Clark Kaericher | Vice President, Government Affairs | 217-522-5512 x 296

April 3, 2020

The Infrastructure Council is an initiative of the Illinois Chamber that brings together Chamber members with a focus on increasing infrastructure investments in a strategic and thoughtful way to boost the overall business climate in Illinois. Our focus is on the public and private systems that are essential to Illinois businesses. 

Good afternoon everyone. If you're anything like me, you've spent a lot of time at home recently and are wondering how Carole Baskin has managed to avoid jail for killing her husband. Even OJ Simpson says she's guilty! ( ) If you have no idea what I'm talking about, watch the Tiger King on Netflix. Also, now that we have another month of "stay at home order" (more on this below), I'm taking any and all streaming recommendations you all can offer. Boy, do I miss sports on tv.  
Stay at Home Order Extended  
As hinted at in last week's newsletter, on Tuesday Governor Pritzker extended his stay at home order. Saying the fight against the novel coronavirus is far from over, the governor ordered most state residents to remain at home until the end of April. The provisions of the order remain the same. Currently, the Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting a total of 7,695 cases and 157 deaths in Illinois. Things are expected to get worse before they get better. The state issued its first-ever emergency alert to mobile phone users requesting all medical professionals, including those that have retired, to register to help.  
Committee Updates 
The House and Senate were not in session this week. Under the original session calendars, both chambers were not scheduled to be in the next two weeks. It is very unclear when the General Assembly will return to Springfield. Chamber leaders have said to expect a very limited agenda when they do return, one that focuses on the budget and COVID-19 relief.  
As we pointed out last week, the legislative leaders also extended the committee deadline (the deadline for moving House bills out of the committee to the floor) to April 24. The Senate has extended the third reading deadline for Senate bills to May 7. The House has extended the third reading deadline to May 8, which will be a scheduled session day.  
CARES Act Relief for Infrastructure  
The US Chamber put together a great breakdown of the COVID-19 bill known as the CARES Act. From the transportation perspective, the bill provides direct financial support to the following industries: 
  • $25 billion to passenger airlines 
  • $10 billion to airports  
  • $4 billion to cargo airlines 
  • $3 billion to aviation ground support workers 
  • $56 million for Essential Air Service to rural areas 
Public Transportation 
  • $25 billion for Capital and Operating Expenses of Federal Transit Administration programs 
  • $1 billion for Amtrak 
Loan Programs Specifically Targeting Transportation Industry 
  • Aviation eligible for up to $46 billion broken down as follows: 
  • $25 billion for passenger airlines, ticket agents, and aviation inspection and repair services. 
  • $17 billion for businesses critical to national security.  
  • $4 billion for cargo airlines. 
The bill also includes a top priority of the Chamber in taking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund off-budget, which will allow substantial increases in funding for the Army Corps of Engineers port work. 
Labor Force Update/Employment Webinar 
Over the last two weeks, more than ten million Americans have filed for unemployment. Almost all of those filings have been the result of the COVID-19 virus. In Illinois alone, more than 178,000 Illinois residents applied for unemployment last week. This was an increase from 114,000 the previous week. Both weeks were record highs. 
Next Monday, April 6th, the Chamber is hosting a webinar with both the United States Department of Labor and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Chamber President Todd Maisch will be joined on the webinar by DOL Midwest Representative Christopher Hagerup and IDES Director Tom Chan. More details to come shortly. If you'd like to register to watch the webinar, please email Lanae Clark  
Illinois Chamber COVID-19 Webpage 
In response to the pandemic, the Illinois Chamber has put together a new page to address business concerns. The page has rundowns of the various federal, state and local economic assistance programs. It also features recordings of our webinars with key policymakers such as Senator Dick Durbin, Treasurer Mike Frerichs, and Congressman Mike Bost. Finally, there is a link providing information on what you can do to help. 
You can access the page here:  
Thank You Ford Motor Company 
Illinois Chamber members continue to conduct business in a way that should make us all proud. From the frontline medical professionals to first responders, truck drivers, and grocery store clerks there has been no shortage of heroes in confronting this latest challenge. America isn't special in that we are immune to challenges. America is special in the way that we confront those challenges with courage and optimism. Look all around and you'll see exactly what makes America and Illinois the greatest place in the world.  
This week I wanted to give a special thank you to Ford Motor Company for donating more than 10,000 face shields across nine HSHS hospitals in Illinois! As the child of two physicians in the at-risk age category, I'm particularly thankful for all PPE that's provided for them and their coworkers. Our healthcare providers need to stay healthy so that they can continue their mission. 
I know all of you are doing something above and beyond to help out in this crisis. Please don't hesitate to let us know.  
Articles of Interest  
Stay healthy everyone and because we all need more distractions, if you like country music at all, I recommend Ashley McBryde's new album Never Will. It was released today. "First thing I Reach For" is a throwback to the country music days of Loretta Lynn and Tanya Tucker.    
Until next time,  

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