ACMHAI Legislative Report – July 2022

Government Strategy Associates

 Illinois Begins New Fiscal Year in Good Shape

The state of Illinois fiscal year which ended June 30 saw state tax revenues exceeding $50 billion for the first time in Illinois’ history. The revenue which grew by $5.5 billion set the stage for this year’s budget that did not require significant cuts of tax increases. The Illinois new fiscal year started July one with the implementation of a $46.5 billion budget. The budget included an Illinois’ statutory commitment to the state’s pension funds. An additional $500 million was allocated directly to the state’s unfunded pension liabilities, reducing long-term liabilities by an estimated $1.8 billion. Recognizing that the budget numbers were better than anticipated, lawmakers deposited $1 billion into the “rainy day fund” the Budget Stabilization Fund.

The tax relief provisions that started on July 1st include the suspension of the state’s 1% sales tax on groceries, and a temporary hold on the slated increase in the state gas tax.  Illinois’ Sales Tax Holiday takes place August 5 -14. During the 10- day period, Illinois will reduce the state sales tax on school supplies by 5%. Get y ourself a new trapper-keeper and stock up on your notebooks and pens.

988 Crisis Lifeline Number Goes Live

It is now easier for someone facing a mental health crisis to get the help they need. Illinois residents can now dial 9-8-8 to be connected to a mental health lifeline featuring a trained professional to get needed resources. Anyone can now call or text a three-digit number, 988, to connect with mental health professionals trained to respond to such emergencies.  If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health or substance use-related crisis, call or text 988.

The hotline was designed to provide 24/7 free and confidential emotional support around the country to those in mental health distress, the 988 lifeline website explains. Thank you to the many dedicated professionals who have advocated and worked on this essential resource.  According to a press statement, staffing has been increased at Illinois’ six existing 988 call centers in anticipation of the number change, giving residents assurances that calls will be answered in a timely and sensitive manner getting.

Thank you to all who played a role in this endeavor.

House Creates Working Groups on Pending Issues

There has been talk about the General Assembly reconvening for a special session prior to the November election. As of right now that does not appear to be happening However, as reported in Politico, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch has formed working groups around issues leading up to the next legislative session — a veto session in November. Here’s the lineup:

Mental Health Working Group, led by Rep. Deb Conroy. Members: Reps. Fred Crespo, Mary Flowers, Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar, Will Guzzardi, Fran Hurley, Lindsey LaPointe, Camille Lilly, Rita Mayfield, Michelle Mussman, Bob Rita and Maurice West.

Firearm Safety and Reform Working Group, led by Rep. Bob Morgan, who was at the Highland Park parade when a gunman opened fire July 4. Members: Reps. La Shawn Ford, Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, Sonya Harper, Barbara Hernandez, Maura Hirschauer, Jay Hoffman, Nick Smith, Denyse Stoneback, Kathleen Willis and Lance Yednock.

Reproductive Health and the Dobbs Decision Working Group, led by Rep. Kelly Cassidy. Members: Reps. Dagmara Avelar, Lakesia Collins, Terra Costa Howard, Margaret Croke, LaToya Greenwood, Greg Harris, Anna Moeller and Ann Williams.

Social Media and Online Extremism Working Group, led by Rep. Jaime Andrade. Members: Reps. Carol Ammons, Jonathan Carroll, Daniel Didech, Edgar Gonzalez, Stephanie Kifowit, Lamont Robinson, Curtis Tarver and Michael Zalewski.

Sheriffs Sue State in Delays in Admitting Inmates to Mental Health Services

Sheriffs in multiple downstate counties have joined in a lawsuit to clear a chronic logjam of mentally ill inmates sitting in county jails for months while awaiting psychiatric treatment from the state. Many of these counties have inmates awaiting transfer to DHS. Executive orders issued at the height of the COVID 19 pandemic suspended admissions and the 20-day statutory time period for admissions. The order has been renewed since then and was tweaked July 6 to eliminate the phrase that gave Hou sole discretion for admissions. The sheriffs said delays, made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, were violating inmates’ “due process” rights, harming their mental health, creating potentially hazardous conditions for both inmates and jail personnel and costing counties thousands of dollars in unreimbursed costs.

Cannabis Revenue Continues to Rise

Recreational marijuana sales and tax revenue due in Illinois both shot up 50% in the past fiscal year, the state reported. Licensed state dealers generated $445 million in taxes due from about $1.5 billion in cannabis sales in the year ending June 30. Weed taxes due to local governments also saw a significant jump, increasing 77%, from $83 million to $146 million. More sales licenses are being awarded so there may be a continued increase in sales.

COVID Update

Covid is still not going away. Each of the last few weeks has shown around 30,000 new cases in Illinois.  President Biden, Senator Durbin and Governor Pritzker have each tested positive in the past month. Prior to that diagnosis, Governor Pritzker announced that Illinois is ending COVID-19 vaccine mandate for college students and faculty and easing some testing requirements for unvaccinated health care workers.

ComEd Bribery Case Delayed

The federal bribery case against a longtime confidant of former House Speaker Michael Madigan and three others has been rescheduled for March. The case, was originally set to kick off in September.

Secretary of State Extends Deadline

Expired driver’s licenses, state issued identification cards, and learner’s permits will remain valid until December 1, 2022. Residents do not need to rush into Driver Services facilities to meet the previous deadline (July 31).

New Senator Named in Metro East

Captain Kris Tharp of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department is now the State Senator representing the 56th District. The seat opened up about a month ago when Democrat Rachelle Crowe accepted the appointment as a new U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. Tharp (D-Bethalto) was appointed to fill out the remainder of Crowe’s unexpired term and he is on the November ballot.