June 12, 2020

This Week in Illinois

Pritzker Signs Workers' Compensation Legislation
On Monday, Gov. Pritzker signed HB 2455 into law as PA 101-633. The new public act makes a number of different changes to various laws, including workers' compensation. Below is a brief summary of the entire legislation that goes into effect June 8. Included below are some highlights from the legislation.
  • Amends the Illinois Works Jobs Program Act to require appointments to the Illinois Works Review Panel to be made within 30 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 101st General Assembly. Requires the Panel to hold its first meeting within 45 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 101st General Assembly.
  • Amends the Chicago Police and Chicago Firefighter Articles of the Illinois Pension Code. In provisions concerning eligibility for ordinary death benefits and certain annuities related to death in the line of duty, provides that the death of any fireman or policeman as a result of the exposure to and contraction of COVID-19, as evidenced,  shall be rebuttably presumed to have been contracted while in the performance of an act of duty.

  •  Amends the Workers' Occupational Diseases Act with respect to claims related to COVID-19.
  • Amends the Unemployment Insurance Act and authorizes the payment of extended benefits for weeks beginning on or after March 15, 2020, through the end of the fourth week prior to the last week for which federal sharing is provided.  Benefit limits do not include Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation amounts provided for in Section 2104 of Public Law 116-136. Eliminates the waiting period in certain circumstances. 
    • Clarifies that employers will not be charged for benefits paid due to the waiver of the one week waiting period;
    •  Regular benefits are extended by an additional 20 weeks; and 
    • Without these three changes, Illinois would not be able to receive the approximately $2 billion in federal funds to pay benefit expansions under the CARES Act.
Senate GOP Asks Governor for Quicker Reopening
On Wednesday, the entire Senate Republican Caucus wrote a letter to Gov. Pritzker asking him to move the state into Phase IV of his reopening plan immediately.  
Under the governor's guidelines, the quickest Illinois could enter Phase IV is June 26. Illinois remains one of the strictest states in the nation regarding COVID-19 restrictions. The full letter can be read here.  
Illinois State Fairs Canceled  
Today, Gov. Pritzker announced the cancellation of the Illinois State Fairs hosted in both Springfield and DuQuoin. The governor said his decision was based upon guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and is a prioritization of public health. The late summer events attracted over 600,000 visitors to central and southern Illinois annually.

In 2019, the Illinois State Fair set a revenue record, bringing in over $6.5 million.  Last month, the State Journal Register reported that the economic fallout from the fair cancellation would be "widespread." Business sectors that are expected to be financially  impacted by the cancellation include hospitality, food service, and entertainment. Charitable organizations relying upon revenue from the events are also expected to be impacted.

President Trump Signs Order to Accelerate Infrastructure Projects
President Trump signed an Executive Order that waives requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other environmental laws in an effort to expedite construction of important infrastructure projects throughout the country. Notably, Section 4 of the Executive Order, titled "Expediting the Delivery of Civil Works Projects Within the Purview of the Army Corps of Engineers," requires the Corps of Engineers to use all of its emergency authorities to expedite work on, and completion of, all authorized and appropriated Civil Works projects.
Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James is required to issue a summary of all projects that have been expedited within 30 days.

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2020 Government Affairs Report | Clark Kaericher, Editor