Historic Budget Relief Gets Passed in the 2022 Spring Session

By Josh Weiner, Summer Internship Communications Team

Many members of the Illinois General Assembly know that the pandemic and inflation have been burdening Illinois families and passed a historic relief package this past session, which also promises to increase the fiscal stability of Illinois. 

To help combat inflation, the Illinois budget includes over $1.8 billion dollars in aid to families. Some of the highlights of the budget relief bill include:

  • Suspending the state’s grocery tax for a year, which will save consumers an estimated $400M
  • Freezing the gas tax for six months, saving consumers $70M
  • Doubling the property tax rebate, to save up to $300 per household
  • Giving eligible tax filers additional one-time direct checks for $50 per adult filer and $100 for each of their children

The budget also calls for additional funding to public safety. Approximately $1 billion dollars will go towards violence prevention, and $124 million dollars will go towards supporting local police and reducing violent crime which also includes funding for mental health screening for local police departments. 

Other key aspects of the budget include:

  • $180M to be reinvested in the Healthcare Workforce Initiative to help grow the Illinois healthcare workforce
  • $122M increase in Monetary Award Program funding to help strengthen financial aid for low-income students who want to attend college
  • Special Education funding to receive a $96M funding increase
  • $54.4M towards early childhood programs
  • Pathways To Success Program – which focuses on creating plans for children with complex problems – fully funded at $150M

This is only a small sample of the total budget that was recently passed by both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker. The budget also funds key initiatives around equity, business attraction and community development, and so much more. If you have any questions about the budget that recently passed, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office.

Bills that passed the Illinois House in the 2022 Spring Session

By Aniketh Bhaskar, Summer Internship Communications Team

The Illinois General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session adjourned on April 9th, 2022, and State Representative Daniel Didech, D-Buffalo Grove, and his colleagues in the Illinois House have been hard at work voting on numerous bills that may improve the lives of his constituents.

Bills that Rep. Didech voted yes on and have been signed into law include:

  • HB4338: Requires that physician-recommended prenatal vitamins are covered by individual and group accident and health insurance policies. This goes into effect in 2023.
  • HB5334: Requires individual, group accident, and health insurance policies to cover the cost of genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer.
  • HB1780: Establishes a single, uniform, statewide system of regulation for safe and secure collection and disposal of medicine through a uniform drug take-back program that is operated and funded by pharmaceutical manufacturers. This bill is otherwise known as the “Drug Take-Back Act”.
  • HB4343: Cuts down on red tape that makes Medicaid difficult to navigate and increases the wait time for medical attention to make it easier for seniors and the disabled to maintain their Medicaid eligibility and receive affordable long-term care.

Some bills that Rep. Didech has voted yes on have passed in the House but have not yet passed in the Senate. These include:

  • HB1587: Provides financial assistance to people with disabilities to make home improvements that help support independent living.
  • HB4093: Creates new requirements for issuing permits to own and operate a source of pollution and requires the IEPA to consider environmental justice communities during the environmental permitting process.
  • HB4784: Seeks to redevelop vacant and abandoned properties as affordable housing in communities with concentrated poverty to make housing more accessible and revitalize communities with increased employment and economic growth.
  • HB4850: Expands Title IX to make employers liable for gender-related violence committed in the work environment to discourage workplace discrimination and abuse. 

HB168 passes the House & Senate, advancing animal welfare in IL

By Sammie Reinstein, Summer Internship Communications Team

Representative Didech was the chief sponsor of HB168, an animal welfare bill which amends the Humane Care for Animals Act, expanding the power of courts and law enforcement to prohibit people convicted of animal cruelty crimes from owning animals in the future.

Under this bill, in addition to issuing any other penalty, courts would be able to bar a person or persons living in the same dwelling from harboring or having custody of an animal if they were convicted of two or more of the following crimes: a violation of animals for entertainment, a violation of aggravated cruelty, and a violation of dog fighting. This bill would allow a judge to determine if a person is fit to own and care for an animal. It passed unanimously in the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate, and it heads to Governor Pritzker’s desk for his signature.

With this bill, Illinois would join the at least 31 other states that have passed a Prohibit Future Ownership (PFO) law. PFO laws reduce the likelihood of a person committing a repeat animal cruelty offense, offer law enforcement an additional tool to monitor and prevent animal cruelty, and help mitigate the nearly 100% recidivism rate for those convicted of animal cruelty. HB168 is an initiative of the Humane Society and is supported by the Illinois Animal Control Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

HB160 and HB169 pass in the House & the Senate

By Sammie Reinstein, Summer Internship Communications Team

These bills make it easier on students to participate in religious traditions.

During this past legislative session, Representative Didech was the chief sponsor of two bills – HB160 and HB169 – that amend the School Code to better enable students to participate in their religions by relieving administrative barriers. Both of these bills were passed by the Illinois General Assembly on May 27, 2021. Currently awaiting Governor Pritzker’s signature, upon passing, these bills shall take effect immediately.

HB160 allows students to be excused from physical activity components of physical education classes during a religious fast, if the student’s guardian notifies the school principal in writing. This bill will help ensure student safety while respecting the many diverse cultures that make up our state. This bill was initially proposed by the Northern Illinois American Muslim Alliance with support from the Jewish Federation, the ACLU, and the Illinois State Board of Education.

HB169 excuses a child’s absence from public school due to religious reasons, like observance of a religious holiday or participation in religious instruction. This bill allows the district superintendent to create and distribute specific procedures for religious absences to schools, as opposed to allowing school boards to determine rules pertaining to religious absences. This bill was initially proposed by the Northern Illinois American Muslim Alliance with support from the Jewish Federation, Chicago Teachers Union, National Association of Social Workers – Illinois, and the Illinois State Board of Education.

These two pieces of legislation make it less difficult for students to more fully participate in their religions, reducing some of the administrative burdens and other stresses that may come with missing school classes.

Didech Celebrates Wins from this Legislative Session

By Catherine Cabrera, Summer Internship Communications Team

The spring 2021 legislative session wrapped in June, and many of the bills sponsored by State Representative Daniel Didech, D-Buffalo Grove, passed in both houses of the General Assembly. These are currently awaiting Governor Pritzker’s signature to officially make them law.

Bills sponsored by Didech that recently passed in the General Assembly include:

● HB 55: Improves the process by which an intellectual disability and the need for guardianship is evaluated, by granting licensed clinical psychologists evaluation authority, changing the definition for “developmental disability” and adding definitions for “intellectual disability” and “related conditions” to reflect the definitions of the Disabilities Services Act of 2003.
● HB 56: Promotes transparency of public institutions by making the total compensation of county elected officials easily accessible by the public. Current state law had complicated gaining easy access to county information regarding what the county provides directly to elected officials, which often neglected to mention additional state stipends.
● HB 58: Permits and enables filing a restrictive covenant modification to any unlawful restrictive covenant that is void under section 3-105 of the Illinois Human Rights Act, specifically for restrictive covenants based on “race, color, religion, or national origin.” This bill was initially proposed by a constituent in Mundelein whose deed contained unlawful restrictive covenants she wanted removed but was held back due to a lack of streamlined modification procedures.
● HB 122: Advances consumer protections in the state by banning early termination and cancellation fees imposed by service providers – telephone, cellular telephone, television, Internet, energy, medical alert system, and water services – if the contract holder dies before the end of the contract.
● HB 160: Excuses students participating in religious fasts from participating in physical activity components of a physical education course, as long as the student’s guardian notifies the school principal in writing in advance.
● HB 168: Advances animal welfare by prohibiting future ownership of a person or person dwelling in the same household from owning, harboring or having custody or control over any animal if the person has been convicted of two or more of the following offenses: (1) a violation of aggravated cruelty; (2) a violation of animals for entertainment; or (3) a violation of dog fighting.
● HB 169: Streamlines the process for excusing a student’s absence from public school due to religious reasons, such as observance of a religious holiday or participation in religious instruction.
● HB 644: Eliminates barriers that unnecessarily restrict the ability of homeowners to install solar energy systems on their property by expediting approvals for solar energy system installations, clarifying the ability of community associations to regulate solar energy systems within their jurisdiction, and amending the scope of the Homeowners’ Energy Policy Statement Act (HEPSA).

Thanking Our Health Care Workers & First Responders

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