to the wealthiest interest in the state” and throwing “middle class families under the bus.” The graduated income tax was a keystone to Governor Pritzker’s 2018 campaign and necessary for the administration to balance its budget without cutting spending. He is now saying cuts will be “painful,” as much as 15 percent to agencies or legislators will be asked to pass an income tax increase as high as 20 percent increase. The flat income tax rate is now 4.95 percent.

Healthcare advocates are already asking for the administration to protect human services from any budget cuts. The governor had earmarked additional funding that would have been raised by the graduated income tax increase, including $400 million for contributions to the state employee health plan, $42 million for Medicaid provider rate increases, and $40 million for rate increase in the community care program.

The governor is reportedly telling agencies to oppose any bill introduced with a fiscal impact.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin proposed that the administration begin with a 4 percent across-the-board cut to the state budget as a starting point for addressing the budget deficit.

Supreme Court

Justice Tom Kilbride became the first State Supreme Court Justice to have his retention vote fail, creating a question as to how a new justice is appointed to fill the empty seat. Kilbride’s term will end December 6, 2020. It is questionable as to whether Kilbride as the sitting justice, but whom voters chose not to retain, will have influence as to who replaces him. The Court is now 3 Republican and 3 Democrats. Kilbride’s replacement will tip the Court to either party, an important consideration as the Court will undoubtedly decide whether any new redistricting map is constitutional.

The state constitution requires the Court to appoint an interim justice by a vote of at least four justices until the next election in 2022. If the appointment is made by the Court before December 6, when Kilbride’s term expires, then Democrats, including the Kilbride vote, would have the 4 deciding votes on a successor.

Looking Ahead to Spring Session

Looking ahead to 2021, there are four topics that will dominate the discussion in Springfield.

The first is the political structure of Illinois. Despite still having supermajority Democrat control in both the House and Senate and a Democrat governor for another two years, Republicans were the winners in the 2020 election. They defeated a graduated income tax proposal pushed very hard by Governor Pritzker, they denied retention for a long-serving Democrat Supreme Court justice by tying him to House Speaker Michael Madigan, and they retain a whole bunch of suburban seats that nearly everyone expected Democrats to carry away. Speaker Madigan faces a challenge to his leadership with already one member openly seeking the leadership position and another pledging not to vote for Madigan. The political climate in Illinois is even more geographically divided now with Republicans holding strong downstate and Democrats maintaining the population-heavy Chicago and suburbs. Conversely, Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady has already been replaced with Senate Republican Leader-Elect Dan McConchie. The new General Assembly will be inaugurated on January 20.

The second is the state budget. With the sound defeat of the graduated income tax measure, the state’s dismal finances become even more of a top priority for the Pritzker administration, with Illinois already balancing a budget by borrowing as much as $5 billion from the Federal Reserve and a state economy reeling from the COVID-19 closures. The administration will depend heavily on a potential Biden administration subsidy, need to impose serious spending cuts, and/or possibly seek an income tax increase.

The third is COVID-19 and how the General Assembly convenes its next sessions. The fall Veto Session is tentatively scheduled for November 17-19 and December 1-3, but legislators will most likely forego two separate weeks of traveling to Springfield, and if they decide to have a fall session, will instead meet just a few days before Thanksgiving. That said, leadership could put off a fall session and wait until early January to meet during a “lame duck” session and then following the new inauguration. Depending on COVID-19 cases going into the new year, the session calendar could be condensed from the typical January to June schedule to meeting in committees virtually but not convening in Springfield until March or even April.

And finally, the last, and perhaps most politically hot, is the new district map for the 2022 elections. Essentially, every member just elected this week is now a lame duck moving into the 2022 cycle since each House and Senate District will be redrawn based on census data. The map must be voted on by May 31. With supermajorities in both chambers and a governor, the Democrats have considerable control over drawing districts; however, any map will be challenged in the courts and will eventually be presented to the State Supreme Court. With the Republican win of the 5th Judicial seat and failure of Democrat Justice Tom Kilbride to gain retention in the 3rd Judicial seat, Republicans could now have control 4-3 of the Supreme Court, giving the GOP some measure of play in the map-making process for the first time in decades.

End of Session Report 2020

Dan Reitz | IOGA Lobbyist

The Illinois General Assembly returned to Springfield last week.  The COVID-19 Special Session was scheduled for three days.  Lawmakers returned for a fourth day on Saturday and worked past midnight into Sunday before approving a fiscal year 2021 (FY 21) spending plan.  This was the first-time lawmakers had met since the State’s stay-at-home orders were put in place. The Special Session’s agenda was limited to just seven issues:

  1. COVID-19 pandemic or other disasters;
  2. The State Budget and its implementation;
  3. Economic recovery, infrastructure projects, and funding thereof;
  4. The explanation, arguments for and against, and the form for constitutional amendments as required under the Illinois Constitutional Amendment Act;
  5. Laws or authority scheduled to be repealed prior to June 1, 2021;
  6. The 2020 General Election and the State Board of Elections; and
  7. The hospital assessment program.

Budget:  The House and Senate passed a $42.8 Billion budget package.  The plan is not perfect, and the budget is not balanced. The main reason for an unbalanced budget is uncertainty associated with the State’s revenue. Fallout from COVID-19, including business closures, increased unemployment, and changes in consumer spending, make it difficult to predict how much money the State will collect in tax and fee revenues as well as how much federal assistance will be made available to the State.

Legislators’ most important goal was to approve a FY 21 spending plan, but they also had to address several statutes that were set to expire or needed immediate attention and ensure the state was set up to capture federal stimulus dollars. In the end, lawmakers accomplished their goals and will most likely not return to Springfield until veto session in November.  They will then have a better picture of the budget shortfalls and will have to adjust accordingly.

Election code:

The bill requires election authorities to expand public education efforts on the State’s vote by mail process and ease vote by mail application process for many voters. Vote by mail applications will be automatically sent to people who recently registered to vote and to every person who applied to vote in any election since 2018.

Election day will be a school holiday under the bill. While the day is already considered a holiday for most state employees, expanding the status for schools enables empty school buildings to be used as election day polling places.

The bill also calls on local election authorities to appoint panels of election judges to verify the mail in ballots. The panels will be made up of 3 election judges from different political parties. The judges may reject a ballot if 1) all three judges agree the voter’s signature on file does not match the signature submitted with the mail in ballot or 2) if a majority of the judges agree the mail in ballot does not contain a signature, the mail in ballot was opened, the voter already voted, or the voter was not registered in that precinct. If a ballot is rejected, both the voter and the State Board of elections must be notified, and the voter may be given an opportunity to cure the issue.

Election authorities will be required to accept mail in ballots, even if the ballots are returned with insufficient postage, and they may set up secured, ballot drop boxes for voters to leave ballots postage-free.

These changes will only be in place for the remainder of 2020.

Property tax

This bill also provides permissive language for counties choosing to waive penalty fees and interest on some or all late property tax payments.

In counties that have declared a local disaster, eligible property owners that qualified for a homestead exemption for disabled persons, veterans, and senior citizens assessment freeze in tax year 2019 may not be required to file an application in order to receive the exemption for the 2020 taxable year.

In addition, this bill would postpone tax sales and scavenger sales until there is no longer a statewide COVID-19 public health emergency.

Legislative Update May 13th

Dan Reitz | Lobbyist

Illinois lawmakers will return to Springfield next week, May 20th through the 22nd to resume a spring session interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The House will relocate to the Bank of Springfield Center.  All House Democrats are being asked to sign a pledge to follow IDPH precautions when they return. They include getting tested before the session resumes, getting a temperature check on session days, wearing a mask at all times and traveling alone. He asked that all House Republicans also sign the pledge.

The Speaker’s office issued a memo to members advising them of how session will be conducted in a location remote from the Capitol. The Illinois State Police will provide security at the building and only a limited number of the public will be admitted.

Committee hearings will be conducted on the floor. The House clerk will conduct roll call votes when they are required.

The Senate will meet in the Capitol.  The Senate is expected to operate under normal rules.

On Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker said he wanted lawmakers to return to Springfield to act on economic relief measures for the coronavirus pandemic.

“The legislature must convene so that we can begin to put our financial and economic house back in order even as we battle this terrible virus,” he said during his daily briefing. “The General Assembly needs to pass a comprehensive plan to support families, small businesses and small towns.”

He said he wanted increased rent and mortgage assistance for families, grants and loans for small businesses and tax credits for small business job recovery. He also wanted assistance for small cities and towns to help with their first responder costs.

Lawmakers have been involved in working groups for weeks trying to negotiate legislation that absolutely must be passed during the spring session. Foremost among them is approval of a state budget. However, it will be a budget that could lose more than $4 billion of revenue that was anticipated before the pandemic hit, forcing businesses to close and putting people out of work. At the same time, there will be pressure to increase spending on programs to help those who have been hurt by the virus and its effects.

Beyond the budget, lawmakers are pushing to get other bills heard.  It is unclear if the General Assembly will hear any legislation that is not directly related to the pandemic during an abbreviated session.

Restore Illinois

The Governor’s office published this document on May 5, 2020. It outlines a public health approach to safely reopen our state. It is a 5 phase plan.

You can view the document here. 

Illinois House & Senate Working Groups

Dan Reitz | IOGA Lobbyist

The Illinois House and Senate are currently working from home. They are both planning on using working groups to formulate a plan of action in these uncertain times.

Working groups have been established on a range of topics to evaluate the items necessary to deal with the ongoing coronavirus, and to be able to act once legislators can reconvene in Springfield.

Legislators are meeting to determine what legislation is deemed essential from these working groups and to formulate a plan to move legislation through both chambers and to the governor. They are also discussing plans in case we are still under a stay at home order through May.

The Senate has released its list of members on their working groups. The House will release their list soon.

Federal Legislative Update – CARES Act

Dan Reitz | IOGA Lobbyist

Federal: The U.S. Senate passed H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the ‘‘CARES Act,’’ the nearly $2 trillion negotiated legislation responding to the coronavirus pandemic and effects on the economy. The House is scheduled to pass the legislation on Friday.

Some Highlights: The legislation continues to provide direct payments to individuals and families, over $350 billion in financial support for small business and additional financial assistance including direct grants through the Small Business Administration, and at least $454 billion of a $500 billion fund for any U.S. businesses, states, or cities for loans and loan guarantees under a new program administered by the U.S. Treasury and lending flexibilities established by the Federal Reserve. The legislation added specific oversight to this fund under an Inspector General appointed specifically for the purpose of auditing the relief funding. Additional specific relief within the $500 billion authorization provides $29 billion to passenger and cargo airlines and $17 billion for industries necessary to national security. The legislation provides over $200 billion in financial aid to local governments, $100 billion in financial assistance to hospitals, and another nearly $340 billion in funding for federal agencies.

There are a number of tax provisions in the legislation that will be of interest:

Section 2302. Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes – This provision allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees for the rest of the year.

  • Employers generally are responsible for paying a 6.2-percent Social Security tax on employee wages. The provision requires that the deferred employment tax be paid over the following two years, with half of the amount required to be paid by December 31, 2021, and the other half by December 31, 2022.

Section 2303. Modifications for net operating losses – This provision relaxes the limitations on a company’s use of losses.

  • Net operating losses (NOL) are currently subject to a taxable-income limitation, and they cannot be carried back to reduce income in a prior tax year. The provision provides that an NOL arising in a tax year beginning in 2018, 2019, or 2020 can be carried back five years. The provision also temporarily removes the taxable income limitation to allow an NOL to fully offset income. These changes will allow companies to utilize losses and amend prior year returns, which will provide critical cash flow and liquidity during the COVID-19 emergency.

Section 2304. Modification of limitation on losses for taxpayers other than corporations – This provision modifies the loss limitation applicable to pass-through businesses and sole proprietors, so they can utilize excess business losses and access critical cash flow to maintain operations and payroll for their employees.

Section 2305. Modification of credit for prior year minimum tax liability of corporations – This provision allows companies to accelerate the timing to claim prior years AMT credit.

Section 2306. Modification of limitation on business interest – This provision temporarily increases the amount of interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns, by increasing the 30-percent limitation to 50 percent of taxable income (with adjustments) for 2019 and 2020.

  • As businesses look to weather the storm of the current crisis, this provision will allow them to increase liquidity with a reduced cost of capital, so that they are able to continue operations and keep employees on payroll.

Section 2301. Employee retention credit for employers subject to closure due to COVID-19 – This provision provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by certain employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers whose (1) operations were fully or partially suspended, due to a COVID-19-related shut-down order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year. The credit is based on qualified wages paid to the employee. For employers with greater than 100 full-time employees, qualified wages are wages paid to employees when they are not providing services due to the COVID-19-related circumstances described above. For eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit, whether the employer is open for business or subject to a shut-down order. The credit is provided for the first $10,000 of compensation, including health benefits, paid to an eligible employee. The credit is provided for wages paid or incurred from March 13, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

As of 3/26/2020

Illinois State Legislative Update

Dan Reitz | IOGA Lobbyist

The Illinois House has canceled session for the week of March 30. Committee deadline for House bills has been extended to April 24. 3rd reading deadline for House bills is now set for May 8. The Senate is following the same schedule. Both chambers were scheduled to be off the next two weeks. Legislators were told to be available in case they need to come back into session. Most legislators I have spoken to expect further cancellations.

The deadline for filing state taxes has been extended to July 15 to match the federal filing deadline.

As of 3/26/2020