GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS
------------Report
May 7th, 2021

This Week in Illinois
Session Update
On Tuesday, the House and Senate returned to Springfield for another week of session. both chambers returned for floor action and other in-person business. Floor action was light, especially in the House. The Senate was in session for three days with business concluding on Thursday afternoon. Business in the House concluded on Friday morning. Both chambers continued to conduct committee hearings through the virtual platform at ilga.gov.

This past week could be considered "slow" compared with previous weeks. However, aside from substantive action in committees, activity on issues like the budget and redistricting is occurring rapidly behind the scenes.

The next crucial deadline is next Friday, May 14th when all substantive House bills must be moved out of Senate committees and all substantive Senate bills must be moved out of House committees. The Senate is scheduled to return for session this Monday, May 10th. The House is scheduled to return on Tuesday, May 11th.

President & CEO Maisch Talks Proposed Changes to Business Taxation
In the latest video from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, President & CEO Todd Maisch discussed some of the latest tax-increase proposals coming from the Governor's office and General Assembly. While the Governor's office characterizes these proposed changes as "closing loopholes," the Chamber strongly contends that these tax incentives are mainstream policies that make Illinois a slightly more competitive place to do business.

This video is the first produced by the Chamber in a new series on key issues in the Illinois legislature. Watch the full video and other Chamber content here.

IL Chamber Testifies in Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee 
On Thursday, Illinois Chamber Energy Council Executive Director, Alec Messina testified in the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee on SB 1820. This bill seeks to provide economic support for local governments that would be impacted by property tax loss due to closures of coal-fired power plants. The original bill, as filed, raised legal concerns as it required the continued payment of property taxes after plant closures, but at the same rate as if plants had not closed and the property had not been “devalued” by the closure. 
 
Messina noted that while the bill, as amended, moved away from a property-tax freeze to a transition payment mechanism, it still shared many of the same effects as the property tax freeze proposal, and therefore raised the same legal concerns. In the amendment, the transition payments are based on real property assessed valuation. 
 
Beyond the possible legal issues, the proposal also raises more practical ones. The bill could accelerate power plant closures that are already under economic distress, and local communities might not receive any relief if a power plant closure coincides with corporate bankruptcy. Further, the Chamber is wary of the precedent this bill sets with imposing new costs on financially burdened industries that are considering scaling back or closing facilities. 

Messina recognized the importance of ensuring that communities impacted by facility closures hastened by possible energy legislation receive sufficient support as they transition through what are often devastating effects, and shared with the committee the Chamber’s appreciation for the Sponsor's leadership on the issue. But The Chamber also believes this is not the correct approach to achieve the desired outcome. On this issue, The Chamber has proposed funding a community impact mitigation program for these communities through 1% of the funds collected by renewable energy credits, energy efficiency credits and zero-emission credits. 
  
Proponents of this legislation claim this bill ensures coal-dependent communities will not be "left behind" in a transition to renewable energy. 

Chamber Requests Hearings On HB 3926, Asbestos Lawsuit Disclosures
On Friday morning, the Illinois Chamber submitted a request to each of the legislative leaders for a series of hearings to take place on HB 3926, Asbestos Lawsuit Disclosures.

The bill contains two common sense reforms that find support in other states. First, HB 3926 follows 16 states that have enacted legislation to fix a disconnect between the tort and asbestos bankruptcy trust systems. By requiring plaintiffs to file and disclose all asbestos claims at the commencement of an asbestos tort action, the legislation promotes honesty in trust claiming and civil litigation by policing the potential for plaintiffs to give inconsistent exposure histories in court and in trust claims.

Second, HB 3926 helps to ensure plaintiffs can demonstrate a connection between their alleged exposures to asbestos and the defendants named in asbestos lawsuits. Many defendants named in asbestos complaints today have no connection to plaintiffs’ injuries. 

Madison County, has often been considered “ground zero” for asbestos-related personal injury lawsuits, while only a small percentage of the plaintiffs are Illinois residents. Almost one-third of all new asbestos cases filed nationwide in 2016, and almost one-half of the highest value cases involving mesothelioma were filed in Madison County. The Chamber adamantly supports asbestos-lawsuit reform.

Legislation to Watch:

HB 117Secure Choice Savings passed out of the Senate State Government Committee by a vote of 6-3-0. This bill, as amended, provides that the Act applies to employers with at least 5 employees, rather than at least one employee. (Current law applies to employers with fewer than 25 employees.) Provides that a small employer is an employer that employed less than 5 employees during any quarter of the previous calendar year, rather than less than 25 employees at any one time throughout the previous calendar year. Provides enrollment deadlines. Provides that small employers may, but are not required to, establish payroll deduction arrangements for retirement savings arrangements.

HB 165, Carbon Capture Task Force passed out of the Senate Energy & Public Utilities Committee by a vote of 17-0-0. This bill Provides that subject to appropriation, the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in consultation with an intergovernmental advisory committee, must file a report on potential for carbon capture, utilization, and storage as a climate mitigation technology throughout Illinois with the Governor and General Assembly no later than December 31, 2022. Provides that the report must provide an assessment of Illinois subsurface storage resources, state of readiness, and provide recommendations for policy and regulatory needs at the State level based on its findings. Provides that in developing the report, the Prairie Research Institute shall form an advisory committee and provides for membership of the committee. Provides that the Prairie Research Institute shall also engage with interested stakeholders throughout the State to gain insights into socio-economic perspectives from environmental justice organizations, environmental non-governmental organizations, industry, landowners, farm bureaus, manufacturing, labor unions, and others.

HB 711Prior Authorization Reform passed out of the Senate Insurance Committee by a vote of 11-0-0. This bill, as amended, replaces everything after the enacting clause with the provisions of the introduced bill, and makes the following changes: In the Prior Authorization Reform Act, deletes a Section concerning obligations with respect to prior authorization concerning emergency health care services, and makes changes in provisions governing applicability; definitions; disclosure and review of prior authorization requirements; obligations with respect to prior authorizations; personnel qualified to make adverse determinations of a prior authorization request; adverse determinations; review of appeals; denials; length of prior authorization approval; continuity of care; effect of failure to comply with the Act; and administration and enforcement. Makes further changes in the Illinois Insurance Code in a Section concerning obligations under the Managed Care Reform and Patient Rights Act. Deletes changes made to the Managed Care Reform and Patient Rights Act in a Section concerning emergency services prior to stabilization. Read the full bill here.

SB 147Medicare Enrollment passed the Senate by a vote of 54-0-0. This bill, as amended, provides provides that, if an individual is at least 65 years of age but no more than 75 years of age and has an existing Medicare supplement policy, the individual is entitled to an annual open enrollment period lasting 45 days, commencing with the individual's birthday, and the individual may purchase any Medicare supplement policy with the same issuer that offers benefits equal to or lesser than those provided by the previous coverage. Provides that, during this open enrollment period, an issuer of a Medicare supplement policy shall not deny or condition the issuance or effectiveness of Medicare supplemental coverage, nor discriminate in the pricing of coverage, because of health status, claims experience, receipt of health care, or a medical condition of the individual. Requires an issuer to provide notice of this annual open enrollment period for eligible Medicare supplement policyholders at the time that the application is made for a Medicare supplement policy or certificate. 

SB 640Procurement Contract passed out of the House Transportation Committee by a vote of 13-0-0. This bill provides that no procurement contract for the construction, alteration, operation, repair, maintenance, or improvement of any mass transit facility, or equipment thereof, in excess of $1,000,000 shall be awarded to or executed with any vendor that receives support from a nonmarket economy country, as defined under specified federal law. 

SB 1611Electronic Signature passed the House State Government Administration Committee by a vote of 8-0-0. This bill allows the Secretary of State to adopt rules to authorize the filing of documents with his or her office that have been signed by electronic means. Provides certification requirements for entities seeking to provide services to third parties for the execution of electronic signatures for filing with the Secretary of State. Specifies minimum requirements for the use of electronic signatures on documents. Provides for the refusal of non-compliant electronic signatures. Provides that electronic signatures and electronic delivery of records shall have the same force and effect as manual signatures and the physical delivery of records. Provides that electronic records and electronic signatures accepted by the Secretary of State shall be admissible in all administrative, quasi-judicial, and judicial proceedings.

SB 1730Corporation Directors passed out of the Health Care Licenses Committee by a vote of 5-3-0. This bill provides that public corporations must report the self-identified sexual orientation and self-identified gender identity of it directors. 

SB 1966Mental Health Care passed out of the House Mental Health & Addiction Committee by a vote of 15-0-0. This bill creates the Interstate Contracts for Mental Health Disorder Treatment Act Permits mental health facilities located in certain northern border counties to contract with Wisconsin county departments to provide mental health treatment to Wisconsin residents who are subject to involuntary commitment orders for treatment issued by Wisconsin courts Permits mental health facilities located in certain northern border counties to contract with Wisconsin county departments to secure mental health treatment for Illinois residents who are subject to involuntary commitment orders for treatment issued by State courts. the purpose of the Act is to enable Illinois and Wisconsin residents who are subject, by court order, to involuntary admission on an inpatient basis for the treatment of a mental health disorder to obtain appropriate treatment across state lines in qualified private hospitals and facilities that are closer to their homes than are facilities available in their home states.

SB 2182Data Center Exemptions passed the Senate by a vote of 51-0-0. This is a Chamber initiative As amended, this bill provides that a "qualifying Illinois data center" means a new or existing data center that, among other criteria, is located in the State of Illinois, is located within a 5-mile geographic radius, and is connected by common infrastructure. Provides that a data center and an associated tenant may enter into an ancillary memorandum of understanding, as prescribed by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, for purposes of receipt of an exemption. Provides that the Department is authorized to conform existing memorandums of understanding with the provisions concerning data center investments. Modifies the definition of "tenant". This bill is a Chamber initiative.

SB 2201Industrial Residential Buildings passed the House Counties & Townships Committee by a vote of 9-2-0. This bill Provides that a zoning ordinance or other zoning regulation may not prohibit or restrict the erection of an industrialized residential structure or a manufactured home on real property, provided that: (1) an industrialized residential structure or manufactured home is compatible with the character of a respective district; (2) regulations impose the same aesthetic compatibility requirements on an industrialized residential structure or manufactured home that are applicable to all residential structures in the respective district; and (3) an industrialized residential structure or manufactured home meets applicable standards for the exterior design of buildings and structures.
Connect with the Chamber
If you have questions about the Government Affairs Report, contact Clark Kaericher at ckaericher@ilchamber.org. Do not reply to this email.