Numerous Controversial Proposals Rushed Forward During Lame-Duck Session

 

The lame-duck session saw a number of new and often controversial proposals rushed forward through the legislative process. In many cases, the bills involved hundreds of pages of language and were quickly filed as amendments before lawmakers were asked to vote “yes” or “no.” For a bit of perspective, a total of 6,386 pages of amendments were filed during the abbreviated session, which is more than the Bible, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and the entire Harry Potter series combined.

Besides House Bill 3653, the controversial criminal justice rewrite, other bills passed during the session include:

Senate Bill 1608, a proposal focused on racial economic equity, creates several new requirements, including diversity aspirational goals and a new Commission on Equity and Inclusion, along with the new Illinois Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) modeled after the federal CRA. It also requires each state agency and university to produce race and gender wage reports. While proponents say it will help minority businesses, opponents fear that the way it is written will interfere with existing procurement processes.

House Bill 2170 makes several changes to the Illinois School Code, including new requirements for curriculum, student assessments, accessibility, and more. The most controversial aspect, however, could be changes to the AIM HIGH scholarship program, which was designed to keep the state’s best and brightest students in Illinois for their college educations. Under the original layout of the program, state universities had to match AIM HIGH grants dollar-for-dollar. Under the revised rules in the bill, universities would only have to match either 60% of every dollar, or 20% of every dollar, depending on what percentage of the student body receives Pell Grants. This would mean that prospective students would likely receive less funding for college under the new rules.

Senate Bill 1480, the Equal Pay Act, creates new standards for employers, including a prohibition on making advancement or termination decisions based on criminal records. Additionally, businesses with more than 100 employees would be required to obtain an “equal pay certificate” from the Department of Labor, by submitting an equal-pay compliance statement and a $150 fee.

Senate Bill 1792 makes changes to the marijuana legalization act to boost equity goals through the creation of the Cannabis Equity Commission. It creates a 36% APR cap on payday loans.

House Bill 1559 grants additional collective bargaining rights to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). The bargaining rights were originally restricted in the 1990s with the aim of reducing the number of strikes in Chicago.

House Bill 3360 grants prejudgment interest on certain lawsuits, a new concept for Illinois that could increase costs for businesses and encourage lawsuits.

House Bill 2451 grants a 3% compounded cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Chicago firefighter pensions. The pension fund for Chicago firefighters is currently only 18% funded.

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