Extending Session with Unfinished Budget, Legislature Introduces Sweeping Last-Minute Bills

SPRINGFIELD — The state budget negotiations are still in flux, and lawmakers will not finish their legislative spring session before Friday’s adjournment.

It’s been months since the General Assembly’s spring sessions ended on May 19. But it is not a deadline. Lawmakers still have until May 31 before a constitutional clause raises the threshold for passing legislation to a three fifths majority.


In a Friday evening statement, Democratic leaders of the General Assembly announced that they would return to work next week rather than working over the weekend. The House will meet on Friday, and both chambers are back in session Wednesday and Thursday.

“When we arrived in Springfield in January, it was clear to us that our number one priority was a budget that put hardworking Illinoisans first,” Senate President Don Harmon said and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris Welch in a statement. “That remains true. The conversation is on-going and the negotiations are fruitful. We are committed in passing a balanced budget that is fair to the people of Illinois.


The fact that the budget talks did not end neatly this week frustrated both Democrats and Republicans, but the Republicans were more vocal. They only represent a superminority in both the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate.

Rep. Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) renewed his request during House floor debate for an estimated date for a draft budget or, at the very least, a revenue estimation for the state’s financial year, which begins on July 1.

Rep. Jay Hoffman from Swansea, a Democrat who presided over the House at the time, replied: “You’re questioning me?” Hoffman’s joke prompted laughter from the members and Keicher smiled.

“Funny story,” Keicher responded. After I asked last night, eight people on the other side told me they had not seen one.

Rep. Norine H. Hammond (R-Macomb), the House Republicans’ chief budget negotiator, claimed that members of her own party were essentially excluded from budget negotiations during spring session.

Hammond told a Capitol press conference that “we have tried numerous meetings with the House Democratic Budgeteer, the Speaker and the Governor.” “Only the governor’s team has met us more than once. “No negotiations have taken place with other groups.”

The majority of Democrats haven’t even seen a budget draft, since the group of lawmakers responsible for negotiating the spending plan for the state is deliberately small.

Even though April revenue dropped by more than $1.8billion from a year ago, the latest estimate of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget predicts $50.4billion in revenues for the next budget year.

Democrats are at odds over the $1.1 billion that will be spent on health care services for non-citizens who are 42 years old and older. They would qualify for Medicaid regardless of their citizenship status.

The Governor’s Office had budgeted for $220 million, causing a budget pressure of $880 million. Members of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus (ILLC) and Progressive Caucus (PC) have proposed expanding the program for noncitizens aged 19 to 42. This would cost an estimated $380 million.

While supporters of the expansion to non-citizens have called these estimates overblown by the program’s implementation and two expansions, it has exceeded those estimates.

Other groups have made budget requests, including raising Medicaid reimbursement rates to hospitals, increasing pay for providers who serve individuals with disabilities, and funding increases for local governments, among others.

Elgie Sims of Chicago, the Senate’s chief budget negotiator and member of the Democratic caucus, said that he believed negotiations were “in a good place” between Democrats.

“We haven’t made any final decision yet.” Everything is still up for discussion. He said, “We’re still in negotiations.”

Rep. C.D. Rep. C.D.

He said that there was little or no opportunity to debate these issues. “I believe we’re going see it drop and we’re expected to find out the gimmicks at the last moment.”

While the majority of lawmakers were waiting for Friday’s budget details, several major initiatives, spanning a wide range of issues, were also filed at the last minute. That included an exapansive cannabis regulatory bill, a change to Illinois’ strongest-in-the-nation biometric privacy law, a broad elections bill and an ethics proposal prohibiting political donations from red light camera companies among other reforms.

CANNABIS A bill aimed at implementing a variety reforms in Illinois’ growing cannabis industry will change the dispensary operations as well as restrictions for craft growers.

The measure amends certain sections of the cannabis legalization bill of 2019, which sought to address the disparate impact of cannabis criminalization in communities of color. According to Illinois, Blacks were 7.5x more likely to be arrested than whites for cannabis-related crimes before the state decriminalized the drug in 2016.

The 2019 law aimed to reduce that impact. It laid the foundation for the 492129 cannabis-related convictions and a lottery system to award licenses to applicants who meet “social equity” criteria, as well as the opening of the first Black-owned dispensary in the state.

The amendment, amongst other things, increases canopy space from 5,000 to 1,400 square foot for craft growers. The amendment would allow dispensaries with drive-through windows to offer curbside pickup services and prioritize medical patients.

BIOMETRIC PRIVILEGE:Business group balked after Democrats dropped a Bill that would have changed Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. This law is a first of its kind that allows individuals the right to sue businesses for improperly collecting or storing information, such as fingerprints and facial scans.

BIPA was passed in 2008. However, companies only began to be sued after the widespread use of technology such as fingerprint and retinal scans. Recent BIPA-related Illinois Supreme Court decisions have caused concern among business groups about their legal exposure. In one decision, the court ruled that biometric data collected without consent is a violation. For example, when an employee clocks into and out of work using their fingerprints.

Business groups criticized the vague language in the amendment made to House Bill 3811 on Friday. Business groups also criticized the increase in fines for negligent violations, from $1,000 to $1500. They also blasted the addition of electronic signatures to the law as a giveaway for trial lawyers.

A new election bill would establish, among other things a taskforce to study the feasibility for adopting a system of ranked-choice vote in certain elections. This is a voting method where voters mark their ballots for multiple candidates according to their preferences.

The law also contains several provisions relating to elections, such as a provision that allows 16-year olds who would otherwise be eligible to vote to register to vote in advance, but their registration will not take effect until they reach 18. An also contains several other provisions relating to elections, including one that would allow 16-year-olds otherwise eligible to vote to preregister for voting. However, their registration would be held in abeyance until they turn 18.

ETHICS An amendment filed late Friday will prohibit companies who sell automated traffic enforcement such as red-light cameras from contributing campaign funds if the contract with Illinois municipalities. This measure requires that municipalities conduct statistical analyses on the safety impacts of current systems. Recently, red light camera executives have been implicated in federal investigations into allegations of misconduct by lawmakers.

This measure prohibits municipal employees and officers from accepting compensation or employment from vendors who provide automated traffic law enforcement systems to municipalities. This measure would prohibit any legislators or employees receiving compensation from such vendors for two years after leaving office or their government jobs.

OTHER: All those bills were presented at the end a week which saw the passage several measures that have been working their way through the legal process for months. These include bills that allow, as well as dozens of other measures.

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