Legislative News from Rep. Grant Wehrli

Most of Illinois Now Under Resurgence Mitigations

A second wave of COVID-19 infections is hitting Illinois and the rest of the country. Positive test numbers are increasing, and hospital bed and ICU bed availability is decreasing. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting a spike in cases in almost all 11 regions. Governor Pritzker, in collaboration with IDPH, has determined that an 8% positivity rate for three consecutive days triggers heightened mitigations. Once they take effect, mitigations remain in place until the positivity rate is 6.5% or lower for three consecutive days. If a region remains at 8% or higher after 14 days of heightened mitigations, a second layer of even more strict limitations is put in place.

As you know, Region 8 (DuPage and Kane Counties), and Region 7 (Will and Kankakee Counties), had to close restaurants and bars to indoor seating and limit public gatherings to 25% capacity or 25 people (whichever is smaller) on Friday, Oct. 23. Region 5 (20 counties in Southern IL) began identical mitigations the previous day on Oct. 22, and Region 1 (9 counties in the Northwest corner of IL) is already in the midst of heightened mitigations. So far this week, Governor Pritzker has announced that resurgence mitigations will begin in Region 10 (suburban Cook County) and Region 4 (Metro East) on Thursday, in Region 11 (City of Chicago) on Friday, and most likely in Region 8 (McHenry and Lake Counties) on Sunday. That’s eight of the 11 regions facing restrictions by this weekend.

While health concerns are legitimate and important, I am extremely worried about the devastation these resurgence mitigations will have on the business community. The enhanced mitigation orders will hit residents and small businesses hard. Restaurants, bars, and taverns must stop their indoor table service of food and drink. Customers can continue to buy takeout and curbside food and drink, and can sit at outdoor tables if weather permits, but all outside bar and food service must stop at 11 p.m. nightly. The Illinois hospitality industry is deeply concerned about the implications of carrying out COVID-19 mitigation orders as wintertime cold weather approaches and outdoor dining becomes impractical.   

Please, please, please. Do everything you can to protect yourselves and others. Wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings. Everyone must pitch in so we can bring the positivity numbers back below 6.5%.

Wehrli Continues to Advocate for Seniors

Since I was elected to the General Assembly nearly six years ago, I have championed dozens of bills that help seniors. I feel strongly that seniors who built their homes and raised their families in Naperville and Warrenville deserve to stay in their homes as long as they wish. That’s why I fight tax increases and efforts to tax retirement income. Most seniors are living on fixed incomes, yet Illinois Democrats are always looking for new ways to tax the public. This makes it nearly impossible for many seniors to remain in their homes.

A few different constituents contacted me last week and asked me what I’m doing to try to help seniors. We had nice conversations about bills I have supported to protect their health and their wallets. Below is a list of just some of the bills I have sponsored or co-sponsored that aim to help older Illinoisans:

101st GA  
 HB 2912Controls ambulance costs/fees
 HB 2999Enacts a Taxpayer Fiscal Charter to force fiscal accountability and transparency
 HB 4152Prohibits early termination fees for phone, TV, Internet, energy, or water service due to the death of the customer
 HB 5418Requires the compilation of public and private services statewide for seniors
 HB 5419Creates an income tax credit for seniors
 HB5430Creates an income tax credit for seniors
 HB 5437Carries over the senior homestead exemption when a senior moves from one Illinois residence to another Illinois residence
 HB 5438Increases the amount of the senior homestead exemption
 HB 5439Creates a Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Task Force
 HJR 123Would remove the graduated income tax question from the fall ballot
100th GA  
 HB 359Limits tax increases allowed through the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL)
 HB 414Decreases the age limit to qualify for the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption from 65 years of age to 55 years of age
 HB 419Limits tax increases allowed through PTELL
 HB 420Limits tax increases allowed through PTELL
 HB 431Provides that seniors do not have to reapply for the senior homestead exemption
 HB 1805Reduces the age for the organ donor registry to 16
 HB 2554Increases the amount of the senior homestead exemption
 HB 2563Increases the amount of the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption
 HB 3516Makes some assessment reductions/freezes permanent
 HB 3624Controls assessment increases for seniors who have lived in their homes for 20+ years
 HB 5731Limits tax increases allowed through PTELL
 HB5775Increases the senior citizen homestead exemption
 HB 5924Repeals the current property tax code to force a re-write that is more equitable
 HB 5957Creates a Commission on Fiscal Accountability
 HR 139Creates the Fair and Equitable Assessment of Property Task Force
 HR 975Opposes the implementation of a graduated income tax in Illinois
 HR 1072Opposes any new state-wide property tax
99th GA  
 HB 136Limits tax increases allowed through PTELL
 HB 178Freezes township property taxes
 HB 4118Decreases the age limit to qualify for the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption from 65 years of age to 55 years of age
 HB 4399Requires certification that state budgets are balanced
 HB 6235Decreases the age limit to qualify for the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption from 65 years of age to 55 years of age
 HB6630Limits tax increases allowed through PTELL

Wehrli Responds to Attempted DuPage County Voter Fraud by Renewing Call to Get the Deceased Off the Voter Rolls

Last week we learned that nine different DuPage County residents submitted vote by mail ballot requests that were sent to deceased people. Luckily, employees in the DuPage County Clerk’s office caught the illegal ballot requests and turned the information over to State’s Attorney Bob Berlin for investigation and possible prosecution.

People need to know that while the debate to expand Illinois’ vote by mail program was taking place earlier this year, House Republicans were simultaneously pushing for the passage of HB 2513, a bill that would require county clerks to scrub voter rolls regularly of the deceased. House Democrats dismissed our bill as “unnecessary,” shelved it in Mike Madigan’s Rules Committee, and pushed through their vote by mail expansion bill. Now it seems that our fears were well-founded, as we have documented cases where Illinoisans have tried to circumvent the integrity of the 2020 fall election by trying to submit ballots by individuals who have passed away. Forging a name to a ballot is a Class 3 Felony in Illinois, and I hope State’s Attorney Berlin hands down stiff consequences to these bad actors.

Pritzker Postpones Winter Sports for Illinois Schools and Adult Leagues

Due to statewide increases in cases of COVID-19, Governor Pritzker has announced that winter youth and adult organized sports must be postponed. For the IHSA, this includes high school basketball, wrestling and hockey. Pritzker had previously move high risk fall sports to the spring of 2021. In making the announcement on Tuesday, the Governor said basketball, wrestling and hockey teams can still practice, train and engage in inter-squad games, but competitive play against other teams is off limits for now.

Negative Performance Review for Illinois Department of Employment Security

As restaurants and bars close to indoor dining again, a new large group of employees are headed back to the unemployment line. These Illinoisans must once again rely on the IL Department of Employment Security (IDES) for unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, a new study from the independent Better Government Association (BGA) found that IDES continues to be completely unprepared for the flood of claims thus far due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn.

A widely-used benchmark goal for unemployment benefit compliance performance is to see how many benefit checks can be mailed out within 7 days of an initial valid application for benefits. These are days of waiting time during which young adults and families may be needing money to pay rent, utility bills and buy food. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, IDES had hit this benchmark with respect to about 80% of initial unemployment claim requests. However, with respect to IDES in the summer of 2020, only 1% of the beneficiaries could look forward to getting money within seven days. IDES also failed to meet four of 10 other statistical performance measures gauged and monitored by authorities in the U.S. Department of Labor and other federal agencies. I am extremely worried for businesses that might not survive the winter, and am equally worried for unemployed Illinoisans who have no choice but to turn to a failing system with hopes they can receive unemployment benefits.

Wehrli Provides Legislative Perspective at Naperville Chamber Leadership Program

On Tuesday morning, I had the privilege of participating in a Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Zoom Leadership Program for up-and-coming business leaders in our community. I was one of several presenters during a segment on units of Government. Several community officials talked about how our specific unit of government works, the jobs we do, and how business leaders can best and most effectively engage with us when they hope to move the needle on a policy issue. It was a great program, and a lot of very useful information was shared with attendees. I appreciate the opportunity to be involved, and thank participants for a great session!

More Illinoisans Early Voting as COVID-19 Numbers Rise

Voters worried they may contract COVID-19 and be unable to vote on Election Day are flocking to polls to take advantage of early voting. I’ve heard from several constituents who traditionally vote on Election Day who have decided to take advantage of early voting just in case. For those living in the 41st House District, there are several locations offering early voting between now and November 2. Times differ between locations, so please check dates and times for the location that is most convenient for you. Of course, you are always welcome to vote in person on Election Day, vote absentee, or vote using a vote by mail ballot. Visit the following sites for voting information and a list of early voting locations:

DuPage County Voting Information

Will County Voting Information

Special Investigating Committee to Resume Meetings— Two Days After the Election

As you know, the Democrat Chair of the Special Investigating Committee into the ethical conduct of Speaker of the House Mike Madigan abruptly halted the committee’s work when Republicans asked that subpoenas be issued to Mike Madigan and others with intimate knowledge of the nine-year ComEd enrichment scheme. When presented with draft subpoenas and statutory language that proved that committee members had the right to exercise subpoena power, Chairman Chris Welch, a high ranking member of Mike Madigan’s leadership team, halted all proceedings until after the Nov. 3 election.

As you may recall, following the SIC’s last meeting on Sept. 29, Republican Spokesperson Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) requested communications from ComEd that are relevant to testimony heard at the  Sept. 29 meeting. Chairman Welch also made a request of ComEd, and asked for a laundry list of documents that many felt were intended to further slow the process. I’m pleased to report that last week we learned that ComEd has agreed to fulfill the document requests of both Demmer and Welch within the next 3-4 weeks.

The next meeting of the SIC is set for Thursday, November 5. It is no accident that the meeting is taking place two days after the election. Republicans serving on the SIC are extremely frustrated, because Illinoisans deserve a better process than this blatant effort to shield Speaker Madigan from having to air his party’s dirty laundry in the days leading up to an election.  There’s no legitimate reason at all why this important committee should have gone dormant for 5 ½ weeks.

Lilly Insulins to be Available for $35/Month

Persons who utilize Lilly insulins can now get their Insulin for $35 per month, either through the Lilly Insulin Value Program or through the Part D Senior Savings Model, which federal CMS will begin in January. The next few months will be important for both seniors who are preparing to enroll in their Medicare Part D plans and people with commercial plans who are looking for ways to save during the high deductible period in early 2021. 

Lilly is kicking off a nationwide campaign to educate people about their options, entitled “Insulin Affordability: Learn. Act. Share.,” which will help people afford the life-saving Lilly insulins they need.  

No one should have to ever have ration their insulin, and these programs can help anyone using Lilly insulin, regardless of their insurance status, pay $35 per monthly prescription. You can learn more at: www.insulinaffordability.com.