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Legislative Update -- April 9, 2020April 9, 2020
The ILA Public Policy and Advocacy Committees met on Monday and to no one's surprise, the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on libraries was the main focus of discussion. In Illinois, the General Assembly stands adjourned as Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home order remains in force at least through April 30. Budget discussions on the FY2021 appropriations package will likely not begin in earnest until the initial magnitude of the public health crisis reflected in April’s revenue figures are produced. No determination has been made on what issues, other than the budget, will be considered by the legislature this year.
Various county leaders have suggested the upcoming property tax due date should be delayed or late payment penalties waived in recognition of the sharp economic downturn. No state bills or amendments on this topic have been filed for consideration.
Work-at-home reimbursement expenses have been discussed. Although a legislative solution on this topic is unlikely, it has been raised with state agency personnel for discussion.
As shared in a recent ILA COVID-19 Daily Update and on our website, units of local government including libraries ARE eligible to file for public assistance (PA) FEMA funding through IEMA.
On the federal level, according to the Census Bureau, 46.2% of American households have responded to the Census, 40% online and 6.2% via other means such as phone or mail. In-person operations have been suspended until April 15. Illinois is in the top ten responding states at #9, with 50.8%. Fun fact: An Illinois city is in the top three city respondents nationwide: Trout Valley, at 78.6! Go, Trout Valley, located in the Cary Area Public Library District!
Remember advocating for our Senators and Representatives to sign "Dear Appropriator" letters encouraging federal funding for fiscal year 2021 of $206 million for libraries via IMLS/LSTA and $27 million via the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) grant program? In Illinois both Senators signed both letters (they historically have) and 10/18 Representatives signed LSTA; 7/18 signed IAL, compared to 8/18 and 6/18 last year. Keep in mind two Illinois Representatives aren't asked to sign the letters, as they serve on the Appropriations Committee, although they are certainly asked to support the appropriations: Mike Quigley (IL-5 in Chicago) and Cheri Bustos (IL-17 in western IL). Clearly the state of the 2021 budget is different now, but our commitment to advocating for library funding remains.
There have been a number of federal efforts to mitigate harm to employees, employers, and the economy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic: The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplementary Appropriations Act on 3/6/2020; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on 3/18/2020, which INCLUDES the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid and Sick Leave Act); and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on 3/27/2020, which includes $50 million for libraries via IMLS among other supports for education, national libraries, and cultural heritage. Please visit ILA's Coronavirus Resources webpage for details on these; and we urge libraries to check with your own HR, finance, and legal teams for guidance specific to your situation. ALA has let us know to be on the lookout for advocacy calls for library funding in a fourth relief bill shortly.