IEDA State Update – September 4, 2020

On Wednesday Governor JB Pritzker announced additional coronavirus mitigation measures to be imposed in Region 4 (Metro East) following identical measures implemented in Region 7 (Will and Kankakee counties) last week. Two weeks ago during a press conference, Pritzker warned that, if the regions’ positivity rate continued to grow, more restrictions would be imposed. Both Region 4 and 7 are currently above the 8 percent positivity rate threshold. Specifically in Region 4, within those two weeks, the regions saw a 7-day positivity rate above 8 percent. Due to the increase in positive cases, Pritzker imposed the new mitigations in order to lower the positivity rate. “Let me be clear: these are not decisions I make lightly, nor would I impose these restrictions if there wasn’t evidence of increasing spread of the virus in these areas; I want our businesses to be open, and I want our hospitality scenes to thrive,” Pritzker said. These new restrictions imposed for both regions include:

  • a prohibition on indoor eating and drinking and closing of bars and restaurants at 11 PM daily and reopening after 6 AM;
  • social gatherings limited to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent capacity, including at gaming facilities;
  • a ban on party buses; and
  • a ban on visitation to long-term care facilities.

Public health officials will continue to monitor the region’s positivity rate. If the rate drops to 6.5 percent or lower over the next two weeks, the region will revert to the state’s phase 4 guidelines. But, if the state continues to see a growth in positive cases, the officials will be forced to consider stronger restrictions.

Regions 4 and 7 are not the only regions seeing increasing positivity rates. Pritzker stated that only two out of the 11 healthcare regions in Illinois are actually trending in an encouraging direction, and the remaining nine regions have seen rising positive cases, causing concerns among health officials. Over the last two weeks, nine out of eleven regions have seen positivity rate increase, four of which have increase by more than one percentage point. Only two regions have seen their positivity rates decrease: Region 3, which includes Quincy and Springfield, and Region 6, which include Champaign-Urbana and Decatur. “We continue to closely monitor every region, so I want to emphasize again that local elected officials and health officials should pay close attention to the data for their communities and, where necessary, step up and impose greater mitigations on a targeted basis to bring down the number of infections and the positivity rate,” Pritzker said.

This week, Republicans invoked a House rule to create a Special Investigative Committee to investigate Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s dealings with ComEd, which are under federal scrutiny. Speaker Madigan denounced the action, claiming it is a “political stunt only months away from one of the most consequential elections of our lifetimes” by the Republicans seeking to create a “political circus.” The committee will be comprised of three Republicans and three Democrats, chaired by Representative Chris Welch, a Madigan ally. The panel will conclude if charges against Madigan should be authorized, which would require an affirmative majority vote of committee members, a highly unlikely outcome. If charges were authorized, they would be referred to the House’s Select Committee on Discipline to determine charges and penalties, which range from a reprimand to expulsion from the House. Democratic Governor Pritzker said that getting answers to questions about the speaker’s relationship with ComEd is “an extraordinarily important endeavor” and that perhaps this “committee will actually get some of those answers.” Madigan reiterated that he has done nothing wrong and that he’s “never made a legislative decision with improper motives.”

On Wednesday, the Illinois Commerce Commission announced that many of the state’s electric, natural gas, water, and sewer utility companies have agreed to extend the moratorium on disconnections for residential customers. Illinois electric companies Ameron Illinois and ComEd have will allow extensions through September 10. Other utilities such as Nicor Gas, Northshore/Peoples Gas, Illinois American Water, Aqua Illinois, and other companies have extended their moratoriums until September 30. This agreement came about after an increase in positive COVID cases around Illinois: “Given the rise in positive COVID-19 cases in communities across Illinois, and the prerequisite for residents to stay connected to school, work and family during a pandemic, I am pleased that several of the state’s larger regulated utilities have once again agreed to extend the moratorium on disconnections for residential customers,” Chairman Carrie K. Zalewski said. 

Important Upcoming Dates  Statewide

  • November 3, 2020 – Election Day
  • November 17-19, 2020 – First week of Veto Session
  • December 1-3, 2020 – Second week of Veto Session
  • December 15, 2020 – Final Day for Local Government to Submit Reimbursement Requests to DCEO

In the News

CDC Tells States to Get Ready for Nov. 1 Vaccine DistributionBloomberg, September 2, 2020
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told states to prepare for a Covid-19 vaccine to be ready by Nov. 1 and asked them to remove obstacles that would prevent distribution sites from opening. The date suggests the federal government anticipates a vaccine will become available just days before President Donald Trump stands for reelection Nov. 3, an aggressive goal that would depend on shots being tested and reviewed by then. Trump’s political future hinges on the response to the virus that has killed almost 185,000 Americans. The CDC in early August told states to assume that “limited doses” of a vaccine could be available in fall. The new letter said the Department of Health and Human Services and CDC “are rapidly making preparations to implement large-scale distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in the fall of 2020,” according to a copy provided to Bloomberg.

‘These are not decisions I make lightly’- Gov. Pritzker on new COVID-19 restrictions in Metro East Fox 2 Now, September 2, 2020
Illinois health officials reported 2,128 new COVID-19 cases and 27 additional coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed over the past day Wednesday, as new restrictions take effect in the Metro East region. Governor JB Pritzker said Wednesday the state is imposing additional coronavirus mitigation measures in the region outside St. Louis, including shutting down indoor service at bars and restaurants, as the 7-day positivity rate remains above the state’s limit of 8 percent. As of August 30, the rate in the region came in at 9.6 percent. Additional restrictions were first put in place in the Metro East region 14 days ago after the 7-day positivity rate there was above the 8 percent limit for three consecutive days. The new measures are being added Wednesday after the positivity rate since then failed to drop below a 6.5 percent average threshold set by the state.

Pritzker's progressive tax plan one of biggest to face votersThe News Gazette, September 2, 2020
With two months to go before the November general election, there’s not a lot of conversation about how the statewide election will go in this solid Democratic state. Voting, for the most part, will be strictly a formality. What drama there is — this is a multimillion-dollar fight — surrounds a proposal that Gov. J.B. Pritzker calls the “fair tax” and his opponents call the “blank check” amendment. It’s the governor’s proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would repeal the current mandate for a flat income tax and allow state officials to establish a series of escalating tax rates on escalating levels of income. Noting that 34 states have a progressive income-tax system, Pritzker insists it’s fair to impose higher rates on upper-income earners. He calls them the “millionaires and billionaires” who aren’t paying their fair share. Fairness, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. So is the phrase “blank check,” which suggests — correctly, in this case — that the governor and legislators would have a free hand to revise tax rates and income levels anytime they choose.

CDC Rules Regarding COVID-19 Postpone Some EvictionsCBS Chicago, September 2, 2020
Millions of renters facing eviction because of the pandemic can stay in their homes — at least until the end of the year. The Centers for Disease Control, following an executive order by President Trump, is ordering a nationwide stop to evictions. CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports millions of renters are, no doubt, relieved. The Centers for Disease Control’s decision to temporarily stop some evictions is welcomed news. John Bartlett of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization. “I think this will give people a little bit of stability and security, at least till the end of the year and so we’re very supportive of this move,” Bartlett said. But not everyone facing eviction is covered by the federal government’s moratorium.

Black Caucus releases agenda: Criminal justice reform, police accountability and reducing violence at forefront Chicago Sun-Times, September 1, 2020
The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus released its agenda of “sweeping reforms” meant to address systemic racism in the state at a news conference Tuesday. The agenda is focused on four pillars of policy: Criminal justice reform, violence and police accountability; education and workforce development; economic access, equity and opportunity; and health care and human services. State Senate Majority Leader and Black Caucus Chair Kimberly Lightford opened her remarks at the news conference by noting, “This is the moment that I have dreamed of, that I have prayed for, that I have worked towards my entire life.” The news conference focused on the first pillar as the caucus emphasized a need for ending mass incarceration, enacting police reform, and strategically investing and redirecting state funding to reduce violence in Illinois communities.

Illinois warns extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits would last only three weeks and leave out thousands of jobless workersChicago Tribune, September 1, 2020
Illinois hasn’t been approved for the extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits authorized by President Donald Trump, but is already warning the aid will be limited. The state said Monday it has applied for the Lost Wage Assistance program, which President Donald Trump created through executive action to extend federal jobless benefits after the $600 weekly supplement ran out at the end of July. The state said in a Monday news release it expects the “shelf-life” of the program under the current funding model to last about three weeks. It said about 55,000 low-income claimants won’t be eligible for the funds, which are limited to those who qualify for at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefits, either through state programs or the federal pandemic assistance program

Additional federal lost wages assistance may be coming, despite Gov. JB Pritkzer's concernsABC7, August 31, 2020
Additional federal assistance for Illinoisans who lost their jobs, and wages, due to COVID-19 may be coming to residents soon, despite misgivings from the governor. Governor JB Pritzker submitted the state's application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the federal program Lost Wage Assistance Funds on Monday. Those eligible will receive an additional $300 per week to their current unemployment benefits. However, the governor has serious concerns about the program. "President Trump's program will likely cut off the most vulnerable workers, create needless competition among the states for these limited FEMA dollars, and sow more confusion among the unemployed, so I want to caution that those eligible for these dollars will likely encounter frustration and unfairness brought on by the President's short-sighted and short-lived program," said Gov. JB Pritzker in a statement.

‘Solemn day’ as Illinois coronavirus death toll surpasses 8,000 Chicago Sun-Times, August 29, 2020
With 11 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 by public health officials on Saturday, Illinois’ coronavirus death toll has climbed to 8,008. Since a South Side woman became the state’s first resident known to succumb to the virus March 16, COVID-19 has killed an average of about 48 Illinoisans per day over that five-month stretch. And with cases on the rise again statewide, officials are urging people to take health precautions more seriously to help save lives.

Statehouse Insider: Pritzker admits a mistake was made PJ Star, August 29, 2020
*Gov. JB Pritzker sort of stepped in it last week with his COVID-19 mitigations which is not what the state needs on that particular issue. The issue was the restrictions Pritzker put into place in Will and Kankakee counties which make up one of the 11 regions the state has been divided into to deal with the spread of the coronavirus. The numbers in the region were going the wrong direction and Pritzker decided something had to be done before things got out of control. Ergo, Will and Kankakee counties became the second region — after the Metro East region — to face renewed restrictions because the virus was spreading. Only, the restrictions imposed on Will and Kankakee counties were tougher than those imposed on the Metro East. For example, indoor customers were banned at bars and restaurants in Kankakee and Will counties. That didn’t happen in the Metro East region, where they were only required to close at 11 p.m. There were other things, but the bottom line is the Metro East area got off easier.

State Sen. Terry Link leaves Lake County Democratic chairmanship more than two weeks earlyChicago Tribune, August 29, 2020
Longtime state Sen. Terry Link, the Vernon Hills Democrat who was charged earlier this month with federal income tax evasion, resigned as chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party on Saturday, amid calls from fellow Democrats he relinquish the leadership post immediately. Link had previously announced his plan to resign as county party chairman a position he’s held since 1992, effective Sept. 15 — the timing of which drew a sharp rebuke from fellow party leaders, who were planning to hold a tele-meeting Monday night to oust him as chairman.

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