"Last Week" of the 2015 Spring Session
May 25, 2015
The Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn by May 31, but none of the major legislative issues have yet to be resolved. The Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and his legislative allies are insisting on numerous structural changes in state and local government before agreeing to negotiate a 2016 fiscal year budget. The Democrats controlling both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly are insisting that the Governor negotiate additional taxes and appropriate budget cuts before committing to any structural reforms. With only days remaining in the scheduled session, it appears unlikely that the two parties will come together.
The big issues to be resolved are: (1) closing a projected $6 billion budget deficit with some combination of spending cuts and additional revenue; (2) a new approach to state pension reform following the invalidation of the previous legislation by the Illinois Supreme Court; (3) yet another proposed expansion of casino gaming; and (4) a major capital construction program. The Governor has called for this "Turnaround Agenda" to be approved before these big issues will be considered. The Governor's agenda includes the following:
House Bill 4222 and Senate Bill 884 (senate amendment #1)
This proposal would limit where civil lawsuits could be filed in the state. It would only apply joint and several liability to defendants if proven to be at least 50% responsible (currently 25%). It would limit recovery for the cost of medical care to only the actual amount paid, not the amount originally billed.
Workers Compensation Reform
House Bill 4223 and Senate Bill 994 (senate amendment #1)
This proposal would restrict workers compensation claims to only those where the injury was at least 50% a result of activities at the place of employment. It would eliminate recovery if the injury resulted from "personal" or "neutral" cause. It would limit recovery from injuries when traveling for employment, and would further reduce the fees paid to medical providers in workers compensation cases.
Property Tax Freeze and Unfunded Mandate Relief
House Bill 4224 and Senate Bill 1046 (senate amendment #1)
This proposal would apply the Property Tax Extension Limitation Act (Tax Caps) to every single local government and school district in the state and freeze the actual tax levy at the 2015 amount. Unless approved by the voters at a referendum, the levy would be permanently frozen. The proposal would also limit the subjects that could be collectively bargained by local government and school district employees and exclude local government contracts from the requirement to pay prevailing wages.
House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 39 and Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 14
If approved by the Illinois General Assembly and subsequently by the voters, the amendment would limit legislators to a maximum of 10 years as legislators, and state executive officials to a maximum of 8 years as a state executive official.
House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 40 and Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 15
If approved by the Illinois General Assembly and subsequently by the voters, the amendment would establish an independent commission to draw legislative district boundaries.
With the Governor and Legislative Leaders at a stalemate, it is likely that the Spring 2015 session will extend beyond May 31 and perhaps well into the summer. ILA will continue to monitor these developments and issue a Call to Action, if appropriate. We might have to act quickly.