2023 Veto Session Update – Legislation and Budget

Over two weeks in October and November, the General Assembly convened to continue the 2023 legislative session with a six-day Veto Session focused on time-sensitive legislation and vetoes with suggested changes from the Governor. During the brief session we took action on notable bills, many of which Governor Pritzker has since signed into law. We also failed to take action on a few notable bills, which is always a function of a lack of agreement and a lack of votes (it takes 60 in the House and 30 in the Senate). Here is a recap of last month’s Veto Session:

Health and Human Services: 

  • I was proud to vote in support of HB2104 which provides water safety education for public school students (K-6), developed by the American Red Cross and the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. It’s important that all young people be equipped with basic tools for safety and smart decision making around lakes, waterways, and pools.
  • We are all living through an intense health and behavioral healthcare workforce shortage which creates not only barriers to care, but also stressful work environments for our professionals. The significant time it takes for the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to process licensure applications is a serious problem and means professionals cannot start jobs or have to operate at a lower licensure level (and a lower pay scale). The passage of HB2394 modernizes the process for professional licenses at IDFPR, streamlining the licensing process through an create an online licensing system to be developed over the next six months. More info is HERE.

As I often say, I am honored to represent many champions of the environment and conservation who frequently show up in my inbox. As of this fall, we now have an Environmental Advisory Council that meets bimonthly. Looking back, the spring of 2023 was challenging for the environmental community, but the fall Veto Session brought some good wins and compromises.

  • This Veto Session and recent non-legislative ICC decisions have included significant steps to lower utility costs and carbon emissions. The Government Zero Emission Vehicle Act, SB1760, provides that all government unit owned vehicles must be manufactured or converted into zero-emission vehicles by the beginning of 2045. This creates an opportunity for Illinois to have cleaner air through a steady timeline transitioning state vehicles to zero-emissions.
  • “Right of First Refusal”: SB1699 contains language from an energy omnibus bill that the Governor vetoed earlier this year, due to the “right of first refusal” (ROFR) provision for Ameren that would have allowed one company a first pass at
    transmission line work, arguably bad for consumers. I supported the veto due to concerns about ethics and consumer protection, however after the ROFR language
    was removed, I voted in support of the bill. The bill has now become a Public Act.
  • Nuclear Plant Moratorium: In the spring, the Illinois legislature passed HB2473, which would have lifted a moratorium on building new nuclear plants in the state by
    allowing small modular reactors. The Governor vetoed the bill this summer, which pushed negotiations toward a narrower bill with additional safeguards. The final bill includes an extensive study over the span of several years and additional safety regulations. Only after all of this is completed can new plants be authorized.

The General Assembly (GA) took several steps to strengthen the retirement security of
our first responders, an issue that deeply affects the families of the 19th House District.

  • SB1956, led by our own Senator Rob Martwick, ensures that all Tier 1 retired Chicago Police Officers get a 3% annual cost-of-living increase, instead of those only born after 1966. This change brings more fairness and security to the
    system, mirrors a change enacted for firefighters in 2021, and creates debt transparency as the GA has a pattern of changing the “born on” date every several years which masks the scope of our pensions obligations. Details HERE.
    • “This measure does not create additional liabilities for the fund—it makes
      existing liabilities apparent, lifting the curtain so the city can account for
      them,” – State Senator Rob Martwick
  • SB1629, also led by Senator Martwick, creates an alternative method of calculating final average salary for Tier 2 Chicago Firefighters. This change both brings Chicago Firefighters up to par with downstate firefighters, and also better ensures compliance with federal law. Details HERE.

No Action
Two bills of significant importance to residents of the far Northwest side saw no action – an extension of the tax credit scholarship program sometimes referred to as Invest in Kids and a bill related to protecting survivors of domestic violence known as Karina’s Law.

  • Our office received significant communication on both sides of the Invest in Kids issue and this bill did not come to the House or Senate floor for a vote as the requisite number of votes didn’t exist for passage. This means the tax credits will not be available for donors who fund scholarships beyond the 2023-2024 school year.
  • Our office has received several emails in support of Karina’s Law, which would create a clear process for law enforcement to remove guns after an order of protection has been issued. The bill would clarify and strengthen the Firearm Restraining Order Act to require a firearm to be removed from a home when someone experiencing domestic violence is granted an order of protection with the firearm remedy.
  • HB676 is a prior firearms omnibus bill that passed out of the House which had Karina’s Law in it. SB2633 is a standalone bill with the content of Karina’s Law that has yet to pass either chamber. Media coverage of this bill, which I adamantly support, is HERE.

Please remember, the above is a partial reflection of a larger pool of bills we took action on during Veto session and all of our legislative work is ongoing. In January and February of 2024, I will both file new bills for the spring session and also focus on bills I introduced in 2023 that have yet to pass. If you have questions or want to decipher anything more in depth, please reach out.