News and Views for Tuesday, September 14, 2021

9/14/2021 Joe McCoy

This week's Illinois State Association of Counties (ISACo) News and Views e-newsletter reports on the final passage of clean energy legislation and the General Assembly's acceptance of the amendatory veto of an ethics reform bill, discusses the emergency rule imposing a vaccine mandate proposed by the Biden Administration, provides information about the Illinois Rental Payment Program's distribution of over $252 million to renters and landlords impacted by COVID-19, includes an FAQ on face coverings and vaccination requirements, conveys information about the extension of the vaccine deadline at the request of hospital and school leaders, reports on an initiative to combat homelessness in Illinois, includes news about the $50 Million Rebuild Main Street and Downtown Capital Program, announces a National Association of Counties (NACo) NextGen Fall Conference, identifies upcoming NACo webinar opportunities, spotlights ISACo corporate partner Nationwide and invites counties to join ISACo.

General Assembly Passes Clean Energy Legislation 

A much-debated energy bill received final approval by the General Assembly following Senate passage on September 13, 2021. The bill, SB 2408 (Sen. Harris, D-Dolton/Rep. Evans, D-Chicago) had previously passed the House on September 9.

Governor Pritzker announced that he will sign the bill into law.  

The legislation is the product of an agreement between environmental groups, labor organizations and other stakeholders. 

SB 2408 seeks to decarbonize the Illinois energy sector by closing private coal plants by 2030. Under the bill, the policy of the State would be to move toward 100% clean energy by 2050.

Municipally-owned coal plants must be 100% carbon-free by December 31, 2045. The Prairie State Energy Campus in the Metro East and Springfield’s CWLP coal plants must reduce 45% of the carbon emissions by January 1, 2035.

All private natural gas-fired plants must be closed by 2045. Natural gas-fired plants owned by municipalities must be closed by 2045 unless converted to green hydrogen or similar technology.

The proposal includes mitigation provisions to offset impacts of closing fossil fuel plants.

Per the legislation, Exelon would receive a $694 million bailout over five years to keep the nuclear fleet running.

ISACo did not take a position on the bill.

A more comprehensive summary of the provisions is available via this link.

Ethics Bill Amendatory Veto Accepted by General Assembly

For the second time, the House took up the matter of Governor Pritzker's Amendatory Veto (AV) of an ethics reform bill (amendatory veto message available here).

As reported in our September 3 News and Views e-newsletter, the AV of SB 539 (Sen. Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights/Rep. Burke, D-Evergreen Park) was accepted in the Senate on August 31, but fell short of the necessary supermajority vote in the House in part because several Democrats were not in attendance. The AV was accepted by the House on a subsequent vote held on September 9.

With the AV having been accepted by both chambers, the bill has been enacted into law. ISACo will provide additional information about how this new law affects county officials at a later date. 

Biden Administration Announces Vaccine Mandate

On Thursday, September 9, 2021, President Biden announced that his administration will issue an emergency rule imposing a vaccine mandate directing employers with 100 or more employees to require that each employee be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Failure to adhere to this mandate would result in fines.

The proposed emergency rule would be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While OSHA generally regulates private sector employers, public employers will be covered indirectly by OSHA’s rulemaking in “State Plan” states. State Plans are OSHA-approved workplace safety and health programs operated by individual states or U.S. territories.

There are currently 22 State Plans covering both private sector and state and local government workers and six State Plans covering only state and local government workers. Illinois is one of these six State Plans and therefore Illinois counties with 100 or more employees would be subject to this mandate based upon what we know at this time.

It should be noted that the emergency rule has not yet been published. It will be important to review the text of the actual rule when it becomes available to ascertain more information about the impact on counties.

The President’s remarks announcing the mandate and other federal COVID policies are available via this link.

A link to a U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) webpage with information about OSHA-approved State Plans is available via this link.

Illinois Rental Payment Program Distributes Over $252 Million to Renters and Landlords Impacted By COVID-19

More than $252 million in rental assistance has been paid on behalf of almost 29,500 renter households impacted by COVID-19 through the Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP). Launched in May 2021, ILRPP provides up to $25,000 in financial assistance — paid directly to the landlord — to cover missed rent payments beginning June 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

The Illinois Rental Payment Program provides up to 12 months of past-due rent and up to three months of future rent payments for tenants at risk of housing instability due to the pandemic. To date, IHDA has received nearly 98,865 completed ILRPP applications from renters and landlords in 100 of Illinois' 102 counties. IHDA has reviewed more than 70,000 applications, approved 29,433 applications, and paid out more than $252.5 million to renters experiencing hardships due to the pandemic for an average of $8,580 per household.

Application approvals and payouts will continue as IHDA continues to review the pipeline of completed applications through the end of September. Governor Pritzker extended the eviction moratorium through Sunday, October 3, 2021.

For renters who missed the window to apply for assistance through IHDA, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is currently accepting applications for rental assistance until funding runs out. Households looking for assistance should contact an IDHS Service Provider Agency to ask about rental assistance. A list of Provider Agencies, as well as organizations offering assistance with utility bills, free legal aid, and additional services can be found at:

Click on this link to view the full press release. 

FAQ on Face Coverings and Vaccination Requirements

On September 3, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed Executive Order (EO) 21-22 (available via this link) to require all individuals over the age of 2 and who can medically tolerate a face covering to wear a face covering when in indoor public places. The EO also requires health care workers, school personnel, higher education personnel and students and employees and contractors of state-owned or operated congregate facilities to be fully-vaccinated.

Click on this link to view the full press release.

Vaccine Deadline Extended at Request of Hospital and School Leaders

Governor Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced on Friday, September 3, 2021, a two-week extension of vaccination requirements for individuals in high-risk settings.

All healthcare workers, including nursing home employees, all P-12 teachers and staff as well as higher education personnel and students will now be required to receive an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 19, 2021. The extended deadline came at the request of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA), as well as education leaders including the Illinois Education Association (IEA), Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) and Illinois Principals Association (IPA).

The EO does not prohibit any entity from implementing a requirement that personnel, contractors, students, or other visitors be fully vaccinated without providing the alternative to test on a weekly basis consistent with applicable law.

Click on this link to view the full press release.

State Launches Comprehensive Approach to Fighting Homelessness in Illinois

On Friday, September 3, 2021, Governor Pritzker issued EO 2021-21 (available via this link), launching a comprehensive and integrated approach to fighting homelessness in Illinois. The order establishes the Illinois Interagency Task Force on Homelessness and the new position of State Homelessness Chief to lead the task force. It also provides for a Community Advisory Council on Homelessness consisting of diverse stakeholders that represent the goals and population described in the EO, including representation of people with disabilities, people with lived experience, the philanthropic sector and local Continuums of Care. The governor was joined by Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Grace Hou, community leaders and stakeholders as he laid out a government-wide approach to serving unhoused residents across the state.

Click on this link to view the full press release

Gov. Pritzker Announces $50 Million Rebuild Illinois Main Street and Downtown Capital Program

On September 10, 2021, Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced a new $50 million capital program designed to bring forward investments to revitalize commercial corridors and main street areas statewide. The latest installment of the Rebuild Illinois capital program will leverage funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to provide grants for construction, repair and modernization of public infrastructure and amenities to boost jobs, improve quality of life and stimulate economic activity for areas hit hardest during COVID-19.
The Rebuild Illinois Main Street and Downtown Capital program is part of $1.5 billion authorized by the State's FY22 budget to help jumpstart the state's economic recovery from COVID-19. The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) can be found on DCEO's website.

Click on this link to view the full press release.

NACo NextGen Fall Conference

NACo’s Next Generation Leadership Symposium will be held from October 10-12 outside Salt Lake City, UT, and immediately precedes the Western Interstate Region (WIR) NACo Conference.

The Next Generation Network provides a grassroots forum for young county officials to network, become engaged in NACo and develop a new generation of association leaders. The network identifies and serves the unique educational and professional development needs of young officials and draws on the talent, ideas and expertise of young officials to inform NACo’s strategic plan and programs and services for the future.

Click on this link to learn more about this NACo opportunity and information on registration for this event.

Upcoming NACo Webinars

NACo has announced the following upcoming webinar opportunities:

SLLC Supreme Court Preview

(Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 12:00-1:00pm CST)

While upcoming cases will very likely put the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2021-22 term in the history books, the Court has agreed to hear numerous cases of interest to states and local governments. On the docket already are three First Amendment cases including a sign case, a board member censure case and a school choice case; a Medicaid case; and an “unreasonable seizure pursuant to legal process” case. Join Sarah Harris, Williams & Connolly, merits counsel in a case involving the Rehabilitation Act, Rick Simpson, Wiley, SLLC amicus brief writer in another case involving the Rehabilitation Act, and Ken Jost, author of Supreme Court Yearbook and Jost on Justice, in a discussion of the most important cases the Supreme Court is planning to decide so far this upcoming term for states and local governments.

Click on this link to register for this event.

Waters of the U.S. Regulatory Update

(Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 2:00-3:00pm CST)

Please join NACo staff for a regulatory update on the waters of the United States (WOTUS). WOTUS is a term used in the Clean Water Act to determine which waters and their conveyances fall under federal and state permitting authority. Public comments on the WOTUS rule are due October 4, 2021. Please review to learn more.

Click on this link to register for this event.

Pathway to Recovery® Series

(Thursday, September 16, 2021, 12:00-1:00pm CST)

Join Alex DeRosa and finance officials from Chemung County, New York, as they discuss the lessons learned in liquidity management over the past 18 months and how public entities are using liquidity data to stay ahead of the curve on their Pathway to Recovery®.

Click on this link to register for this event.

Corporate Partner Spotlight 

This week's corporate partner spotlight highlights ISACo's partnership with Nationwide.

Over the past 85 years, focusing on customers and valuing people have helped Nationwide become one of the largest insurance and financial services companies in the world.

Even though Nationwide has dozens of affiliated companies, people are its biggest resource – and its greatest asset in providing excellent customer service to its customers. That's why its Supply Management Services group makes sure agents and associates get the best quality products and services, at the best possible cost. It's also why Nationwide has an Office of Customer Advocacy. 

More information about the services provided by Nationwide is available via this link.

Click on this link to learn more about the benefits and opportunities available through ISACo's Corporate Partner Program.

Become an ISACo Member!

Is your county a member of ISACo? If not, why not?

ISACo is a statewide association whose mission is to empower county officials to provide excellent service to their residents.

ISACo member counties are comprised of forward-thinking public servants who recognize that the challenges confronting county governments require new and innovative ideas, collaborative solutions and collective advocacy at the state and federal levels of government.

Members of the association will benefit from education and training opportunities, peer-to-peer networking, shared resources and robust representation before policymakers at various levels of government. ISACo creates and connects county officials to these opportunities and successfully equips them to make counties ideal places to live, work and play.

If your county is interested in discussing membership in ISACo, please contact Executive Director Joe McCoy at (217) 679-3368 or ISACo member counties are listed here. Thank you for your consideration.