Illinois Lawmakers Set to Return Wednesday In Push to Pass a Budget

Illinois lawmakers were supposed to be off for a summer break, instead they’re set to return to the capitol this week to take care of unfinished business.

Passing a budget is arguably the single must-happen task for lawmakers and it was supposed to have been done by Friday, but that self-imposed deadline came and went without any budget action.

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Democrats, who control the General Assembly, say continued negotiations are coming along, but they’re not at the point of full agreement.

A main point of contention is how much the state can afford to spend on health care for undocumented immigrants.

They’re scheduled to be in the capitol for a few days starting Wednesday, but they could stretch things out through May 31.

Come June, it gets tougher to pass because it requires a supermajority versus a simple majority to pass, which needs to happen as the fiscal year ends in July.

Granted, Democrats hold a historic number of seats in the House and also have more than enough members in the Senate to pass a bill without any GOP support, so even that pressure isn’t as intense as it would be under divided government.

May 31 is still a date circled in red on state leaders’ calendars, and not getting it done by then would be a bit of a black eye for Democrats.

For what may end up as their penultimate week of session, the General Assembly advanced dozens of bills they want Gov. J.B. Pritzker to sign into law, including proposals that would:

  • Pave the way for an airport in Peotone by requiring the state transportation department to move forward with potential vendors (HB2531)
  • Give protections to temp workers, such as right to refuse an assignment that requires crossing a picket line, and pay level guarantees for temporary workers on a job for more than 90 days (House Bill 2862)
  • Establish a statewide literacy program via the state department of education (SB2243)
  • Give the attorney general the ability to take legal action for price gouging of generic prescriptions (HB3957)
  • Give victims of deep fakes (or digitally altered images) and doxing (online publishing of private information with malicious intent) the ability file civil lawsuits (HB2123 and HB2954)

Other proposals remain in flux, including significant packages to do with elections (SB2123), cannabis (SB1559) and red light cameras (HB3903).

Another deals with Illinois’ stringent law that protects employees’ biometric information, like fingerprints. Businesses say the law goes too far, and is too costly. They’re looking for it to be scaled down.

Business groups say a measure (HB3811) that surfaced Friday would make doing business in Illinois more cumbersome, legally tricky and expensive. 

Legislators are also facing a deadline to draw boundaries for districts that will make up Chicago’s future elected school board. Outspoken parents’ groups are unhappy with lawmakers’ first two attempts.

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

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