Legislative Update -- March 26, 2020March 26, 2020
On the federal level, the Senate has passed the third funding bill aimed at emergency relief with regard to COVID-19; it includes $50 million for libraries that will be disseminated via the existing Grants to States program, with the state matching requirement waived. This bill has now been sent to the House; it has NOT yet been approved there, nor signed into law, so chances are there may be changes. The two prior bills were the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, signed on March 6; and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed on March 18.
The 2020 Census continues, with 11 million households already having responded. The Census Bureau has made some operational updates in light of COVID-19, notably, suspending field operations until April 1. In its "Libraries and the 2020 Census" newsletter dated 3/20/2020, ALA notes that "Even if their buildings are closed to the public, libraries can inform their communities about the 2020 Census by sharing information by social media, email, or newsletter. For resources, see the Census Bureau’s outreach materials, or materials from partners like Sesame Workshop, Seussville, and Nickelodeon. Use the hashtag #CountOnLibraries on social media to join the conversation." Sign up for the newsletter here.
In Illinois, since--was it only a week ago?--last week's 3/19/2020 Legislative Update, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-10 establishing a "stay-at-home" status for the whole state. There are exemptions for essential businesses and operations (libraries were not included explicitly in the list), and for allowing minimal staff to go to work for minimum essential business functions (such as turning on the taps to prevent pipes freezing, processing payroll, etc.) for those operations not on the "essential" list themselves. Please refer to the ILA COVID-19 Daily Updates for the latest information we have on Executive Order 2020-10, including opinions from various resources such as law firms and HR Source, among others.
The Illinois General Assembly's upcoming session has been cancelled, and the new deadline (formerly 3/27/2020) for bills to be referred to substantive committees is 4/3/2020, very close up to the ILA Public Policy Committee's meeting on 4/6/2020.