The House was in session this week on Wednesday, February 10th. The one-day in-person excursion in Springfield was marked by the passage of House rules, HR 72, allowing the lower chamber to conduct committee hearings remotely. Within the debate on House rules, discussion occurred on when certain bills might be heard in committee or called on the floor for a vote. Members of the Democratic Caucus say they are open to further changes to House rules, calling it a "first step." However, Republicans criticized the rules as too similar to the rules of past general assemblies.
Speaker of the House Emanuel "Chris" Welch anticipates remote committee hearings taking place between 8am - 6pm Monday through Friday. Readers should note that committee hearings may take place at "unusual" or new times due to the flexibility provided by remote hearings as well as logistical concerns regarding bandwidth strength. Both the House and Senate will stream legislative proceedings at the respective provided links.
The Senate Labor Committee also held a subject matter hearing on Wednesday regarding the performance of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) during the COVID-19 pandemic and strategies going forward. Subjects included loan forgiveness, underpayments and overpayments, as well as IDES constituent response times.
Senate Commerce Committee Talks BIG
Yesterday, the Senate Commerce Committee held a subject matter hearing on the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program in Illinois. The Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) testified regarding the grant program's impact for small business and provided specific data on the program's reach. Approximately $275 million was awarded to small and mid-sized businesses with revenues less than $20 million in the 2019 tax year. Across two rounds of the BIG program, over 8900 grants were distributed. However, only 21 percent of total applicants were awarded grant funding.
These numbers show the continued need for the BIG program. The Illinois Chamber supports continued state-level relief for small business.
Illinois Senate Welcomes Two New Members
Last Weekend, the Illinois Senate welcomed two new members, both joining the Democratic Caucus. Senator Doris Turner (D) replaces Senator Andy Manar who resigned last month and Mike Simmons (D) replaces Senator Heather Steans (D). Doris Turner, a current Springfield Alderman, will represent much of central and west-central Illinois in the 48th district. Senator Mike Simmons, a former aid to Rahm Emanuel and foundation Director, will represent northern Chicago and nearby suburbs in the 7th district.
New Legislation to Watch:
HB 707 (Didech) Telehealth Coverage
Concerning coverage for telehealth services, this bill provides that if an individual or group policy of accident or health insurance provides coverage for telehealth services, reimbursement for services provided through telehealth services shall be equivalent to reimbursement for the same services provided through in-person consultation. This legislation would require insurance providers to reimburse telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits.
HB 711 (Harris)/ SB 158 (Holmes) Prior Authorization Changes
- Provides requirements concerning disclosure and review of prior authorization requirements, denial of claims or coverage by a utilization review organization, and the implementation of prior authorization requirements or restrictions. Provides requirements concerning a utilization review organization's obligations with respect to prior authorizations in nonurgent circumstances, urgent health care services, and emergency health care services. Provides that a utilization review organization shall not require prior authorization under specified circumstances. Provides requirements concerning the length of prior authorizations. Provides that health care services are automatically deemed authorized if a utilization review organization fails to comply with the requirements of the Act. Provides that the Director of Insurance may impose an administrative fine not to exceed $250,000 for violations of the Act. Notably, this is the only piece of legislation co-sponsored by former Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.
SB 116 (Morrison) Corporate Board Meetings
This bill would allow solely remote corporate board meetings. This means your board could conduct required meetings via TEAMS/Zoom/Google Hangouts. This bill has been assigned to the judiciary committee and several individuals have requested our feedback on this legislation. If you have any concerns with this bill, or have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com.
SB 193 (Bryant) Business License Suspension
- This bill provides that, notwithstanding any other provision of law, any suspension or revocation of a business license under the Act must be approved by the majority vote of the county board of the unincorporated area or the municipal board of the incorporated area in which the business is located.
Special GAR Published Earlier This Week
In case you missed it, the Illinois Chamber published a special Government Affairs Report earlier this week that covered a couple crucial topics. First, the special GAR addressed the Governor's proposal to "cut corporate loopholes." Secondly, we discussed a property rights issue for businesses of all sectors. You can read the special edition GAR here.
Makers' Madness: the Coolest Thing Made in Illinois
The Illinois Manufacturer's Association (IMA) has launched its annual "Coolest Thing Made in Illinois" contest. This competition highlights outstanding Illinois companies and products. Nominations for coolest product are now open through February 14th and can be made by anyone. Complete your nomination here. A winner of the competition will be crowned on March 24th.