Dear 17th District Friends:
It’s been a busy month, so I wanted to recap the highlights of 2019 and provide a brief update to let you know what I am working on in 2020. Thanks to all of you who participated in the Town Hall in Northbrook earlier this month. I always look forward to hearing your concerns and answering questions in person. If you missed the town hall, feel free to give me a call at my office or email us any time. Please stay tuned for upcoming events.
New Legislative Session Opens with State of the State
Last week I returned to Springfield for the start of the 2020 legislative session and to attend the Governor’s State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly. At a time when we are seemingly inundated with negativity, it was refreshing to hear some good news.
Consider this :
Today, the Illinois economy supports 6.2 million jobs, the most jobs on record for our state and the lowest unemployment rate in history. Over the past year, Illinois has reduced its unemployment rate more than all of the top 20 most populated states in the nation and more than our Midwestern peers. 237 Illinois businesses from across our state made Inc Magazine’s List of Fastest Growing Businesses in the nation, and student applications to Illinois’ public universities increased last fall for the first time in many years. Illinois is the second-largest producer of computer science degrees in the nation. We passed a balanced, bipartisan budget with renewed investments in job creation, education and mental health. Credit rating agencies, financial analysts and investors took notice describing a ‘distinct improvement’ in our fiscal stability and lowered our state’s borrowing rate.
We’ve taken bold, decisive action to address our pension costs, address the backlog of old bills and begin to correct the mess we inherited after 4 years of gridlock. I am looking forward to a productive and exciting year as we continue the hard work of rebuilding our state. I will keep you updated on new legislation later this month.
New Laws Effective January 1, 2020
I wanted to recap some of the legislative highlights from 2019 by summarizing laws that went into effect on or before January 1, 2020. I appreciate the input many of you provided to me throughout 2019 on high profile legislation such as the legalization of recreational cannabis, pension reform, and the gradual increase of the minimum wage. My colleagues and I also enacted a range of laws to protect reproductive rights and expand access to health care, ensure a clean environment, preserve the rights of immigrants and vulnerable groups, and strengthen our judicial system, schools and consumer protections.
Below is a partial list of House Bills (HB) and Senate Bills (SB) that were passed, many of which I was proud to sponsor or co-sponsor.
- Immigrant Rights/HB836: Drafted a measure to improve protections for immigrant children. Beginning July 2019, parents may utilize a streamlined process to designate a legal guardian for their children ensuring that kids are cared for by someone they know and trust if a parent is detained, deported or otherwise separated from their children by immigration enforcement.
- Immigrant Rights/HB1553: Aligns Illinois law with federal law enabling immigrant children who have suffered abuse, abandonment or neglect to apply for a Special Immigrant Juvenile Visa.
- Immigrant Rights/SB1429 and SB1610. Two new laws ensure due process and equal protection for immigrants consistent with both the US Constitution and Illinois Trust Act. SB1429 establishes that evidence of immigration status is inadmissible in a civil proceeding unless essential to prove an element of a claim; SB1610 allows defendants to withdraw a guilty plea if they were not advised of the immigration consequences of that plea as constitutionally required at the time of the plea.
- Reproductive Healthcare Act/SB25: Protects women’s right to reproductive healthcare including access to abortion services consistent with existing law under Roe v. Wade.
- Healthcare Coverage/HB3435, HB3113, and SB162: Several bills require that insurers cover the reasonable costs of preventative care or treatment, specifically EpiPens (HB3435), screenings for skin cancer (HB3113) and diagnostic mammograms (SB162).
- Healthcare Education/HB3097:Creates an education program for medical professionals to provide unbiased, objective information on pharmaceuticals.
- Healthcare Tobacco 21/HB345: Prohibits the purchase by, or sale to, persons under 21 (up from 18) of any tobacco product, electronic cigarette, or alternative nicotine product.
- Education/HB2691: Retention of Illinois Students and Equity Act (RISE Act) affirms Illinois’s commitment to equity in access to higher education. Lifts Monetary Award Program (MAP) caps and provides that Illinois resident students ineligible for federal financial aid, including transgender and DACA students, are eligible for student aid funded or administered by the state or public universities or colleges.
- Environment/SB1847: Requires the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to provide notice to the district’s State Senator and State Representative when a new facility that requires an air pollution permit is proposed enabling citizens to provide feedback.
- Consumer Protection/SB1624: Requires companies that experience a data breach that impacts at least 500 Illinois residents to report to the Attorney General, who must report to the General Assembly (GA).
- Consumer Protection and Healthcare/HB465: Creates a comprehensive regulatory framework for pharmacy benefit manager (PBM’s), protects consumers entering the emergency room from being denied coverage and requires health care to apply third-party payments, discounts and vouchers.
- Labor/Workplace Protection/SB161: Safeguards workers by establishing the Worker Protection Unit within the Office of the Attorney General.
- Equal Pay – No Salary History/HB834: Prohibits employers from requiring or requesting an applicants salary history directly or from previous employers to promote equal pay for substantially similar work.
Workplace Harassment Prevention/SB75: Ground-breaking legislation that places new restrictions and requirements on Illinois employers to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Among other things, it prohibits the use of non-disclosure clauses in employment contracts that restrict employees reporting of unlawful workplace harassment. Employers are now required to hold annual sexual harassment training and make certain disclosures to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR).
A number of bills were passed late last year that will go into effect in 2021. These include SB 667
which caps monthly insulin costs at $100 for people covered by state-regulated commercial health insurance plans. I know from discussions with many of you that this will have a significant positive impact on your ability to manage healthcare costs for you or your family. SB1300
consolidated roughly 650 downstate and suburban police and fire pensions into two statewide funds in an effort to increase returns and alleviate the property tax burden on homeowners.
Looking forward to 2020, I am working on introducing legislation to ease the burden of property taxes on seniors, crack down on price-gouging in the insurance industry, curb plastic and pharmaceutical pollution that pose a risk to public health and our environment as well as initiatives that ensure access to justice for all Illinoisans. As the Vice-Chair of the House Mental Health Committee, I will also be sponsoring legislation to improve mental healthcare in our state.
I am happy to discuss any of these new laws with you as well as current legislation being considered in 2020. You can read the full text of all bills on the Illinois General Assembly website
Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz