2021 Legislative Session Overview
While it might have looked a little different this year, the 2021 Legislative Session saw lawmakers continue to take the steps necessary to rebuild our state and communities in a way that works for Illinois. Below are some of my key legislative highlights from the Spring, as well as agenda items of continued significance and negotiation.
Priorities this session included voter engagement and ballot access, environmental justice and equity, data privacy, fiscal responsibility, small business assistance, gun violence prevention, ethics reform, and budget priorities to address needs arising during the pandemic.
The 2021 Spring session adjourned with negotiations around a clean energy package ongoing. I am working to ensure any package will focus on climate by capping carbon emissions, create equitable jobs in communities most in need, facilitate the development of renewable energy resources and provide strong utility ethics and accountability measures.
As chief House sponsor of the Clean Energy Jobs Act and chair of the Energy & Environment committee, I have been working closely with advocates, colleagues and Governor Pritzker’s office to draft a collaborative bill to meet our goals. Our coalition fought hard to make one thing clear: any clean energy legislation must prioritize climate, environmental justice and equity at its core. We remain steadfast in refusing to allow utilities and fossil fuel company interests to dominate the discussion and dictate policy outcomes as in years past.
Illinoisans deserve nothing less than a clean energy future that puts communities first – and I will continue working to ensure we reach our goals. I will keep you updated as the discussions evolve.
As always, please stay in touch with my office and reach out with questions, concerns or feedback.
My Legislative Agenda
Marriage Certificate Modernization Act: Senate Bill 139 ensures that couples are able to receive marriage certificates from the Cook County Clerk’s office which are free of gendered language. While applicable to everyone, this legislation is particularly significant for LGBTQ+ community members seeking accurate representation on their important legal documents. Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 07/27/2021.
Juvenile Court Act: Senate Bill 651 amends the Juvenile Court Act to allow for juveniles in court proceedings to have court documents be more easily transferred between counties after a change of residence. This change is critical for expedient and transparent court proceedings for youth in care.
Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 07/26/2021.
Expedited Partner Therapy for Trichomoniasis: House Bill 739 allows a medical professional to prescribe antibiotics to the sexual partners of a person diagnosed with the sexually transmitted infection trichomoniasis. Although this protocol was already available for other STIs, trichomoniasis was omitted from the law. We are glad to be able to address this gap in treatment.
Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 07/30/2021.
Protecting Household Privacy Act: House Bill 2553 states that law enforcement cannot access the data on household devices such as Alexa, the Ring doorbell, or others without your consent or a warrant. As technology continues to develop, I am working to ensure that our laws accurately reflect our digital landscape and balances our civil liberties.
Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 08/27/2021.
Adoption Act: Senate Bill 107 helps adoptive and birth families by improving, updating, and clarifying adoption court procedures. It addresses and resolves issues related to jurisdiction, court discretion in appointing guardians, birth parent affidavits, judgment timing in adoption cases, and more.
Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 07/23/2021.
Code of Civil Procedure: Senate Bill 2179 amends the Code of Civil Procedure to update and modernize the process for bringing attorney malpractice claims.
Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 08/13/2021.
Legislative Session Highlights
Ethics Omnibus: Senate Bill 539 implements a public official lobbying ban and expands revolving door provisions to prevent state employees, elected executive officials and General Assembly members from lobbying for a period of time after completing their elected term. It also increases required economic disclosure statements and includes other lobbying practice reforms in the State of Illinois.
Election Omnibus: Senate Bill 825 updates the voting process and increases ballot access in Illinois by making Election Day a holiday, expanding youth participation, creating universal voting centers, and ensuring election cybersecurity. The bill also moves the date of the 2022 primary to June.
Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 06/17/2021.
Personal/Sexual Health Education: Senate Bill 818 provides medically accurate and age appropriate educational tools on safety and sexual health, and gender and sexual identity, to K-12 students. As chief House sponsor of the 2019 Consent in Sex Education Act, I strongly support SB818 for its modernization of Illinois’ sex education code.
Feminine Hygiene/Higher Education: House Bill 641 requires all public universities and community colleges in Illinois to provide feminine hygiene products in their restrooms free of charge.
Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 08/05/2021.
TEAACH Act: House Bill 376 establishes Illinois as the first state in the country to require that Asian-American history be taught in public schools.
Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 07/09/2021
Illinois Way Forward Act: Senate Bill 667 is a victory for Illinois’ immigrant communities. In addition to restricting local police participation in and coordination with ICE operations, it ends ICE contracts with local jails across Illinois.
Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 08/02/2021.
Elected School Board: House Bill 2908 creates an elected school board for Chicago Public Schools. The board has 21 members: ten of which will be appointed until the year 2027, and at which time all members of the board will transition to elected positions.
Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 07/29/2021.
Telehealth: House Bill 3308 ensures that insurance coverage of telehealth, expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic, continues as a healthcare policy in the future. Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 07/22/2021.
Hospitality/Pandemic Recovery: Senate Bill 104 amends the Liquor Control Act to allow for the carryout and delivery of wine and cocktails through January 2024. It includes other additional changes to help small businesses navigate recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 06/02/2021.
Affordable Housing Package: House Bill 2621 creates the COVID-19 Affordable Housing Grant Program Act, an essential part of Illinois’ path to COVID-19 recovery. It encourages the building and rehabilitation of affordable multi-family rental units. I am grateful for the efforts of my colleagues Representative Will Guzzardi and State Senator Sara Feigenholtz on this bill. Signed into Public Act by Governor Pritzker on 07/29/2021.
Fiscal Year 2022 Budget
The Fiscal Year 2022 State Budget passed the Illinois General Assembly and has been signed by the Governor. In a year of economic uncertainty for so many, the General Assembly crafted a budget prioritizing education, small business recovery, critical human services, and health care. In addition to restoring additional school funding via the evidence-based funding formula, the budget provides elevated funding for mental health and substance abuse services, as well as targeted resources to youth and first responders.
This year’s budget totals $42.3B, holding the State’s operating budget relatively flat. It closes $655M in corporate loopholes, and, because FY21 revenues were stronger than anticipated, accelerates repayment to the federal government of $3.2B in emergency borrowing – saving the state tens of millions in debt service costs. Pension payments were made in full.
The budget outlines the expenditures for Year One of the federal American Rescue Plan funds in numerous areas impacted by the pandemic, including a $570M investment in economic recovery and small businesses. For the tourism and hospitality industries, which were hit hard by the pandemic, it provides much-needed support for hotels, bars, restaurants, as well as cultural institutions, museums and music venues. The budget also invests in new affordable housing, violence prevention programming and addressing food and resource deserts – areas where the disparities between communities were highlighted by the devastation of the pandemic. The ARP state-controlled funds total $1.5B for crucial investments in Illinois businesses, families, and communities, including:
- $570 million for small businesses and impacted industries
- $350 million for public health response, pandemic assistance to health care industry and behavioral health investments
- $100 million for violence prevention and summer youth employment efforts across the state
- $100 million for affordable housing, supportive housing and homelessness initiatives.
Repeal of Parental Notice of Abortion: House Bill 1797 would protect pregnant youth by removing the requirement for minors to notify a parent to terminate a pregnancy. This bill was not called for a vote.
Fix the FOID/Block Illegal Ownership: House Bill 1091 would create a portal to capture a report of people whose Firearm Owner Identification Cards had been revoked or suspended. The version which passed the House would have required fingerprinting for those applying for a FOID card. The bill remains pending in the Senate.