IEDA State Update – August 14, 2020

On Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules approved a new IDPH mask rule, supported by Governor Pritzker that could impose fines up to $2,500 for “rogue” businesses failing to mandate facial coverings and social distancing. Enforcement will differ statewide, as local prosecutors will be the ones deciding whether or not to pursue fines. The rule also establishes a warning process, where businesses are first given warning from local public health or law enforcement officials as well as a separate citation for non-compliance before fines are imposed. IDPH stated that the expectation of this rule is not to achieve 100% compliance, but rather to compel businesses to make efforts such as signage, requiring masks and social distancing, and if possible, providing masks and asking uncompliant customers to leave. The rule also protects businesses from being held liable for the actions of uncompliant customers; as long as they are taking “reasonable measures”, they will not be fined. 

Tuesday’s JCAR meeting also saw the approval of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s rules governing the Local CURE program, which was authorized in May’s state budget. The $250 million program will distribute funds to cities, counties, and other units of government to cover expenses such as COVID-19 testing, emergency medical expenses, payroll expenses for public safety, and other expenses that are necessary for responding to the public health emergency. Last month, the Illinois Municipal League raised concerns about the inability to use these funds to support local businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic, something the federal government allows but the state’s rules don’t. In response to the concerns, DCEO said they would make an initial $15 million in separate funding available for local businesses, potentially rising to $30M. Additionally, the Business Interruption Grant Program (BIG), was established to distribute over $600 million in funding to businesses across the state. Governor Pritzker announced the first round of BIG grants, totaling $46 million, have been awarded to over 2,600 businesses in 78 of Illinois’ 102 counties. Priority for these grants was given to businesses that did not qualify for federal funding through the Paycheck Protection Program. DCEO stated another key focus of the program is equity, with half of first-round grants going to minority-owned businesses and more than $24 million being awarded to those areas disproportionally affected by COVID-19. Upcoming rounds of funding will target sectors that may not return to normal for many months, such as entertainment and the performing arts, as well as childcare services. 

Also at this week’s JCAR meeting, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s (IDFPR) permanent tie breaker rules  for cannabis dispensaries were approved. The approval of these rules allows IDFPR to move forward in awarding the 75 conditional adult use cannabis dispensary licenses authorized in 2019.  Once a conditional license is awarded, the licensee will have 180 days to find a location in their region, not within 1,500 feet of another dispensary, to operate. Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control, stated that “additional licenses will be made available in the coming years and these rules will help ensure a strong foundation is established for the licensing process in the future”.

The Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday moved to transfer Rep. Darren Bailey’s legal challenge against Governor Pritzker to Sangamon County and consolidate it with other cases challenging the governor’s authority. In transferring the case, the court declined the governor’s request to rule on whether or not he has the power to issue continued emergency orders due to COVID-19, leaving the matter to be decided on by a lower court. Additionally, the Supreme Court granted the state’s request to stay a contempt hearing where Governor Pritzker was ordered to appear on Friday before the Clay County judge that has been issuing all these rulings against the state.  

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

As Covid crisis looms in state, Pritzker threatens businesses violating mask mandate with fines — The Daily Line, August 13, 2020
An administrative rule that gives the state power to fine business owners who don’t mandate mask use is being seen by some as an overreach, especially at a time of economic uncertainty. However, Gov. JB Pritzker says the added penalties are necessary when public health data shows the state could soon become a hotspot for the virus. The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) on Tuesday approved the rule, which says that business owners can be fined up to $2,500 for repeatedly violating the mask mandate, which was established May 1. The Illinois Department of Public Health will first issue a written warning. If businesses remain not in compliance, they will be charged with a misdemeanor and fined between $75 and $2,500. The fines are only for businesses and not for individuals.

Coronavirus trends in Illinois not looking good: ‘My concern is growing each day,’ says public health director — Chicago Tribune, August 12, 2020 
With coronavirus trends in most of Illinois moving in the wrong direction, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday again warned that the state might re-impose stricter measures to slow the spread of the highly contagious disease. Pritzker repeated a plea for local officials to “impose greater mitigations on a targeted basis to bring down the number of infections or the positivity rate.” “Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before the state will be forced to step in and roll things back on a regional basis, something none of us wants,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker tells local leaders to step up or state will be forced to 'roll things back' — Daily Herald, August 12, 2020 
With positive test results for COVID-19 trending up in counties including Lake, McHenry and Will, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday advised local leaders with virus surges to impose "targeted" restrictions on activities before the state intervenes. Without county and municipal authorities acting, "it's only a matter of time before the state will be forced to step in and roll things back on a regional basis, which is something none of us want," he said. The state health department reported 1,645 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday with 16 more deaths. That leaves the state caseload at 198,593 while fatalities statewide stand at 7,672. The total number of tests performed is 3.2 million, and the latest seven-day positivity rate is 4.1%.

State sending $46M in aid to small businesses — Crain’s Chicago Business, August 12, 2020 
More than 2,600 small businesses harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest have been awarded emergency grants of $10,000 to $20,000 each, state officials announced today, in what Gov. J.B. Pritzker promised is a first wave of aid with more on the way. Under the Business Interruption Grants, a total of 2,655 small businesses located in more than 400 municipalities will be getting a total of $46 million. Just over half of the businesses are minority-owned. Pritzker said the focus of this round is to help those “completely shut down in the spring and those that are in COVID-impacted areas that experienced property damage amidst the looting and civil rest in June.”

State Panel Approves Gov. JB Pritzker’s New Fines For Businesses That Don’t Enforce Mask MandateChicago Tribune, August 11, 2020
A state panel Tuesday sided with Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker in his fight against COVID-19 by approving a rule that could mean fines of up to $2,500 for “rogue” businesses that don’t require patrons wear facial coverings. The measure was opposed by the GOP and some leading business groups but favored by several influential public health organizations, including the Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association. The new rule still leaves a patchwork of enforcement standards statewide, because local prosecutors will be the ones deciding whether to pursue fines.

Third class action lawsuit, a civil racketeering case, filed in Madigan-ComEd saga The Daily Line, August 12, 2020
Chicago-based attorney Stuart Chanen filed the civil lawsuit in federal court alleging Madigan and ComEd collaborated in a racketeering conspiracy to push through legislation in exchange for bribes. The suit, which seeks class-action status and relies on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which is typically used for cases involving organized crime, was filed on behalf of six ComEd customers. It seeks up to $450 million in damages and “immediate inductive relief” that would bar Madigan from participating in legislative discussions or votes involving ComEd. It would also remove him as chair of the Illinois Democratic Party.

Illinois Supreme Court consolidates lawsuits challenging Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s coronavirus ordersChicago Tribune, August 11, 2020
The Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday moved to transfer a downstate legal challenge to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s coronavirus-related orders by Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey to Sangamon County and consolidate it with other cases challenging Pritzker’s authority. In moving to transfer and consolidate the lawsuit with other cases, the state’s highest court also declined the governor’s request that it weigh in on whether he has the power to issue continued emergency orders due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving that to the lower court to decide.

Feds Charge South Suburban Mayor With CorruptionWBEZ, August 7, 2020
The mayor of south suburban Crestwood on Friday joined the long list of Chicago-area politicians accused of corruption in a wide-ranging federal investigation. Federal prosecutors in Chicago indicted Lou Presta, 69, in an alleged bribery scheme involving a red-light camera company, and they say he fibbed when confronted about a cash payoff — claiming the envelope he got was empty. The office of U.S. Attorney John Lausch alleged that Presta also filed false income tax returns and lied when investigators confronted him with a recording of a March 2018 meeting the mayor had with the camera company representative.

Seventh House Democrat calls on Madigan to hand over speaker’s gavel now: ‘It’s the right thing to do’Chicago Sun-Times, August 11, 2020
A north suburban legislator who has benefited from nearly $247,000 in contributions from House Speaker Michael Madigan is now calling for the beleaguered political powerhouse to step down, saying the Legislature can’t function below a cloud of “distractions, doubt or distrust.” State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz is joining the slowly growing list of House Democrats calling on Madigan to immediately resign from his leadership roles in the Illinois House and the state’s Democratic Party, saying federal investigations into corruption “at the highest levels have created a crisis of confidence and undermined the integrity and public trust that leadership demands.”

State rolls out $300M ‘housing stability program’ for renters, homeowners — The Daily Line, August 11, 2020 
Illinois renters struggling to pay rent during the coronavirus pandemic may now apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to help ease the burden, state officials announced Monday.

On Monday, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) began accepting applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a $150 million initiative funded through the federal Covid-19 relief funds that will provide the one-time grants to approximately 30,000 renters. An additional $150 million in mortgage relief will be available to homeowners in what Gov. J.B Pritzker touted as the “largest pandemic housing stability program” in the country.

Assaulting a worker who’s enforcing masks is now a felony under a new Illinois law — Fox2 Now, August 10, 2020
Anyone who assaults an employee enforcing the use of masks can now be prosecuted as aggravated battery in Illinois. Gov. J.B. Pritzker passed a law last week that adds a penalty for assaulting a worker who’s “conveying public health guidance” — that is, telling patrons of a business to wear a mask or maintain social distancing. The law went into effect immediately.

“This provision sends the message that it’s vitally important for workers to be both respected and protected while serving on the front lines,” the governor’s office said in a statement on the new law.

Karr Says Retailers Don’t Oppose Masks, But Do Oppose Fines — WMAY, August 10, 2020
There may have been changes to rules the Pritzker Administration is trying to get to stick that could mean businesses get fines up to $2,500 for not complying with mask mandates. Illinois Retail Merchant’s Association’s Rob Karr said some modifications to the rule were made over the weekend, but there are still concerns. He said retailers don’t oppose masks, they oppose fines for businesses that have been on the front line since the pandemic began.

2018 gubernatorial candidates Biss and Kennedy join numerous others in calling on Madigan to resign — Capitol Fax, August 11, 2020
Many democratic state officials calling on Madigan to resign, notably former State Senator and State Representative Daniel Biss and former gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy:“Illinois Democrats are strong. We support the brave women in the General Assembly who called for new leadership before we did. We know when this anchor is lifted, our people and our ideas will rebuild our state. We urge Michael Madigan to do right by the people of Illinois and step down from his roles as Speaker and as Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois.”

Top Illinois pols use ‘millionaire’s’ loophole to avoid campaign cash limits, raise big bucksChicago Sun-Times, August 9, 2020
Now, 11 years later, Madigan and Harmon are using a loophole written into the reform bill to raise millions in campaign money beyond the usual limits the legislation set. Their Republican colleagues also have blown past the limits. The four men have collected a combined $44 million over the contribution limits. They then doled out most of it to favored candidates, records show.

2,084 new COVID-19 cases as Pritzker announces tougher face mask enforcementDaily Herald, August 8, 2020
As new cases of COVID-19 surge, hitting 2,084 Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced tougher measures to enforce face coverings and group size limits and to fine businesses and schools that don't comply up to $2,500. There were 21 additional COVID-19 deaths, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported. The last time the daily caseload topped 2,000 was May 24.

Fight heating up over Pritzker tax planCrain’s Chicago Business, August 10, 2020
With less than three months until Election Day and thousands of voters already requesting their ballots, opponents of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s graduated income tax are beginning to shell out. Mundelein-based manufacturer Maclean Fogg donated $50,000 to the Coalition To Stop The Proposed Tax Hike on Saturday, as did the Satter Foundation, founded by private investor Muneer Satter. The day before, the committee reported $100,000 donations each from oilman Jay Bergman; Craig Duchossois, chair of the namesake $3 billion holding company Duchossois Group; and DRW Trading CEO Donald Wilson. That followed $25,000 donations each from Madison Dearborn Partners Chairman John Canning, attorney Don Tracy and James Gidwitz at the end of July

Democratic convention preview: Illinois Democrats virtual at-home program; delegates still get swag Chicago Sun-Times, August 9, 2020
In 2020, the 182 delegates and 13 alternates from Illinois, instead of heading north to Milwaukee, will caucus each day starting at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom or some other platform until the convention starts at 8 p.m. DPI executive director Mary Morrissey told the Sun-Times the state party wants to turn the virtual nature of the delegation meetings into an advantage, that is, “to use this as an opportunity to broaden our outreach beyond our delegation.” Those Monday through Thursday virtual caucus sessions will be open to the public, with the aim, Morrissey said, to convert what had been an insider morning play into a party-building event by letting everyone into the room. The party hasn’t finalized the link yet.

Chicago's biggest growth engine these days? Amazon. — Crain’s Chicago Business, August 7, 2020
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant has emerged as the Chicago economy's biggest growth engine this year, providing a much-needed lift amid a global pandemic that has devastated local businesses and put thousands of people out of work. Amazon has leased local warehouses totaling 14.2 million square feet this year—more than three Willis Towers combined—with plans to hire as many as 15,000 people to work in them.

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