Legislative update 7.22.15

by Beth Camplain | Jul 23, 2015
Legislative proceedings in Springfield were generally quiet this week with a few hearings and a House Committee of the Whole meeting.
Legislative proceedings in Springfield were generally quiet this week with a few hearings and a House Committee of the Whole meeting. Next week the House returns to discuss much of the same. The Senate reconvenes the week of August 4th.

Here are the highlights of this week’s legislative action:

House committee discusses workers’ compensation again
The Chairman of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) returned to the House Labor Committee to answer questions from committee members. According to the IWCC, insurers report a 19 percent decrease in benefit payments in the last four years. The IWCC report also cites a study showing that Illinois saw the largest savings on workers’ compensation insurance and the largest decrease in medical payments per claim. After much debate about the possible causes of the decrease in payments, lawmakers agreed that more detailed data is needed from employers and insurance companies before any action is taken.

House Personnel and Pensions Committee further discusses Governor’s Pension Proposal

The House Pension Committee continued to hear testimony on Governor Rauner’s pension “reform” plan. This week, the testimony focused on the impact his proposal would have on public safety workers’ pensions. The Illinois Association of Firefighters and several police organizations all testified in vehement opposition to the proposal.   

House State Government Committee attempts hearing on State Superintendent’s contract

Rep. Jack Franks, Chairman of the State Government Administration Committee, called a hearing to discuss concerns stemming from recent reports that the Governor is providing a special cash stipend to the new State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Tony Smith. Unfortunately, the State Superintendent didn’t appear before the Committee. Instead, a letter was sent on his behalf from the Rauner administration declining to participate in the public discussion on this topic.

In light of this recent revelation, IFT President Dan Montgomery called the Governor’s pension proposal “illegal, hypocritical, and a stunning display of the Governor’s priorities”.

House rejects property tax freeze proposal for the 11th time

The House voted on an amendment to HB 681, a property tax freeze bill sponsored by Rep. Bradley (D-Marion). Amendment #1 to HB 681 was adopted by a vote of 39-22-20. A second amendment dealing with collective bargaining and prevailing wage failed to garner even a single vote in support. In At a press conference after the vote, Speaker Madigan noted that most recent property tax freeze was the eleventh time the House has voted on such a measure.

House Committee of the Whole hears testimony of FY16 budget

The Illinois House Committee of the Whole heard testimony concerning the 2016 fiscal year budget from various panels including, recipients of energy assistance, childcare services, and immigrant services. The House also heard from several counties about cuts to county fairs in the absence of an appropriation bill.

Emergency budget still waiting on Rauner

Last week, both chambers passed SB 2040, legislation that provides for an emergency, one-month budget to fund $2.2 billion in essential state services. The bill also includes a provision to pay state employee salaries until August. The Governor has 60 days to act on SB 2040 but has vowed to veto the bill. An additional “one-month” budget bill, encompassed in HB 4143, sponsored by Rep. Evens (D-Chicago), was introduced Tuesday. The House voted 59-1-18 to adopt the amendment. The bill now moves to third reading.

A look ahead

The House will return on Tuesday, July 28. The Pensions, Revenue, State Government, and Elementary and Secondary Education Committees are scheduled to hear testimony on repeat topics including the Governor’s Pension proposal, staff salaries in the Governor’s office, and testimony of the State Superintendent’s Contract. For more information or to listen live to the committee hearings click here.

The Senate will return on Tuesday, August 4 and Wednesday, August 5.

Watch Under the Dome for updates.