The Illinois Legislature Is Returning To Springfield. Read The Details.
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, along with other legislative leaders, are "ready to convene" a special session as early as next week, according to letters sent to lawmakers and shared with the media.
This article has been updated with new statements and information as of 5:00 pm.In a letter to House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (Western Springs), Madigan said House Democrats agreed to follow a laundry list of public health guidelines aimed at keeping lawmakers socially distant and limiting their contact with one another.
While the three day session includes dealing with a budget during uncertain times, the high profile issue is COVID-19. Negotiators are still finalizing details on a relief package.
State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) wants wants to see legislation for people who fell through the cracks in Federal assistance.
“I think there's more help that I hope we can do for both individuals and small businesses who have been impacted, through rental assistance and you know, the hospitality industry and some other small businesses that have been hurt”, she said.
That is also the key focus of House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago). He wouldn't committ to specifics as to what will be in the package to benefit those hurt by the economic slowdown.
"“And both the Republicans & Democrats have been working in these different groups in the House in a bi-partisan way to come up with ideas. And I think in the coming days now, they’re going to have to prioritize and get a list together of must-pass items, " Harris said.
All of the issues will be done with the virus in the foreground.
"We are all looking forward to a return to some semblance of normalcy – and certainly, as legislators, we are particularly interested in resuming normal operation of the House – but we must also recognize that these are not normal times," Madigan wrote. "A pandemic is not swayed by our speeches, by our desire for normalcy, or by political expediency."
Durkin responded Wednesday with a statement: "After two months of inaction, it is about time we get back to the job we were elected to do."
Illinois Senate President Don Harmon issued his own statement Wednesday, saying that chamber is ready to return as well.
"Time and again the Illinois Senate has shown its members can work together to solve problems and produce results for the people of this great state. That cooperative spirit of bipartisan achievement is needed now more than ever," Harmon wrote.
A special session will allow state lawmakers to narrow the focus of the agenda, which according to a Joint Proclamation of the House and Senate issued Wednesday, will include "new or pending legislative measures in relation to:"
-"The COVID-19 pandemic or other disasters;
-The State Budget and its implementation
-Economic recovery, infrastructure projects, and funding thereof;
-The explanation, arguments for and against, and the form for constitutional amendments as required under the Illinois Constitutional Amendment Act;
-Laws or authority scheduled to be repealed prior to June 1, 2021;
-The 2020 General Election and the State Board of Elections;
-The hospital assessment program."
In an unprecedented move to ensure social distancing, state lawmakers are also preparing to convene at the Bank of Springfield Center in addition to the State Capitol Building.
For now, both the Illinois House and Senate are scheduled to be in session May 20 through May 22.
Madigan's letter and the full list of guidelines are below.
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