103rd GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
The Illinois House adjourned for the week after spending Tuesday through Thursday in session. The Senate was off this week. Both chambers return to session on Tuesday, March 7. Friday, March 10 is the deadline to pass substantive legislation out of committee in the chamber of origin.
House Democrats formed a cannabis working group to address the industry’s expansion in a businessfriendly way while still satisfying the statutorily required equity goals. Representative La Shawn Ford will lead the group. Other members include: Assistant Majority Leader Marcus Evans, Assistant Majority Leader Barbara Hernandez, Assistant Majority Leader Bob Rita, Representative Jennifer GongGershowitz, Representative Sonya Harper, and Representative Bob Morgan.
According to Representative Ford, the working group’s main priority is to make sure individuals who have invested in the newly created industry are successful. A part of that is to address the disproportionate impact the war on drugs had on communities of color, particularly when it comes to cannabis-related arrests. The working group will work with stakeholders including lawmakers, state agencies, businesses and associations that work directly with the cannabis industry.
A few notable bills passed House committees this week and are now pending before the full House:
- HB 1229 (Jones) which authorizes a state-based Health Insurance Exchange passed the House Insurance Committee by a vote of 9-5.
- HB 1290 (Carroll) which would require pet food labels to disclose allergens passed the House Consumer Protection Committee 6-3.
- HB 1565 (Stuart) which requires insurance coverage for vaginal estrogen without cost sharing passed the House Insurance Committee by a vote of 13-1.
- HB 2086 (Stava-Murray) which allows restaurants and retailers to fill or refill a consumer-owned container with ready-made food passed the House Consumer Protection Committee by a vote of 6 -3.
- HB 2376 (Gong-Gershowitz) phases out the use of single-use plastic polystyrene foam food ware starting in 2024. The bill passed the House Energy and Environment Committee by a vote of 18- 8.
- HB 2515 (Kifowit) ensures more regular deposits from future budgets into the state’s Rainy Day Fund and Pension Stabilization Fund. The bill unanimously passed the House State Government Committee.
- HB 1079 (Walker) which eliminates the ban on new nuclear power construction passed the House Public Utilities Committee by a vote of 18-3.
BIPA: A coalition of business, technology and healthcare groups called on the General Assembly this week to enact reforms to the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) following recent Illinois Supreme Court decisions. The group argues that the recent decision leaves companies vulnerable to massive financial damages and has a chilling effect on security, innovation, and economic growth.
2023 Key Dates:
March 10: Deadline – Substantive Bills Out of Committee in both chambers
March 24: Deadline – Third Reading Deadline – Substantive House Bills in the House
March 31: Deadline – Third Reading Deadline – Substantive Senate Bills in the Senate
April 4: Consolidated Election
April 28: Deadline – Substantive Bills Out of Committee in both chambers
May 11: Deadline – Third Reading Substantive House Bills in Senate
May 12: Deadline – Third Reading Substantive Senate Bills in House
May 19: Adjournment
Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative: The Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative issued its report this week. The Transformation Initiative was created in March of 2022 and tasked with evaluating and redesigning the delivery of behavioral health services for children and adolescents in Illinois with the goal of adjusting capacity, streamlining processes, intervening earlier, increasing accountability, and developing agility. The Initiative recommends a phased implementation to prioritize the most impactful and feasible changes. Recommendations include:
- Create a centralized resource for families seeking services for children with significant and complex needs. This will involve building a more robust intake portal to allow families to more easily access information and help.
- Improve coordination of service delivery, ensuring more seamless transitions and detecting elevated risks earlier.
- Centralize oversight of residential beds to reduce duplication and enable the State to more effectively manage residential treatment resources.
- Implement resource referral technology to enable families to more easily link to services in their communities.
- Use regular data analytic review to inform provider capacity adjustments, allowing service availability to be adjusted with agility.
- Adjust rates, including standardizing rates for similar services across State agencies, to ensure that providers are compensated consistently and that youth can receive the services they need to thrive.
- Increase capacity to serve more children and families by expanding eligibility for current programs and developing new service types so that Illinois has a full continuum of care.
- Partner with providers on a standard protocol to encourage consistent and transparent development of new programs to meet emerging needs.
- Offer universal screening in education and pediatrics to ensure that mental and behavioral health problems are detected and addressed early.
- Facilitate information sharing across State agencies to improve seamlessness and timeliness of interventions, leveraging previous efforts to integrate data and overcome barriers.
- Build the behavioral health workforce using paraprofessionals and supporting other roles with incentives and creative approaches to credentialling.
- Fortify community networks by investing in local communities and parent leadership.
Executive Order 2023-04 , issued by Governor Pritzker last Friday, establishes the Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative Chief position. This position will lead the State’s comprehensive, interagency effort to ensure that youth with significant and complex behavioral health needs receive appropriate community and residential services and that the State-supported system is transparent and easier for youth and their families to navigate.
Illinois Hepatitis Coalition: The Illinois Department of Public Health launched a new initiative to eliminate viral hepatitis in Illinois. The Illinois Hepatitis Coalition held its inaugural meeting this week which brought together key stakeholders--including clinicians, academic researchers, and community partners--with the goal of formulating an equity-driven strategic plan to end the viral hepatitis epidemic in the state. The work of the coalition is funded through a $1.5 million federal grant.
OTHER STATE NEWS:
Chicago Mayoral Race: In the race for Chicago Mayor, Paul Vallas and Chicago Teacher’s Union staffer (and Cook County Commissioner) Brandon Johnson emerged as the front runners in Tuesday’s Primary Election. Vallas earned 34% of the vote while Johnson garnered 20% of the vote. In a crowded field of nine candidates, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot took third place, earning 17% of the vote. Chicago voters will select their new Mayor on April 4.
Chicago Police Superintendent Resigns: Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown announced he is stepping down March 16. The move comes as little surprise as both Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson favor a new chief. Brown is leaving law enforcement and taking a private sector position in Texas.
US Attorney Resigns: Chicago’s top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney John Lausch, submitted his formal resignation effective March 11. Serving in the interim as acting U.S. Attorney will by Lausch’s deputy, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Morris “Sonny” Pasqual.
Reproductive Health Guidance: Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and the Illinois Department of Human Rights released a guide on the state's protections against discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and reproductive health decisions related to pregnancy — including abortion.
APHA Legislative News:
On Feb. 28, APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin participated in an expert roundtable with the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic titled Preparing For the Future By Learning From the Past: Examining COVID Policy Decisions. Benjamin, who previously served as the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, has deep expertise in dealing with numerous public health crises including the 2002 anthrax attacks that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.
In his opening remarks, Benjamin pointed out that understanding the facts around what, when and how things happened is an essential first step to ensuring that the nation is better prepared to deal with the next public health emergency or pandemic the future. He specifically pointed out the importance of the nation’s public health system at the federal, state and local levels and the dedicated workforce that works every day to protect our communities from the many public health challenges we face, including ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19. He also highlighted the fact that the public health system has been chronically underfunded and that Congress must increase funding for our nation’s public health agencies to ensure they have the resources needed to improve the nation’s health. He also called for Congress to support a bipartisan and multisectoral commission to focus on better understanding the many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the devastating domestic and global consequences and highlighting both the many successful aspects of the response that we should expand upon as well as those underperforming aspects upon which there must be improvement.
A recorded webcast of the roundtable is available on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability’s website.
APHA endorses bill to ban deadly no-knock warrants - On Feb. 7, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) reintroduced the Amir Locke End Deadly No Knock Warrants Act. The bill, endorsed by APHA, would establish stricter limitations on the use of no-knock warrants by police to enter people’s homes without warning in drug investigations, and also would ban nighttime warrants, flash bang stun grenades, and chemical weapons in these situations. Tactics like these have resulted in the wrongful deaths of people like Amir Locke and Breonna Taylor. No-knock warrants disproportionately target Black communities – one analysis in Louisville, Kentucky, found that 82% of suspects in no-knock warrant cases were Black, and another analysis found that 64% of Minnesota residents who were subjected to no-knock warrants were Black. In her press release on the bill’s reintroduction, Rep. Omar said, “Too many parents have lost their children to police violence. Far too often, no-knock warrants and raids have severe and deadly consequences… It is unconscionable that no-knock warrants continue to be in effect with little to no restrictions, regulations, and regard for the impact on lives.”
APHA joins report urging agency actions on voting access and participation - On Mar. 2, Demos, Healthy Democracy Healthy People, APHA, and 50 other civil rights organizations released a report on the Biden Administration’s progress on increasing voting access and participation. In 2021, the administration released an executive order on promoting voting access that outlined a list of ways in which federal agencies could further the goal of promoting voting access and participation. The order included directives to 10 agencies, including:
- Directing the Health Resources and Services Administration to provide guidance to community health centers on how they are permitted to support voter registration efforts.
- Directing the Department of Health and Human Services to integrate voter registration into the Healthcare.gov website.
- Directing the Indian Health Service to provide voter registration to patients at its facilities.
Last year, APHA and Healthy Democracy Healthy People endorsed the executive order, commending the administration for making the connection between people’s right to vote and the health and wellbeing of their communities. The new report gives an overview of what progress has been made by the ten different agencies cited in the executive order and what progress still needs to be made. APHA also joined a letter to the 10 federal agencies summarizing the findings of the report and urging action to promote voting access.
Additional APHA advocacy news – APHA also highlighted additional issues they weighed in on recently. Those include:
- Organization letter to Congress urging repeal of the lifetime ban on individuals with drug felony convictions on accessing the SNAP and TANF nutrition programs (Feb. 28)
- APHA letter to House leaders in support of H.R. 715, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (Feb. 8)
- Gun Violence Prevention Research Roundtable Steering Committee letter to Appropriations Committee leaders urging continued and increased funding for research on firearm-related morbidity and mortality (Feb. 7)
CMS Waivers, Flexibilities, and the Transition Forward from the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency - Based on current COVID-19 trends, the Department of Health and Human Services is planning for the federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 (PHE), declared under Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, to expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023. While some of the changes to many aspects of health care delivery during the COVID-19 PHE, will be permanent or extended due to Congressional action, some waivers and flexibilities will expire, as they were intended to respond to the rapidly evolving pandemic, not to permanently replace standing rules.
For more information, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/cms-waiversflexibilities-and-transition-forward-covid-19-public-health-emergency
Fact sheet: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2023/02/09/fact-sheet-covid-19-public-healthemergency-transition-roadmap.html